Chapter 3, “Attributes of Saving Grace”
Pieper draws a distinction between “absolute” and “saving” grace. Absolute grace is a show of God’s power. It cannot be resisted. Saving grace, using means such as the Word and baptism, can be resisted. This does not mean that God does not genuinely desire people to be saved. It means that people are able to resist God’s will in saving grace, though not in absolute grace.
Pieper also observes that man has no merit. If man has merit, grace is not grace. However, grace is directly tied to Christ’s merit. It is his satisfaction of God’s justice which is our hope.
Lutherans are insistent on confessing God’s universal grace. God has given grace to all. He does desire that all should believe. He has no hidden will which guarantees destruction to some. This teaching of Calvinism asserts the effectiveness of God’s will at the expense of his promised love. Conversely, the Arminians demand of man’s contribution denies God’s grace. Neither is acceptable. We are left with the position that saving grace can be resisted due to the hardness of unbelieving hearts. This resistance results in more hardening, which Scripture portrays as the final cause of perdition. In God’s mercy many are saved. We have no way of knowing how many.