Grace is a subject that needs its due attention if readers are to understand the Calvinist position. A simple definition of grace is the “unmerited favor” of God. R.C. Sproul states that grace is an action or disposition of God toward us. Grace is important here because it is only through the grace of God that salvation is granted in the first place. God is under no obligation whatsoever to save anyone. One of the arguments that is used against the Calvinist is that it is not fair for God to choose some and not others. They are certainly right in this assessment because really and truly, there is nothing fair about it. What is fair then? Fair would be that all endure God’s justice because all are law breakers in the sight of God. All peoples everywhere at all times are deserving of God’s wrath. That is what is fair. Grace and mercy are not. If God is obligated to bestow His grace upon all mankind meaning every person that ever lived or will ever live, then salvation is no longer by grace. It would be then under some condition where God was obligated to give it. This is not the case at all in the Scriptures.
The majority of Christians argue that salvation is only by God’s grace, and cannot be earned. They are very correct in this belief; however, most are not consistent with it. I mean by this that many Christians will also argue that God draws everyone, or convicts everyone to be saved. They argue that God gives everyone a chance to be saved. This, however, is not consistent with the very meaning of grace, and it is not what the Scriptures teach either. As I stated earlier, if God is obligated to give everyone a chance, then salvation is no longer by grace. I can understand the feelings here though. Election is a very difficult teaching to embrace. The idea that God would save some and pass over others is, in reality, a heart-wrenching idea. No one wants to see anyone go to hell. Sometimes people’s feelings can cloud their understanding of things. The error many commit is to project on God how they believe it should be, and think to themselves that God surely would not do that. God’s word says in Isaiah 55:8, 9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Grace is unmerited favor, and not everyone receives this blessing.
All people on the earth have broken God’s law and deserve His justice. No one would really argue this point. The majority of people would agree that since all have sinned and broken God’s law, everyone deserves hell. If God were to allow everyone to go to hell, He would be perfectly just in doing so. Remember, God is just and since He is just He must punish sin. Now, since there was no injustice with God in allowing everyone to go to hell, if God were to swipe through and save some for His purpose and pleasure, then, again, what injustice is done on God’s part? God decided to save those who did not deserve it. That is exactly what grace is. It is receiving something that was not deserved. If God is obligated to save, then salvation is not by grace. If God is free in choosing to save undeserving lawbreakers from His wrath, then this is most certainly what it is to be saved by God’s grace.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.