The Importance of the Double Grace

19 Jun

Oftentimes, whether explicitly or implicitly, we lapse into works righteousness.  We struggle to make ourselves righteous before God, and slavishly work at the list of imperatives before us in Scripture.  In addition to this, we often teach our children, both in the church and in the home, a similar form of works righteousness.  We recognize the need for God’s grace in Christ to bring us to repentance and faith so that we might be saved, but we tend to sever sanctification from this very grace in Christ.

John Calvin, in his Institutes, coined the term “double grace.”  What he meant by this term was that the faith (which we receive as a gift from God through the Holy Spirit) that clings to Christ and His work for justification is also a faith that clings to Christ and His work for sanctification.  And, I believe, that if we desire to see real heart change (and subsequently, life change) in our congregations,we need to stress this double grace.

Perhaps a definition of terms would be helpful.  Justification means to be declared righteous by God.  Sinners like us are able to be declared righteous because we are clothed by the righteousness of Christ, who perfectly kept the Law, and took away our sin.  Sanctification is the process by which God makes us righteous, in the image of His Son, Jesus.  So justification refers to a verdict,  declaration, or fact, and sanctification refers to the actions of God in and through a person to make him (or her) that which He has declared him (or her) to be.  Therefore, both of these are dependent upon the work of God.  This is why it is called the “double grace.”

The reason this is important is because when we show people that the grace of God has not only saved them, but also that it will change them, it gives people the confidence to pursue obedience to the commands of their king, Jesus Christ.

When people understand their justification, it frees them to lovingly serve God and others because they recognize that they are already found righteous in Christ.  As we fight sin, and seek to glorify God in all facets of life, we can rest assured that win or lose, failure or success, our standing before God does not change.  And knowing this will fuel further efforts to love God and others.

Likewise, when a person understands the nature of sanctification–one’s dependence upon God (by faith) to work in and through him (or her), and the promise that He will conform them to the image of His Son–good works may abound as the person seeks to walk in the things God has prepared for him (or her).  There is a persevering aspect at work in a person who understand that sanctification is dependent upon the grace of God, and His promises to finish that which He began in His people.

A final reason that the double grace is important is because it keeps us from making ourselves the center of the Christian life.  When we, whether explicitly or implicitly, believe that justification is the work of God, and sanctification is our work, our lives become inwardly focused.  However, when we recognize that sanctification is just as much a work of God as justification, our lives will be oriented around God.  We will pray for His work in our hearts, and for His Spirit’s leading in walking in the good works He has prepared for us.  We will praise Him for the life change He is accomplishing in us as He conforms us to the image of Christ.  And we will yearn for, and persevere until, the day when Christ returns, and God’s work will be completed in us.

Praise God for His grace, both in justification and sanctification!

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2 Responses to “The Importance of the Double Grace”

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  1. Top Posts of 2012 « Brevity & Clarity - December 26, 2012

    […] Importance of the Double Grace […]

  2. End of the Year: Top 7 Posts of 2013 | Brevity & Clarity - December 30, 2013

    […] The Importance of the Double Grace […]

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