“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
“Now I will say this to every sinner, though he should think himself to be the worst sinner who ever lived: cry to the Lord and seek him while he may be found. By simple faith, go to your Savior, for he is the throne of grace.” –Charles Spurgeon
There’s little consolation in knowing God is your Creator unless you know what He’s like. A Creator could be miserable, unreasonable, unloving, and downright hateful. Likewise, there is little consolation in knowing God is your Ruler, but great consolation in knowing that God is your sovereign Savior: holy, happy, kind, and full of grace.
To a devout Jew, the notion of unhindered access to God was scandalous. Yet by His grace and for His grace, that access is ours. Because of Christ’s work, God’s door is always open to us. Let’s enter freely and frequently!
Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “If grace were at any time an obligation of God, it would cease to be grace.” Deliberately and unceasingly, the tide of God’s grace brings us wave after wave of God’s goodness. The next wave crashes onto the beach before the previous wave is diminished. God’s grace is constant, but it isn’t stationary. It keeps moving toward us day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It’s always there when we need it—and there’s never a moment we don’t.
Conviction of sin brings us momentary grief. Yet, as Sinclair Ferguson says, “The heart-conviction of sin is the way grace prepares the heart for more grace.”
The grace that saves us is also the grace that sanctifies and empowers us. God’s power isn’t needed just by unbelievers to be converted. It’s needed by believers to be obedient and joyful. We can look back at the day we first experienced the sunrise of God’s grace. But grace is a sun that never sets in the believer’s life.
“One thing is past all question: we shall bring our Lord most glory if we get from him much grace.” –Charles Spurgeon
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). No matter what you’ve done, there is no sin beyond the reach of God’s grace once you have accepted Christ’s offer of forgiveness.
God knows everything, so no sin surprises Him. He knows all our worst secrets (Psalm 69:5). No skeletons will ever fall out of our closets. Jesus will never say, “Had I known you’d done that, I’d never have let you into Heaven.” He’s seen us at our worst and still loves us. John Calvin said, “Grace does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies power to live in the Spirit.”
And just as words such as love and happiness are often misused and misunderstood, so too is grace. Trevin Wax says, “Whatever you attempt to supplement grace with is what you will eventually supplant grace with.”
Tolerance is the world’s substitute for grace. This fake grace of indifference negates or trivializes incarnation, redemption, and the need for regeneration. True grace recognizes and deals with sin in the most radical and painful way: Christ’s redemption. God in His grace offers salvation to all people because all people need His salvation. Christ came precisely because not one of us is fine without Him.
For some, “human depravity” (total inability to earn our way to God) may be an insulting doctrine, but grasping it is liberating. When I realize the best I can do without God is like “filthy rags” in His sight, it finally sinks in that I have nothing to offer. Salvation therefore hinges on His work, not mine. What a relief!
Jerry Bridges writes, “We could not take one step in the pursuit of holiness if God in his grace had not first delivered us from the dominion of sin and brought us into union with his risen Son. Salvation is by grace and sanctification is by grace.”
God’s grace didn’t get us started then leave us to our works. Grace sustains us in the present and will deliver us in the future. “He drank a cup of wrath without mercy that we might drink a cup of mercy without wrath,” wrote J. Oswald Sanders.
Jesus was and is Grace and Truth fully embodied (John 1:14). Not half-grace and half-truth, but full grace and full truth. “Are you too bad to receive grace? How could you be too bad to receive what is for the bad?” asked David Powlison.
When Jesus saves us, we become new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). We start seeing sin for what it really is—bondage, not freedom.
God’s children have been saved from the penalty of sin, we are being saved from the power of sin, and we will be saved from the presence of sin. Salvation, sanctification, and glorification are all grounded solidly in exactly the same thing: God’s grace.
The grace of Jesus isn’t an add-on or makeover that enhances our lives. It causes a radical transformation—from being sin-enslaved to being righteousness-liberated.
Heath Lambert warns, “There is a danger that grace can become a topic we discuss rather than a power we experience.” Religions can alter behavior. Only Jesus has the power to transform the heart. The work of Christ provides the only foundation on which we can build a new life.
Let’s face each day and each person we see with humility, as an act of grace, while reminding ourselves that we too desperately need God’s grace—every bit as much as those we’re offering it to. When we’re acutely aware of our own sins, we’ll proclaim and exemplify God’s “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7, ESV), not with a spirit of superiority but with the contagious excitement of one hungry person sharing food with another.For more on grace, see Randy’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox, and his devotional Beautiful and Scandalous.
Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.