Future Grace

I’ve mentioned “Future Grace” a few times on Faithroots and in my preaching this year. So I thought it might be helpful to explain a little about what I mean by this wonderful phrase.  The phrase and the explanation behind it belong to John Piper and if you want to read further then pick up his book “The purifying Power of living by Faith in Future Grace.”[1]

In his book, Piper argues that we have a problem with gratitude.  Christians often see this as the motivation for living holy lives. Gratitude has its rightful place but if we use it as our motivation to serve then it can quickly become a debtor’s ethic.

“The debtor’s ethic says, ‘Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.’ This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce.  God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the goodwill of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favours. If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic -and the effect is to nullify grace.”[2]

So, you see that in effect, God’s grace in saving me changes from being a free and unconditional gift into a conditional loan that I have to try and pay back one day.

Piper says that our motivation to live holy lives, to serve faithfully and to suffer patiently comes from a different place.  He calls this “Future Grace.” To help our thinking he refers to two bible passages and one song.

The Song is Amazing Grace. It has the famous line:

“Twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”[3]

The song invites us to look back at what God’s grace has also accomplished in our lives but then to look forward and see that grace will continue giving.  It is God’s grace that is going to help me face the future. It’s God’s grace that will take me safe through death and into eternity.  It’s grace all the way.

And so, Piper takes us to the two Bible passages. [4]  Proverbs 3:5-6 says

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.”

 

 

Then we have the encouragement of Hebrews 11. In that chapter, the writer talks about all the great heroes of faith. They trusted God, the exercised faith. Where was their faith? It was in the future, the trusted the promise.

We have a special privilege. We can look back to past grace -the grace of salvation and the grace of God’s work in our lives up until now. But like the Old Testament heroes we also have promises to look forward to and trust God for. This is future grace.

Future Grace means that I have the promise of God’s presence and protection with me through this life. It includes the promise that he will not test me beyond what I can bear. I have the promise of future grace that when I am challenged about my faith then God will give me the words to ay. I have the future grace promise of sanctification. He will complete the work he has begun in me.

Future Grace promises me that when I die it will not be the end. I will be with the Lord. Future Grace promises future resurrection and Christ’s return. It promises that we will be join heirs with Christ, reigning with him in the New Creation.

Future Grace promises all of the riches of God’s grace into eternity.

[1] John Piper, The Purifying Power of Living By Faith in Future Grace, (IVP, Leicester, 1995),

[2] Piper, Future Grace, 32.

[3] Piper, Future Grace, 6.

[4] Piper, Future Grace, 13.

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