When we talk about things that excite the Church grace ought to be at the top of the list. Sometimes, though, I believe it ends up somewhere between the carpet that didn’t get stained and the lumpy mashed potatoes. Grace is one of the most misunderstood and forgotten gifts God has given us.
For starters, let’s talk about how grace is so much more than just a gift. Grace is an integral part of our salvation! In the same verse that God uses to tell us that grace is a gift He tells us that “It is by GRACE that you have been saved!” This incredible gift is the means by which we have been pulled out of the deep waters and set on dry ground. What does that mean? Well, suppose God knew you would be driving a certain road today. And He also knew a certain tree would be falling on that road near where you would be driving. His unbelievable grace is what keeps you out from under that tree and on your way. That scenario can be played out millions of times per day as we trust God to keep us where He wants is to be. But that’s not all.
Grace isn’t just the means God uses to keep us safe and sound physically. Grace is the tool God uses to sustain us spiritually. We know grace implies forgiveness but have you ever thought about how God uses grace to anticipate our sin and He puts us in a place to receive forgiveness and be restored, often before we even realize just how damaging our sin has been to us and those around us? Over and over in the Old Testament God applied grace to the people of Israel before He applied judgment. God showed them the best way for them to walk. They choose instead to walk in the complete opposite direction. (Sound familiar?) And God in His grace reaches out to them, to redirect and rescue them from the distraction they have invited. That’s grace! Instead of repeating Sodom, God gives another chance.
Grace continues on. You may say “The limb fell on me, the enemy destroyed me and I was allowed to walk so far away I think there is no way I can come back.” Grace says you can. Sometimes when God is working for His glory and our good, a limb on the head is the best way He can get our attention. As much as it hurts to take a hit, at least you’re still breathing. There is still time for you to submit your heart to Jesus. There is still time for you to turn around. Grace says even though you’ve ignored Him, even though the road you chose has been full of horrible things, that doesn’t mean you can’t still turn and experience Gods unbelievably strong grace.
The antithesis of grace is punishment. All those who shun Gods offer of grace will one day face the punishment we all deserve. God promises we will all stand before Him as the Judge. And He is a good Judge! He doesn’t judge us based on all of the good we have done. His judgment is based upon the wrong or deliberate rebellion in our life. No good judge would say to a murderer, “You killed a guy but because you’ve been such a good person I’m going to let you go.” That would be ridiculous! God promises judgment and Hell to all who ignore Him and His offers of restoration, but to those who respond to Him, by grace, He offers us LIFE! Grace is not forgetfulness or divine amnesia. God says “I choose to wipe away all your disobedience, all your rebellion, if you will submit your heart and life to me.” Grace is what keeps us alive. It is the means by which we walk into Heaven.
Vaughn Roberts offers this image: The beauty of grace is seen every time an art restorer picks up His brush. His goal isn’t to repaint or redesign a masterpiece. His intentions are to uncover the beauty that time and wear have layered over. By grace God meticulously removes the plaster and pain that years of rebellious living have applied to our lives. Slowly He unveils the beauty He originally put there. Grace is the means by which we are restored.