Grace is the key to everything.
And I am not referring to the week-kneed, limp, powerless, feeble grace that you find in most Christian theology today, but the shocking, outrageous, scandalous, indiscriminate, senseless, irrational, unfair, irreligious, ridiculous, absurd, offensive, infinite grace which Jesus exhibited during His life.
The only people who really object to this kind of grace are the religious people who think that their behavior merits them some sort of special privilege or position with God and are offended that the so-called “sinners” are put on equal footing with them before God. But that is exactly what God’s grace does.
By grace, God loves all, forgives all, and accepts all, with no conditions, no strings attached, no fine print, no qualifications, no limits, and no ongoing requirements.
The grace of God is so outlandish and foreign to every human way of thinking and living, I believe that it is absolutely impossible for any human being to place too much emphasis on grace.
But what is grace?
Grace is often defined as God’s unmerited favor, or, in everyday terminology, God giving us something good that we do not deserve.
Grace is different from mercy, which could be defined as God not giving us something bad that we do deserve.
I do not think that there is too much disagreement in many Christian circles on the definition of grace, and so I do not want to spend too much time trying to defend a specific definition of grace.
What we do see, however, is that certain groups try to limit, restrict, or modify grace so that it is not as shocking or scandalous as it first appears.
The Crucifixion was not a Condition of Grace
One way that many use to limit the extent and effectiveness of grace is to connect it with the crucifixion of Jesus. It is not uncommon to hear sermons or read books where it is claimed that it is only because Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world that God can now show grace toward people.
If Jesus had not died, we are told, then God could not have extended His grace toward sinners.
But once again, such an idea strips grace of all its meaning and power.
Grace, by definition, is unmerited.
There is nothing that can be done (or not done) to earn or merit or deserve grace. If God could not extend grace unless someone died (whether it was us or Jesus), then God’s grace is not grace at all, but is a transaction.
The extension of God’s grace toward humanity was not preconditioned upon the death of Jesus on the cross. Grace does not demand payment in any way, shape, or form. Grace is not the act of God paying the debt of sin by sacrificing His own Son on the cross as our substitute. Grace has always been extended by God simply on the basis of His love.
Grace would still be extended even if Jesus never died on the cross.
The death of Jesus on the cross was because of God’s grace; not the grounds for it.
It is this fundamental flaw in modern theology’s understanding of grace that has caused so much trouble in many other areas of theology as well. But once we see that God gives grace for no other reason than because God is gracious, it is only then that we begin to understand the true nature of grace.
So don’t limit God’s grace by thinking that God could only extend it by sacrificing Jesus to pay the debt of our sin. That’s not grace.
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