Grace Working in the Elect
Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We centurions say that we will fear God and do what is right, and endeavor to follow the commandments and the rule of the Order, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. I know of no man who can live by the commandments of God perfectly, and no man can even approach such without the aid of the Holy Spirit. God gives us the desire to do right, and the ability to do it when we desire it. Some have called this cooperative grace.
God has promised to pour out his Spirit on his elect - as his gift - to abide in us and to direct and sanctify us in our works begun, continued, and ended in him
The scripture affirms this:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: [Acts 1:8]
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Acts 2:38]
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things [Jn 14:26]
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak [Mt 26:41]
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing [Jn 6:63].
As the branch itself cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. [Jn 15:4]
The early Church fathers affirm this:
No man who does not partake of the blessing and assistance of the Lord, can procure for himself the means of salvation. [Ireneas]
In order to imitate the pattern, which Christ has left us, we have need of the grace of God. [Tertullian]
While a man strives and labours of himself to subdue his vicious affections, he can do nothing; but if he manifests an earnest and vehement desire to do so, he is enabled by the Divine Power to accomplish his purpose; for God favours and cooperates with the willing mind. [Clement of Alexandria]
If without God we can do nothing, certainly we can neither begin his work, nor bring it to an end. For of the beginning it is said, 'His mercy shall go before me', and of the end it is said, 'His mercy shall follow me all the days of my life'. [Augustine]
The church councils affirm this
Council of Carthage 419AD (which is accepted as the 6th Ecumenical Coucil)
That the grace of God not only gives remission of sins, but also affords aid that we sin no more. Likewise it seemed good, that whoever should say that the grace of God, by which a man is justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, avails only for the remission of past sins, and not for assistance against committing sins in the future, let him be anathema.
Also, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us only in not sinning by revealing to us and opening to our understanding the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let him be anathema. For when the Apostle says: "Wisdom puffeth up, but charity edifieth" it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace of Christ for that which puffeth us up, but have it not for that which edifieth, since in each case it is the gift of God, both to know what we ought to do, and to love to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while charity is edifying us. For as of God it is written, "Who teacheth man knowledge," so also it is written, "Love is of God."
and finally, CXIII:
Whoso preaches that without grace we could keep the commandments although with difficulty, is to be thrice execrated. For the Lord says, " Without me ye can do nothing."
Council of Orange 529 AD
If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
So we say:
through faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit - fear God and do what is right.
Let us pray:
O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.finis
[Charles Haddon Spurgeon]