Eph.2: 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Grace is quite an ethereal concept when it is discussed in religious circles. Like descriptions of the Trinity, the human definitions concerning God’s grace are literally embarrassing. Because we are so self centered and have a self righteous view of law, we seem to be severely limited in our understanding of divine grace. The “unmerited favor” moniker is so tepid and innocuous it almost completely misrepresents the grace of God.
To discuss, much less comprehend, the essence of God’s grace we must tether the conversation to the sacrifice at Calvary. We cannot confine our understanding to a philosophical exercise which elevates the doctrinal intellect of man over of the bloody corpse of God.
It is not only helpful but necessary to understand that the sinner was redeemed through God’s grace alone, and also that the saint lives inside that grace as well. How often do we see grace as the portal to salvation but fail to see it as vital and indispensible for the believer? It is that kind of thinking which renders grace a tool we leverage rather than a divine gift. Watch the worthless Christian television shows and see liars suggest you can give money and get God’s favor. To dishonor God’s grace like that will have eternal consequences.
But redemption itself was paid for and offered through a divine grace that cannot be understood completely by man. Let us be honest, knowing what we know about ourselves surely makes the grace of God a colossal mystery. Go ahead and explain God’s love as a motivation and right there we are stopped in our intellectual tracks. And even when we admit that God’s love must have been the motivation without fully understanding the essence and power of that truth, then how can we completely unpack the fruit of that love called grace? It is absolutely glorious, but a mystery nonetheless.
But before I attempt to shed just a tiny bit more light on God’s grace, I must refer us to God’s holiness. Again, this is a truth about which we have no reference point or anything with which to compare. Our religious minds tell us that holiness is a combination of things we do, and even more the things we do not do. How convenient and self serving are our doctrinal definitions. It is like describing a supernova as a bright thing.
There are 100 billion galaxies that have been seen so far in the visible universe. And each one of these galaxies have 100 billion stars on average. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches and deserts in the earth. Now let us assume there is an element called “Alpha” that exists in the universe in only one single star. Nowhere else can that element be found. So if Alpha were to be found in the future in some other star it would have had to come from that first star. And so is holiness. It can only be found in God. So if holiness is found in some other area it would have had to come from God. And if we by faith are declared to be holy then that holiness is a gift from God from which all holiness is found.
So when a sinner is transformed into one of God’s children it has happened by believing the gospel of God’s Grace. That is what I call gospel faith. You see faith excludes any works of man. In fact man’s works poison true faith, and if any of man’s good works find their way into gospel faith it not only diminishes the finished work of Christ at Calvary, but it suggests a redemptive quality within good works as it pertains to the gospel. And that not only changes the gospel into a manmade proposition, but it is blasphemy at its highest level.
So if we understand God’s holiness in just a small and limited way, we then must begin to see the enormity of the grace of God. The Divine Being, the Creator existing in three Persons, is holy and untouched by any unholy compromise. And He is self sufficient within Himself and has need of nothing and no one. But in order to share His goodness He creates man in His own image. And man rebels and sins and becomes an enemy of His Creator and a friend of spiritual death. God had given him everything but he wanted more.
And yet God has already decided what He would do even before He created man. Thank about that for a moment. If you knew beforehand that your child would be murdered on a certain day at a certain playground would you take your child to that playground? And if you knew the murderer would be your worst enemy would you provide your child’s life to that murderer? And yet God knew man would rebel against Him and literally become His enemy and yet God still decides to create man as well as knowing He would place His Son in the hands of ruthless men in order to redeem His own enemies. Let’s face it, when we speak of such things we are overwhelmed since not only would we never do the same, but we can never conceive of such a thing. It is infinitely greater than a human mind’s capacity to really understand. And these kinds of divine attributes and acts are so deeply beyond us they can only be met one way. Worship.
Does it not seem like an incredible understatement to say that the gift of eternal life is “favor”? I mean let’s get real here. Life eternal! Life without end! Life with no sin and in the very presence of the Risen Christ and forever! How can such a truth find so little place in our lives? And how can some sports event elicit more passion and exuberance that that? And all of it comes through God’s grace. The words “unmerited favor” melt with embarrassment when we think about what God has done for us through His grace.
What if God by His grace redeemed us and made another perfect place called Eden and there we would live in bliss forever? Wouldn’t that have been beyond our wildest spiritual dreams? Wouldn’t that have been a colossal act of inconceivable grace? Oh yes, it would! But God has ordained that all who believe in Christ and His redemption of grace will spend eternity with Him! Jesus says to those who will betray Him that He will prepare a place that where He is they will live as well. Oh my. Oh my. How can this thing be? And how can we treat it with dry eyes and cold hearts? And how can the modern church dwell upon finances and moral issues and political forces and yet speak of eternal life in a doctrinal aside? This is the lukewarm church that has long since left her first love.
It is evident and in fact overwhelmingly clear that we have lost a sense of eternity and have instead used Christ for earthly and selfish issues while maintain a “going to heaven” doctrine. And nothing could be further from the truth as it concerns living out the grace of God. Why do we think it strange when a billionaire lives in a shack and saves thousands of coupons and only buys his clothing at Goodwill? It’s because he not only does not reflect his economic situation, but he lives diametrically in opposition to that status. In fact, he is on some level living a lie.
And so it is with God’s people when we live fully invested in a life of earthly pauperdom which includes any and all of what the world has to offer, and yet if we have eternal life we are living a lie. God by His grace has provided everything that pertains to our lives in the Spirit and yet we still demand to eat from the tree of earthly fruit. And in so doing we are earthly kings and spiritual paupers. And living within the framework of the heathen obscures the grace of God and makes that grace a doctrinal talisman. It has a monumental impact on our eternal destinies while having a little convenient and costless adjustments to our observable pilgrimage here on earth.
And now we turn again to that bloody grace which not only ushers those who believe into eternal life, but is consistently presented as the template for our lives lived within that act of sacrificial grace. That is a profound truth which has sweeping implications for the lives of those who profess Christ. In fact, the unpacking and application of those implications should be a consuming desire and journey and yet most of the church has settled into a life which is acceptable to the church but is unremarkable in the culture. And most American Christians would reject that premise completely.
But we are living creations of a grace which has “exceeding riches” inherent within it. And God Himself is going the show the wonders and riches of His grace in the ages to come so that all creation may understand the unfathomable depth of that grace. Grace is the manifestation of the love of God, and the bloodied Son of God at Calvary is the manifestation of that grace. If you desire a tangible and visible proof of that grace then know that you have eternal life first. And then hold out your hands and see there no nails prints in them. So you can be assured that you did not pay for your sins. Whoever can produce nails scarred hands is the Savior.
I have written about God’s grace HERE.
And what was the Apostle Paul’s favorite benediction of his epistles? And what did the Spirit inspire him to write at the end most frequently?
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Amen and amen.