Our situation is this—we’re drowning in an ocean of our sins and misdeeds. None of us are “one sin” sinners, we’re all repeat offenders. If we’re to be saved, it won’t be because we do it ourselves. We’re too far from land, too weak to swim long, and too much in touch with reality to kid ourselves otherwise. If we are to survive, it will be because someone enters the water on our behalf and pulls us out. Someone will have to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves (Romans 5:6-8).
But there’s more to grace than the mere fact of God providing a deliverance for us that we lack the power or ability to provide for ourselves. What God does for us isn’t quite the same thing as what parents do for their children. On the whole, parents provide for their children because they are unable, by reason of their youth, to provide for themselves. Our inability to provide for ourselves is due to the fact that we have rebelled against our Father. We squandered the inheritance of our righteousness in a far land (Luke 15). Grace then is about God doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves and what we don’t deserve to have done (Romans 3:9-18).
The good news is that while we were in this helpless and hopeless state, God entered the water through His Son Jesus—God’s gift to all of us (John 3:16). As one of us, He lived unlike us (Hebrews 4:15), and died unlike us (Hebrews 2:9). He did for us what we couldn’t do and didn’t deserve to have done. So to come to God through Jesus is to come to God through grace.
Grace touches everything that’s involved in our coming to God:
- the grace of God is involved in our coming to belief/faith in God (Acts 16:24,18:27),
- the grace of God is involved in repentance toward God (Acts 11:18; Romans 2:4)
- the grace of God is involved in baptism (Titus 3:3-7),
- the grace of God is involved in our continued walk with Him (Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 13:20-21).
When Christ died, the curtain in the temple was torn from the top to bottom–from heaven rather than from earth (Matthew 27:51). The same thing’s true in reference to us coming to God. It’s from Him rather than from us. There is something we must do but nonetheless our salvation is “top down.” It is from heaven rather than from earth. God does for us through Jesus what we cannot do and do not deserve to have done. We cannot save ourselves.
Grace is at the heart of God’s character. It is at the heart of the cross. And, it’s at the heart of how He wants us to live. If we miss grace, we’ve missed God.