The Grace of Christ, or,
Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness

William S. Plumer, 1853

"We believe it is through the grace of our
 Lord Jesus that we are saved." Acts 15:11


The godly have many fears. They know the power, cunning, and malice of their enemies to be great. They are also conscious of much weakness and indwelling corruption. In themselves they have no might. So far as fears lead men to watch and pray in faith and hope—they are useful. But where they beget discouragement, or diminish confidence in God—they are sinful and mischievous. One apprehension of the pious is that sin may regain its dominion over them, and at last all their hopes of heaven be disappointed. They often have great fears about their final perseverance and acceptance. Even when they cannot deny that God has done great things for them, they sometimes fear that yet there may be some deception in their case, and so all their hopes be blasted. To such the truth should be often and clearly presented—that those who have been really born again shall neither totally nor finally fall away from the favor of God and the power of his grace—but shall surely hold on their way unto death, and be forever saved.

The assurance of final victory warranted by Scripture is not in any degree built upon natural courage, or firmness, or goodness, or strength of mind, or of resolution. None more readily than the friends of this doctrine admit that "because of the remains of indwelling sin, and moreover, also, because of the temptations of the world and of Satan—the converted could not continue in a gracious state, if they were left to their own strength." Nor is it denied or doubted that truly converted people may be left by God to fall into grievous sins, from which if they were not rescued by pardoning and restoring mercy, they could not be saved. The two memorable cases of David and Peter settle this point.

Sin has as fearful a malignity in the case of a child of God, as in that of the openly profane. If it does not utterly and eternally destroy, it is God's grace that makes the difference between one case and another. The Scriptures thus provide: "If his sons forsake My instruction and do not live by My ordinances, if they dishonor My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will call their rebellion to account with the rod, their sin with blows. But I will not withdraw My faithful love from him or betray My faithfulness. I will not violate My covenant or change what My lips have said." Psalm 89:30-34. "Though a godly man falls, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:24.

And yet it is true that all who are justified shall at last be glorified. So the Scriptures clearly teach. "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger." Job 17:9. "This God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death." Psalm 48:14. "Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 1:6. "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10:28, 29. "Because I live, you shall live also." John 16:19. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." John 13:1. "Although my house be not so with God, yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. For this is all my salvation, and all my desire." 2 Sam. 23:5. "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me." Psalm 138:8. "With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer." Isaiah 54:8. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1 John 3:9. "You are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." 1 Pet. 1:5. "The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are his." 2 Tim. 2:19. "By one offering he has forever perfected those who are sanctified." Heb. 10:14. See also John 17:11, 24; Heb. 7:25, and 9:12-15; Luke 22:32.

From these and similar passages of Scripture we conclude the certainty of the final salvation of all believers; and we base the doctrine, as the Scriptures do, upon the nature of the covenant of grace, upon the promised aid of God's Spirit, upon the efficacy of Christ's blood, upon the prevalency of Christ's intercession, upon the incorruptible nature of the divine seed within us, and upon the unchangeableness of God's love and counsels. On this subject there is a very powerful and conclusive species of argument several times resorted to by Paul: "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Romans 5:10. Again: "He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32.

The pious Charnock very forcibly presents the true spirit of such reasoning, when he says: "If God has made you (a great sinner) the object of his mercy, you may be assured of the continuance of his love. He pardoned you when you were an enemy; will he leave you now that you are his friend? He loved you when you had erased out in a great measure his image and picture, which he had set in your soul; will he hate you now, since he has restored that image, and drawn it with fresh colors? He justified you when you were ungodly; and will he cast you off, since he has been at such pains about you, and written in you a counterpart of his own divine nature in the work of grace? Were his affections first moved when you had no grace; and will they not sound louder when you have grace? You had a rich present of his grace sent you when you could not pay for it; and will he not much more give you whatever is needful when you call upon him? He was found of you when you did not seek him; and will he hide himself from you, when you are inquiring after him? God considered before he began with you, what the cost would be, both of merit in Christ, and of grace in you; so that the grace he has given you is not only a mercy to you, but an obligation on himself, since his credit is engaged to complete it. You have more unanswerable arguments to plead before him now, than you once had in his Son, his truth, his promise, his grace, his name, wherein before you had not the least interest. To what purpose has God called you and washed you, if he did not intend to supply you with as much grace as shall bring you to glory? Has God given you Christ—and will he withhold anything else?"

God never begins to build without knowing that he is able to finish. Paul's reasoning from such premises is of precisely the same description. Here it is: "Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:33-39.

And what an illustrious display of almightiness is here! "Perhaps it is a greater energy of divine power, which keeps the Christian from day to day, from year to year—praying, hoping, running, believing—against all hindrances—which maintains him a living martyr—than that which bears him up for an hour in sacrificing himself at the stake." To be girded with omnipotence will make anyone triumphant. To surround any man with walls of fire will secure to the feeblest safety and deliverance. If Christ dying could procure us a pardon, if Christ rising could secure for us, justification, surely Christ interceding can supply us with strength, Christ reigning can give us the victory, and Christ sitting in judgment can and will give us a final and glorious acquittal. Fairer, stronger reasoning can nowhere be found. "He who has the Son has life, and he who has not the Son of God has not life." 1 John 5:12.

Richard Hooker well says: "The faith of God's people, when it is at the strongest, is but weak; yet even then, when at the weakest, it is so strong, that utterly it never fails, it never perishes altogether, no not in them who think it extinguished in themselves. 'I know whom I have believed.' I am not ignorant whose precious blood has been shed for me. I have a Shepherd full of kindness, full of love, and full of power: unto him I commit myself. His own finger has engraved this sentence on the tables of my heart: 'Satan has desired to winnow you as wheat, but I have prayed that your faith fail not.' Therefore the assurance of my hope I will labor to keep as a jewel unto the end, and by labor, through the gracious mediation of his prayer, I shall keep it." Scott, in his Force of Truth, having quoted this paragraph, says: "With such words in my mouth, and such assurance in my heart, I wish to live, and hope to die."

Such has long been the doctrine of the church of God. The Synod of Dort records the historical verity concerning this doctrine, in saying: "The spouse of Christ has always most tenderly loved it, as a treasure of inestimable value, and has constantly defended it."

Some object to the doctrine:

1. That numerous people make a great show of piety, and by and by fall quite away. This is true; but John (1 John 2:19) explains their conduct: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

2. Some object that such doctrine renders means unnecessary. But no church so holds the doctrine. The Synod of Dort says that "by hearing, reading, meditation, by exhortations, threatenings, promises, and moreover by the use of the sacraments, God preserves, continues and perfects his work in us."

3. There is therefore no force in the objection that this doctrine teaches that every converted man will be saved, let him live ever so wicked a life. For the doctrine is that a holy heart will produce a holy life, and that God's grace will maintain within us the love of holiness, and recover us if we fall. "I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul." Jeremiah 32:40-41. Therefore let us lay fast hold of God's covenant, and plead with him for full salvation and final victory.

Prayer is a necessary means of being preserved unto life eternal. Therefore cry: Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the the shadow of your wings. Keep me from the snare laid for me. Keep me from the hour of temptation. Hold me up—and I shall be safe. Preserve you my soul, O my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Make me fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light—and in all the trials of life be courageous. Remember that You have said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

"And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen." Jude 1:24-25