Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Moved By Grace

Amazing grace how sweet the sound!

Are you astounded by the grace of God? I was recently reminded of a great chapter in the timeless tome by J.I. Packer on God's Grace. (Knowing God)

This extended quote is from pages 132, 137.

(Begin quote)

We can only claim from Him justice--and justice, for us, means certain condemnation. God does not owe it to anyone to stop justice taking its course. He is not obliged to pity and pardon; if He does so it is an act done, as we say, "of his own free will," and nobody forces his hand. "It does not depend on man's will or effort, but on God's mercy" (Rom.9:16 NEB). Grace is free, in the sense of being self-originated and of proceeding from One who was free not to be gracious. Only when it is seen that what decides each individual's destiny is whether or not God resovles to save him from his sins, and that this is a decision which God need not make in any single case, can one begin to grasp the biblical view of grace.

The grace of God is love freely shown toward guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity and had no reasons to expect anything but severity. We have seen why the thought of grace means so little to some church people--namely, because they do not share the beliefs about God and man which it presupposes. Now we have to ask, why should this thought mean so much to others? The answer is not far to seek; indeed, it is evident from what has already been said. It is surely clear that, once a person is convinced that his state and need are as described, the New Testament gospel of grace cannot but sweep him off his feet with wonder and joy. For it tells hour our Judge has become our Savior.

It has been said that in the New Testament doctrine is grace, and ethics is gratitude; and something is wrong with any form of Christianity in which, experimentally and practically, this saying is not being verified. Those who suppose that the doctrine of God's grace tends to encourage moral laxity ("final salvation is certain anyway, no matter what we do; therefore our conduct doesn't matter") are simply showing that, in the most literal sense, they do not know what they are talking about.

For love awakens love in return; and love, once awakened, desires to give pleasure. And the revealed will of God is that those who have received grace should henceforth give themselves to "good works" (Eph.2:10, Titus 2:11-12); and gratitude will move anyone who has truly received grace to do as God requires, and daily to cry out thus--

Oh! To grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!

Do you claim to know the love and grace of God in your own life? Prove your claim, then by going and praying likewise.

(End quote)