After the coming, death and resurrection of Christ, the word “grace” leaps into our New Testament and multiplies in near exponential fashion. And unsurprisingly so, for “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Joh 1:17). Grace is at the very heart of the gospel and thus fills the pages of the Romans letter, where Paul explains the gospel, and the Galatians letter, where he defends it. Both Paul and Peter bookend their letters with grace, as does John in his Revelation of Jesus Christ. The writings of Luke, James and Jude also contain references to the beautiful theme of grace. The New Testament writers were awe-struck and amazed by God’s grace. The reasons why will be explored in this issue, but consider just this trio to whet your appetite for more.
For one, God’s grace is unique in its character. There is nothing else like it. To ponder that the most incredible blessings should be offered to the most undeserving of sinners as a free gift is indeed amazing.
In a debate during a British conference on comparative religions, the uniqueness of Christianity was being discussed, but with an inability to reach a consensus. C.S. Lewis eventually wandered into the room and asked, “What’s the rumpus about?” After hearing that the conversation was about Christianity’s unique contribution to the world, Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” The religions of this world each emphasize a way or ways (some utterly exhausting) to earn the approval of their god or gods. But the God of the Bible comes to us with a very different offer, one of unmerited favor – grace. Indeed, He has done all that is required for sinners like us to be made right with Him through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. We are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24 ESV). Truly amazing grace!
Second, God’s grace is universal in its offer. No one is excluded from God’s marvelous invitation to receive His grace. The offer was on the lips of God Himself, for it was Jesus, God the Son, who said that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Joh 3:16 KJV). God’s grace is amazing, for anyone, no matter how sinful, can receive it.
Third, and although quite incomprehensible to us now, God’s grace is unending in its duration. We are saved by grace, but we live by grace also. We live daily in the realm of God’s never-ending grace. Well did John Newton write, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” And once we are home, God will display the immeasurable riches of His grace throughout eternal ages (Eph 2:7). God’s amazing grace will never stop amazing us!