GRACE. We hear the word. We sing of its amazingness. We speak of its fullness and its riches. Yes, it is a beautiful word. But how often do you stop to ponder its depth? If you stop to think about it, the word has been at the heart of countless debates and it has undergone attack after attack from those who wish to use it to cater to their own ideas. Why?
First, we need to understand what grace is. We’ve all heard of people
trying to get in someone’s good graces. When it comes to God, this
couldn’t be further from the truth. Grace is not something we can earn
nor is it something we can ever work toward. Scripture makes it clear
that God decides to whom He will be gracious and show compassion (Exodus
33:19; Romans 9:15). Does this
Many have tried to twist grace in various ways throughout history.
Some have stated that there is a prevenient grace that God has applied
to all without exception. Their reasoning for this ultimately boils down
to the idea that God desires the salvation of each individual person.
In an effort to maintain the doctrine of the fall of man, they state
that God gives a measure of grace to each person so that they now
possess the ability to choose God of their own free will. Unfortunately,
this goes against the very teaching of man’s depravity and deadness in
sin. Not to mention it’s found nowhere in Scripture. Furthermore, if God
truly showed grace to each and every person, how is there still room to
be gracious to whom He will be gracious? The response is that there are
varying degrees of grace. I can’t argue this point. After all,
Scripture does show examples of God being extraordinarily gracious to
some more so than others. However, when referring to salvation, we
simply cannot make a solid case for this claim. God will be gracious to
whom He will be gracious and He will show compassion to whom He will
show compassion. However, we must always remember that God is good and
worthy of our praise.
Another way in which grace has come under attack is in the form of
abuse. There are many out there who readily see grace as inexhaustible
yet seem to be making every attempt to tap the bottom of the barrel.
They say salvation is the free gift of God that is given by grace alone
(Ephesians 2:8). They say nobody can snatch us out of the Father’s hand
(John 10:28-29). While these two statements are very profound and very
biblical, we must be careful not to cross into the realm of hyper grace.
Such people come in varying degrees ranging from those who believe they
can live like the devil to those who claim nothing they do really
matters. After all, if God is sovereign and His grace is sufficiently
given out to all whom He decrees to give it to, can our actions really
affect anything? Thankfully, just as God’s Word is clear on the nature
of grace, it is equally clear on how we are to live with grace. Paul
battled much of the same assaults in his day. There is truly nothing new
under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Just as there are now, there were
then people claiming they could sin with no ill effects so long as they
were covered by grace. Unfortunately, they were missing the entire
point! Paul states it plainly when he says, “Are we to continue in sin
so that grace may increase? May it never be!” (Romans 6:1-2a).
We are to cherish the biblical teachings of grace, not because we are
to abuse it but because it should humble us. Romans 5:6 tells us Christ
died for those who were helpless. In verse 8, it goes on to say that
God demonstrated His love toward us. He graciously gave his Son as the
atoning sacrifice for those whom He chose to show compassion. Let us
never forget this. Apart from the perfect work of Christ, his death on
the cross, and his defeat of death in the resurrection, there is no
newness of life. Apart from God’s grace in orchestrating this act of
mercy, there is nothing but death. However, in His grace, He lavishes
His love upon us that we could be called sons of God (1 John 3:1). Why
would we ever desire to abuse such a gift?
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing
this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body
of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to
sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
~ Travis W. Rogers