Gregg then turns to John to define and contextualize the notion of grace is in the evangelical world. John equates grace with ‘pardon’ and as something that should prompt gratefulness from Christians (which in turn means stopping sinning and fulfilling the “great commission”). Gregg summarizes this as grace being a hinge between the old testament period and the new covenant, and grace being a contender for the central notion in Christianity.
Gregg finds it difficult to identify examples of grace in his human relationships and instead sees grace as being rather distinct to God. Further, he categorizes grace as an outworking of love, where grace (as gift, on the example of Romans 4:16) is a primary mode of the expression of God’s love. Yet the gift at the heart of grace begins back in Genesis 12 with God giving a promise to Abraham before entering into a covenant.
So as a mode of expressing love, grace answers the question ‘how‘. How does God express God’s love for us? Grace (such as by making the promise before entering into the covenant and by Jesus living such as to fulfill the covenant and dying such as to bear the consequences due to Israel).
Yet for Gregg, understanding ‘how’ God acts is not as important as understanding ‘why’, both as the ‘why’ of impetus (from what motivation did God act in this way?) and the why of purpose (for what ultimate purpose did God act in this way?). Gregg argues that ‘why’ God acted as God did is plain: “For God so loved the world…” He also argues that God’s goal in acting this way–in loving us–is to offer the possibility of including us in God’s Kingdom.
For these reasons, Gregg argues that we have not understood God if we stop at ‘how’: we need to understand (orient ourselves around) ‘why’ God acted. Further, Gregg ties this in with understanding God both as sovereign and as father / parent.