“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
The grace of God in Christ is mankind’s only means of salvation. “I do not frustrate the grace of God,” wrote Paul, meaning that he didn’t dare disrespect or disregard God’s grace. Paul understood that if not for the saving grace of God, all men would be on a hopeless, one-way trajectory towards eternal condemnation. If there were any way we could have saved ourselves by our own efforts, Christ’s sacrifice would effectively be emptied of its power. Our redemption is in Christ alone; His blood is the only means by which we have forgiveness of sins. This, Paul tells us, is “according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). I imagine a great set of scales. One side contains the great weight of personal sin. It is very heavy. It brings that side of the scales down so that it touches the ground. No matter what we place on the other side, the scales stay locked in place; our sin keeps the scales right where they are. No amount of regret, tears, well-wishes, or good works can budge them. It is by God’s grace alone that these scales will move in our favor. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, God’s saving grace for us is accessible through the exercise of faith (Romans 5:2). This blessed reality is intended to do more than secure our eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12); it is intended to give us needed strength, comfort, and encouragement as well. “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself,” wrote Paul, “and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). Contemplating these things, my mind returns to the image of the scales. Once tipped against us by the awful weight of personal sin, they now are now forever tipped the other way, in our favor, by the infinite weight of grace. No matter what is placed on the other side of the scales, they will not budge, no, not one millimeter towards our condemnation. This blessed reality ought to fill our hearts with love and gratitude for the Savior Who loved us first. Of necessity, our love for the Lord will come to expression in our obedience to His known will (John 14:21). Throughout our pilgrimage here, God intends for us to walk strong in His grace and to commit God’s special revelation to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We marvel that God’s amazing grace goes well beyond personal salvation and the forgiveness of sins. It includes special gifts to His children with which we are intended to bless one another. “As every man hath received the gift,” wrote the spokesman for the apostles, “even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). May this be true of us, for God’s glory and for the good of His redeemed.