A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni



Before we can consider whether grace and discipline are incompatible, we must first define the terms. Grace is a beautiful word that implies generosity, favor, and friendliness. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, so that no one can boast,” Eph. 2:8-9 says. The word discipline, on the other hand, connotes training, strictness, and correction. Let us read Hebrews 12:4-11 to learn more about why we need to be disciplined. v4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. v5. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor be weary when reproved by him. v6. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, And chastises every son whom he receives.” v7. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? v8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. v9. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? v10. For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. v11. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (ESV)

Is grace opposed to discipline?

I’d like to respond in the manner of the apostle Paul: ‘absolutely not.’ Although these two terms appear to be strange partners, God ingeniously joins them when he instructs and punishes his children. Without a doubt, it is his undeserved favor that grants and bestows salvation. Our relationship with God starts with him and concludes with his grace. But the unconditional mercy he bestows on us overflows over into our daily lives because he seeks to mold and shape us to conform to the likeness of Christ and to reform us when we stumble. Titus 2:11-14; “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” It is God’s grace that allows us to discipline ourselves. We shall progress as Christians as we become more reliant on God to strengthen us in the areas of discipline described by Willard in his book “The Spirit of The Discipline” (discipline of abstinence and discipline of engagement) and utilize the grace God grants us.


God’s grace is something that humans will never really comprehend. He loves us so much that He has lavished us with gifts we do not deserve. He sent His only begotten Son to die for us and offer us eternal life. All He requires is that we be completely committed to Him.  When we begin to follow the fundamental disciplines of faith, we shall truly experience the power of God’s grace at work in our lives.


Martin Kamaidan

Saved by Grace