Justified by grace

God seeks us before we even desire to seek him. His grace is totally unmerited (Hosea 11:3-4; Hosea 11:8-9), this is a characteristic of God's dealings with us at all times, seen supremely in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4).  It awakens us, convicts us of sin, convinces us of hope, enables us to respond and leads us to new life.

However, we cannot presume upon God's forgiveness, He does not provide an automatic pardon for unrepentant sinners. It is by his grace that we are awakened to our need of salvation, and the necessary response is our repentance.

The term 'prevenient grace' describes this preparatory work of the Holy Spirit. It is the grace that comes before conversion. Our moral sense, or conscience, although imperfect because of ignorance or sin, can act as a stimulus to spiritual awakening. God gives a measure of moral enlightenment to all human beings, and the teaching of Jesus assures us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). All this is a work of the Spirit who can transform natural remorse or human moral philosophy into a true awareness of God.

It is through the grace of God that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. He reveals our real and appropriate guilt as opposed to feelings aroused by cultural or religious factors or excessive introspection. Grace that leads to this conviction has positive results - repentance, forgiveness and a new life.

Our justification is by the grace of God. It is the grace of God that saves us when we first exercise justifying faith (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:4-10). Life in Christ demands continual reliance on the grace of God and not on our own goodness to earn God's favor. We are always in God's debt, always undeserving, always accepted by grace alone. God's saving grace will be complete only when our life reaches its final conclusion with Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14).