For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
– Ephesians 2:8-10
In Philip Yancey’s wonderful modern classic, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” he tells a story about C.S. Lewis, considered by many to be the greatest theologian of the 20th century.
“During a conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. ‘What’s the rumpus about?’ he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among the world religions. Lewis responded, ‘Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace!'”
John the Baptist pointed this out at the coming of Jesus, “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
Grace is often described, and rightfully so, as “unmerited favor.” In other words we can’t do anything to earn it. But did you know that grace is also described as a “free gift” that only requires repentance (a change of heart) to receive it? (Romans 5:15-17).
Here’s another definition of grace that bears repeating. It’s also from Philip Yancey’s book:
“Grace is knowing that there is nothing you can do to make God love you more. Grace is also knowing that there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.”
You see, God already loves us to the max. That’s what unconditional love is all about and that’s what the cross of Christ is all about. The apostle Paul expressed it this way, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Oftentimes, however, that is our greatest problem. It’s so hard for us to believe that God would actually give us something that we don’t have to continually work for before we are “good enough” to receive it and keep it. But as St. Augustine said, “God gives where he finds empty hands.”
So saints, let’s check our hands. Are they empty and ready to receive more of God’s grace, or are they so full of what we consider our “good works,” that there’s no room for anything else?
Grace. It’s free. That’s how much He loves us. So let’s receive it and give God all the glory. Maranatha!