The Necessity of Grace

St Thomas Aquinas

                                                                       Edited by J E Bradburn


Corinthians 3:5 (KJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;


Therefore man cannot, of himself, know TRUTH without the help of grace. Now man is cleansed from sin by grace according to:


Psalm 51:10-12 (KJV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.


To know TRUTH is a use or act of intellectual light: Ephesians 5:13 (KJV) But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Now every use implies movement broadly, so as to call thinking and willing movements, now in corporeal things we see that for movement there is required not merely the form which is the principle of the action or movement. But there is also required the motion of the first mover. Now the first mover in the order of corporeal things is the heavenly body. Hence, no matter how perfectly fire has heat, it would not bring about alteration, except by the motion of the heavenly body. But it is clear that as all corporeal movements are reduced to the motion of the heavenly body as to the first corporeal mover, so all movements, both corporeal and spiritual, are reduced to the simple first mover; Who is God.  And hence no matter how perfect a corporeal or spiritual nature is supposed to be, it cannot proceed to its act unless it is moved by God; but this motion is according to the plan of His providence, and not by a necessity of nature, as the motion of the heavenly body. Now not only is every motion from God as from the First Mover, but all formal perfection is from Him as from the First Act.

And thus the act of the intellect or of any created being whatsoever depends upon God in two ways:


Genesis 2:7 (KJV) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


1.       Firstly, inasmuch as it is from Him that it has the form whereby it acts;

2.       Secondly, inasmuch as it is moved by Him to act.



Now every form bestowed on created things by God has power for a determined act, which it can bring about in proportion to its own proper endowment; and beyond which it is powerless, except by a superadded form, as water can only heat when heated by fire. And thus the human understanding has a form, viz, intelligible light, which of itself is sufficient for knowing certain intelligible things the human intellect cannot know, unless it be perfected by a stronger light, viz, the light of faith or prophecy which is called the light of grace, inasmuch as it is added to nature. Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any TRUTH whatsoever man needs Divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the TRUTH in all things, but only in some that surpass his natural knowledge. And yet at times God miraculously instructs some by His grace in things that can be known by natural reason, even as He sometimes brings about miraculously what nature can do.


Whether by his Own Natural powers and Without Grace

Man can Love God above All Things?


Man was first made with natural endowments (an attribute of mind or body); and in this state it is manifest that he loved God to some extent. But he did not love God equally with himself, or less than himself, otherwise he would have sinned. Therefore he loved God above himself. Therefore man, by his natural powers alone, can love God more than himself and above all things. 

Man in a state of perfect nature, could by his natural power, do the good natural to him without the addition of any gratuitous gift, though not without the help of God moving him. Now to love God above all things is natural to man and to every nature, not only rational but irrational, and even to inanimate nature according to the manner of love which can belong to each creature. And the reason for this is that it is natural to all to seek and love things according as they are naturally fit (to be sought and loved) since ‘All things act according as they are naturally fit.’ Now it is manifest that the good of the part is for the good of the whole; hence everything, by its natural appetite and love, loves its own proper good on account of the common good of the whole universe, which is God.God leads everything to love of Himself.’


Genesis 1:1 (KJV) The History of Creation: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’


Hence in the state of perfect nature (before the fall) man referred the love of himself and of all other things to the love of God as to its end; and thus he loved God more than himself. and above all things. But in the state of corrupt nature man falls short of this in the appetite of his rational will, unless it is cured by God’s grace, follows its private good, on account of the corruption of nature also And hence we must say: that in the state of perfect nature man did not need the gift of grace added to his natural endowments, in order to love GOD above all things naturally, although he needed God’s help to move him to it; but in the state of corrupt nature man needs, even for this, the help of grace to heal his nature.


Death is a sad reality that is ever present in our world, leaving behind tremendous pain and suffering. Tragically, many people shake a fist at God when faced with the loss of a loved one and are left without adequate answers from the church as to death’s existence. Unfortunately, an assumption has crept into the church which sees death as a natural part of our existence and as something that we have to put up with as opposed to it being an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26) that came into God’s very good creation. This paper will argue that the biblical understanding of death, whether animal or human, physical or spiritual, views it to be a consequence of man’s disobedience towards his Creator and an intrusion into His “very good” creation.


1 Corinthians 15:26 (KJV) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.


You may well ask, how can death be destroyed? 1 2  3  4


Acts 16:31 (KJV) And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’


Whether Man without Grace and by His Own Natural Powers

Can Fulfill the Commandments of the Law?


There are two ways of fulfilling the Commandments of the Law.—


1.      The first regards the substance of the works, as when a man does works of justice, fortitude, and of other virtues. And in this way man in the state of perfect nature could fulfill all the commandments of the Law; otherwise he would have been unable to sin in that state, since to sin is nothing else than to transgress the Divine commandments. But in the state of corrupted nature man cannot fulfill all the Divine commandments without healing grace.  The answer to: ‘otherwise he would have been unable to sin in that state,’ is: 1 Timothy 2:14 (KJV) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. But in the state of corrupted nature man cannot fulfill all the Divine commandments without healing grace.

2.      Secondly, the commandments of the Law cannot be fulfilled, as regards the substance of the act (Rebellion). And in this way, neither in the state of perfect nature, nor in the state of corrupt nature can man fulfill the commandments of the law without grace  Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.


Do not be disturbed at his saying that they do by nature those things that are of the Law; ‘for the spirit of grace works this, in order to restore in us the image of God, after which we were naturally made.’


Whether Man Can Merit Everlasting Life without Grace?

Romans 6:23 (KJV) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The above is said in (Rom 6:23); so we may understand that God, of His own mercy, leads us to everlasting life. Acts conducing to an end must be proportioned to the end. But no act exceeds the proportion of its active principle; and hence, we see in natural things, that nothing can by its operation bring about an effect which exceeds its active force, but only such as is proportionate to its power. Now everlasting life is an end exceeding the proportion of human nature, as is clear from what we have said above. Hence man, by his natural endowments, cannot produce meritorious works (deserving honor or praise) proportionate to everlasting life; and for this a higher force is needed, the force of grace. And thus without grace man cannot merit everlasting life; yet he can perform works conducing to a good which is natural to man, as to toil in the fields, to drink, to eat, or to have friends.

The grace of God is life everlasting, says, it is certain that everlasting life is meted out to good works; but the works to which it is meted, belong to God’s grace. And it has been said, that to fulfill the commandments of the Law, in their due way, whereby their fulfillment may be meritorious, requires grace.


Whether One Who Has Already Obtained Grace, Can, of Himself

and Without Further Help of Grace, Do Good and Avoid Sin?


As the eye of the body though most healthy cannot see unless it is helped by the brightness of light, so, neither can a man, even if he is most righteous, live righteously unless he be helped by the eternal light of justice.

But justification is by grace: Hence even a man who already possesses grace needs further assistance of grace to live righteously.


Romans 3:24 KJV) Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:


In order to live righteously a man needs a twofold help of God—


1.      First, a habitual gift whereby corrupted human nature is healed, and after being healed is lifted up so as to work deeds meritorious (deserving honor or praise) of everlasting life, which exceed the capability of nature.

2.      Secondly, man needs the help of Grace in order to be moved by God to act.


Now with regard to the first kind of help, man does not need a further help of grace, e.g., a further infused habit. Yet he needs the help of grace in another way, I e., in order to be moved by God to act righteously, and this for two reasons:


1.      First, for the general reason that no created thing can put forth any act, unless by virtue of the Divine motion.

2.      Secondly, for this special reason—the condition of the state of nature.


For although healed by grace as to the mind, yet it remains corrupted and poisoned in the flesh, whereby it serves the law of sin;


Romans 7:23 KJV) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.


In the intellect too, there remains the darkness of ignorance, whereby as it is written:


Romans 8:26 (KJV) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.


Since on account of the various turns of circumstances, and because we do not know ourselves perfectly, we cannot know what is for our good


Wisdom of Solomon 9:14 (KJV) “For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain.”


Hence we must be guided and guarded by God, Who knows and can do all things. For which reason also it is becoming in those who have been born again as sons of God, to say: Lead us not into temptation. and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and whatever else is contained in the Lord’s Prayer pertaining to this


The gift of habitual grace is not therefore given to us that we may no longer need Divine Help; for every creature needs to be preserved in the good received from Him. Hence if after having received grace man still needs the Divine help, it cannot be concluded that grace is given to no purpose, or that it is imperfect, since man will need the Divine help even in the state of glory, when grace shall be fully perfected. But here grace is to some extent imperfect, inasmuch as it does not completely heal man, as stated above. We are led by the enemy into all sorts of temptation, and Revelation says, ‘he must be released from his captivity to weed out those who are not fully cleansed.’


Revelation 20:7 (KJV) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,


Hebrews 6:1 (KJV) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,


Isaiah 14:1 (KJV) For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.


These two warnings against additions and subtractions in their context are concerned specifically with the book of Revelation, and the primary emphasis is not on the Bible as a whole. However, since the book of Revelation is the final revelation of God’s Word, the principle behind the warning can be extended to;


·        The main examples in our own day of those who add to the inspired text are numerous cults which append extra-Biblical writings to the text by elevating them on a par with the inspired Scriptures.


·        Examples of those who add are the numerous cults that accept other writings as inspired and authoritative and place them on equal ground with the Bible; (i.e., the Mormons with the Book of Mormon, and Christian Science with their Key to the Scriptures).


·        Some such as Mohammed have led whole nations away from the TRUTH, and the total effect of all of them has been incalculably tragic.



Whether Grace is a Quality of the Soul?

Psalm 104:15 (KJV) And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.


Grace is a certain beauty of soul, which wins the Divine love. But beauty of soul is a quality, even as beauty of body. Therefore grace is a quality. There is understood to be an effect of God’s gratuitous will in whoever is said to have God’s grace. Man is aided by God’s gratuitous will in two ways:


1.      First, inasmuch as man’s soul is moved by God to know or will or do something and in this way the gratuitous effect in man is quality, but a movement of the soul; for motion is the act of the mover [God] in the moved [man].

2.      Secondly, man is helped by God’s gratuitous will, inasmuch as a habitual gift is infused by God into the soul;


and for this reason, that it is not fitting that God should provide less for those He loves, that they may acquire supernatural good, than for creatures whom He loves that they may acquire natural good. Now He so provides for natural creatures, that not merely does He move them to their natural acts, but he bestows on them certain forms and powers, which are the principle of acts, in order that they may of themselves be inclined to these movements, and thus the movements by whereby they are moved by God become natural and easy to creatures according to:


Wisdom 8:1 She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well. 


Much more therefore does He infuse into such as He moves towards the acquisition of supernatural good, certain forms or supernatural qualities, whereby they may be moved to Him sweetly and promptly to acquire eternal good; and thus the gift of grace is a quality.


Of the Cause of Grace

Psalm 84:11 (KJV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.


Nothing can act beyond its species, since the cause must always be more powerful than its effect. Now the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature. And thus it is impossible that any creature should cause grace. For it is necessary alone that God should deify (exalt to the rank of a deity), bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness, as it is impossible that anything save fire should enkindle.


Whether Any Preparation and Disposition for Grace Is Required on Man’s Part?

Amos 4:12 KJV Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

Proverbs 16 (KJV)

01 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.

02 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighted the spirits.

03 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

04 The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

05 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

06 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

07 When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

08 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

09 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.

11 A just weight and balance are the Lord's: all the weights of the bag are his work.

12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

15 In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Haughty means: having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important).

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.

21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

30 He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.

31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.


Grace is taken in two ways:


1.      First, as a habitual gift of God.

2.      Secondly, as a help from God, Who moves the soul to good.


Now taking grace in the first sense, a certain preparation of grace is required for it, since a form can only be in disposed matter. But if we speak of grace as it signifies a help from God to move us to good, no preparation is required on man’s part, that, as it were, anticipates the Divine help, but rather, every preparation in man must be by the help of God moving the soul to good. And thus  even the good movement of the free will, whereby anyone is prepared for receiving the gift of grace is an act of the free will moved by God. And thus man is said to prepare himself:


Proverbs 16:1 KJV The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.


It is the part of man to prepare the soul; and yet it is principally from God, Who moves the free will. Hence it is said that man’s will is prepared by God, and that man’s steps are guided by God.


Whether Man Can Know That He Has Grace?

There are three ways of knowing a thing:


1.      First, by revelation, and thus anyone may know that he has grace, for God by a special privilege reveals this at times to some, in order that the joy of safety may begin in them even in this life, and that they may carry on toilsome works with a greater trust and greater energy, and may bear the evils of this present life, as when it was said to Paul: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV) And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Fear comes from not trusting, believing, or loving God with all thy might. If I can tell you a story, in 1982 I was on H.M.S. Broadsword, which was part of the Task Force sent down to the Falkland Isles in the South Atlantic. When hostilities broke out we were sent to Falkland sound, known by the sailors as Bomb Alley. We were perpetually bombed by Argentine planes for twelve hours a day for five days. At this time I prayed to God if I could see my wife and children again, but Thy will, not mine; be done. We moved out of Bomb Alley to the mouth of Falkland Sound with H.M.S. Coventry and were attacked by two Argentine A4 bombers. Coventry had direct hits and sank, Broadsword took a bomb astern which came through on the starboard side, about a meter and a half above the Plimsoll line, it took out the overhead fire main, burst the Avgas Helicopter fuel tank, punched a hole through the flight deck, and went overboard without exploding. I was half blinded and covered in the Avgas fuel from the ruptured tank, but very fortunately I was drenched at the same time by the water from the fire main. But I was still alive, my prayers had been answered . We then took on Coventry survivors from the freezing cold water of the South Atlantic, processed and fed them, then sent them to the S.S. Uganda. I went about the business of fighting the ship knowing I was protected by God which gave me the courage to pass to others who were sore afraid. So the message is quite clear: Be afraid of nothing, trust in God.

2.      Secondly, a man may, of himself, know something, with certainty; and in this way no one can know that he has grace. For certitude about a thing can only be had when we may judge of it by its proper principle. Thus it is by indemonstrable universal principles that certitude is obtained concerning demonstrative conclusions. Now no one can know he has the knowledge of a conclusion if he does not know its principle. But the principle of grace and its object is Elohim,  Who by reason of His very excellence is known to us, according to: Job 9:11 KJV Lo, He goeth by me, and I see Him not: He passeth on also, but I perceive Him not. And hence man cannot judge with certainty that he has grace according to: 1 Corinthians 4:3—4 (KJV) 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord.

3.      Thirdly, things are known conjecturally by signs, and thus anyone may know he has grace, when he is conscious of delighting in God, and of despising worldly things, and inasmuch as a man is not conscious of delight of any mortal sin. Thus it is written:  Revelation 3:21 (KJV) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My [Elohim] throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father [Jehovah] in His throne. And yet this knowledge is imperfect since the Apostle says: 1 Corinthians 4:4 KJV For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord. Psalm 19:12 (KJV) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.



There was confusion in the minds of the later Jews, Jesus’ own people, regarding the identity of their God because they no longer understood their own scriptures. That is likewise the problem today with most of the Christian world. The mystery of understanding the identity of the God of the Old Testament arose in both cases because of wickedness and the loss of many plain and precious truths from the scriptures. By contrast, Jesus said that life eternal consisted of gaining a full knowledge of the Father and the Son (see John 17:3). In the final analysis the individual comes to know the true God through experiences that train him to be like Him, and thus he understands, or knows, Him (see 1 John 2:3; 3:1–2; Ether 2–3).


John 17:3 (KJV) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.


1 John 2:3 (KJV) And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.


1 John 3:1—2 (KJV)

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


Esther 2—3 (KJV)

2 Then said the king's servants that ministered unto Him, ‘Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:’

3 ‘And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of His kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:’


Isaiah 45:11-12 (KJV)

11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye Me.

12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.