Some will teach grace to a limited extent. They agree that we are saved by grace, but they quickly re-introduce the law to ‘balance’ grace with discipline. But you cannot successfully mix grace with anything – it must be all grace or it is simply not grace at all. Unlimited grace means that the good we receive from God is totally unmerited and free. If we contribute to our salvation, even in the slightest detail, then grace is no longer grace.
Grace is not a good offer, a bargain deal or a cheap way of gaining something priceless in itself. For grace to be grace it means we pay nothing. Christ takes full responsibility for 100% of the payment. That is exactly what he achieved for us on the cross. His cry of triumph rings down through the ages, “It is finished!” No more debt to pay, nothing more to do to qualify for God’s favour. We are now and forever a part of God’s kingdom by faith in Christ.
We are forgiven by grace, accepted by grace, saved by grace, sanctified by grace and we serve by grace. It is grace from start to finish. Think what this means in practice. We love God because he first loved us. We live right because we have been accepted by him and not in order to be accepted by him. We forgive because we have been forgiven, we live free because we have been set free and we serve God because he has served us.
All we do for Christ is based on our response to his grace and not in order to gain his favour. Paul knew this and made one of the most profound grace statements in the entire New Testament when he wrote,
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-11
Paul was the first to admit that in himself he was unworthy before God. No-one disagreed! They were suspicious of his conversion to Christ and outraged that he was now claiming apostleship on the same level as the 12 apostles of Christ. Perhaps you feel completely unworthy and inadequate when it comes to the challenge of the cell vision. Maybe you have to face both internal and external doubts about your suitability to serve Jesus. Look how Paul dealt with it.
He was as amazed as everybody else, absolutely blown away by the kindness of God in taking a self-righteous, bigoted and arrogant persecutor of Christ, and making him the primary New Testament apostle to the Gentiles. All he could say was “I am what I am by the grace of God.” He owed it all to Christ. We must learn the same lesson. Only when we are equally overwhelmed by the mercy and grace God has shown to us will we be ready to serve him willingly and joyfully. Only then will we be willing to take on something as radical and demanding as the cell vision.
From the book “People with a passion“, by Colin Dye.