Grace and Forgiveness….. Grace and Forgiveness. What is grace and what is forgiveness? Well, this time I am not going to use a dictionary. Instead, I'm going to use a person to define these two powerful words. JESUS. Jesus is grace. Jesus is forgiveness. I think that when discussing something like grace and forgiveness, in order to get the full impact of what it is, we must know the severity of the need we have for it. In his book "The Call," Dr. Gutierrez emphasizes the importance of knowing why we need saving in order to get the full effect of what Jesus did. Why do we need saving? What do we need to be saved from? Why do we need grace and forgiveness? What is there that we need to be forgiven from? These are all questions that will better help you understand the concept of grace and forgiveness and our great need for the two.
To begin, let's talk about why we need grace. Why we need forgiveness. Grace is something given that we don't deserve. Why don't we deserve it?
-We don't deserve grace because….. we are man. You see, it began in the Garden of Eden. Man was without blemish. Man was made in the image of God and lived in paradise. God gave man only one restriction…. He told them not to eat from one tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told them not to eat from one tree, but the rest of the trees were free for their pleasure. This is where Satan comes into play. God allows Satan to be at work in the world, but He wants us to follow Him instead of Satan. We have freewill, therefore we have the power to choose whether to fall captive to the ways of the Devil himself, or to submit to our Creator God by glorifying Him in all that we do. We are given a CHOICE. God does not choose for us because that is our job. We must make the choice for ourselves. Eve made that choice when she took a bite of a fruit that came from the "forbidden tree." She CHOSE right then and there that she was going to fall captive to the ways of Satan. SIN had entered the world. From that point on, all of mankind would be born with an inclination towards sin. We are born with a will that drives us away from what pleases God. We are born with a nature that God does not see as pleasing. Sin makes us dirty, filthy, and unholy. Scripture tells us that nothing impure or unclean can be in the presence of the Lord. What does that mean for us? It means that when we die, it would be impossible for us to end up in heaven in our natural state. How do we escape it? We can't. There is no possible way to escape the sin nature that we have fallen captive to. We can, however, be rescued by the works of Jesus Christ. In order for us to gain entrance into heaven and be allowed in the presence of the Lord, something totally sinless and without blemish, yet totally human, would have to take our place. That sinless person was Jesus. God sent His one and only Son to die for us so that we may live. You see, Jesus was *divine* yet *human.* Because of this, He was able to be totally without blemish while still being human. This gave Jesus the ability to be our atonement (for lack of a better word). Jesus took our place, and through Him, we were able to be reconciled to the Father. His blood washed our sins totally clean. It cleansed us of all unrighteousness, allowing us to be in the presence of the Lord. (We can go to heaven!) Let me put it in different words now…. Jesus, the precious sinless lamb of God, was beaten, mocked, rebuked, and nailed to a cross just to save us. Mike Donehey, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North explains the Last Supper as a proposal from Jesus to us, the church. He talks about how He offered Himself to us, and He was asking for us to be His bride, to follow Him in everything we do. To live in submission to Him. To *live* not only with Him, but FOR Him. The Last Supper was His proposal. He goes on to further explain the "bride" that Jesus was proposing to. (us.) He wasn't proposing to some Godly, pure, faithful wife. He was proposing to an unfaithful, sinful wife. He died a brutal death to save *us.* Us- the unfaithful sinful wife. He was beaten to take away *our* sin. My sin. Your sin. He was beaten for *us.* Did we deserve that? Absolutely not! If God gave us what we deserved, then we would all find ourselves spending eternity in Hell. (Yes. All of us. That includes me, you, and even Billy Graham!) Thankfully, God doesn't give us what we deserve. Instead, He gives us grace and forgiveness. He gives us grace- something that we definitely don't deserve. He gives us forgiveness. Through the blood of His son, we are forgiven of our sin. We are allowed entrance into heaven. We are given grace. The Bible says that if we ask God for forgiveness when we have sinned, and we mean it with all of our hearts, (truly repenting of our wrongdoing,) then God will remember it no more. He cannot forget them because God cannot forget. Instead, He chooses to never bring it back up. It is in His mind, but He no longer holds that sin to us. It is by the blood of Christ that God is justified in doing that. God "remembers" no more, and we are forgiven when we ask for that forgiveness. THAT is grace. That is something given to us that we absolutely do NOT deserve. God offers us grace and forgiveness, and boy are we in need of that! Christianity is the ONLY religion that offers a way of reconciliation to the creator from sin. Most all religions acknowledge the imperfection of man, but never does the so-called "creator" offer a way to be freed from that imperfection. Normally, it is up to the person to further themselves towards a more perfect state. God knew that we were not capable of that on our own, so He created a way for us. Our God created a way for us to be broken out of the bondage of sin! Our God did that for *us!* Why did God do that? Why does God give us that precious grace and forgiveness? Why would the CREATOR of the universe care so much to save our little souls? Why? The answer- we will save for next time.
Questions to think about:
What areas of your life are you falling captive to Satan in? Where are you not fully submitting yourself to God?
Do you understand the impact of what Jesus did for you?
Who in your life may you need to share this story of redemption with? What is keeping you from telling them about Jesus and the life we receive through Him?