"The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the most chaste moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate; and the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better off than the most profane infidel.
The Gospel contemplates every person as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope! Grace is a perfection of the divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them, and for which no compensation is demanded from them.
Nay, more; grace is the favor of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving! Divine grace is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of "grace," we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it--that it was not in any way due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.
Because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious." Exod. 33:19 The great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving those people whom He has sovereignly singled out to be His high favorites. By "distinguishing" we mean that grace discriminates, makes differences, chooses some and passes by others. Nowhere does the glory of God's free and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously, than in the unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects.
Nothing more riles the natural man, and brings to the surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God, than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of divine grace. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man, is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its favored object, arouses hot protests from haughty rebels. "
Oct 26, 2006
The unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects
(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")