Follow by Email

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Work of Grace


One of the things that distinguishes Christianity from all other major religions of the world is the issue of grace. No other religion makes so much of grace and in no other system of belief is grace so central as in the Christian faith. And it is easy to see why. In just about every other system, indeed I would submit that in every other system, what man does to reach up to God is the essence of the belief. From Islam to Buddhism, man is constantly trying to find a better way to reach up to God and somehow please Him enough to be accepted by Him. That was the primary impetus behind the heathen ancients' sacrificial system: "how can I appease the deities so they will be pleased with me"?

I recently attended a presentation where the presenter discussed integrity, values and other related matters. In the course of the presentation, he spoke of his continuing efforts to become a better person saying at one point that he was "working to improve." It reminded me of an autobiography of Ben Franklin I read some years back. In it, the author mentions Franklin's efforts at improving as a person. He went as far as to make a list of virtues he would compare himself to every day. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that working to get better and become a better person is a bad thing. Indeed, the New Testament is constantly reminding us that we need to "do these things" referring to matters such as faith, love, knowledge, etc. (2 Peter 1:10).

The problem with such efforts is that as much as you might try to get "better" you'll never be able to get good enough. Just how good is it that you need to get in order for God to accept you? It becomes a self-defeating endeavor simply because we can never be sure just where the finish line is! Shall we be as good as our spouse wants us to be? Should it be what our parents think? Our peers? You get the point. If you don't know what the end goal is, then anything will do. Why will you tell me that being a criminal, a rapist or a "fill in the blank" is wrong? That is exactly what the problem with our current "tolerance" society is. Everyone decides for themselves what is acceptable, thus they all do "what is right in their own sight" (Judges 17:6). They have no anchor to which they can affix their values; it's all about what they perceive as being "nice."

So then, grace is the only answer. It is grace that works to justify us before God. Because Christ died and rose again, we have access to "this grace whereon you stand" (Romans 5:2). The only way that we can be assured of being accepted by God, is by availing ourselves of the solution that God Himself has provided. Since it is He that we have offended, it is He that must determine how we can appease Him. And the way that He has chosen for his wrath to be appeased, is by the sacrifice of His Son. God Himself provided the solution to the problem of sin and our alienation from Him. Indeed, God Himself became the offering that led to our justification! Amazing Grace indeed!

Paul told the Corinthians that God "made Him sin who knew no sin that we may become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Truly, that is a thought that should astound all of us. The idea that God Himself would become man in order to secure our redemption should cause all of us to bow in love and appreciation for such love.  What other system can make such a claim? What other system has provided any kind of sure way to reach God and to be justified in His sight? Only Christ has provided us a way that is 100% sure. If we are in Christ, we can have complete assurance that God has accepted us in Him. In such a thought, anyone can rejoice!






4 comments:

  1. "No other religion makes so much of grace and in no other system of belief is grace so central as in the Christian faith."

    It's actually worse than that. It's not only NOT central I'm not aware of grace even being a side issue in other religions. Appeasement from some sort of wrath may be some part of these non-Christian systems, but it is not grace which answers wrath - it's some sort of works.

    Good stuff Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How will you know when you’ve been good enough, you ask? When you’re dead, that’s when you’ve done enough good..

    ReplyDelete