Saturday, February 17, 2007

Free Grace

Don't you just love how you can read the same passage of Scripture over and over, and then one day you read it again and it's like you're reading it for the very first time? That just happened to me again this morning as I read in Romans 11, the crux of Paul's extended argument about Israel and the Gospel. In this particular passage he is defending the fact that God has not rejected his people, even though they are all in rebellion against him. He tells the story of Elijah who asks God to kill them all because they are all going to kill him, and God says "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal" (v. 4).

Then Paul says, "So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace" (v. 5-6). As I read that, the truth of those words hit me, and I just read over them again and again. In this verse is the very definition of grace itself, that marvelous gift of God to me. What is it? It is FREE! I don't have to work for it, I don't have to do anything for it. God has chosen a remnant of people on the earth, and he chose me because he wanted me and for no other reason. It wasn't because I was smart or kind or able to do big things for him. He chose me because he loved me.

I know that my first temptation as a proud sinner is to want to add to grace, to give my little contribution: "See, God, here's what I can do to make myself worthy of this." Yet I love Paul's pithiness at the end of the verse: we can't add anything to grace because "otherwise grace would no longer be grace." Grace is totally, completely free. What amazing news! What an amazing reason to praise God anew!

(photo credit: Brittany Kauflin)

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