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Amazing Grace

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It is quite a simple step, logically, that is, to move from our sinfulness to God's love expressed in His grace. For if He is to love us at all-and He most certainly does-it must be a love rooted in His graciousness. He could have demanded that we meet certain expectations before He showered us with every good thing His benevolent heart could dream of. But, if this were the case, we would never have enjoyed His love. For "there is no one righteous, no, not even one" (Rom 3:10). But the love of God is manifested brilliantly in His grace toward undeserving sinners. And that is exactly what grace is: God's love flowing freely to the unlovely.

In Pursuit, author and evangelist Luis Palau writes:

Thank God his grace isn't "fair." A couple of years ago, one of my nephews (I'll call him Kenneth) was near death. He had AIDS. During a family reunion in the hills of northern California, Kenneth and I broke away for a short walk. He was a hollow shell, laboring for breath.

"Kenneth, you know you're going to die any day," I said. "Do you have eternal life? Your parents agonize. I must know."

"Luis, I know God has forgiven me and I'm going to heaven."

For several years, since his early teens, Kenneth had practiced homosexuality. More than that, in rebellion against God and his parents, he flaunted his lifestyle.

"Kenneth, how can you say that?" I replied. "You rebelled against God, you made fun of the Bible, you hurt your family terribly. And now you say you've got eternal life, just like that?"

"Luis, when the doctor said that I had AIDS, I realized what a fool I'd been."

"We know that," I said bluntly, but deliberately, because Kenneth knew full well that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is sin. "But did you really repent?"

"I did repent, and I know that God has had mercy on me. But my dad won't believe me."

"You rebelled in his face all your life," I said. "You've broken his heart."

Kenneth looked me straight in the eye. "I know the Lord has forgiven me."

"Did you open your heart to Jesus?"

"Yes. Luis! Yes!"

As we put our arms around each other and prayed and talked some more, I became convinced that Jesus had forgiven all of Kenneth's rebellion and washed away all his sin. Several short months later he went to be the Lord at age twenty-five. Says Palau, "My nephew, like the repentant thief on the cross, did not deserve God's grace. I don't either. None of us do. That's why grace is grace-unmerited favor."1

Grace is the theme of the New Testament and the key to understanding its message. For the New Testament writers speak of salvation and always connect it to the grace of God. Our salvation from sin and wrath was God's gracious idea before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9) and was brought to realization in history according to his gracious plan and call (Romans 8:30). We are saved by the grace of God, not by works, (Eph 2:8-9), and the grace of God teaches to live out our salvation before God in an honorable way (Titus 2:11-12). The praise of the glorious grace of God is the final goal of salvation (Eph 1:6). In short, it's grace from beginning to end.2

And just so that we would understand the extent of God's grace He gave many examples in the Bible, in particular, the example of the apostle Paul. Isn't it amazing that God should take the greatest legalist of all time and make him the greatest exponent for grace? Paul said that God had chosen him so that people might learn in him-a murderer and persecutor of the church-the true meaning and full extent of the grace of God:

1 Timothy 1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and I am the worst of them. 1:16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.

While we were at war with God-enemies as Paul says in Romans 5:10-He was making a way to extend His grace to us. What incredible love.

During WWII a man died and his two friends desperately wanted to give him a decent burial. They found a cemetery in a nearby village. It happened to be a Roman Catholic cemetery and the dead man had been a Protestant. When the two friends found the priest in charge of the burial grounds, they requested permission to bury their friend, but the priest refused because the man had not been a Catholic. When the priest saw their disappointment, he explained that they could bury their friend immediately outside the fence. This was done.

Later, they returned to visit the grave, but couldn't find it. Their search led them back to the priest and, of course, they asked him what had happened to the grave. The priest told them that during the night he was unable to sleep. So he got up and moved the fence to include the dead soldier.

And so it is with God. He was not able to sleep until He had made a way for the unlovely and unworthy to be included in His gracious love. In point of fact, He not only moved the fence, He actually destroyed the barrier into His holy presence. But He did so through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His cross. It is through the crucified Christ, and Him alone, that we freely approach the Father (John 14:6). The question that remains is, "Have you done that?" Have you turned from your sin and embraced Christ with your whole heart?" There's no time like the present! He promises to shower His amazing grace upon all who come to Him in repentant faith, to set His wild love upon all those who seek the Lord their Helper and Savior. God is passionate about showering His grace upon you, that is, about having you experience His abundant love firsthand. You've heard about it, now receive it!

Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food (Isaiah 55:1-2)!

1 Luis Palau, "God's Ocean of Grace," Pursuit, vol. 4, no. 11.

2 J. I. Packer, Key Bible Themes: Studies of Key Bible Themes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 94-95.

Related Topics: Devotionals

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