I subscribe to the Bible notes from the UCB (United Christian Broadcasters), based in the UK. It’s a booklet of daily devotions that they will send as a free regular subscription to anyone who asks. Or you can visit their website and read the devotional yourself on a daily basis.
Generally, there are some good bits and some not so good bits, as with any daily devotional, which is partly why they are no substitute for a decent prayer life and certainly no substitute for walking with Jesus Himself. And I appreciate the amount of effort it must take for its authors to generate inspirational reading day after day. It’s a mammoth task which I can only dimly appreciate, despite writing a (fairly) regular spiritual blog myself.
I appreciate that some of my readers may already read the Word for Today. For that reason, I wanted, reluctantly, to take issue with something I read in a recent devotional, namely the one for the 31st of March.* I am writing this only to re-encourage fellow believers who may have been discouraged by something that was written in that piece, and even than I may have taken it wrongly. If so, I apologise.
The piece is entitled ‘Grace’, and, as you know, I am a strong proponent of the nature of God’s infinite Grace extended towards all of humanity. However, there is not much in there about Grace as I understand it, as being the underserved favour of God. There’s a lot about ambulances, but nothing about the extravagant, generous, limitless, wild and free favour of our awesome God! But the passage that I really want to take issue with is this, near the end:
“…. He transported us from where we were to a place that has all the grace we’ll ever need until we go home with Him. One day God will sit on a throne of judgement where there’ll be no more grace, but until that day He’s seated on a throne of grace“
What?! There’ll be no more Grace? Clearly this is definitely not Grace as I understand it. Grace is part of Who God is; it’s part of His personality, it’s not just one of the ways He works. Grace is a part of God; it’s not something He does, it’s something He is. It is part of His Character. God doesn’t change, and, just like God, Grace will go on forever.
I will say that again: Grace will go on forever.
To claim that ‘there will be no more Grace’ is not only completely wrong, it is also potentially the source of much hurt, confusion and doubt, especially for new believers. It’s a very dangerous statement to say that Grace will someday end!
If there is indeed a Judgement like the one the writers hint at – one of those judgements like a courtroom where people are found ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ – then it too will be shot through with Grace. Grace will be fully in action at the Judgement Seat! But I personally do not believe that the Final Judgement will be like that. This is our loving God Who sent His Son to die for all mankind. I’ve written before about what I believe happens after death to those who do not yet believe in Him. We are so conditioned in our time to have this awful image of an angry, judgemental God that we can think of no other kind of Last Judgement than the courtroom style of judgement. But when the Bible was written, courtrooms were not as they are now; sure, there was public justice, but I am sure it was very different from our current ‘adversarial’ judicial system. In fact, it would have been different from one town to another; from one society to another. For us to assume that the Final Judgement will be anything like an episode of ‘Crown Court‘ is simply fallacious thinking.
But I digress. Jesus said that, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life“. (John 5:24, NIV) Did you see that? “He…..will not be judged”. Why? because Grace extends even – and especially! – to the Judgement Seat – despite what our devotional writer friends might think. Grace is God’s chance to show His amazing generosity first shown to us now as Grace, but then it will also be shown also as Grace and Mercy. Grace and Mercy are both attributes of God’s Character and they go hand in hand. Nothing personal, guys, if ever you read this, but those new in Christ need to be assured of the security of their salvation, not placed in any sort of fear of the Final Judgement. Because Jesus also said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)
So, let’s not for one moment believe that Grace will ever end. There will indeed be Grace at the Judgement – because God is the God of Grace. No matter what we’ve done, no matter how far we think we’ve fallen, those whom Jesus has called will never – ever – lose all that He’s called them to.
Grace lasts for ever!!
*The piece is reproduced here for your reference, in case the original link ever doesn’t work, with the contended passage in bold type:
The Bible says: ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (vv. 15-16 NIVUK 1984 Edition). Dr Tony Evans says that God’s grace is like an ambulance coming to treat you when you’ve a medical emergency. First, it dispenses immediate grace to your most serious symptoms. Then they slide you into the ambulance, which is equipped with more grace – more medical facilities to deal with your problem. Then the ambulance races to the hospital where even more grace awaits. And once you’re admitted, the hospital keeps dispensing grace until your need has been addressed and you can go home again. In the words of John Newton’s beloved hymn: ‘‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home’. One day Jesus heard our emergency call: ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner’. He came to earth, found us dying in sin, and reached down to save us. And as our High Priest, He transported us from where we were to a place that has all the grace we’ll ever need until we go home with Him. One day God will sit on a throne of judgement where there’ll be no more grace, but until that day He’s seated on a throne of grace. So anytime you fail or falter, you can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence’ and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.”