Missing Grace?-Part 1
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
What makes grace so profound? Why is grace amazing? Grace is not an idea or doctrine, but an experience with Almighty God. Through grace, the eyes of sinful humans are opened to the utter helplessness of one’s spiritual state and the complete dependence and need for a Savior. Without grace, humanity is simply lost to their own sinful condition and the subsequent penalty for such sins, death. Grace is God’s unmerited and undeserved favor toward humanity and realized through the faithful covenant and redemptive work through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ (Myers 427). The Apostle Paul wrote “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (ESV Bible, Ephesians 2:8).
Grace encompasses the entire Scripture, not as an intellectual property but a living truth personified in Jesus Christ. Grace is all things Jesus.
He demonstrates grace through compassionate healings, powerful miracles, and in His wise teachings. Jesus imparts grace principles recorded in the gospels, which serves a dual purpose. In conversational style, his words shame the prideful and pierce the selfish, and yet simultaneously bring joy, comfort, and peace to the humble, contrite spirit.
The author who penned the letter to the Hebrews warned “see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). The context is addressing interpersonal relationships within the church. This admonition cautions believers to ensure that everyone receives the grace of God, implying there is a possibility of missing out on grace.
There are two interactions in the gospels that exemplify the “missing out on grace.” In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is dining with a group at the invitation of a Pharisee, named Simon. While he is eating, he encounters a woman radically changed by his compassion. She cleans Jesus’s feet with her tears and kisses and anoints his feet with ointment. Her actions reflect a dramatic transformation and appreciation of grace, but the host of the party “missed out on grace” by passing judgment on himself. Simon doubted the identity of Jesus and judged the woman who was lavishing affection to her Savior in his mind. Jesus, who knew Simon’s thoughts, shared a parable to convict Simon’s sin in his own heart. In the parable, a moneylender cancelled a large and small debt. After the short story, Jesus questioned Simon to perceive the debtor with the largest debt would love the moneylender in a fuller appreciation. With his divine wisdom, Jesus illustrates perfectly to Simon the meaning of the woman’s actions.
Baker states that “This parable is one of the clearest presentations of salvation by grace. This story puts them all in the same fix; they are all morally and spiritually bankrupt” (101). Simon’s attitude against the woman represents a heart of stone that resists grace. By using the parable and the subsequent explanation, Jesus reprimanded Simon and praised the sinner for finding grace. He explained that her actions reflected that “her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). Luke does not indicate there is any remorse or repentance from Simon, just total forgiveness from Jesus to the woman for her extravagant heartfelt offering.