Supreme Grace: Saved from the Presence of Sin

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
1 Thess. 5:23.

     If saving grace keeps us from the penalty of sin and sustaining grace keeps us from the power of sin, supreme grace keeps us from the presence of sin. It is the finalization of our salvation. Supreme grace is the ultimate in our three parts of salvation, seen as justification (saving grace), sanctification (sustaining grace) and glorification (supreme grace).

     Years ago, I dreamed I went to heaven (no, I am not going to break into a song, thanking you for giving to the Lord and no, I am not going to write a best-selling book about my dream). In that dream I wanted to see if I was really in heaven. So I tried to do something that you are not supposed to be able to do in heaven: I made myself have a bad thought. In my dream, I was disappointed that I could still sin in heaven. I actually woke up very glad that I had not actually gone to heaven because if we could sin in heaven, heaven would not be heaven.

     Speaking of heaven, John wrote in Revelation 21:27 that “there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.”

     Eternal life is God’s gift to us. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death, but the gift (charisma) of God is eternal life.” It is in this context of Acts 15:11 which Peter puts our salvation in the future result of God’s grace, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we SHALL BE SAVED in the same manner as they.”

     This concept of three aspects of salvation is seen in Jesus’ words as well. In John 5:24, Jesus describes the three aspects of salvation as having “passed from death to life” (past tense), “has everlasting life” (present tense), and “shall not come into judgment” (future tense).

     Keeping with the human trinity analogy we used two weeks ago, in the past when we were saved, our dead spirit was regenerated at justification; in the present our souls are being renewed in sanctification; and on "That Day" in the future, our bodies will be resurrected at glorification, and our three-in-one triune selves will be forever restored to the image of the triune God.

     A particularly difficult passage in the book of Revelation (shocking to think that some parts of Revelation would be hard to understand) is Revelation 22:11. Here, the angel explains things to John the final state of the unrighteous and the righteous:
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” 

     Radio commentator J. Vernon McGee said this verse is perhaps the scariest verse of all of the book of Revelation for those who are condemned. But I also see it as perhaps the most reassuring verse for those of us who are going to experience God’s Supreme Grace. 

     In eternity, we are going to grow and increase in our righteousness and holiness.

     The fallen angels lost their place in heaven and could never regain it. They are reserved for judgment (Jude 6). Fallen humanity who receive salvation will gain the holiness of heaven by God’s grace and we shall never lose it. 

     Peter must have longed for this supreme aspect of grace, because he spoke about being heirs together of the grace of life in 1 Peter 3:7. He spoke of “the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” in 1 Peter 1:13. And he concludes his letter with this great and blessed hope of all three aspects of our salvation by grace:

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus (past tense), after you have suffered a while (present tense), perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (future tense in heaven when we are perfected permanently).” 
(1 Peter 5:10).


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