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The Grace of God vs. Being Good

January 28, 2013

I recently read a book about grace, a theme which I’m passionate about, and it reminded me again just how crucial, pivotal, essential and indispensable the doctrine of grace is. Well, I guess it’s grace itself, rather than the doctrine, that is crucial, but you know what I mean.

At least I hope you do … It seems even Christians struggle with the concept of God’s lavish grace, and try to dilute it with law and good works. I come across it again and again when talking to people: being Christian is defined as simply trying to live a good, moral life.

How did it go so wrong? Jesus didn’t come to teach us about right and wrong – Israel already had the Law of Moses, and all cultures have their own moral rules and laws, most of which are quite similar to basic biblical norms. If the whole point of Jesus coming to earth was to give us a new moral code, he was neither very original nor very successful…

But the Bible never says that’s why Jesus came. He came because mankind had shown quite conclusively that we just can’t lead a good life; in God’s eyes, we are all failures. Nobody lives up even to their own standards, never mind the standard that Jesus sets. A new law wouldn’t solve that problem; we needed something completely different.

Jesus came to offer grace: a relationship based on what God has done, rather than on what we can do. Jesus fulfilled the Law in our place, the only human being who has lived a perfect life without sin – and then he took on himself the penalty that we all deserve for our shortcomings. And because he did that, out of sheer compassionate and mercy – we didn’t deserve it – we can be OK with God despite our shortcomings. Paul puts it this way: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21)

So being a Christian isn’t about trying to be good; it’s all about receiving God’s grace – the totally undeserved pardon that Jesus offers. It’s not about attempting to please God, but becoming the righteousness of God because of Jesus. It’s not about trying hard not to sin, but knowing that there is forgiveness for every time I fail. That’s why the Gospel is GOOD NEWS!


From → Christianity, Faith

One Comment
  1. Hi, have you ever listened to J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible radio program? He would absolutely agree with you 100%! To him grace was everything. We couldn’t live our life rightly without the grace of God through Jesus Christ. That’s why I write about Jesus too.

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