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WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007

#9 A GOD OF GRACE

'For you are the Lord,
the compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
maintaining love to thousands
and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin ... '

These words from Exodus 34:6,7 teach us that God is gracious. What does this mean?

Grace is the opposite of merit. Its significance is captured in these words from Psalm 130:

If God relates to us on the basis of our merit, he gives us what we deserve: the just punishment for our sins.

If he relates to us on the basis of grace, he gives us what we do not deserve, what we cannot, and can never, earn - the free gift of forgiveness, totally independent of our ability to keep his laws.

Not only this. Because God is a God of grace he also chooses not to give us what we actually do deserve: he does not punish us according to our sins. All that is justly due to us in terms of sin's accusation, sin's judgment, sin's condemnation, sin's penalty, is forever removed from us, forever removed from God's reckoning.

Concerning this grace of God the Bible teaches:

This grace, this amazing, indescribable grace, is expressed and given to us only in and through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17,21; Ephesians 1:6; 2:7) and operates only by means of the sacrificial, substitutionary, sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:33-26).

In addition: Romans 4:16 teaches us that because God's promise of salvation is through faith and by grace, with no relation to our ability or performance, it is guaranteed.

To set aside this grace, to relate to God on the basis of our human performance, is to forget that God is a God of grace. It is to scorn the death of Christ on the cross, to count it a thing of naught. It is also to reject the freedom, peace and joy of God's gfit and put in their place slavery, uncertainty of salvation, and guilt. Let us be obedient to the warnings in the scripture:

    • 'I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing' [Galatians 2;21].
    • 'You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace' [Galatians 5:4].
    • 'As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain' [2 Corinthians 6:1].