If a young man is killed through some random act of violence, and his father tracks down the guilty person and kills him, we would call that vengeance. If, however, the father calls the police and the murderer is arrested, tried, convicted, and executed, we’d call that justice. If, at the trial, the father pleads for the guilty man’s life to be spared, and the judge and jury consent, we’d call that mercy.
Now imagine this: In addition to pleading for the guilty one to be spared, the father actually appeals to the judge to release the offender into his custody and care. Miraculously gaining approval, the father takes the young man into his heart and home, adopts him, and raises him and loves him as his own son. That would be grace!
No word brings greater joy to the heart of a follower of Christ than grace. Grace is the free gift of God to those who have sinned against Him and deserve only His wrath. Grace is that which God gives us to meet His requirements and to face the difficulties of life. The most magnificent display of God’s grace is seen in our salvation, as described for us in Ephesians 2:
You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked … and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (vv. 1–9 ESV).
Our situation was truly desperate. We had no hope … no possibility of overcoming sin’s dominion on our own. No power to initiate our own salvation. No potential of ever having a right relationship with God. We could not do anything to change or improve our situation. If our sinful condition had made us only sick or weak, we might have entertained hopes of getting better. But we weren’t sick; we were dead. Someone had to infuse life into us. Someone did.
Humankind’s sinful condition was more than an annoyance to God. Sin was not something we could apologize for, thereby patching up the relationship as if we’d simply had a disagreement with God. We were children of wrath—guilty and condemned. Not a pleasant thought, is it—that our eternal soul sat on death row? But where there is God, there is grace; and where there is grace, there is pardon.
By His grace God did for us what we could not do for ourselves: He gave us life for death and pardon for condemnation. At the cross, God satisfied His own vengeance, met His own demands of justice, extended mercy, and then added the surprise of His grace. Having punished sin, God forgave sinners; then He went on to adopt all who would believe, making them fellow heirs with His only Son. Such is the extravagant love and grace of God.
God’s grace is never given as a reward for anything we could possibly do to merit it. As we explore further the riches of God’s grace, not only in salvation but also in our sanctification, we must remember that God’s grace is always a gift given to the undeserving. That’s what makes it so amazing.
Have you received the gift of salvation God offers you through His grace? If not, will you now? Call a pastor or a friend who belongs to Christ and ask them to pray with you.
If you have received God’s saving grace, have you come to take it for granted or lost a sense of the wonder of what God has done for you? Take a few minutes to pray, thanking God for giving you life and saving your soul. You may want to sing a hymn or chorus such as “Amazing Grace.”