The depth of God’s grace

By Dave Henning / September 7, 2023

“The main purpose of the book of Jonah is to get us to understand grace. . . .  Ignorance of the depth of God’s grace causes our most severe problems.  Until we understand it we are, like Jonah, just a shadow of what we could be and should be.”- Timothy Keller

“The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world — just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”- Colossians 1:16 (NIV)

In Chapter 12 (“Our Relationship to God’s Grace”), the final chapter of The Prodigal Prophet, Timothy Keller stresses that understanding the depth of God’s grace makes a person a Christian.  Rather than merely a moral person or a religious person or a nice person.  Furthermore, such an understanding makes it possible for a person to take a hard stand.

However, if you believe that God simply forgives us and shrugs as He overlooks sin, then you wind up taking sin lightly.  Because, you surmise, apparently God does too.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to this as cheap grace.

Therefore, we must see what it cost Jesus to save us in order to gladly obey and serve Him.  Regardless of the cost to us.  Hence, as J. I. Packer explains in Knowing God:

“Those who suppose that the doctrine of God’s grace tends to encourage moral laxity . . . are simply showing that, in the most literal sense, they do not know what they are talking about.  For love awakens love in return; and love, once awakened, desires to give pleasure.”

In conclusion, God delights when we stop boasting about as well as getting our identity from human wisdom, might, and wealth.  Instead, we begin to live in generosity and righteousness.  Yet, Pastor Keller underscores, while the gospel may lead to a changed life, those changes cannot save you.

So, in the process, grace becomes the song of your life.  And when you heart sings that song a great deal of the time, it changes you.

Today’s question: What most helps you understand the depth of God’s grace?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Grace abolishes fear of failure”

About the author

Dave Henning

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