The message of grace begins with a single statement: God loves you. This is the foundation of grace. Any teacher who uses the word “grace” apart from love doesn’t understand grace. Any person who seeks grace without knowing God’s love will not find it. It all begins with love.
It is fascinating to me that the Scriptures can be so full of God’s love and still people can miss it. David understood it and wrote about it. Jeremiah knew God’s love. Moses certainly understood. But the Pharisees didn’t see it and neither did most of the people of Jesus’ time. Preachers today can ignore the amazing message of love as they preach through John’s gospel and letters. We sing about God’s love and teach our children His love, but we mix the message with so many other things that love is pushed to the side and forgotten.
But love is the key.
Love explains the grace of God. Love empowers the grace of God. Love connects the grace of God with those who are unworthy. Love brought the Person of God’s grace to us and sent Him to the cross for us.
Love is the nature and character of God and that character is seen in us as we follow Him. This is why He tells us to love each other, even to love our enemies, because in us He loves.
Love was what moved the heart of God to create humankind. Love was what moved Him to forgive our sins. Love moved God to associate Himself with Israel. Love has been the motivation of the heart of God toward us throughout history.
Many people misunderstand the idea of grace because they miss the real point. They think of grace as something God gives on the basis of obedience or service. They think He gives it in order to make us faithful servants. But, without understanding His motive, they miss the real value and purpose of grace. The motive of God in grace is His love for you.
The legalist doesn’t understand grace because he sees God as judgmental and angry. For him, God is a tyrant with petty rules designed to make us fail so that we will grovel in humility. The liberal church leader doesn’t understand grace because he sees God as distant and uncaring. For him, God is full of hope and expectation that we will do His work in our world. Only those who begin with a God who is Love will understand grace.
So that’s where we start, with the simple message that God loves you. Hold that as the foundation stone of your faith and begin to build everything from there. What you will learn about yourself and about the Lord will amaze you and bring great joy.
It has been in my heart for a long time to teach the basics of grace in a way that will encourage people and allow them to share with others. This series, which I will add to from time to time, will be an attempt to do that. You are welcome to ask questions, challenge ideas, or give words of affirmation.