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A Primer on Grace for Septuagesima

by pastorjuhl ~ February 1st, 2012

A lagniappe, so to speak, for my sheep on what is (and isn’t) grace. We throw around words like “grace” and “faith” so much that I wonder whether or not Christians know and believe what God’s Word has to say about grace. The quotes are taken from the “holy trinity” of Bender, Scaer, and Franz Pieper. If this is useful to you, please contact me and I will send you a PDF file of this bulletin insert.

Grace…

  • The “fatherly, divine goodness and mercy” of God. His gracious favor and undeserved love. It moved Him to create us out of nothing and to save us while we were still sinners, and it still moves Him today to provide us with “daily bread” and to give us the gifts of salvation for Jesus’ sake (Peter Bender, “Lutheran Catechesis”, p. 310).
  • God’s gracious attitude in Christ now revealed through the preached Word and the sacraments to create faith, so that sinners may be forgiven and justified by faith (David Scaer, “Law and Gospel and the Means of Grace”, p. 109).
  • God’s response of love to the fallen world on account of Christ. It is God’s acting in love on account of Christ’s death for sinners (op. cit., p. 110).
  • Reflects a change in God’s relationship to the world. What was once condemned in Adam is now accepted by God in Christ (ibid).

In summary, Grace is favor Dei propter Christum (the favor of God for Christ’s sake). Grace is not a substance that Christians use to work out their salvation along with God (Roman Catholicism). Grace is not given apart from or alongside the Word and the Sacraments (Reformed Christianity). Grace is forgiveness offered in and made operative for believers in the Word and sacraments. On that account preaching, baptism, communion, and absolution are called and are in fact the means of grace (Scaer, 110).

“The starting point in presenting the doctrine of the means of grace must be the universal objective reconciliation or justification” (F.A.O. Pieper, “Christian Dogmatics”, 3:105). There can be no grace apart from Christ’s death and resurrection for sinners. No atonement, no means of grace. No means of grace, no forgiveness of sins.

– Pastor David M. Juhl
Septuagesima Sunday, A.D. 2012

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