Grace Gone Wild
Grace is on the loose.
Contrary to our expectations, counter to our assumptions, frustrating our judicial sentiments, mocking our craving for control, the grace of God is turning the world upside down. He is shamelessly pouring out his lavish favor on undeserving sinners of all stripes, and thoroughly stripping away our self-sufficiency.
Primeval and Unbridled
Grace has been on the move since before creation, roaming wild and free. Even before the foundation of the world, it was the untamed grace of God that jumped the bounds of time and space and considered a yet-to-be-created people in connection with his Son, and chose them in him (Ephesians 1:4). It was in love — and to the praise of his glorious grace — that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus” (Ephesians 1:5–6). Such a divine choice was not based on foreseeing anything good in us. He chose us by grace — not “on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5–6). It was “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
With patience, then — through creation, fall, and flood, through Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David — God prepared the way. Humanity waited and groaned, gathering up the crumbs of his compassion as a foretaste of some feast to come. The prophets “prophesied about the grace that was to be yours” (1 Peter 1:10). And in the fullness of time, it came. He came.
Invading Our Space
Now “the grace of God has appeared” (Titus 2:11). Grace couldn’t be kept from becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the God-man, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth are here in him (John 1:17). Grace has a face.
But grace would not be restricted even here, even in this man. Grace would not just be embodied, but break the chains to roam the globe unfettered.
Casting Away Restraints
It was sheer grace that united us by faith to Grace Incarnate, and blessed us in him “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). In grace were we called with effect (Galatians 1:6) and given new birth. Because of grace unmeasured, boundless, free, now our dead hearts beat and lifeless lungs breathe. Only through grace do we believe (Acts 18:27), and only in grace do we receive “repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
But such wild grace keeps going. We get the Spirit, and experience our long-planned adoption, and cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). We receive “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Grace keeps breaking through barriers and casting away restraints. Grace justifies. A perfect, impeachable, divinely approved, humanly applied righteousness is ours in this union with Jesus. We are “justified by his grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7). Through this one man Jesus, we are counted among “those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). And so we happily say with Paul, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21).
Breaking into Our Lives
And just when we think we have been carried far enough, that God has done for us all that we could imagine and more, grace shatters the mold again. Grace sanctifies — too wild to let us stay in love with unrighteousness. Too free to leave us in slavery to sin. Too untamed to let our lusts go unconquered. Grace’s power is too uninhibited to not unleash us for the happiness of holiness.
So it is that we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and live “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Grace abounds not through our continuing in sin, but through our Spirit-empowered, ongoing liberation (Romans 6:1). Grace is too strong to leave us passive, too potent to let us wallow in the mire of our sins and weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you,” says Jesus, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Flooding the Future
Just when we’re sure it is done, and certain that some order must be restored and some boundary established, God’s grace not only floods our future in this life, but leaps spans the divide into the next, and pours out onto the plains of our eternity. Grace glorifies.
If the Scriptures didn’t make plain the story of our glory, we’d be scared to even dream of such grace. Not only will Jesus be glorified in us, but we will be glorified in him, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:16). He is “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). So Peter tells us to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). It will be indescribably stunning in the coming ages as he shows “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
Chosen before time. Called with effect. United to Jesus in faith and repentance. Adopted and forgiven. Justified. Sanctified. Glorified. And satisfied forever. Grace gone wonderfully wild.
David Mathis writes about the grace of God in sanctification in Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification, which includes contributions from Kevin DeYoung, Russell Moore, John Piper, Ed Welch, and Jarvis Williams. The full PDF is now available.
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