Grace comes through Christ. This seems like something on which all Christian should agree. Grace is God’s goodwill, his benevolence. God so loved the world that he sent his son, and sending his son was the most significant, irrevocable act of grace since creation itself, the very foundation of God’s grace towards a people who had lost the true knowledge of God.
So why do we talk about conditional election or unconditional election instead of Christ? Why do we talk about limited atonement and unlimited atonement instead of Christ? Why do we talk about irresistible grace or prevenient grace, instead of the grace that comes through Christ? When we talk about “irresistible grace”, we’re not talking about “God sending Christ into the world.” When we talk about “prevenient grace”, we’re not talking about “God sending Christ into the world.” That “grace” is some other means of grace, some other way in which God relates to us, besides Christ.
Are we so sure that there really is another “grace” apart from the grace that comes through Christ? Sure, “grace” is a word with plenty of history and several meanings, but when we’re talking about receiving God’s love and favor, is there another grace apart from Christ? Irresistible grace is said to be some kind of electing grace that comes to us before Christ and apart from Christ, to lead us to Christ. Prevenient grace is much the same, just resistible. Both think of grace as some hidden thing that does not come through Christ, and in that sense is disconnected from Christ.
But what if the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only such grace there is? What if it comes to us not in some mysterious inexplicable way, but by hearing the message of Christ? When we teach about God’s love and grace, what if we resolved to know nothing except Christ and him crucified? What if baptism is a sign to us that we’re united with Christ in his death and will be united with him in his resurrection? What if baptism proclaims the message that we’re forgiven and God calls us his children? What if the Lord’s Supper tells us that Christ’s body was broken for us and his blood was shed for us for the forgiveness of sins, and that we are welcome at his table? What if the good news of Christ is itself the power of God for our salvation?