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The spontaneous gift.
The unearn-able-ness of God’s gift of grace.
I recently finished reading through John Henry Jowett’s meditations on Philippians, entitled, The High Calling. And while this isn’t an academic or technical commentary by any means, it is very much a pastoral one, which is befitting this New Testament epistle. Jowett’s aim is to reflect upon the text, rather than mine it, the result of which is, for the most part, quite fortifying to one’s faith. He closes, aptly, with a few words on Paul’s closing salvo, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Phil. 4:23), whereupon Jowett writes the following:
We can no more define [grace] than we can define life, or love, or God. But there are certain aspects of it, which are described in the Scriptures, and which, in the present stage of our experience, are really all we need to know. For instance, whatever it is, in its very essence, it is something which we have not merited or deserved. We cannot secure it by our virtue; we cannot earn it by our toil. No man can put out his hand and demand it as a right. The outstretched hand must be the hand of a suppliant, and he must take it as a favour. Grace is the spontaneous gift of our God to children who have nothing to offer in return. (248)
The unearn-able-ness of grace is what makes it grace. There’s no achieving or winning what God the Father offers for free in the blood of his Son. Like Paul, we can say, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
Grace and peace to you, friends.
John Henry Jowett, The High Calling: Meditations on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (New York: Revell, 1909).