We've all heard this dual deifiniton: Mercy is when we don't get what we deserve, Grace is when we get what we don't deserve. We deserve hell, mercy is us not receiving that punishment. Grace is getting the forgiveness we can never earn.
We are taught, rightfully, that grace is what allows us to repent, God gives us grace! Once we repent he extends his grace to forgive us. Is that all? No. When we fall, the grace of God is there for our forgiveness. I will not contend this because it is true. I have depended on this grace of God my whole christian live.
When we need forgiveness, BOOM, grace!
So, that leaves an interesting conversation open. What if we abuse grace? We tend to run to a particular scripture. Romans 5:20 - Romans 6:2
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
I have often taken this scripture and explained that grace is not a pool we jump into when we feel like sinning, but instead it is the hand waiting to pull us out of the pool of sin. Once again there is no lie here.
Another way that some look at this scripture is that our faith is a tight rope, and grace is an ever expanding safety net, we can't fall from our faith without being caught by a net of grace. Again, a beautiful thought of God's ever readiness to catch us is in our times of despair and bad decisions.
Here is the problem, grace and forgiveness have been synonomized ( a word I made up to suggest that they have become almost synonyms, the two words being chained together and grace being used exclusively in the context of forgiveness).
Here is where the problem enters. Although God's grace is needed for our forgiveness, grace should not be chained to forgiveness. A lot of people think of grace in relation to forgiveness. It's a safety net for when we fall, it's a way to get back in right relationship with God. We need to break this chain. If we allow this synonamy (once again, a word I made up to suggest the words are not the same but stuck together) our view of grace may become very narrow.
Grace has a danger of becoming an event. If grace is related only to forgiveness, then the greatest happening of grace was at our salvation, we had a giant grace event. Now we fall and jump from grace event to grace event. We come to God when we have broken through the guilt of what we have done and ask him for grace... again.
Grace is necessary for forgiveness, however when we chain grace to forgiveness we miss out on the fullness it is supposed to be!
I think I should stop there. Blog posts are supposed to be short.
Describing grace is like trying to describe every raindrop in a storm. There isn't enough ink, there isn't enough paper, there aren't enough words. So, excuse me if I stumble through these posts, they are from the heart. I pray you keep coming back, this message has made my soul burn more than it has in years. Some of you might find it obvious, but for those of you who haven't stumbled across this yet, it is faith changing!