Salvation by grace is a concept crucial to Christianity. Salvation by grace is crucial to humanity. If this is so, why is it so? We cannot fully explain God’s thinking on the matter, of course, but he has revealed quite a bit on the subject. It’s all Good News and well worth taking to heart.
- That salvation is by grace, i.e., a free gift from God, underscores his sovereignty over life. He is in charge. God’s authority over our individual lives, and his authority over the course of human history is absolute.
- Salvation by grace reveals God’s lovingkindness. It is his desire that all should be saved. He sacrificed his only Son that we might live. Grace is so important to God that he imposed a great cost on himself in order that he might richly dispense it.
- Grace is an absolute necessity, given God’s holy nature. He cannot embrace corruption or the corrupt and, yet, he longs to embrace us. This conundrum was resolved by the grace of the cross, by Jesus Christ receiving in himself our due punishment.
- Grace has flavored all of God’s work, beginning at creation; life itself is a gift of God’s grace. God’s work of grace in human history climaxed in the life of Christ, continues to weave its way into the salvation of many, and will culminate in the establishment of his kingdom, which shall be populated by all sorts of people whose hearts have been changed by the Holy Spirit. God is full of grace; it is part of what defines him.
- God’s grace reveals the need for human humility. We can no more save ourselves than we can long-jump the Grand Canyon. We have no power over life and death, nor over resurrection. No matter how good we may think we are, neither our goodness nor our accomplishments are sufficient for salvation. We have received our grades and all of us carry report cards of Fs. Sin stains everything we do. But God’s grace is strong reason to hope in spite of our failures.
- Rather than becoming depressed over our inadequacies, God’s grace reminds us that his love for us is not based on our righteousness. By grace, we have nothing to prove. We can stop the mad game of conformity to regulations. We can stop comparing ourselves to others. We can stop being anxious about whether we are good enough. We can accept the fact that we are not good enough. And, yet, we can rest assured that we are accepted by him and we give him delight.
- Because of God’s grace can live without fear of failure, not only ultimately, but in the present. God values each one of us; he has an important place in society for each one of us; he has valuable work for each one of us to do. And he will see to it that we live forever, which means we can live without fear of death.
- God’s grace demonstrates the appropriate use of power. God is sovereign over all, but he is not arbitrary or cruel towards his subjects; he does not exploit. Instead, he is generous beyond measure. He has determined the gracious course of history and no power or rebellion can stand up to his determination to see his plans through.
- God’s grace also makes an important demand on those who have been saved by grace. Knowing that God sees all of our sins and still loves us dearly, we must also embrace our obligation to be filled with grace towards others. Out of gratitude, we must see ourselves as the ones who will patiently and kindly and respectfully embrace even those people we find unbearable.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5.43-45