Archive for the ‘The Character of God’ Category

On Grace: a Daddy’s Heart

June 11, 2010

This is an interesting process for me. As soon as I publish a post, I return to the original splashes (the First, Second, and Third Splash entries in the margin) to reread them for myself. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised I want to lift paragraphs from those entries and incorporate them now. These current posts seem to magnify what I explored in a cursory fashion back then. Feel free to read those original splashes, or go to the beginning of this thread where it all began at “Fresh Refreshing” to read through.

A heart of grace.

In my earlier entry, I explored the simple fact that grace is undeserved favor. It’s basically receiving love and then some, while we’ve done nothing to earn it. Truthfully, if we could earn it, we could no longer call it grace.  We would have to term it something like “wages” at that point, wouldn’t we? That term is covered in Scripture, and the context certainly applies to where I feel led to go. The Bible clearly states our imperfection (sin) has its wages: death (Romans 6:23, NASB). Comparing our actions to the holy and perfectly just God in heaven, we’ve no shot at earning anything! Our holy God cannot mingle with unholiness, or He could not be holy. Our just God cannot leave offenses against Him unpunished, or He could not be just.

This isn’t new if you’ve read along. The repeated theme has been John 3:16–“God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son.” God’s repair of our relationship with Him was at the cross. The law clarified our infractions, and the response to the law was Jesus. “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, for although the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17). I love that God doesn’t turn a blind eye to the truth. The truth is, best behavior or not, we don’t deserve this loving response. The grace is–Jesus at the cross.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

So, cut to the chase. Why, God, would our rebellious attitudes and behaviors be met with complete payment in full by your own Son on the cross? Romans 3:24 says “They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” Freely. Justified. Why?

Because He is madly in love with us. A little review might be a good idea for all of us.

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies (Psalm 36:5).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (John 15:9).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Yep. He flat-out loves us. Our God sees his kids in trouble with a debt they can’t begin to pay, and He doesn’t expect us to make the first move. He doesn’t even expect us to know how to begin to get out of the trouble we’re in. He, with a grace-filled-to-overflowing heart, took the whole tab and paid it. Yeah, He’s pretty much madly in love with li’l old us.

“We love because He loved us first” (I John 4:19). (Emphasis is mine; feel free to read it that way yourself.)

Our perfect, holy, just God has an incredible heart of love without limits, but with one simple condition–that we come to Him and trade in all that we are and have for all that He has and is.  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).


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