(to the tune of Amazing Grace)
Afraid of Grace, how confused the sound
That makes a wretch of me…
Yes I know those aren’t the real words…but…it seems to me it’s the real meaning for a lot of Christians out there. We claim Grace, we can quote Ephesians 2:8,9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
However, we don’t live as if we believe it’s Grace alone.
We debate license and liberty, call it cheap grace, search for the “checklist of Christian life,” do what we can to earn more of God’s love…all of which indicates we’re afraid of Grace. Easy to understand, God’s Grace is scandalous to us…Jesus paying the price for ALL of our sin. We can do nothing to earn it…but we still try.
Grace means we’re forgiven (it means more, but that’s what we’re focusing on today). Jesus paid it all…tetelestai (it is finished). Finished…indicating there is nothing we can add, nothing more we can do to earn anything. Yet many keep trying to find the way to “keep God loving them” as if Grace only goes “so far.”
Some think it’s dangerous to talk about the completeness of Grace…could get Christians to believe they can sin all they want too and be forgiven (license/cheap grace). Technically, that’s an accurate statement – Jesus paid for every sin you’ll ever commit. There is no such thing as cheap Grace, Grace cost Jesus His life. There would be no Grace without the wondrous cross, no victory in Grace without the empty tomb. To call grace cheap…cheapens what Jesus did for us. However, if you have received Grace, the idea of using Jesus’ sacrifice as a “get out of jail free” card would trouble you, the Spirit would convict you. Grace brings about obedience, not as repayment…but out of love for God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. [Titus 2:11-14 ESV]
What self-controlled, upright, and godly lives are we being trained to?
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:36-40 ESV]
Grace trains us to live a life of loving God and loving others…which is what Jesus commanded of us. Yet so many spend so much effort trying to “pay back”, to “stay in good standing”, to “earn more love”…or whatever reasoning they have for not fully embracing the completeness of Grace. To try to quantify the unquantifiable (God’s Grace) is an exercise in futility and frustration. You chase away peace as you try to please God in your own power.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [John 1:16-17 ESV]
To not trust in the Grace given to us, is to not trust in Jesus. To try to find what you must do to “enhance” Grace, is to say Jesus alone is not enough. To only trust in Grace for salvation, but to live as if you have to earn your position after being let in…is, once again, not trusting in the “Author and FINISHER of our Faith.”
Why are we afraid? Does it seem too good to be true? It does when we try to understand it in our finite world, but God is so much more than our limited minds can comprehend. The best analogy I can think of to try to help explain is marriage…
When someone gets married they set aside things they did prior to getting married for the sake of their spouse…dating others, flirting (yes there are exceptions, no analogy is perfect). This isn’t done to earn love, this isn’t done only to keep a spouse…it’s done out of love for the other. Grace is like that, only better. The analogy falls short, but I hope it gets the point across.
In John 15, Jesus tells us to abide in Him…to REST in Him…to trust in Him. This is done by accepting His Grace…for salvation and sanctification. Grace is with us from our first step in the Christian walk all the way through to the “end”.
There is no reason to fear Grace…it’s too amazing to be feared.