How to Preach the Power of Grace

I once wrote an essay entitled, "Preaching the Power of Grace."  It's a rather lengthy document, so as not to intrude on your time, I'll share the key points here:


Christ’s victory on the cross provides freedom from both the guilt and power of sin. The apostle Paul reminds us that because Jesus resides in us, we possess the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19–23; Galatians 2:20). John adds, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). This is more than a promise that Jesus will add to our strength or aid our resolve. Because we are in union with Christ, all of the merits of his righteousness have become ours and his Spirit now enables us to resist the sin that he reveals to us.


In the classic terms of systematic theology, once we were not able not to sin (non posse non peccare) but now we are able not to sin (posse non peccare). Enough of our sin nature persists that we will not be perfect until we are with Jesus in eternal glory (non posse peccare), but even now we are freed from Satan’s lie that we cannot change. Sin has no more dominion over us. We can make progress against the besetting sins of our lives because we are alive in Christ.


The release of sin’s guilt and the reception of Christ’s benefits are the full gospel of grace. Sometime preachers only preach half the gospel, indicating only that the debt of our sin has been paid by the suffering of Christ (i.e., his passive righteousness). This is a glorious and precious truth for all Christians who know their need of forgiveness. Yet, even if our debt has been paid, it is still possible to live with a sense of inadequacy and humiliation because of our sin. It is as though we recognize that our debt has been paid, and though we are grateful, our spiritual math indicates that we now only have a zero-sum balance. Christ’s death in our behalf makes us feel guilty and small rather than free of debt.

For such feelings we need the second half of the gospel. We have not only been freed of our debt—we have also been supplied with Christ’s righteousness (resulting from his active and passive righteousness).

Want to read the full essay?  You can find it here.



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