How to Make Grace Unamazing

Nothing is easier than making grace unamazing. Just do what comes naturally.

For instance, treat repentance like a layaway plan. A sinner deposits dollars of shame, guilt, and tears into God’s account, until by and by, he can take forgiveness home. But until then, he’s stuck in a probationary period. Let him sit in the back pew, muse on his downfall, and work on convincing everyone that he’s not just faking it. He’s sincere. He’s earnest in his desire for amendment of life. He’ll never do it again. If his heart is in the right place, God will eventually forgive him.

@@In unamazing grace, it’s all about the heart of a sinner, not the heart of God.@@

Or, to make grace unamazing, legalize it. Although grace literally means “gift,” speak of it as a contract. It has conditions, exemptions, and loads of fine print. There’s more to it than “it is finished.”

In unamazing grace, it’s never finished. There’s always more you need to do to ensure God keeps smiling at you. Show him you’re worthy of his love. Agree never to do ______ or ______ again.

@@In unamazing grace, forgiveness is contingent upon pure hearts, zipped up zippers, denominational affiliation, Sunday School attendance, and generous tithing.@@ Absolution is always a possibility but never a fact.

When grace is legalized, the Good News becomes just More News of what you have to do.

In short, to make grace unamazing, begin to sing, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus and my righteousness….”

But when you do, realize that you no longer have hope and grace.
You have the lie of hell.

What makes grace truly amazing? There’s nothing natural, commonsensical, or legal about it. It first hits us as nonsense, a foolish message that God has already set things right between us and him. But it’s true.

And, thank God, there’s not a single thing we can do to mess it up. The last dirty act that the last man on earth will commit on the last day has already been wiped clean. Atheists are reconciled to the God they don’t even believe in. The lowest dirt bag on earth is a beloved child of the Father.

All of this is as true as the sun is hot. It’s done. Nothing will alter it. Already from the foundation of the world, Christ is the Lamb slain. Our whole globe is awash in his saving, sacrificial blood.

Yes, we await the full revelation of this at the last day.
Yes, not everyone will believe it and receive the benefits of it.
But, yes, the justification of the whole world in Christ remains an unalterable fact of grace.

Amazing grace is a sweet sound not just because it saved a wretch like me, but because it saved a whole wretched world like me. God did not enter into a contract with us. He simply said, “You’re justified. You’re forgiven. I love you. All is complete.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Be repentant enough, long enough, sincerely enough, and I’ll absolve you.” He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Screw up again, boy, and I’ll have your brothers dig up your old stinking sin and slap you in the face with it.” He said, “I have removed your sins as far as the east is from the west. I will remember them no more.”

He said this to those who believe it and who don’t believe it. Faith does not make justification possible, but merely receives the justification already accomplished.

Hilarious, irrational grace: that’s where God is. He’s there in Jesus. He belly laughs at parties with public sinners. He crowns whores queens of faith. He restores apostles who stabbed him in the back. He shows us over and over that grace is amazing because Jesus is our friend, our brother, our lamb, our feast, our Lord and our God.

He is our amazing grace.

*An earlier version of this article was published at christholdfast.org.

My new book, Your God Is Too Glorious: Finding God in the Most Unexpected Places, is now available. You can order copies from Christian Book DistributorsAmazonBarnes and Noble, or your favorite local bookstore.

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