GRACE – THE QUIET BUT COMPELLING MASTER

Grace does not remove answerability and responsibility.

When Paul faced the godless question ‘Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?’ he made it clear that salvation does not mean a change from accountability to anarchy:

‘… you are not under law, but under grace’ [Romans 6:14].

That word ‘under’ is still there. Christians are not free agents. Christians are not free to do whatever they please. Rather, Christians are ‘under’ grace. And in the context of this ‘under grace’ comes the serious challenge that rather than being a licence to sin, this position re-establishes us into our original relationship with God – a relationship in which we willingly submit to God and to his righteousness, not in order to gain some credit or merit for ourselves, but simply because he is who he is.

In Romans 6:14-22 it is clear that there are only two positions:

One, in which we are ‘under law’ and ‘slaves to sin’. The other, in which we are ‘under grace’ and ‘slaves to righteousness’ and ‘slaves to God’.

One, which we embraced, and were trapped in, by our rebellion against God in Genesis 3. The other, in which we, by grace, are restored to our original and intended responsive relationship with God.

Thus when Jesus Christ commands us ‘Come to me’ and promises us ‘I will give you rest’, this command and this promise, although they speak of release from our weariness and our burdens, are not an invitation to lawlessness. There is still a ‘yoke’ and there is still a ‘learning’ and there is still a ‘burden’. Christ does not take us out from under the burden of the law of sin and death and leave us floating in a directionless and disconnected vacuum. Rather, he brings us out from under the burden of the law of sin and death and binds us to himself – to his yoke, to his teaching, to his burden [Matthew 11:28-30].

This yoke, this teaching, this burden is the quiet master: grace. This grace is the outstretched nail-scarred hand that reaches towards us, beckoning us, drawing us, compelling us with its awesome love. In the presence of this hand, in the presence of this grace, we know that sin and rebellion are outlawed and inappropriate. In the presence of this grace we know that we have no valid option but to hear, believe and obey not only the promises of Christ but also his commands. In the presence of this outstretched hand, this compelling grace, this quiet master, we want no other life but to be the bond-slaves of Christ Jesus our Lord, who loved us and gave himself for us.

And so we as Christians are commanded and committed to live under the authority and direction of this quiet master:

Because of this grace we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, as the reasonable expression of worship [Romans 12:1]
Because of this grace we are compelled to live for Christ and for his kingdom [2Corinthians 5:14]
Because of this grace we have no valid choice but to live a life of love [1John 4:19].

Grace does not liberate us to sin; rather it defines and enables the life expected of God’s holy people. Submission to this quiet master is not an option for those who call themselves followers of Christ. To ignore this quiet master, to misrepresent this quiet master, is to ignore and to deny Jesus Christ [Jude 4].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2010