So what was I talking about when I mentioned the phrase “Grace Imperative?” Let us break down this phrase. An imperative is a command, at it’s most basic for. Grace is, at its most basic, a gift from God. So a grace imperative is a command from God that, if obeyed, results in gifts bestowed upon us. We don’t obey the command, however, because we feel it is something we have to do, but because we love God. In essence, we respond in love because God has loved us. In this way, the very things God commands us becomes part of the Gospel. This isn’t some “new thing” God is doing but it is something God has used from the very beginning. Passover is an excellent example of a grace imperative. Yes, God gave his people very specific instructions on how to celebrate the first Passover. Yes, God told his people what to do. It took faith in God and trust in his word to do what He asked. In the end, God spared the firstborn of all the people who trusted in him.
In this same vein, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are also grace imperatives. Christ himself commands both sacraments to us. It takes faith, however, to grasp these commands. Since faith is also a gift of God, we are now in the situation needing a gift in order to embrace other gifts that God promises. God gives us gifts so He can give us more gifts. That is where grace is primary in this whole scheme. Grace is given so we may trust the commands of God so that more grace can be given.
Maybe I haven’t explained this clearly, so if you are confused, tell me and I will give it another shot later.