In today’s world and even in many of our churches, grace is no longer amazing; it is boring, just as J. I. Packer has diagnosed: “The thought [of grace] means nothing to them; it does not touch their experience at all” (Knowing God, 129).
It is true that, in this age of human rights and animal rights and every other kind of right, grace is neither needed nor appreciated. People are no longer enthralled with the grace of God because they believe they are good without God and that everyone has the right to go their own way. Therefore, the world rejects any concept of sin—not to mention the judgment such rebellion deserves. And so, it spurns the awesome grace of God.
This grace is the defining characteristic of Christianity, making it absolutely unique among all religions. For, whether we are talking about the Eightfold Path of the Buddha, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish ceremonial laws, or the Islamicsharia law, all other belief systems tell the story of how mankind is striving to earn God’s favor, to earn salvation. But Christianity is the story of how God reached down to mankind out of His great love.
In Christianity, no one can reach God.
He is holy, divine, righteous, and mighty. Therefore, no one can buy or earn his way into heaven; it is simply impossible. So, out of His love, God came to us. The notion that the God of the universe saves sinners with no strings attached goes against every human instinct and runs contrary to every other religious system in the world.
You see, Adam and Eve’s temptation is precisely the temptation of today. They sought to be masters of themselves and tried to establish their own authority—their own way to reach (even be) the divine. This refusal to obey the commands of their loving, holy Creator ushered in death, just as they had been warned (see Genesis 2:16-17). Through their rebellion, Adam and Eve scorned the extravagant love and grace they had experienced as they walked with the one and only God.
If we were speaking of any other human-made god, that would be the end. But we are speaking about the God of grace, whose love is so great that He made the universe. Even now, He extends grace daily by revealing Himself and His ways to us.
Before God’s grace came into our lives, we were spiritual corpses; we could not even make a move toward God (see Ephesians 2:1-8). Physically, we were alive, but our lives were spent rejecting God as we chose our own foolishness over His wisdom. We were dead in our sins, enslaved in sin, powerless to remove our chains, and justly subject to the wrath of God.
But now, if you have received the gift of God’s grace, the gift of salvation for eternity from the hand of God through the blood of Jesus Christ, you have been made alive. You have been set free from the power of sin, and you will never again be under the wrath of God (see Colossians 2:11-14; Romans 6:1-14). Indeed, “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). You have been set free!
You are already seated in the heavenly realms with Christ so that, as the recipient of God’s grace, you have victory over anger, greed, lust, jealousy, envy, fear, anxiety, doubt, and addiction of any kind. For, you are no longer a slave to sin, but an ambassador for the King of glory. What an astonishing power is the grace of God. Far from boring, it obliterates our dismal past and gives us a glorious present as we walk in new life with the King of kings residing in our hearts. But even this is simply a taste of the indescribably fulfilling future to come. For, one day, we will see the God of grace face to face.