The plan of God is "nature is to be fulfilled by grace."
This means higher orders of nature are to be fulfilled by
grace while the lower unreasoning parts of nature should
be controlled by those in grace.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God, the transcending spiritual intelligence of God, the blessing of God. Man as a part of nature is to be spiritualized: redeemed by spiritual awareness and higher values to create harmony, mutual affection and thinking that judges self from afar. This calls for grace.
An easy way to explain nature fulfilled by grace is: Marriages are called by sex but kept by character. Nature is all right but not enough. To be whole, it must be filled. Needed is a unity of spirit and flesh. When nature and spiritual values are joined, then a healthy wholeness is the result. Character takes grace.
There is nothing wrong with nature because it is most enjoyable and very wonderful in its complexity and feeling. But nature is a half way thing. Left to itself without spiritual values and experience, nature becomes a warped selfish and violent thing. Nature needs grace to fulfill it.
What begins by nature must be touched with the results of grace: character, reason, harmony, mutual affection, peace and non-violence. Nature must be touched by grace to be completed. What starts in natureís rawness must be transfigured, transformed, matured or spiritualized by grace. What starts by nature must end by grace, that is if it is to have an happy ending.
The fulfilling of our nature by grace is Godís redemptive design. Sometimes it can happen by growing in grace, or maturing spiritually in grace, changing by grace, or converted by grace. Grace can be a quiet growth in the stillness of God or a dramatic conversion.
A personís character is developed by the personís efforts and the grace of God. A person who attains a state of grace lives in creative benevolence. When nature is fulfilled by grace the result is creative benevolence. The spirit of God comes by grace. It is seen in Isaiah 11: 2-3. What is summed up there from the particulars is creative benevolence.
Jesus proclaimed a time of unusual grace had started and should be recognized. Isaiah called it the acceptable year of the Lord. (Isaiah 61:2) Jesus went about preaching the coming of the Kingdom of God, the year of grace. (Matthew 4:23)
Jesus came to preach the Gospel of grace and was the perfect example of a man being filled full with grace. He came to preach the Kingdom of God, an incarnation by grace preaching the intensification of grace, to redeem, to enlighten, to create harmony, and reveal the right spirit to mankind. Jesus came to preach the fulfillment by grace in nature.
There are two categories of grace: Common and Special. Common grace is the gift of creation shared by everyone. The sun is under common grace. But if you do not use the sun wisely, it can cause sun burn. Even though common grace is given freely to everything, it must be used sparingly and in a balanced manner.
The fruits of common grace can be used to destroy the world if used wrongly. But used rightly, as in science used to alleviate the poverty level, it a great thing. But the fruits of common grace can be used self-destructively.
It takes the revelation of Special Grace, divine grace, revealed grace, to show forth, demonstrate and instill the values of God: mutual affection, concern for others, turning the other cheek, caring for everyone and concern for everyone.
Common grace is of nature and left to itself, nature would not arrive or could not arrive at higher values. Proverbs 16:25 says that there is a way that seemeth right to man (the way of nature) but the end of those ways is death. The way of nature is a tooth for a tooth, and to be led by selfishness and self-aggrandizement that taken too far end in disasters, tragedies and sad happenings. The way of nature, slap for slap, will go from bad to worst.
Now there is nothing wrong with natural impulses, but they must come under grace for there to be a pausing, self-control and a redeeming of any situations natural to mankind, The impulses of nature if followed rigidly end badly. Nature must be seasoned by grace. Awakened by grace to higher and better alternatives.
So I say to you that the Design of God is for nature to be fulfilled by grace. Nature is good but it takes us only half way to happiness. Greater happiness, a fuller satisfaction, moving towards wholeness, is only caused by the union of spiritual values with nature.
Man to be complete must satisfy his two natures by enjoying his nature, which is incomplete but making a full person of himself by adding spiritual values to nature. Awareness of invisible, spiritual values, completes literal minds limited to the visible.
Let us therefore never deny the natural, but realize it is only half the picture. The situation of mankind is dual. The highest in nature, mankind, must be spiritualized to be complete. The world must be spiritualized to the practical amount possible to improve and survive.
Therefore the Word of God is preached that mankind may be whole and the world may be healed. We preach the Kingdom of God that fulfils the lower nature by a higher reality. That is the reality of Christ. That is the reality of God which the literal minded have some difficulty with. But we proclaim a spirit which fulfils mankindís natural thirst for God.
Now are you still in half-way happiness by not knowing God? If your life is to be a real success, not a part way thing then you need to find grace which will complete your nature by bringing both sides together and make it into a whole.
Now we have two hands, a left and a right. They should work one with the other for your common good. But if you use only one hand, you handicap yourself. And is it really wise and good to tie one hand behind you? Why cripple yourself?
Now we have two natures, the material and the spiritual. When used together they make for a fuller life and a better person. They fulfill each other. Together they conclude what you were meant by God to be. Why lead half a life? Why run at half your potential as a human being? Why be half a person when you can through belief become a whole person? A whole healthy person is the design and hope of God.
When you refuse to believe and to develop spiritually it is like one who ties one hand behind his back and then goes out to fight. It is not just unreasonable. It is self-destructive.
Believe in God. Let your mouth be filled with laughter and your tongue with singing. The Lord hath done great things. (Psalm 126:2) Not least among the great things He has done by grace is faith. Ask for grace to have faith.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.