In our last study, we detailed how even though God's Word and His Grace are powerful and amazing we can cause them to be diminished and ineffective in our own personal life. Grace is made effective when we fully receive it and aren't mixing it with Law. We want to experience all God has for us in its fullness.
Again mixing Law and Grace takes the amazing out of Grace. The religious tradition that says we are only forgiven of our past sins removes the full impact of Grace in our life. It diminishes the full revelation that Grace forgave us of all our sins. It creates a sin conscienceness instead of a Righteousness conscienceness.
Just as detrimental as religious tradition is to Grace, so also are additives to Grace. That is Grace alone is amazing and too good to be true but true. Grace doesn't need help from man to make it seem more palatable to the rebellious and bitter. Grace is great all by itself, it's the too good to be true but true Good News of Jesus Christ.
Yet some insist on adding their own philosophies and reasonings and surmisings to "help" the Gospel or to simply "deconstruct" and tear down parts of the Gospel they don't like. Many conclude the Biblical concept of receiving by Faith is a work and therefore must be rejected. In doing so they are taking the amazing out of Grace.
How so? If no one needs to believe, if it's automatic, no response required on anyone's part then it's not love it's force. Grace isn't an overriding or invasion of the will of any individual.
Think of it, if one paid your way fully to a college, that is tuition, books, housing, food, and even recreational money for weekend trips home or to any destination of your choice, that would be gracious. All of this blessing apart from you doing anything to earn it or pay it back is Grace in action. It isn't a wage earned or some reward it's simply a gift.
That's good news. However, what if the one who was willing to pay for all this, demanded you only go to a specific college? What if they made you major in business and economics instead of the major of your choice? How Gracious is it now?
Imagine a 30-day vacation package with all expenses paid offered to you. The person offering says they will pay for all your personal expenses as well. They will pay all your debt and even give you a "better" job than you have now. Sounds great, but you can only go when they say and can only go where they say. What if you say you're not interested in this vacation for your own personal reasons, but then the one offering uses force to get you in their limo and on the plane there? Is it still good? Is it still Gracious?
Yet some claim this is what Grace is. That God who paid the price at Calvary, placed all humanity in Christ, apart from their own knowledge and permission. That God placed His Spirit within them without their knowledge or consent. That all are saved whether they believed or not, whether they received His Grace or not, whether they trusted in Christ or never trusted in Him. This is Grace? Nonconsensual relationship with all?
That's not Grace. Universalism and inclusion use the enticing words of man's wisdom to sell a cheap copy of Grace. They hijack the love language of redemption to sell a false and fake philosophy that has zero power to produce hope or healing in the lives of mankind. Grace is inclusive and universal in its procuring redemption and making it available to whosoever will, but universalism and inclusionism are not Grace.
Some have misapplied a passage in Colossians 1 declaring no one was ever really lost. They misunderstand and misapply the passage because they lift it out of its setting in Colossians as well as the overall message of the Scripture. let's see the passage in another translation that makes it clearer.
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Colossians 1:21 NLT
If no one was really lost why did Christ even come? Think of it, if no one was really lost, no one was really spiritually separated, if no one was apart from God, then what's so amazing about Christ? What is so great about Jesus dying?
Teaching people that no one was really lost or separated takes the amazing out of Grace. For Christ to die on a tree for people that were just fine the way they were would be a colossal waste of time. If no one was lost, Christ never needed to come as a man. No need to die on a tree bearing a curse that apparently never even existed. Jesus could have just wandered the earth telling people you are all fine, don't worry about how you live or treat others, everyone is ok.
The truth is so much greater. Grace is amazing. All humanity was lost, apart from God, spiritually dead or separated from a loving Father because of sin. God in His Goodness and Love stooped down to rescue us from ourselves. God became a man. Jesus took all our just deserved punishment and wrath for our many sins and paid the full price. Grace has now appeared offering Salvation, Righteousness, acceptance, forgiveness, healing, and wholeness once for all time to whosoever will freely receive.
Another way man tries to add to Grace, thus taking the amazing out of Grace is by denying the reality of a literal hell. If there is no hell, what exactly did Christ save us from? If hell is "restorative", "temporal" or nonexistent then why did Christ die for us?
Some would argue that sin needs no punishment. How foolish. Look at what Paul the Apostle of Grace declared via the inspiration of the Spirit.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 MEV
Clearly, the just recompense for sin is death. This is clearly punishment for our sins. Here we clearly see Grace defined and illustrated. God's gift was Jesus dying for us and purchasing eternal life offering new life as a gift.
Now, understand, a gift no matter how free must be received. The concept of receiving a gift is not works or self-effort. All are offered a free gift. It's not forced upon anyone. Jesus made a way for all to simply receive. That's the Gospel. That's the amazing Grace of God.
I sense some are still fuming and agitated because I mentioned hell. Hell was never made for any man. It was made for the devil and his angels. God never sends anyone there. Men choose hell over a loving God.
Listen, for one to go to hell, they must bypass the Cross, dismiss His great Grace, reject His everlasting and unconditional eternal Love, and refuse the gift of eternal life. They jump feet first into eternity without God fully understanding the consequences. It's not His will that any perish but He will not override anyone's will or choice.
People claim hell is a construct of men to scare people into giving money. Hell is real. Hell is the dark place of eternal separation for all those who want to gain acceptance and approval by their own sense of goodness and works. The Cross shows us we can't earn anything.
There is no bad news in the Good News. We share His Love and Amazing Grace to a lost and dying world. We let the world know it's only in Christ will you find true rest and peace and fullness of life and joy. We proclaim God isn't angry at anyone. God is a Good Father who Loves all unconditionally.
In summation, let's keep the amazing in Grace. Jesus came to die for the unworthy. He came to find the lost and offer them new life. Though hell is real and there awaits final judgment for all who reject the free gift, our message is the same, God is Good, He isn't mad at you, and He longs for a personal relationship with whosoever will. Grace is Amazing.