Many years ago I taught a home Bible class, which soon grew to more than seventy people. Because so many of them had notheard the gospel and were obviously eager to understand it, I decided to make the good news our focus. After nine week s I thought, Let’s see how many are getting the message. So, I handed each per son an index card and asked them t o write a brief explanation of the gospel in no more than a sentence or two — nothing complicated. Out of approximately seventy student s, how many turned in a correct response?
At first I was confused and disillusioned. How could my teaching have been so ineffective? But then as I continued to work with the class, I discovered that people find it very difficult to connect the dots and to accept the concept of grace. It is humanly illogical, and even seems irresponsible, t o think that any thing in life is free. Because the world is a “you only get what you pay for” kind of place, we naturally expect salvation to be the same. Before long, we’re earning Brownie points toward heaven, attending church, feeding the hungry, giving money to worthy causes, memorizing Scripture, turning the other cheek, nursing wounded spar rows back to health . . . Eventually, we arrive at a logical conclusion: All this work is surely getting God’s attention. Hopefully, He will reward me . . . maybe even let me into heaven.
But God’s economy doesn’t work like t hat. Grace is the currency of heaven, which makes grace an utterly absurd concept to the world. Grace is free to the receiver and costly to the giver. Grace transfers blessing from the storehouse of the deserving to the need of the unworthy. Grace is given with no expectations, no conditions, no constraints, and no record. In fact, grace is not genuine if it cannot be abused by the person receiving it — and many do abuse g race.
When someone continually lavishes grace on undeserving people, who for the most part abuse it, we call that someone a sucker, a patsy, a dupe. Certainly God would never set aside His dignity or stoop so low . . . would He?
He would. And He did. Read this slowly . . . preferably aloud:
[Jesus], although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6 – 8)
God stooping to become a man? And then stooping to suffer the punishment we deserve? After four years of seminar y and well over four decades in pastoral ministry, I ca n scarcely take this in. No wonder new believers struggle to connect the dots.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” – Romans 5:6-9
Read more from Chuck Swindoll at www.SwindollInsights.com
About Charles Swindoll
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the clear, practical teaching and application of God's Word. He currently pastors Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and serves as the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. His renowned Insight for Living radio program airs around the world. Chuck and Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children and ten grandchildren.