Diving into Grace
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
This amazing revelation from the Apostle Paul teaches us that salvation comes when we realize how good God is, when we put faith in God’s goodness and grace. Our faith doesn’t produce the grace, in reality, it is the grace that produces the faith. We can’t earn it or work for it. You don’t work for or earn gifts and no one is deserving of grace.
Imagine a young boy on a sinking boat out in deep waters and it’s the middle of a pitch-black night. The boy can feel the cold water rising above his ankles, continuing to the point where soon the water level on the inside of the boat will equal the water level on the outside and that means there is nothing left but to sink. He cries out frantically into the black night. HELP ME! My boat is sinking! Suddenly he hears a voice in the darkness saying swim towards me. It’s good news to the frightened kid for two reasons. One, because now he doesn’t have to guess about what direction to swim and two, because he recognizes it’s his father’s voice. Hearing his voice is reassuring. Somehow, his father heard his cry and was there to help, just like he had been many times in the past.
Now let’s read Hebrews 10:22 from the New English Translation. It says “let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” Notice we come to God in faith ‘because’ we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from a guilty conscience and washed with pure water. The water can represent the truth and love of God’s Word spoken to our lives.
What if we let the boy’s father represent God’s grace? Even though the boy disobeyed his father’s warning against taking the faulty boat out on the water, his father’s love for him didn’t stop. Though the boy could have been riddled with guilty thoughts because of his rebellious actions, when his father responded to his desperate need, the guilt of his failure was washed away. To me this is grace that produces faith.
God’s grace and goodness came before our faith. Grace was there before we ever knew we needed it, (Romans 5:8). It was there the day we were saved, for ‘the purpose’ of saving us. God’s grace is what our faith responded to. In a sense we realized our boat (our life) was sinking because of our sin, so when we heard the gospel story of how Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) we called on the Name of the Lord and were saved, (see Romans 10:11-12). Friends, grace was there, grace was calling and grace is what we responded to.
Grace is more than a word or a theology. John 1:16-17 says in speaking of Jesus “and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Responding to God’s grace is responding to Jesus so, faith is sometimes a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and helplessness, towards God and His promises, because we trust they are true. Once we are saved by grace, grace is the gift that keeps on giving. We receive grace for grace. God’s grace and goodness towards us yesterday, assures us we can come near to Him today. His grace today produces faith for today and plants the confidence to dive into the grace that will come tomorrow. Let’s thank God for the deep waters of His grace.