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New City Churchs Summer 2012 Online Book Club

JI Packers Knowing God ~ Chapter 13: The Grace of God Before reading: In explaining Christianity to someone, how would you (1) define grace; & (2) explain how grace sets Christianity apart from every other belief system?

Purpose: To understand and better appreciate the doctrine of grace

Outline: I. 1. 2. 3. 4. II. The Grace of God: 4 essentials The moral ill-desert of man The retributive justice of God The spiritual impotence of man The sovereign freedom of God Not Earned Nor Deserved 1. Grace as the source of the pardon of sin 2. Grace as he motive of the plan of salvation 3. Grace as the guarantee of the preservation of the saints III. A Proper Response

Key Quotes: It is commonplace in all the churches to call Christianity a religion of grace. [Modern mans heart] imagines God as a magnified image of himself, and assumes that God shares in his own complacency about himself. To mend our own relationship with God, regaining Gods favour after having once lost it, is beyond the power of any one of us. And one must see and bow to this before one can share the biblical faith in Gods grace. Grace is free, in the sense of being self-originated [in God], and of proceeding from One who was free not to be gracious. Only when it is seen that what decides each mans destiny is whether or not God resolves to save him from his sins, and that this is a decision which God need not make in any single case, can one begin to grasp the biblical view of grace. The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity, and had no reason to expect anything but severity. Justification is the truly dramatic transition from the status of a condemned criminal awaiting a terrible sentence to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance. It has been said that in the New Testament doctrine is grace, and ethics is gratitude; and something is wrong with any form of Christianity in which, experimentally and practically, this saying is not being verified. Love awakens love in return.

Reflection Questions: 1. The author outlines four crucial truths that the doctrine of grace presupposes. Which of these four crucial truths do you see as most critical? Why? 2. How does the author describes the way that modern people characterize God and his grace? How is the biblical view radically different? 3. How does the author define justification? What, if anything, resonates with you about this definition? 4. What does this statement mean: In the New Testament doctrine is grace, and ethics is gratitude? How have you seen this mirrored in your life? 5. In the conclusion of this chapter, Packer states, No apology is needed for drawing so freely from our rich heritage of free grace hymns in writing this chapter. At New City Church, we focus much of our singing on free grace hymns. Do you have any favourites that we sing? Do you know of others that we dont sing but maybe should? Review these questions, and let them direct your thoughts, prayer, and praise.