Four Characteristics Of Grace
If you search the Scriptures you will find four things which always characterize the grace of God. Any doctrine that is inconsistent with these four things is a denial of the doctrine of the grace of God.
1. THE GRACE OF GOD IS ETERNAL (II Tim. 1:9). Grace did not originate in time. And it cannot be merited, directed, or controlled by anything in time. All that grace does for any sinner in time, it has done for that sinner from eternity in the infinite mind and infallible purpose of almighty God (Rom. 8:28-30).
2. THE GRACE OF GOD IS FREE (Rom. 3:24). When God declares in his Word that grace is free, he is telling us that there is no cause for grace except his own purpose. Free grace is unqualified grace. Free grace is unconditional grace. Free grace is unchangeable grace.
3. THE GRACE OF GOD IS SOVEREIGN (Rom. 3:21). Grace reigns! It reigns everywhere and over all things. If grace reigns, then it reigns from a throne. And the One who sits upon the throne is sovereign. The throne of the sovereign God is called, "the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16). When the Bible declares that grace is sovereign it is declaring that God is gracious to whom he will be gracious (Rom. 9:11-18). Salvation and eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23). If it is a gift, it cannot be claimed as a right. If it is a gift, it cannot be earned by works. If it is a gift, the Giver is free to bestow it upon whom he will.
4. THE GRACE OF GOD IS DISTINGUISHING (I Cor.4:7). It is true, "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10: 34). What could a sinful man do to win the respect of the holy God? God has no respect for anything man is, does,or gains,by which he sets himself apart from other men. But God does have his favorites, whom he has, from eternity singled out from the rest of Adam's race, to whom he will be gracious.He distinguishes them from all others by eternal election (II Thess. 2:13), sovereign predestination (Rom. 8:29), effectual redemption (Tit. 2:10), and regenerating grace (Eph. 2:1-5).
Nothing so riles man's hatred of God as the declaration that his grace is eternal, free, sovereign and distinguishing. This message of grace is abasing to human pride, gives no merit to human righteousness, and makes man utterly dependent upon the goodness of God for salvation. Proud men hate it. Saved men love it.