Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saved by Grace, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about the problem of sin. Without understanding our predicament with sin it is simply impossible to understand grace. Today I want to talk about grace specifically. Paul wrote, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast" (Eph 2: 8--9). What Paul says here is that your salvation and mine is God's work from beginning to end. There is nothing we can boast before God or men about as having made us worthy of God's gift of salvation.

Some people have a hard time accepting this. It strikes at the heart of human pride. It is God's intent to humble us before his majestic presence. Grace is God's to give or withhold as he sees fit: "For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion'" (Rom 9: 15 NASB). You and I have no "claim" on God's mercy. We must come as beggars in need of mercy. There is no inherent "right" to God's forgiveness, even though he has promised it to whoever will call to him for salvation (Rom 10: 9--13). The promise is not an entitlement. To use Andrew Fuller's term, we must come as "supplicants" and not as "claimants".

God is not merely the Merciful One. He is also the Just Judge of all people. As Judge God has the right, because of our sins, to withhold his mercy or to give it. He is sovereign over who he will save. You and I stand in a position of complete dependence upon him. He can be glorified in our salvation or in our condemnation. One brings praise to his grace and the other brings praise to his justice. Yet the words of the Bible are encouraging--"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom 10: 13 NASB).

So, rather than becoming discouraged because all depends on God's mercy, have hope because he is a merciful God. He has provided the only perfect sacrifice for the salvation of sinners in the person and work of Jesus Christ. But do not come to him thinking you are somehow worthy of his attention. Come to him realizing that you stand in abject need of mercy and have nothing to offer him. It is you who stand in need of him, not him in need of you. Embrace him with a loving heart of surrender and faith and you will find him merciful.

No comments:

Post a Comment