Anyone and Everyone Can Be Saved by Grace: Grace Enablements

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Because of man’s sin, man is separated from God and destined to eternal hell. Because God is love and loving (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8), He provides man with the real opportunity to return unto Him by faith. Although man has not lost all sensibilities of God (Genesis 3:8-13; Romans 8:18-23), subsequent to the fall he is incapable, from within himself, to rectify his sin problem by coming back to God.

God knew that man would misuse his freedom and sin. Because God is love and He is all knowing, His creation plan is better understood as a co-extensive creation/redemption plan. God’s plan of providing redemption was designed from all eternity in the mind and heart of God, and it was implemented immediately after the fall. This means that God has and is working to draw men and women unto salvation. The provision and grace of God is unconditional, but He has conditioned the reception of salvation upon grace-enabled faith. God works both in initiating and throughout the process of salvation. Man left the garden because he trusted something else more than God, and man returns to the garden when he, by grace, trusts God more than anything else.

Grace enablements include but are not limited to: God’s salvific love for all (John 3:16), God’s manifestation of his power so that all may know he is the Sovereign (Isa 45:21–22) and Creator (Rom 1:18–20), which assures that everyone has opportunity to know about him. Christ paying for all sins (John 1:29), conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7–11), working of the Holy Spirit (Heb 6:1–6), enlightening of the Son (John 1:9), God’s teaching (John 6:45), God opening minds and hearts (Luke 24:45; Acts 16:14; 26:17–18;), and the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16), without such redemptive grace, no one seeks or comes to God (Rom 3:11).[1]

Because of these gracious provisions and workings of God, man can choose to seek and find God (Jer 29:13; Acts 17:11–12). Moreover, no one can come to God without God calling (Acts 2:39), drawing (John 6:44), and that God is drawing all individuals (John 12:32). The same Greek word for draw, helkuÅ, is used in both verses. “About 115 passages condition salvation on believing alone, and about 35 simply on faith.”[2] Other grace enablements may include providential workings in and through other people, situations, and timing or circumstances that are a part of grace to provide an opportunity for every individual to choose to follow Christ.[3]

These are grace enablements in at least three ways; first, they are provided by God’s grace rather than deserved by mankind; second, the necessary components for each and every individual to have a genuine opportunity to believe unto salvation are provided or restored by God; third, they are provided by God without respect to whether the individual will believe or reject, which response God knew in eternity past.

The offer of the gospel is unconditional, but God sovereignly determined to condition the reception of the offer upon grace-enabled faith; therefore, faith is not reflective of a work or virtue of man, but of God’s sovereign plan of salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). This indicates faith is the means to being regenerated and saved, not the reason for being saved. This truth of Scripture does not imply God is held captive to the choice of man, but rather it demonstrates God in eternity coextensively determined to create man with otherwise choice and provide a genuine offer of salvation, which can be accepted by grace-enabled faith or rejected. Additionally, to fulfill this plan, God is not obligated to disseminate the gospel to people he knows have rejected the light he has given them (Rom 1:18–23) and will also reject the gospel; although he may still send the gospel to them.

[1] Christ opened their minds in Luke by teaching and illumining the real meaning of Scripture (Luke 24:27), and we find the same with Lydia, who was a “worshiper of God” (Acts 13:43; 18:7). She had faith as a proselyte, and God responded to that genuine faith by opening her heart to the gospel. God is always the initiator.
[2] Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 7, 273–74.
[3] In Matthew 13:18–23, Jesus explains the parable of the sower. He compares the four types of soils to the four kinds of responses to the gospel. In the parable, the seed is the word of God (gospel). Also, in the explanation of the true meaning of the parable, it is important to note the sower and the seed are always the same (there is no indication that he gives one hearer seed that will not germinate and another the real thing), and the only thing that changes is the response to the seed. There is nothing deficient in the sowing or the seed sown, but rather always the problem is in the recipient. Also notice the response of the good soil precedes regeneration. There is no indication in the passage that some men are predetermined by God to reject the message. Rather, it seems all four had different responses to the message, and the soil is descriptive of the heart; neither the ones that accept nor the ones that reject the seed give any indication of being predetermined. The soil indicates different responses and outcomes to the same seed, which is the word about the kingdom. Just as God created Adam with good soil, so he must grace enable everyone to be able to respond. Therefore, salvation is not a human work, nor is the good soil something innate to some, but rather, it is characteristic of everyone who receives the word of God and by faith is born again.

Ronnie W. Rogers