What else can be said of God’s grace that hasn’t been said? But again it can’t be spoken of too much or exaggerated, if spoken of rightly. And that is what makes it grace; grace is not what is normally expected. So undeserved, so amazing, because we are such sinners yet God is thrice holy (Rev 4:8, Isaiah 6:3). His holiness means that he is free from defects, sin and evil, and not only as pure as the heavenly hosts are, but also set apart.
To understand grace, we need to know what we deserved but didn’t get, and what we have been given but didn’t deserve—mercy and grace. They are fraternal twins in the new birth of a saint, their beauty clearly perceived when we gaze at the Giver.
In order to understand what we truly deserved we need to look at God and His holiness, and then look at ourselves and our sinfulness. God is holy, so holy that no sin goes unpunished (Numbers 14:18, Proverbs 11:21.) You can’t just go against the Almighty and go scot free. He is a just God and His justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne (Psalms 89:14). Since He is the only sovereign and God, then what He says is what is. He is the standard of all that is and will be. All life and following action therein flows from Him. Therefore, any creature that goes against His decree deserves extermination and His full wrath since it is not working as it ought; or as its Creator commands and directs.
So we can answer the skeptics that dismiss and mock the ‘Christian God’ who demands we follow Him or else He throws us in Hell (they portray Him as violent to dismiss His loveliness and grace). As Francis Chan clearly notes, “we don’t get to choose who God is”. God is who He is. Remember how He described Himself to the Israelites, I AM WHOM I AM! (Exodus 3:14) He made us, and everything seen and unseen, so we operate in His decrees and when we go against Him, He has the volition to do as He wishes as His character in holiness dictates (Psalms 110:3).
The point is not to present an undesirable awful God to make much of grace, but rather, to present a clear picture of His character and in turn to see our sins as we ought and His glory as displayed. Man is that creature that went against this Angry Almighty Creator, and nothing condemns us faster than when we see God as we ought to. Consider Isaiah and weep with him, ‘Woe is me for I am ruined! (Isaiah 6:5). Our sin begs for judgment and His justice and wrath will accomplish that, soon.
Soon, because although God is infinite, Grace isn’t. Infinite grace negates justice. R.C Sproul in his book ‘Holiness of God’ explains this well and says:
God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.
We can’t be comfortable in our rebellious sinful state because the offer of ‘Grace amazing’ still stands. The end is near and wrath is nearer.
But Grace doesn’t end in the law and wrath … that is it what justice is. But God is both just and gracious, so is it contradictory? Does He act against his justice when being gracious? If yes, how does He reconcile that? If no, how then am I alive? How can His just wrath and gracious love coexist harmoniously? Why hasn’t he exterminated all mankind since all have sinned? What hope do I have? None! This is bad news!
But thank God, there is the good news. He has accomplished both his justice and loving kindness for His people. In His love He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish in sin but lives forever, for an eternity knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ.
He was spent for us (Gal 1:4). That was supposed to be us on that tree. That is what everyone deserves. We can’t think even for a split second we deserved salvation. We can’t talk of entitlement and grace in the same breath. So whether he chooses to save some, one or none, it’s grace that any is saved.
And that’s the point; no one in heaven will say “I deserve to be here”. The saints there will have nothing to hold on but the precious blood of Jesus that redeemed them (1st Peter 18-20), yet the sinners in hell will know they are entitled to every last expression of His wrath there. The answer to the question raised in heaven as to why you are not in hell is simply God’s Grace.
So consider for a moment the grace of God that calls sinners from their deadness and sin and makes them his children (Eph 2:4-9). What manner of love is this? We sin (1 John 1:8), deserve wrath (Eph 2:3) but instead He crushes His Son for your sin (2 Cor 5:21), draws you to Himself (John 6:44), adopts you (Eph 1:5) and keeps you as His as son for all eternity (1 Thess 4:17).
This is what we so undeservingly get. So if we can look at this new life in Christ through the lens of grace, we wouldn’t dare take the grace of God lightly by sinning (Romans 6:1-2). We would be more content, thankful and joyful singing ceaseless praise to Him for His mercy and grace.
And maybe even borrow the words of John Newton:
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
It’s true, we are wretches. It’s a fact, judgment awaits. It is marvelous, His grace remains amazing.