It’s Monday Grace!
Years ago I gave several friends a book that explained the teaching of grace. One man read the book, or at least part of it, and gave it back to me. He said, “This book is dangerous.” I knew he was right.
You see, for those who live under the law, either because they have not come to Jesus or because they have never understood what Jesus died to give them, the idea of grace is dangerous. Never mind that it is taught throughout the Bible, even in the Old Testament. Never mind that it encapsulates the Christian faith in one word. Never mind that it is the foundational will of God for His people. Grace is dangerous to anyone who believes they have to perform well in order to please God and be saved.
If you convince someone that he no longer has to work hard to measure up to certain standards in order to make God love him, he might stop working hard. If you tell her that she no longer has to worry about her salvation, she might stop worrying and relax. People who believe they are under grace simply because they have come to Jesus and He loves them might just stop doing the things that move them closer to what the world and the church expect Christians to do.
For example, someone who believes they are under grace, rather than under law, might not read his Bible through every year, like a good Christian should. She might not tithe, like the church says you should. They might break the rules of good Christian behavior. Who knows, they might even begin to associate with the wrong people. They might think that sinners can be saved without changing their lives first. They might eat and drink with sinners, laugh with common people, and serve those who don’t deserve the kindness of good people.
Who knows what might happen if a person leaves the fear and anxiety of the law behind? Well, Jesus knows! He knows that those who are under grace desire, more than anything else, to follow Him. He knows that they want Him to lead them personally, individually. He knows that He can speak into their hearts and they will listen.
Living under grace means freedom and peace. It means no longer striving to measure up, to perform well enough. It means resting in the love of Jesus.
And resting is something those under the law can never understand. They can never rest. They can never do enough to feel peace and assurance. How much is enough when you have to save yourself or please God on your own? It is never enough, and it never satisfies.
We who are under grace rest in our assurance of salvation not because we are suddenly good enough or have performed enough. We rest because we submit our efforts to Jesus. He is the One who did enough. He is the One who called us because He loved us. He did what was necessary for us to be saved. And He gave it to us as a gift. When we received that gift and understood what it meant, we could relax and enjoy a relationship with Him.
And that relationship is not passive. Following Jesus does not lead us astray. We will live better lives than anyone under the law if we follow Jesus. But following Him does not mean keeping some list of rules or striving for certain standards. It means listening to Him, believing that He is real and active in our lives. It means doing what He leads us to do.
Under grace, we become alive in Jesus. We walk through this world as strangers who no longer have to prove ourselves or convince anyone of anything. We know this world is not our home, and the more this world moves away from Jesus, the more we find our peace and strength in our relationship with Him. We do not have to be afraid.
Those who are believers but continue to strive under the law are not really that different from the people of the world who try to be good enough for Heaven. They share the same frustrations, the same fears, and eventually the same discouragement. How many in the church today have given up on Jesus? They have no freedom or peace, but they no longer try. They live in quiet despair with little hope. If you ask a person of the world if he is going to Heaven, he might say he hopes so or he does not believe in Heaven. If you ask many church goers the same question, you might get the same answers.
But those who are under grace, walking through life in the love and presence of Jesus, we have assurance because we trust in Him, rather than ourselves. We don’t worry about doing enough, and we don’t lose our faith.
All because grace is a real relationship with a real Person who loves us.