There are few things in life more important than life itself. You might give your life for a child or a loved one. Maybe you would give your life for your country. The Apostle Paul gave his life for the gospel of grace.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Act 20:24)
Paul dedicated his life to the gospel of grace. He said that preaching the grace gospel was more important than life itself, and that anyone who preached a different gospel should be cursed.
Anyone, no matter who they are, that brings you a different gospel than the grace gospel… let him be condemned and cursed! (Galatians 1:9, TPT)
What is this gospel of grace that Paul valued so highly? How do we recognize it?
And how would we know if someone was preaching a different gospel?
What is the gospel of grace?
The gospel of grace is the only gospel for it is the grace of God that makes the good news the good news. It is the grace of God that saves us, sanctifies us, and keeps us secure to the end.
What is grace? Grace is the love of God that comes to us through his Son and empowers us to be who God made us to be.
And what is the gospel of grace? The One who sits on a throne of grace wants to share his life with you. This life is found in his Son who is full of grace and truth.
What does the grace of God look like? It looks like Jesus. Grace isn’t a mere message or sermon. Grace is a Person living his life through you.
What was Paul’s gospel?
The gospel that Paul preached was a classic 3-point message: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again as the prophets foretold (see 1 Cor. 15:1–6). You are probably familiar with this message, but do you really understand what it means?
As we behold the cross and the empty tomb, the full implications of God’s super-abundant grace become clear. Because of grace I can say:
- God loves me unconditionally
- God accepts me just the way I am
- God has forgiven all my sins
- God holds nothing against me
- God justifies me and makes me righteous
- God makes me a brand new creation
- God adopts me into his family making me a co-heir with Christ
And that’s just the beginning of this great grace gospel!
The radical claims of grace
Paul spent his life unpacking the implications of grace. He said things like: God is no longer holding our sins against us (2 Cor. 5:19); we are saved and kept by grace (Eph. 2:5, 1 Cor. 1:8); and God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
These claims were radical 2000 years ago, and they are still radical today. They are so contrary to our natural understanding that many dismiss them as untrue.
“The grace of God can’t be this good.”
Yet Paul described the grace of God as extreme, over the top, and hyper. He and the other New Testament writers said God’s love and grace are greater than we can dream or imagine. They dared to ask bold questions like these gems from Romans 8:
- If God justifies me, who can condemn me?
- If God is for us, who can be against us?
- If God has given us his Son, what won’t he give us?
God’s grace is greater than we can fathom. We will spend the rest of eternity exploring the limitless reaches of his grace to us.
So how can we get this grace message wrong?
What is NOT the gospel of grace
Paul warned us not to listen to those who preach something other than the gospel of grace. Since the grace of God comes to us by faith alone, there are two ways preachers can mess this up:
- They preach things that distract us from grace (eg: conditional forgiveness, law-keeping, progressive sanctification, judgmental prophecies, conspiracies, myths, etc.)
- They preach things that diminish faith (eg: sin-management, worldly philosophy, politics, dead works, performance-based acceptance, etc.)
How can you tell the difference between a grace message and a graceless one?
A grace-based message will leave you praising God and thanking Jesus. In contrast, a graceless message will have you making promises you can’t keep and then condemn you for not keeping them.
Someone who has not been fully apprehended by the grace of God will always be tempted towards dead works. So be wary of those who preach a mixed gospel. If you desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, tune in to the hypergrace preachers.
But the biggest mistake we can make with the gospel of grace is we think it is for other people. “Grace is for sinners, not good churchgoers like me.”
Big mistake. We all need the grace of God every single day.
It’s grace from start to finish.
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