Ten Quotes from Saved by Grace

Here are ten quotes from Herman Bavinck’s book Saved by Grace. Some of these are longer than my typical quotes.

Grace comes to man, who does not will, in such a way that he does will. It works apart from us, apart from our consent, apart from our will, so that we will. 

Commenting on semi-Pelagianism, “Between its working and genuine believing such grace inserts the free will of man who accepts it and cooperates with it, but can also refuse and reject it.”

Again commenting on semi-Pelagianism,”Not only do those whom God declared, according to His decree of absolute election, to be willing to save, receive grace sufficient unto faith and repentance, but also those who are not actually converted receive sufficient grace…according to the sentiment of the Remonstrants, all who live under the gospel receive or can receive grace sufficient unto faith and repentance. But whether they eventually believe and are converted depends upon human will.”

How does it happen that whereas many harden themselves, others come to faith in Christ and find their redemption in Him…the cause of that, according to the teaching of Scripture, cannot lie in the individual. For by nature all people are alike. They are all born in unrighteousness and in sin their mothers conceived them…the cause thereof does not lie within the person. People do not differentiate themselves. God is the only one who makes distinction according to His good pleasure. He does so in this manner, namely that those whom He has chosen in Christ from eternity He calls effectually within history, enlightens their understanding by the Holy Spirit, penetrates their heart of hearts with effectual work of the same regenerating Spirit, opens the closed heart, infuses new capacities in the will and changes it from dead to living and from evil to good, so that like a good tree it can produce the fruits of good works. 

With regard to the fellowship of the sacraments, many are with the church who are nevertheless in reality not in the church. (emphasis Bavinck’s)

Bavinck on the Roman Catholic connection between grace and the church: “God does not dispense His grace internally and secretly by the operation of the Holy Spirit. But He entrusts grace to the priest, who bestows it in the sacrament. For that reason there is no salvation outside the Church, that is to say, apart from the priest and apart from the sacrament.”

The preparatory protocols leading to regeneration are actually not preparations unto, and even less a cause of, regeneration. For regeneration is a direct, almighty, and irresistible work of God under which a person remains entirely passive… a preparatory grace that in one or another respect qualifies a person for regeneration does not exist.

Within Old Testament preaching, therefore, these two elements are always bound with one another: holding firmly to the unity of the entire people [Israel] as people of God, while at the same time distinguishing within that one people between those who serve the Lord and those who do not serve the Lord.

 The operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is thus absolutely independent from the consent of the intellect or an act of free will. 

The Word is the effectual cause that, in God’s hand and under the leading of the Holy Spirit, produces that for which it is designed and equipped.

And one:

And yet, this same Bible, which ascribes such great power to the Word, on the other hand teaches just as decisively and clearly that the Word alone is not sufficient, that it is but an instrument in the hand of the almighty God. Salvation, both in its acquisition and application is God’s work and His alone.  

The Means of Grace Par Excellence

Here is Herman Bavinck on the difference between the way Roman Catholics and the Reformed explained the relationship between the Word of God and the Church.

Protestants construe the relationship between Scripture and the church entirely differently than Rome. According to the latter, the church proceeds Scripture, the church was not built upon Scripture, but Scripture proceeded forth from the church. Therefore, the church in terms of its essence and existence does not need Scripture, but Scripture needs the church for its origin, collection, preservation, and interpretation. The Reformation reversed that relationship by placing the church upon the foundation of Scripture and by exalting Scripture above the church. Not the church, but Scripture as the Word of God became the means of grace par excellence. Even the sacrament was subordinated to the Word and apart from the Word it has no meaning or power. (Saved by Grace, p. 79)