Over the last few weeks I started looking at the whole subject of Law (legalism) and Grace. So far we have concentrated on legalism. The first week we looked at the wrong application of the law i.e. trusting in keeping the law for our salvation etc. Two weeks ago we looked at 3 things the law does;it reveals sin, it provokes sin and it leads us to Christ. We discovered that we were never supposed to keep the law in the first place; God’s salvation plan has always been for Him to provide everything for us because He knows we can never be good enough to earn it ourselves.
This week I am going to look at Grace, not the whole subject you understand, just some basics, then over the coming weeks we will look at various aspects of this amazing subject in more depth.
What is ‘grace’ as the bible understands it?
It can be described simply as ‘unmerited favour’, something we receive that we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. A simple description but something that our brains find hard to work out. The idea of grace does not come naturally to our human minds. I think the pride within us reacts to accepting something for nothing. We generally don’t like receiving charity. If someone gives us a gift we endeavour to return the compliment. To just accept the gift and do nothing in return actually feels a bit rude!
An amazing free gift which we just accept? Where’s the catch?
A common adage we often hear is “you don’t get anything for nothing” and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. We are naturally wary of anything that is free.
The desire to pay back a free gift is so ingrained in us that even after we have accepted it, we still try to add to it by ‘performing’ for God, doing good works here and there, trying to gain His favour which He has already completely bestowed upon us
The message of grace permeates throughout the bible. It’s the story of a loving and very patient God, loving a very disobedient and rebellious people who let Him down constantly. Grace is a wonderful gift but so too is the realisation of just how far away we are, how wretched we are and how far we have fallen. The first two lines of the great old hymn by John Newton are;
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
Grace becomes so sweet once you realise that your sin has caused a huge chasm between you and a Holy and awesome God. What amazing grace that He should stoop down into history and actually suffer and die to bring us back to Him.