Grace – Simply Amazing Grace

Image by Steve Jurvetson (Creative Commons Attribution)

Image by Steve Jurvetson (Creative Commons Attribution)

I have set a personal goal for myself:  to deeply and thoroughly study the doctrines of the historic Christian faith.  Right now I’m studying the doctrine of grace.  Amazing, amazing grace.

Grace means God’s favor to the undeserving.  We are the undeserving.  Each one of us.  The revelation of grace is that we can only understand it in the context of our own, innate sinful nature.  Inherited from Adam and Eve, we can’t fight against our sinful nature because after all, it’s our…..nature.  But God, through His mercy, made a way for us to shed our sinful skin for all of eternity.  That way is through grace — His grace.

Can you imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt on that day — the day they purposely deceived and disobeyed God?  Can you imagine watching God kill innocent animals in order to clothe them — finally realizing what death was really like- – knowing that their sin, which they now saw with open eyes, caused that death?  I can’t begin to imagine watching another die because of my sin.  Adam and Eve saw God take the life of innocent animals in order to clothe their sinful bodies.  We, the descendants of Adam and Eve, still sinful in nature, have watched Jesus die through the words of scripture — for us. God should have killed man right then and there in the garden….but instead offered a substitution for our disobedience.

Isaiah 26:10 has a beautiful way of teaching us about grace:

Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

God’s grace really is amazing.  Why would He show us mercy?  We are wicked.  Why would He show us mercy when it is our very nature to wallow in our sin?  We insist on evil.  We refuse to learn.  We disregard the majesty of God.  We tend to be introspective, thinking that bad things always happen to good people, yet the fact is, through God’s grace, a good thing has happened to us!

There are two kinds of grace.  God’s common grace causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45).  All people benefit from the common grace of God.  Acts 17:24-26 reminds all men that the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God gives us everything – breath and everything else.  This is God’s common grace to all men.

So why does God offer common grace to all men?  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:27-28

Throughout the history of God’s people, we see more often than not that humankind rejects God’s grace.  It doesn’t matter that God has provided a way out for us — that we have seen Him evidenced throughout creation — that He has provided for our physical and spiritual needs.  We choose to reject the common grace of God because it is our nature to do so.  It takes another kind of grace, electing gracesaving grace — to reach down from heaven and give rebirth to the heart of sinful man.

Paul clarifies the heart of the gospel-saving message in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-9Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

This is the heart of the gospel message.  It is factual.  It is substantiated by eyewitnesses.  It is not about our “relationship” with God as much as it is a fact that Jesus lived and died for our sin.  We try to personalize it on our terms.  We believe that we must have something to do with choosing God.  When we do this, the gospel message becomes all about us.

No!  The gospel message had nothing to do with us — it had everything to do with what Jesus did FOR us.  It was through the sovereign grace of God that we are able to be saved.   It is according to His will, not our own.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God chooses us.  We do not choose Him.  We do not have the ability to choose Him without His electing grace providing a way for us to do so.  Here’s the hard thing.  God does not choose everyone.  People have a hard time with this.  People deny the doctrine of election (that God chooses us).  They choose to believe that they are responsible for choosing God — for choosing His salvation.  This simply is a deceitful lie crafted by the prince of lies.

Image by Francisco Antunes (Creative Commons Attribution)

Image by Francisco Antunes (Creative Commons Attribution)

As sinful creatures, it is not in our nature to see the majesty, glory and sovereignty of God.  Our nature is sinful.  Why would a sinful nature choose God?  The answer is — it would not. Romans 3:10-11 reminds us that None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. No one.  No one.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that even faith is not from ourselves, but is the gift of God. God alone is responsible for each and every step of salvation.  God alone chooses who will be saved and who will not be saved.

As I sit here and allow this truth to soak into my soul, I marvel that this simple, scriptural message has been so distorted today.  The contemporary church misunderstands and often denies the doctrine of grace.  Our faith is not a works-based faith.  Nothing I do is good enough to earn God’s favor/grace.  I can’t be good enough to make up for my sinful nature.  Men like Joel Osteen would have you to believe that the gospel message is all about “how to be a better you.”  How easily we believe the lies of those who mislead us — even if unknowingly!  It shouldn’t be this way.  God told teachers to study, to do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  (2 Timothy 2:15) Pastors are held to a stricter accountability.  It is hard for me to excuse teaches who misrepresent the truth. 

I see legalistic, fundamentalist churches on one side and liberal minded, “be a better you” churches on the other — both promoting a wrong message to the world.  Neither side has it right.  How is it that such a simple, basic component of the gospel message is misunderstood and misrepresented?  Grace is simply amazing.  It arrives in Genesis and rests in Revelation.  If you take the time to study, it is written in bold language for all who will see.  May God grant you today to see the clarity of vision in the gift of His grace through Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by carol on March 13, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    Very true Kathy:) You are very knowledgable in your Bible. I am not that good:( I will keep praying for my son, and every chance I get show him what an Awesome God we have. My grandchildren too. Your Grandchildren will be blessed to have such a Spiritual Gramma:) By the way…she is such a little cutie! How is Gramma doing though? I bet she is a lot of work!:( As she gets older though, that will get less…maybe:) Well, take care. See you the 1st week in April. Carol

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