Of all people, we who call ourselves “Reformed” should understand grace is an undeserved, monergeistic, irrevocable, and unfluctuating gift that cannot be paid back.
We talk much about God’s Holy Law. We know God has rules. We know God is serious about his laws. And we also know for us to be righteous and acceptable we must keep every portion of every law with every part of our entire being every single second of every single day. Yes, we recognize how demanding is our good God. He has put before us an impossibly high standard that none can reach. There is no good news here.
We talk much about the Covenant of Works. We know God has established a relationship with consequences based upon performance. Perfect obedience equals blessing. Imperfect obedience or disobedience equals cursing. There is no middle-ground. There is no partial credit. Friends, this is good that we know this, but there is no good news here.
We talk much about our Family Head. Though Adam was created perfectly and given a good head-start, he proved to be a satanic disciple. He discounted the affection, wisdom, and laws of God, followed the counsel of the serpent, and broke the works-based covenant. Some may boast of their family tree, but friends, there is no good news here.
We talk much about Original Sin. Sadly, we know we are “chips off the old block.” Our bloodline is cursed. We have been conceived in iniquity. Yes, the rebel-spirit was implanted in our souls even in our mothers’ wombs. As such, we are sons and daughters of Adam and children of the devil. So much for “human potentiality.” As we look at the fallen human race, there is no good news here.
We talk much about Total Depravity. We recognize that every part of man is corrupted by sin. The body, soul, mind, will, tongue, desires, and emotions, they are all set on fire by hell. Consequently, the Bible says we are “dead in our trespasses and sins.” We are spiritually impotent. We are utterly unable to change ourselves. Even our “good deeds are considered like filthy rags” in the sight of the Holy God. There is no helping ourselves. Friends, there is no good news here.
We talk much about God’s Holiness and Justice. We understand God loves righteousness, abhors sin, and adjudicates with utmost fairness. We have learned from God’s Book that he is too holy and fair to overlook righteousness. He is also too holy and fair to wink at sin. As the holy and just Judge of all the Earth, he will certainly pour out the blessings and the curses earned and deserved by all his creatures. But again friends, this is not encouraging for us who are originally-sinful, totally-deprave, law-forsaking, covenant-breaking men and women in the hands of an angry God. Judgment, condemnation, wrath, retribution, vengeance, and hell have been earned. There is no good news here.
But then …
We talk much about the Covenant of Grace. From God’s Word we learn he has a different agreement or payment-plan. This has nothing to do with our performance. This has nothing to do with our obedience. This has nothing to do with our faithfulness. This has nothing to do with us at all; it is monergistic and not synergistic. It is a deal worked out between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is not a covenant between God and man. This is a one-way covenant. It is a divine covenant, and it is does not pay us according to our deeds. It is “contrary to the Law.” it is “apart from works.” Friends, it is a “Covenant of Grace,” and this is Good News.
We talk much about Jesus’ Substitutionary Atonement. Much is made of Christ’s active and passive work on behalf of his children. For horrid sinful enemies he came, lived, died, and rose again. Yes, for children of the devil he earned all the righteousness they would ever need and received all the condemnation and punishment they would ever deserve. Sometimes we rightly sing, “Jesus Paid It All” and “Christ is Enough for Me.” Sins were “paid, not in part, but the whole.” Friends, this is Good News.
We talk much about the Irresistible Holy Spirit. As imperfect men and women, we come in contact with the Gospel with our totally deprave eyes, ears, mind, and will. As followers of Adam and Satan, we are not originally predisposed to receiving the spiritual-swap offered by Jesus. We are prone to argue, wander, suppress, and replace. But never fear, the same God who looks with love, and comes to earth, he is the same deity who fantastically affects the eyes, ears, mind, and will of sinners. With gracious affection, God sovereignly, irresistibly, and sweetly regenerates — he graces men with repentance and faith. Even our natural unbelief is not enough to keep us away from reconciliation with God. Yes friends, this is Good News.
Then comes the big words we talk much about — Union, Justification, Adoption, Communion, and Sanctification. The good news keeps coming. Because we are viewed in complete solidarity with Christ, we are:
- Union: We are clothed in righteousness.
- Justification: We are declared righteous.
- Adoption: We are brought into the family of God as sons and daughters; even as the bride of Christ.
- Communion: We are personally, intimately, and jointly filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Sanctification: We are set apart by the Sovereign God for his holy usage.
Are you sensing the Good News yet?
We talk much about Sola Fide. We receive all the benefits of Jesus Christ by doing nothing but giving up, believing, and resting in him. It is not Jesus plus anything. Many religious teachers and factions have taught God has done his part and now man must do his, but this is not Christ’s Gospel. Loud has been the Reformation cry, “Men are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” How fantastic this is! Friends, this is Good News.
We talk much about Grace that is Greater than All our Sins. We know that “in our flesh no good thing dwells.” We are aware that the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We know the “heart is deceitfully wicked” and the “tongue cannot be tamed.” Too well we know how we “don’t do the things we want to do” and “keep doing those things which we would not.” But thanks be to God, he has told us his “grace is sufficient,” it is “greater than all our sins.” God does not treat us in accordance with our sins. There is nothing that can separate us from God. Friends, this is the undeserved, monergeistic, irrevocable, and unfluctuating gift that cannot be paid back. This is the Good News of God’s free gift.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 3:7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
Ephesians 4:7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
But then …
Sadly, we pervert it. Because we …
- Are scared of preaching too much grace …
- Cannot trust the Holy Spirit to do his work in his children in his own timing and his own way …
- Have seen charlatans claim to be Christ followers who have no interest in following Christ …
- Desire to control those under our realm of authority, whether they be children, students, or church members …
- Want to claim credit for getting better than we used to be …
- Long to consider ourselves better than others about us …
- Think more highly of ourselves than we ought …
- Have a lower view of God’s rules than we ought; imagining them to now be keepable …
- Have a little devil on our shoulder telling us we must partner with God in order to commune and be acceptable …
We forget all we have previously known and declared; that grace is an undeserved, monergeistic, irrevocable, and unfluctuating gift that cannot be paid back.
We go back to placing our trust in God + our spiritual disciplines, church attendance, ceremonial practices, personal faithfulness, ethical growth, covenantal fidelity, internal sorrow, external reputation, doctrinal acquisition, temporal abstentions, charitable deeds, and imperfect works.
We prove to be “Deformed and not Reformed“ people forgetting grace is not of works. We become those who accept, preach, and sing about grace in theory, but we deny it in our personal and corporate application. Sadly, we show again our sin-nature by not receiving God’s free gift, but perverting it.
Therefore, we repent …
We acknowledge God’s good and holy Law.
We acknowledge our inability — internally and externally — to every keep God’s Law.
We acknowledge the cursing that we deserve each and every moment of each and every day.
We remember the salvific work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We think of how the covenanted, with one another, for our sake.
We recall the promises made by the God who never lies.
We find ourselves believing and repenting, thus proving the Holy Spirit is “in the house.”
We rest in Christ.
We find our affections moved towards the one who so loves us.
We get to commune and enjoy the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Friends, today is another day of repentance. Today is another day to come back to the Gospel and preach the Good News to ourselves and others. How good it is to be instruments of God’s grace who understand it to be an undeserved, monergeistic, irrevocable, and unfluctuating gift that cannot be paid back.
Then, after doing this, as we do this, we get to get up, love, worship, and work under the power of Christ. We get to experience and express the holiness gifted to us and with great optimism see what the God of grace plans to do through his sinful and sanctified saints. Today, we get to walk in the Spirit, keep step with the Spirit, abide in the Spirit, and see the fruit of the Spirit. And this too is all a gift of God’s grace.