Why We Must Cling to Grace

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Our performance mentality can cause us to believe we need the grace of salvation because we did some awful things. We come to the acknowledgment that we failed, failed repeatedly in many ways, and life isn’t working out very well at all. We see that we are morally a mess and our best attempts are not good enough, but sin isn’t just about actions despite our performance construct that tempts us to believe that.

 

Our attitudes and the condition of our hearts are the issue.

 

Look at how Dr. C. Samuel Storms describes it in The Grandeur of Grace:

 

“The first and possibly most fundamental characteristic of divine grace is that it presupposes sin and guilt.

 Grace has meaning only when men are seen as fallen, unworthy of salvation, and liable to eternal wrath…

 Grace does not contemplate sinners merely as undeserving but as ill-deserving…It is not simply that we do not deserve grace, we do deserve hell.”

 

Sometimes I think we need to let that soak in a bit more than we often do. Yes, even on our best days…even if we have not committed some crime we believe is punishable by death, we still are fallen and grace has been granted when what we deserved was hell.

 

Let me share one thing more from Dr. Storms’ words that make the truth vibrant and crystal clear:

 

“Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit…Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit…Grace is treating a person without the slightest reference to deserving whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purposes of God.”

 

 Wow!! His words make clear a truth we cannot help but see.

 

I wish I had understood that more fully earlier in my walk with the Lord. I easily slipped into performance mentality and also accepted much of the Christian legalism of what I should or ought to do as a good believer.

 

One of the areas it was evident was in the area of spending time reading in the Word. As a child the Bible had fascinated me and more than once my mother chided me when she found me with a flashlight under the covers reading it when I was supposed to be sleeping. As a teen when I formally accepted Christ, I started hearing about all kinds of reading plans I should be using and even ones that gave me the order I was supposed to read. It lost some of its joy and became a bit more duty and when I failed to keep up with the plan or read the number of chapters assigned, I felt the Lord must be disappointed in me.

 

In early adulthood some of those same feelings lingered until I experienced a fresh renewal of Him in my early thirties. Again, I devoured the Word and felt the Lord speaking to me through it. I didn’t look at plans to read it. I just couldn’t wait to dig into it each day. I still heard from many sources how I should be doing it, but I largely ignored them all.

 

Plans are not a bad thing. They help give us a disciplined path and can be helpful at different times and seasons because they help us look at the whole Bible versus just certain books or passages we know or love. But they can also lend themselves to getting tangled up with our performance mentality construct.

 

In recent years I have discovered some plans that I enjoy, but what is most valuable to me has been how I have discovered grace evident from Genesis to Revelation. In doing so I have also recognized that the Word is meant to be a dialogue between the Lord and me. Reading in it is not a passive experience, but it is a deeply personal one where I am responding in a conversational way (often with journal in hand).

 

I love how Judith Kunst talks about this in The Burning Word:

 

“The Jewish way of reading, I am learning, is less about progressing than about digging in, holding on — not passing through words but dwelling in them and on them, under them and around them.”

 

Jerry Bridges uses a metaphor to describe the facets of grace that I enjoy. He writes about how an engaged couple looks for that special diamond in a jewelry store. The sales associate will lay each diamond ring on a dark velvet pad. The dark pad enhances the beauty and sparkle of each stone. His metaphor for grace reads as follows:

 

 “Our sinful condition hardly qualifies as a velvet pad, but against the dark background of guilt and moral pollution, God’s grace in salvation sparkles like a beautiful, clear, and flawless diamond.”

 

 Maybe we also need to acknowledge one of the mindsets that cloud our understanding of living by grace is our old nemesis…pride.

 

R.C. Sproul addressed this as follows:

 

“Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God’s grace and God’s grace alone for our salvation (and every day after). It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace.”

 

 Rest.

 

That is exactly what Jesus invites us to do. He wants us to rest in Him, abide in Him. That means we will be utterly and completely dependent on Him and His grace. Only His grace each day will allow us to do so.

 

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20 thoughts on “Why We Must Cling to Grace

  1. “Our sinful condition hardly qualifies as a velvet pad, but against the dark background of guilt and moral pollution, God’s grace in salvation sparkles like a beautiful, clear, and flawless diamond.” This quote is just beautiful and sums up so vividly what Grace is. I got caught up in legalism too for a time, and then God helped me see what was happening in my heart–judgement toward myself also showed how judgemental I was being to others! Great post!

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  2. Hi Pam! I really love this post. My head was bobbing up and down agreeing with your and the author’s take on grace.
    I know that I can often get stuck thinking about past mistakes, and how fallen I am. It makes me feel so bad! But you know, I think that’s evil finding his way to me. I am tailor made for grace, and isn’t that a wonder?? If I’m perfect, I don’t need him and believe me, I WANT to need him.
    I also like the idea of reading the bible for deeper meaning. (I thought to myself, “Who wouldn’t want a child to love the bible so much, she’d sneak it?) I have never read it ‘cover to cover’ but I have tried reading and reflecting on what stood out. That is a wonderful practice.

    Have a peaceful night!
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil!
      That is quite a picture you paint of your head bobbing up and down….would have loved to see that😊.

      I think this is an area where most of us have had challenges. I had not planned to write a series on grace, but after reading the book I just kept going so there are three more this week.

      You might enjoy choosing different parts and reading one book to glean where you see the gospel showing up. It can be amazing. You also might like reading The Burning Word by Judith Kunst if you can find a copy of it.

      Blessings on your sleep, my friend!
      Hugs,
      Pam

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  3. I wish I had understood grace at an earlier age too. I’m sure I still don’t totally understand it even now, but I know it a whole lot better and I love everything I know about it! 🙂 God’s grace is the best thing ever. Thanks for sharing these wonderful insights, Pam.

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    1. That blesses me to know, but saddens me as well. I wonder how many of us that might be true for. I also agree that I am not sure an unspeakable gift from a holy God is ever truly comprehensible!!! Blessings on your weekend from frosty/snowy Ohio💕

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  4. Dear Pam,
    Thank you so much for these beautiful words that are such a confirmation to me today of what the Lord has been speaking to me this year as I head into the New Year with my word of “sufficient” following after last year’s word of “still.” Your thoughts here, fit in so well with how those 2 words fit together for me: “That is exactly what Jesus invites us to do. He wants us to rest in Him, abide in Him. That means we will be utterly and completely dependent on Him and His grace.” God is so good to give us His Grace!

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    1. So true!!! Sometimes it can be easy to see the OT as just law and miss the goodness of grace. One place of many so clear is how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt BEFORE He gave the law. Have a blessed weekend!

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