Past, Present and Future Grace

I am looking forward to attending the Desiring God Regional Conference in Fort Lauderdale this weekend along with my son, Sam. Pastor John Piper will be speaking on the theme of Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God. The conference will conclude with a discussion panel featuring host pastor Tullian Tchividjian, pastor John Piper, as well as two local pastors from the community.

The conference has got me thinking about the different emphases that Piper and Tchividjian each bring to the topic of sanctification. Whereas most teaching on sanctification seems to focus on the present means of grace (such as the Word of God, prayer, Christian fellowship, baptism, communion, etc.), Piper and Tchividjian bring two different emphases to the table.

Pastor Tullian has emphasized the role of past grace, encouraging us to focus on our justification through faith in Christ which frees us from the law to live a holy life for Christ. Pastor John has emphasized the role of future grace, encouraging us to look forward to the promises of God as a motivation for holy living.

Of course all three emphases are important. Focusing on past grace helps us to avoid legalism and works-based righteousness by resting securely in our justification in the past. Focusing on present grace helps us to avoid spiritual passivity and laziness by actively pursuing God’s prescribed means of grace in the present. And focusing on future grace helps us to avoid fear and falling into temptation by fully believing God’s promises and grace-based rewards for the future.

As we seek to grow in Christ-likeness, let us take full advantage of God’s past, present and future grace extended to us through Jesus Christ.

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