Monday, February 28, 2011

What exactly is Grace?

The late pastor and Bible scholar Donald Barnhouse perhaps said it best: “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.”

To show grace is to extend favour or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it. Receiving God’s acceptance by grace always stands in sharp contrast to earning it on the basis of works. Every time the thought of grace appears, there is the idea of its being undeserved. In no way is the recipient getting what he or she really deserves. Favour is being extended simply out of the goodness of the heart of the giver.

One more thing should be emphasized about grace: It is absolutely and totally free. You will never be asked to pay it back. You couldn’t even if you tried. Most of us have trouble with that thought, because we work for everything we get. As the old saying goes, “There ain’t no free lunch.” But in this case, grace comes to us free and clear, no strings attached. We should not even try to repay it; to do so is insulting.

Imagine going to the house of a friend who has invited you over to enjoy a meal. You finish the delicious meal and then listen to some fine music and visit for a while. Finally, you stand up and get your things as you prepare to leave. But before you leave, you reach into your pocket and say, “Now, how much do I owe you?” What an insult! You don’t do that with someone who has graciously given you a meal. Isn’t it strange, though, how this world is running over with people who think there’s something they must do to pay God back? Somehow they are hoping God will smile on them if they work really hard and earn His acceptance, but that’s an acceptance on the basis of works. That’s not the way it is with grace.

And now that Christ has come and died and thereby satisfied the Father’s demands on sin, all we need to do is claim His grace by accepting the free gift of eternal life. Period. He smiles on us because His Son’s death and resurrection.
Amazing, this grace! Remarkable, the freedom and release it brought. And it came in full force from the only One on earth who has unlimited power, The Son of God.
My plea is that we not limit it to Him. We, too, can learn to be just as gracious as He. And since we can, we must... not only in our words and in great acts of compassion and understanding but in small ways as well.

 - Taken from Chapter 1, The Grace Awakening by Charles R. Swindoll
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