Questions and Answers on Grace


These questions and answers are from the Student Catechism.

124.  What is the connection between grace and salvation?

The connection between grace and salvation is that it is by grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8).

125.  What is grace?

Grace has two aspects: unmerited favor and enabling power.

126.  What scriptural support do we have for grace as enabling power?

Scriptures that support grace as enabling power include 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am . . . I labored more abundantly . . . yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Ephesians 3:7 speaks of the gift of the grace of God given to Paul by the effective working of His power. These verses indicate that beyond being unmerited favor, grace is an enabling power.

127.  What is prevenient grace?

Prevenient grace is the grace that goes before salvation.

128.  Why does man need prevenient grace?

The Second Council of Orange states, “The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of Divine mercy has preceded him.”

129.  What is the Augustinian/Pelagian Debate?

The Augustinian/Pelagian Debate is the debate between the idea that God is responsible for man’s salvation and the idea that man is responsible for his salvation.  Augustine taught that God initiates man’s salvation and completes it apart from man’s cooperation.  Pelagians taught that man can initiate moves toward God – that man’s will is neutral and could choose right apart from grace.

130.  How does the doctrine of prevenient grace bring balance to this debate?

The doctrine of prevenient grace brings balance to this debate by asserting that God initiates salvation by giving to all mankind the grace to seek God. When man by grace responds to God’s call, God gives him more grace. Salvation is all by grace, but man cooperates with that grace. Man can choose to respond to grace or to reject it.

131.  How does prevenient grace relate to cooperating grace?

Cooperating grace is the power by which God enables those who receive His prevenient grace to do what they will to do.

132.  How important is grace to the Christian life?

Every holy thought, every holy desire, and every holy action is the result of grace, the gift of God.

133.  What scriptural evidence supports the doctrine of prevenient grace and cooperating grace

Scriptures that support the concept of prevenient grace and cooperating grace include Titus 2:11, which says that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us to deny ungodliness. John 1:9 says that Christ is the light that lights every man coming into the world. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us to work out our salvation, for it is God that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. John 6:44 says that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draw him. Apart from the drawing grace of God, we cannot enter into a relationship with Christ.

Mark Bird
Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.