"Grace of God Beyond Degree." We used to sing it from the choir loft in the little church that I attended years ago. But did we believe it? You could sing it, but you couldn't preach it from the pulpit or you'd be in trouble. You had better not build your faith on the principle of the limitless nature of grace or you would be socially ostracized by the people of that church. "Sing it, brother, but don't you dare believe it and spread that doctrine here." The folks in that church couldn't bring themselves to believe what they were singing. Does grace have limits? If it has limits, how can it be grace?
A radio listener wrote me to object to my referring to grace as limitless. She couldn't see how it could be grace if it were limitless. She argued that some people will go to Hell and so will not benefit from God's grace, assuming that everyone would go to Heaven if grace had no limits. This is a wrong assumption. If you put a gallon of water on the kitchen table and I refuse a drink, the gallon does not become less than a gallon. God's grace is infinite. It does not become finite because men refuse it. God's grace is not a facet of His Being that came into existence when man sinned. He has always been the "God of all grace." Man's sin simply revealed this by giving Him the opportunity to prove it. Just as Christ did not become sinless when He resisted the devil's temptations; He proved that He is sinless, and had been all along!
God's grace would be measureless if no one were saved. If all men everywhere refused His offer of salvation, the offer would still demonstrate the infinite generosity of God. It is the offer of salvation to all that demonstrates the measureless nature of God's favor, not man's acceptance of the offer. God is infinite in His perfections and everything He does, He does perfectly and completely. This is why He does not, and cannot, save man conditionally. If the completeness of our salvation depended on who we are and what we do, we would be saved by our works, but we are not! "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us." There is no room for the earned righteousness of man in the gift righteousness of God. These two, our righteousness and His, are mutually exclusive.
Religion is an attempt to establish man's righteousness as the ground of acceptance with God. Christianity, where it imitates religion, attempts to blend our righteousness with His. God and Paul wrote one whole book of Scripture to refute this Satanically inspired error...Galatians. Galatians 2:21 argues that, if man could produce a righteousness of his own, Christ would have died for nothing. It's that simple! Christ died because man is completely helpless and unable to save himself, so complete is his ruin. Think how cruel it would have been for God the Father to send God the Son to Calvary if something less than the death of Christ could save us! And, how foolish! But God uses the cross of Calvary to demonstrate His genius. Men, even religious men, ridicule the crosswork of Christ when it is presented to them as all that is necessary for salvation. Man rejects grace. It is an affront to his ego. It destroys his pride. It leaves him "hat-in-hand" at a cross where God refuses to recognize anything man thinks he has to offer. Man brings nothing to Calvary. Salvation is there, but it is a salvation wholly of God. Man has nothing to do with it. And grace is the proof of this. Grace is the hard part in salvation---what God has done. Faith is the easy part---what we are to "do". When I believe that Christ died for my sins, I do the only thing that I can do without doing anything.
Man means many things by grace; God means one thing, infinite generosity. In Romans 11:6, God says, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Nothing could be plainer than this. Grace and works, as a means of approaching God, are mutually exclusive. If I approach God on the grounds of my works, grace is out of the picture. When I approach Him on the grounds of His grace, then works are nowhere to be found. I cannot mix these two, because He does not!
The Law was system of limits. When man went beyond the Law, he died. "The soul that sins shall die." When a Jew committed adultery, the Law demanded his death. Grace is not a system of limits. Grace did not overlook sin, but dealt with it fully and finally at the cross. There Christ satisfied the demands of the Law in their entirety: for those condemned by the Law because they were under it and broke it, and for those condemned because they were shut out by it, and lawless.
Sin brings death, but Another has died in my place. Christ tasted death for me, spiritual death, and now I do not have to taste it. God has not compromised His integrity in saving sinners. Our debt has been paid fully, though not by us, but by Another. He not only died on my behalf but also in my stead. This is grace, and there is no limit here. God becoming man, without ceasing to be God, and dying for His enemies is grace, and it is all the grace that could ever be.
One of the problems Christians have in appreciating the measureless nature of grace comes from thinking of everything in terms of quantity rather than quality. God's grace doesn't come in pounds or in gallons. It is not a quantity, but a quality. It is His very nature expressing itself in attitude and action. It reveals God's response toward those who have wronged Him. It is the way in which He exercises love without compromising justice.
Man's sin can never diminish God's grace. Many have taught that man can push God too far and, in so doing, put himself beyond the reach of grace. It is true that "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation," but this does not limit grace. It simply limits the time allotted to man to respond to God's offer. My sister pleaded with me for seven years to trust Christ as my personal Savior. God was as willing to save me at the end of the seven years as at the beginning. Had I died without trusting the Lord I would have been lost for Eternity. But not because of any deficiency in the grace of God. I would have been lost because I had refused God's favor in its fullness. God loves all men, and Christ died for all men. It is as easy for God to save the worst of sinners today as it is to save the best of them, because the Son of God took the judgment of both on His cross. If a man had ten million dollars to give away, he might select the ten most deserving people he knew to give it to. It might be more difficult to give a million dollars to the last person to make the list than the first one. But if a man makes a deposit of ten million dollars in the bank, there is no difference in degree of difficulty. The last to come will be as qualified as the first.
Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh, was an outstanding woman, a woman of integrity. Adolph Hitler was a murderous man, completely devoid of integrity. But it took as much grace for God to save Mary as it would have to save Hitler, because lost is lost. Christ died the same death for His mother that He died for all.
No. There are no limits to God's grace. If I am living when and where grace is being exercised, God's salvation, full and free, is as available to me in all its glory as to any other sinner for whom Christ died. I find no offer of grace when man has died. "Now is the day of salvation." If I die without Christ, I am beyond the reach of salvation, but grace did not fail. Grace did not fall short. Grace did not prove insufficient any more than God proved insufficient! To suggest that grace is limited because some die lost is no different than suggesting that God is limited because some die lost. God calls Himself the God of "all grace," not some grace!
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