A Grace Discovered

“Grace does not require tolerance to create a path for healing. Grace looks past the intolerable to find the humanity, and establish the divine.”
An old VHS Video on the thrift store shelf caught my attention. It was HIGHLANDER, a show my wife and I loved when it was a television series. As usual, this blast from my past had fizzled with time. Although filled with entertaining action, the premise of a violently gained immortality had lost its previous sense of wonder. I would rather have the one thing that was almost completely lacking in this movie…grace.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…” Ephesians 2:8
I heard a story about a group of scholars who were debating the challenging question of what made the Christian faith unique. A virgin birth? God becoming man? No. Every suggestion served up could be shot down by one of the learned men as being found in the world’s multitude of religions. Told, upon entering the room, the topic of discussion, C.S. Lewis answered simply,“ Grace!”
It is that very essential element of the Christian faith that makes the whole thing beyond the grasp of many. Grace is outside of the nature of man and is in fact, so uniquely God’s creation that even the angels are fascinated to see it in action between God and man (1 Peter 1:12). It challenges the theory of evolving man and survival of the fittest and self preservation. Receiving what you have not and cannot earn makes no sense except in divine purpose. That God can and does give what only He can give, makes HIS salvation a treasure for certain.
God is counting on the fact that having received such a gift, we will want to tell others and treat others as we have been treated. This is not a requirement. It is a test of our own faith. Grace should not sit idle in the heart. According to Jesus, if you have received it, it should flow from you, and in like quantity. The parable of Matthew 18 tells of a servant who, after receiving unbelievable grace, did not pass along grace to his co-worker. Under the law, grace was revoked from the ungracious. In the teaching of the Apostles Paul and John we find it clearly said that the evidence we are saved by grace is that we extend grace. The Apostle Paul declared himself chief among sinners and so great was the grace of God to Him that he reached out to his persecutors to share the same Good News of God’s Grace.
In Phillip Yancey’s book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace”, he says trying to explain grace is like dissecting a frog. You may open up it’s innards, but it dies in the process. Yancey further explains, “God’s grace is not a grandfatherly display of ‘niceness’, for it cost the exorbitant price of Calvary.” An opinion exists among certain theologians that the most profound thing ever written on the Christian faith is a little kid’s verse that goes, “Jesus loves me this I know”. Brennan Manning believes the only thing God will ask when you stand before Him is, “Did you believe that I loved you?” The acceptance of that speculative statement stems from the realization that God took your sin and mine. There is no explanation for grace except the Love of God. Just as with grace that love exists outside human understanding.
In studying the Scriptures about salvation, I have grown to understand why people want to think they have earned it; because the prospect of owing such a great debt as saving grace is frightening. We will spend an eternity with the Master of our salvation and never understand the engineering that went into the justification and rebirth of fallen man.
Spending too much time with grace under the clinical microscope could actually make it less lovely. Except that, by the grace of God, His plan of salvation is such that it cannot be altered by the foolishness of man.
Many have examined God’s grace only to conclude that something is required of us to accomplish its effect of forgiveness in us. Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8 both declare salvation a gift; which a gift, by definition, cannot be earned. After all my research, I doubt I had any part in my own salvation at all except to be the recipient of it. Add to the gift of Grace the fact that our faith too must be credited to Jesus, who authors and perfects it, and brings it to being by His word; and salvation BY grace THROUGH faith is simply a miraculous work of God, gifted to those of His choosing.
We are called to proclaim the marvelous, mysterious work of our Savior who said, “No one can get to the Father except through Me, and no one can come to Me except the Father draw him.” Every journey into saving grace involves entering that mysterious circle of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What can we conclude from dissecting grace except that WE are to make it all about HIM and He will, by His grace, make it about us, as suits His purpose?