“Many people sing ‘Amazing Grace’ and give lip service to the idea, but that grace has not profoundly changed them.”- Timothy Keller
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”- Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)
Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 6 of The Prodigal Prophet with the third crucial truth the doctrine of grace presupposes.
3. The salvation God provides is costly. Twice in his prayer, Jonal looks toward God’s holy temple. Because Jonah knew that God promised to speak to His people over the mercy seat in the temple (Exodus 25:22). And, as Christians know, only the death of Christ secures our forgiveness so that we can speak with God.
Thus, Pastor Keller notes, the temple and the sacrificial system established all three crucial ‘grace truths’ as a foundation. Hence, Pastor Keller exhorts:
“God’s grace becomes wondrous, endlessly consoling, beautiful, and humbling only when we fully believe, grasp, and remind ourselves of all three of these background truths — that we deserve nothing but condemnation, that we are utterly incapable of saving ourselves, and that God has saved us, despite our sins, at infinite cost to himself.”
Therefore, Pastor Keller underscores, great miracles don’t occur when a supernatural event redirects history. Rather, a great miracle occurs when a person acknowledges his or her sin and confesses it before God. As a consequence, God restores the broken Creator-creature relationship.
In conclusion, Jonah’s prayer reaches a climax when he proclaims that “salvation only comes from the LORD (Jonah 2:9).” Above all, Pastor Keller states, the prepositional phrase denotes possession. Thus, salvation belongs to God alone — no one else. Only God saves us — that’s the gospel!
All of us live only, equally via God’s grace. Flawed and clueless though we are, our merciful God works patiently with us. As we seek to grasp His grace more deeply.
Today’s question: What Bible verses help you move beyond giving lip service to God’s amazing grace? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Social justice and repentance”