Why is Grace So Amazing?
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As Christians, we often talk about grace and how blessed we are to be covered by God’s grace. We often thank God for His grace and say how much He loves us and praise Him for making grace available. Too often though, we fall short in understanding grace, and as a result, it is not appreciated.
Grace is often defined as: God’s undeserved or unmerited favor, but too often however, Christians are unable to explain what grace really is and still, the depth of God’s grace is often misunderstood. When a Christian clearly understands why he needs grace, it would have a clearer, deeper and more personal meaning. Nelson’s Bible dictionary defines grace as: “Favour or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves.” This definition gives me a clearer understanding of God’s grace and goes a long way in helping me appreciate salvation.
First of all, grace is dispensed as a result of sin. Secondly, grace is needed because sin needs to be punished and a sinful person is unable to meet the requirements to pay for his sins. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned,” and then, that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
After God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they disobeyed His command in which they were specifically told:"From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). As a result of their disobedience, God punished all the parties involved (Genesis 3:14-19). Sin entered our world, and as a result – death. So too did shame, pain and suffering, thorns and even hard work. The ground was cursed and the body of man began to deteriorate, resulting in death. All of this, as a result of sin. The result of Adam’s sin had drastic consequences. He lost his pride, his home and he lost the relationship he had with a holy God. He was also driven out of the Garden of Eden.
God subsequently made a promise to the serpent in which he was told that the seed of the woman would one day bruise its (the serpent’s) head, and he would bruise its heel (Genesis 3:15). This was a promise of hope and God’s grace. It was the secret into which angels looked, hoping to find an answer (1Peter 1:12).
Today when we engage in sinful activities, we do so in a very flippant way, without regard for sins’ consequences. We need to remember though, that sin is not an absence of good, but all disobedience is sin (James 4:17; 1John 3:4). Because God is holy and just, all disobedience must be punished; because God is loving and merciful, His nature compels Him to forgive as well. In human terms, God is placed in a bind and forced to act. God’s love is so compelling that His mercy cries out to us in the words of the Apostle Paul: “But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Consider for a moment the well known story of the prodigal son. He selfishly asked his father for his share of the estate and it was given to him – while his father was still alive. In thinking about himself, this son could not wait for his father to die. Bear in mind that in those days there were no banks in town, so the father most likely had to sell a portion of the estate to get the money needed to give to the son. The walk around town was probably the longest the father had ever made – thinking of his son who was leaving home. Imagine the sorrow in this father’s heart as he allowed this transaction to go through. Imagine the sorrow and shame he felt. His son was leaving home and his family was being broken up for no good reason. He had to sell off part of the land he had toiled for so many years. Why? This son loved to play as hard as he worked, and wanted to go off to have a jolly good time. The father’s heart, like any father we know – was broken.
Father in return, made the trip in town and returned with a large sum of money which he gave to his son, who, very happily packed up and moved out. One party led to another, and then another. Trips with newly made friends led to more parties and soon the money ran out. Before you know it, he was abandoned by his friends. No one gave him anything to make ends meet and he had to work for a living – feeding pigs (Luke 15:14-16). Soon, he began to consider eating the pigs’ food. Then it struck him – he had a father in a place called home. In his father’s house the servants eat and are full, and here he is, desiring to eat pigs’ food.
He made up his mind to go back to his father and express his sorrow, ask for forgiveness and ask to be treated like a servant because of his mistake. He said he would tell his father, “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18, 19). “But when he was yet a great way off,” Jesus said, “his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Here, Jesus shows the patience and compassion of the father. He shows the love for his son – a son who had displayed selfishness, greed and pride.
Jesus said, from a great way off the father had compassion. He ran. He hugs his son, falls on his neck and kisses him, welcoming him back home. The son then apologizes for his mistake. Father in return calls for his servants to clean up his son, and give him new clothes. Not only does he forgive his son, he restores him. He calls for the servants to bring the best robe and a ring. Then there was a celebration.
Jesus just told a story of God’s grace in a way we can understand it. The son is a person who wanders off into sin, but God waits. The son ruins his life and still, the Father waits. When the sinner can take it no more and “comes to his senses,” God draws near. From a great way off, Jesus said, God sees and draws near. That is grace being stirred up. The sinner goes to God and God has compassion. He hugs, kisses, cleanses and restores. That is grace displayed.
"When we look back at sin and its devastating consequences in the Garden of Eden, we are saddened. Such a paradise should never have been lost. Had it not been for one mistake, one act of disobedience, we may have been there today. Still. But look back with me though, at the punishment handed down to the guilty on that sad, dreadful day in the Garden of Eden - a curse, dust, thorns, sweat, shame, humiliation, pain, sorrow and finally death.
"In order for fallen man to be punished for his sins, God sent His Son into the world where He became the required payment (John 3:16). During His final hours, Jesus was in Pilate’s court where He was humiliated, beaten, spat upon and mocked. As He was led away to be crucified, He fell in the dust beneath His cross and crawled along Jerusalem’s dusty streets in shame. There on that cross, He hung, wearing a crown of thorns. As He was further mocked, He was stripped of the only garment He had, and for it, soldiers gambled. In pain and sorrow, He bore our sins on that wooden cross of Calvary - and there, by His death, He would set us free from sin. He became a curse for us –the curse of sin. It began in shame, in Eden, and ended in triumph on Calvary.
"The cross of Calvary. A Nazarene. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”asked Nathaniel. “Come and see,” Phillip said (John 1:46). Who would you see? A man? The Son of God? No! A worthy sacrifice – the Lamb of God! The Savior, through whom all men can have access to the Father. The resurrection and the life. Grace appeared. God sent His son - this is the Nazarene.
"If Jesus had not died, there would be no grace displayed; there would be no Savior, no hope and we would be living in darkness. Heaven would be silent, for there would be no new song of victory and no rejoicing. Jesus is my Savior and there is salvation in no other name under heaven. I know my Savior lives! And that is why grace is so amazing. Now, I can sing and I can shout – “Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.”" 1