Thursday, February 12, 2015

Too Much Grace?

"You're encouraging people to sin." "Folks are just going to use that as an excuse to live any way they please." These are just some of the complaints aimed at those who teach grace. If you have been a reader here for any length of time you can guess that I am going to disagree with those who say we should ease up on all this grace talk. I agree with what Robert Ferrar Capon once wrote.

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”

I believe that when we look at the whole of Scripture, we will see that the message of pure grace is the message of Jesus. During Jesus' time on this earth, he made it clear that there is no way we could ever be right with God by keeping the Law. The letters written by Paul and the other apostles also are insistent that it is God's grace and mercy that brings us to him and makes us his children. 

Now, there are some who preach what they call a message of grace, but which is really a message of license. They say that because of God's grace a Christian is completely free of all sinning and is never convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. It is true that the Spirit doesn't pound us down and burden us down with condemnation, but it is also true that we do sin. The conviction is not a judgmental thing but is more a reminder that we are not living as a child of God, but it is still there. When we are called on what we do, whether it is the Spirit or another person, it is not necessarily an accusation from satan.

I believe that an individual who truly has been captured by God's amazing grace, and who truly understands it, will agree with what Paul wrote in Romans 6. We don't sin so that there will be more grace. Grace does not mean that we can just do anything we want and God will just let it slide. God's grace is so powerful that it leads us to want to do whatever our Father wants us to do. The desire of our new heart is to love God with every fiber of our being, and to love others as Christ loved us. Sin is still present in us, and though it is not our nature any longer, we still sometimes choose to do those things that are wrong.

Folks who get grace are not against the Law. Rather, they appreciate the Law because it shows us how desperately we need someone else to do what is necessary to make us right with God. Jesus has fulfilled that Law, therefore it is not an external rule in our lives. Instead, by God's grace, we have an inward law of love that works in us so we can live like the children of God that we are.

The grace of God is amazing, wondrous, and powerful. It saves us and makes us children of God. It causes God's love to fill us and overflow onto those around us. As we are filled more and more with that love, we become more and more like Christ. 

That's pure two-hundred proof grace. Drink deeply.

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