What kind of student were you in high school? What about college? What was your Grade Point Average—what students and educators alike refer to as the GPA? Regardless of how low the GPA recorded on your official transcripts, in God’s grade book, if you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, you are a straight “A” student with a perfect 4.0 GPA! Because of Christ’s atoning work on your behalf, everyone who is in Christ has received an A+ . . . when only a grade of “Zero” was deserved. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10 NIV). But thanks to Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection, all our bad grades have been erased forever, as if they never existed, and only Christ’s perfect score remains.
Now, this does not change the fact that we are called to do our very best in the school of life. It doesn’t mean we may forsake the spiritual disciplines and the continuous effort required to grow up into Christ. But it does mean that, regardless of our performance (good or bad) and attention to spiritual discipline (consistent or inconsistent), Jesus has already secured for us God’s eternal approval, acceptance, and affection. No matter what we do, God will never change our grade; an A+ was reserved for us in God’s grade book from the beginning of time (see Ephesians 1:4) and that perfect grade can never be lowered or erased (see Romans 8:38-39).
I understand that many will misunderstand, misuse, and abuse this incredible gift of Gospel grace. The Scriptures make this clear in a number of passages.
[W]atch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Romans 16:17-18)
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)
Yet our weaknesses, failures, and outright rebellion don’t change the truth about grace. Frankly, if you have never wrestled with the concept of grace so amazing—grace that is unwarranted, unmerited, unconditional, and unending—then you have not yet been fully seized by its truth.
John Newton, the sinful slave trader turned clergyman by the grace of God, poured out the latter half of his life proclaiming the “Amazing Grace” of God. As he neared the end of his time on earth, his health having deteriorated to the point where it affected his thinking and his speech, Newton acknowledged, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”
John Newton truly got it right in his magnificent hymn; Christian, drink in these timeless words!
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.
Only when we begin to see the “wretch” within will we catch a glimpse of just how amazing God’s grace really is. We were hopelessly lost in sin and blind to it . . . until Jesus showed up. God pursued us, rescued us, and is in the process of renewing us in Christ . . . and He won’t stop until grace has completed its work and leads us safely home.
What He began in grace He will complete in grace. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The more we understand this overwhelming truth, the better we will walk in it with the freedom, joy, and faithfulness the Gospel has secured for us.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!