The challenge of grace
by John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
“Amazing Grace” is one of the most beloved hymns in American Christianity.
It is well known even among non-believers. Though the hymn is over 200-years-old, the message of its words are true.
They resonate in the hearts of all who have tasted of God’s grace.
Though grace is amazing, people often misunderstand the meaning and application of God’s grace. These wrong views can come out in the way people live their lives.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards undeserving sinners. When you consider God’s greatness, his holiness and his justice, you are right to assume he demands perfect purity in his creatures. Matthew 5:48 says, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The very fact that God does not send each one of us to hell on the spot demonstrates God’s grace.
Far from merely being slightly imperfect, we regularly violate God’s laws in our thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions. We truly deserve eternal destruction every day. Every breath you take upon God’s earth is only because God is graciously giving you life instead of what you really deserve.
Our problems begin when we take God’s amazing grace for granted. We start to assume that God owes us his grace. Since God has shown us his mercy for so long — some of us longer than others, we get spoiled over it. Sinning does not seem quite so bad, since, after all, God is so gracious he won’t really mind. This is foolish madness!
God is a great God. His grace and mercy are shown to us to lead us to repentance. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Every time you sin against God, you are making a mockery of his kindness and grace.
Suppose you had to go to court for committing your sixth traffic violation in the past two years. If you are found guilty you could lose all driving privileges.
The Judge, however, decides to give you one more chance based solely upon his mercy alone. Would the correct response be to skid out of the parking lot and speed away?
Of course not. Your new crime would be doubly serious because you presumed upon the great mercy of the court. Right in the face of grace, you act wickedly. How much more foolish is it to presume upon the grace of God? God knows everything — even your thoughts and innermost motivations. No slick lawyer will be able to get you past the bar of God.
Another wrong idea about God’s amazing grace is that it will be available always. Many people sin and then foolishly assume that they will be able to repent on their deathbed and everything will be OK. This is wicked folly.
God is not a cosmic genie with a lamp that you will be able to rub and earn some wishes. God is not a snack machine that is waiting for your loose change to give you a treat.
He is a personal God.
He is a great King.
He will not put up with your rebellion forever (see Psalm 103:9; Acts 17:30-31). Remember, every day you do not repent is another day you are spurning his grace and kindness. It is another day he has mercifully allowed you to live, and not plunged you into hell.
Almost every day on the news we hear about someone’s life taken away from him or her suddenly and unexpectedly. There was no chance for their quick confession upon a deathbed. Even if their tragic death wasn’t directly related to one of their pet sins, God is still involved and is still just for allowing it to happen.
Wouldn’t God be completely just to hurl us into hell after our very first sin? There is no injustice for those God takes on the spot. If I am describing you and your lifestyle, you need to live as if today is your last minute opportunity to repent.
In spite of my strong words of warning against those who presumptively trample upon God’s amazing grace, God is still very gracious. Instead of instantly judging you, he has made a way that you can be pardoned for all of your sins — even for the sin of presumption.
He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live perfectly and die as a substitute for sinners.
God poured the full measure of his wrath upon Jesus on the cross, so that he could remain just and yet offer pardon to you. He delights in saving sinners — as evidenced by his great provision in Jesus, his allowing you to live and his allowing you to read these words.
He wants you to repent. He wants you to put your trust in Christ alone for your salvation.
Any thoughts you may be harboring about being good enough on your own or of waiting until later to come to Christ are arrogant and foolish. While he is showing you huge patience and kindness to lead you to repentance, you are continuing to rebel. Romans 2:5 says, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
What is the proper response to God’s amazing grace? First, repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved. Nothing magnifies the greatness of God’s grace more than saving a sinner. But second, be overwhelmed by God’s grace.
Instead of neglecting it by continuing to wallow in your sin, praise God for his goodness. Thank him for his grace. Show him your gratitude and love by striving to please him in everything you do. Do not try to serve him to earn his favor, but because you have his amazing grace in Christ.