“Perhaps there is no word in the Bible more precious than Grace.”
~ Rick Countryman, Senior Pastor, Big Valley Grace Community Church
“God’s Grace – It Really Is Amazing – Part A”
In my last three blogs, we have been looking at the issue of the performance trap that we can get ourselves into when we attempt to earn our way into Heaven. Today, I want us to explore “God’s Grace – It Really Is Amazing.” We will consider God’s gracious provision for our desperate plight.
Our Ruin, God’s Remedy
Sha’ul used a contrasting background when he described God’s gracious remedy for our ruin in Ephesians 2:1-5: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (HCSB)
We see the contrast drawn so sharply between our ruin and God’s remedy. In verses 1-3, Sha’ul described us as dead in our trespasses and sins, under the sway of Satan, captivated by the world, prisoners of our own sinful lusts, and objects of God’s holy wrath. Could any picture be more dark, any background more contrasting? But against this dark background Sha’ul once again presented the flawless diamond of God’s Grace.
But God intervened! We were dead in our transgressions, but God intervened. We were in bondage to sin, but God intervened. We were objects of wrath, but God intervened. God who is rich in mercy intervened. Because of His great love for us, God intervened and made us alive with Yeshua, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins. All this is summed up in one succinct statement: Our condition was hopeless, but God intervened with His Grace.
God’s Grace does not supplement our good works. Instead, His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins. God did this by placing our sins on Yeshua and by letting fall on Him the wrath we so richly deserved. Because Yeshua completely paid the awful penalty of our sins, God could extend His grace to us through complete and total forgiveness of our sins. God’s Grace really is amazing.
The extent of His forgiveness is vividly portrayed to us in four picturesque expressions in the Tanakh.
A Far As the East Is From the West
Psalm 103:12 reads, “He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.” Just how far is that? If you start due heading north at any point on earth, you would eventually cross over the North Pole and start going south, but that is not true when you go east or west. If you start heading west and continue in that direction you will always be going west. North and south meet at the North Pole, but east and west never meet. In a sense, they are an infinite distance apart.
When God uses this metaphorical expression describing the extent of His forgiveness of our sins, He is saying His forgiveness is total, complete, and unconditional. He is saying He is not keeping score with regard to our sins. The psalmist clarifies this idea: “He has not treated us as our sins deserve or paid us back for our offenses.” (Psalm 103:10) Yes, God actually says that! I know it seems too good to be true. But those gracious words are right in the Bible, and they are God’s words. How can God possibly do this? How can He so completely disregard our transgressions as to say He removes them an infinite distance from us? The answer is by His grace through Yeshua’s death on the execution stake. Because of Yeshua’s death in our place, God’s justice is now completely satisfied. God can now, without violating His justice or His moral law, forgive us freely, completely and absolutely. He can now extend His grace to us; He can show favor to those who, in themselves, deserve only wrath. God’s Grace really is amazing.
Behind His Back
Isaiah 38:17 gives another pictorial expression to describe the extent of God’s forgiveness of our sins. The prophet said of God, “You threw all my sins behind your back.” When something is behind our back, it is out of sight. We can’t see it anymore. God says He has done that with our sins. It is not that we haven’t sinned or, as Believers, do not continue to sin. We know we sin daily – in fact, many times a day. Even as Believers our best efforts are still marred with imperfect performance and impure motives. But God no longer “sees” either our deliberate disobedience or our marred performances. Instead He “sees” the righteousness of Yeshua, which He has already imputed to us.
Note that our sins do not just happen to be behind God’s back. The Scripture says He has put them there. How can He do this and still be a just and holy God? Again, the answer is that Yeshua paid the penalty we should have paid. As the old hymn says: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Yeshua.” God’s Grace really is amazing.
Hurled Into the Sea
Another striking metaphor expressing the completeness of God’s forgiveness occurs in Micah 7:19. There the prophet Micah said of God, “You will throw all their sins into the depths of the sea.” God has hurled them into the depths of the sea to be lost forever, never to be recovered, never to be held against us. Again, just as God said He put our sins behind His back, so here He says He will throw them into the depths of the sea. He wants them to be lost forever, because He has fully dealt with them in His Son, Yeshua.
Do you begin to get the picture? Are you realizing that God’s forgiveness is complete and irreversible? Do you see that, because God has already dealt with your sins in Yeshua, you do not have to do penance or fulfill some probationary term before God can bless you or use you again? God’s Grace really is amazing.
Blotted From the Record
The fourth passage emphasizing the complete and absolute forgiveness of our sins is Isaiah 43:25: “I, yes I, am the one who blots out your offenses for My own sake; I will not remember your sins.” God blots out our transgressions – that is, He removes them from the record – and He remembers them no more. This means He no longer holds our sins against us. The blotting out of our transgressions is a legal act. The remembering them no more is a relational act. It is a promise never to bring up, either to Himself or to you, your sins.
If you have trusted in Yeshua alone for your salvation, you are both justified (a legal act) and reconciled (a relational act). You are no longer condemned by God. God’s Grace really is amazing.
In my next post, we will finish this segment of our series by looking at God’s gracious provision for our desperate plight from the Brit Hadashah.