Bible Study Opportunities
Hey! I Don't Deserve This!
By Jon W. Quinn
I don't deserve to be treated this way! It doesn't seem right. It certainly isn't equitable. Are you wondering what I am complaining about? I'll tell you.
I am not complaining about anything at all. You probably thought that the title and first paragraph was a complaint because that's how those phrases are usually spoken. But not this time, because I am using them to express the truth about what God has done for me. The New Testament translates the Greek noun "charis" into our English word "grace". Synonyms include kindness, goodwill and a gift of favor. You cannot adequately discuss God's relationship with man without using this word. In fact, it is used about 150 times in the New Testament. Predominately, it is used to speak of what God has done for us through His Son to bring about our redemption; including His promises, His incarnation as a human being, His teaching, His works, His self-sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension and His New Covenant including its provisions and commands.
All these things of grace relate to our hope of eternal salvation. Perhaps the most well known passage in the Bible that speaks of grace and salvation states "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." (EPHESIANS 2:8).
HOW GRACE BECAME REALITY
"For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (JOHN 1:17). Every human being stands in need of grace because of the sins he or she has committed. Grace would not be needed if we had no sin or if there were some way to redeem ourselves. Grace is sorely needed because the consequences of sin is so very great. There is no end to the consequences of sin. The ruin sin brings to an individual is eternal. By our sins we make ourselves entirely and utterly unfit for God's companionship. The evil of sins that we committed a half a lifetime ago continue to hang over us rendering our souls accursed, and will continue to do so unto the end of time and throughout all eternity. Apart from grace there is absolutely nothing that any of us can do about it at all! Without the grace of God we are forever hopeless, blind, wretched and destined for eternal misery.
I am too unworthy to even approach God and beg that He do something for me to help my situation. Think about this: suppose you had found out before Jesus came that your only hope was for Him to leave heaven and come here in the form of a man. To face temptation and tragedy; rejection and mocking; cruel torture and agonizing death. And He had to do it all perfectly, allowing Himself no margin at all for error. How easy would it have been for you to ask Him to do all that for you? Would you have offered Him some payment, bribe or reward? What would it have been? Would you have tried to "make it worth His while?" How would you have tried to convince Him to do all that as you stood before the Lord of heaven and earth; the Creator of the cosmos; the King whom you had turned your back upon by your disobedience; as He sat upon His throne with blazing glory and searched your heart with His eyes as of flames of fire?
Fortunately, we never had to ask Him to do this great thing for us. He volunteered because He loves us and saw our great need. He knew we had no means to pay Him back, and that we never would have. He came anyway. This is grace. It is real. It is our hope and confidence.
SOME THINGS GRACE DOES NOT DO
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be..." (ROMANS 6:1,2). God's grace is great. It is powerful and fulfills the purpose of God. But there are some things which it was never intended to do. It cannot be abused or taken for granted.
1. There is no grace apart from Jesus. God provides His favor only through Jesus, His Son (ACTS 4:12). There quite simply is no other redeemer; no other hope; no other method or no other system by which we can be saved. "I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Jesus Christ." (I CORINTHIANS 1:4).
2. There is no grace apart from faith in the gospel. Paul sought to spend his life testifying "solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (ACTS 20:24). The gospel is the good news of God's grace and is "the power of God unto salvation." (ROMANS 1:16). And understand that salvation by God's grace through our faith in Christ's gospel is not automatic. We must receive God's grace by our obedience, for those who do not obey the gospel are not saved by God's grace (II THESSALONIANS 1:7-9).
3. Grace is not based upon our works of human merit. By this, we simply mean that we cannot be good enough to cause God to be in our debt so as to owe us salvation based on the wonderful things we have done. To try to explain our need for Jesus away is empty and futile. To talk about how God will certainly bless us because we've done this or that great thing and have done few wrong things is to secure our own eternal defeat. "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." (TITUS 3:5). Please understand that this is not to say that our obedience to the gospel is unnecessary. It does not imply that at all. In fact, notice the need to obey the gospel is emphasized in the above verse; "by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." That is the same thing as Jesus said was necessary as He talked to Nicodemus ; "...unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (JOHN 3:5). The salvation by the blood of Christ which we receive when we by faith obey the commands of the gospel is not a result of our human efforts but of God's power and stated purpose.
ACCESS INTO THIS GRACE
"Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God." (ROMANS 5:1,2). All have sinned and are in need of God's grace. God desires that all sinners be saved, and therefore has made grace available unto all men everywhere (TITUS 2:11). The thing that you and I and everyone on this planet has to do in order to gain entrance into this grace is to meet God's conditions for pardon. Nothing else will do. No more than that is necessary, no less than that is enough. We must put our faith in Jesus. This is done by exercising our faith as we obey His gospel from our hearts. As Peter told those who were yet in their sins but who had come to believe the gospel of Christ and yearned to know what they must do, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (ACTS 2:37,38). Also, once entrance into grace is obtained, disciples are urged to "continue in the grace of God." (ACTS 13:43).
THE RESULT OF GRACE
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us." (EPHESIANS 1:7,8a). There are references made to several results of grace in the context of the above verse. In the verse itself we have mentioned redemption and forgiveness. Verse 3 summarized everything grace does for us by saying that we are blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Following verses refer to our being chosen in Him, adoption as sons, the making known of His will, receiving a heavenly inheritance, our hope in Christ and our receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus suffered to give us peace. He became poor that we might become rich. He hungered and thirsted that we might never hunger or thirst again. He sorrowed to give us joy. He died to give us life. He rose to give us hope. He will return to take us home. Amazing grace! As I said at the beginning, I do not deserve to be treated this way. But thank God I am.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois May 17, 1992