Grace alone by faith alone, Part 1

Grace alone by faith alone.

It’s hard to believe William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for believing it.

Or is it?

Grace alone by faith alone.

The idea is so simple a four-year-old could explain it.  But it is so contrary to human thinking that leagues of scholars haven’t been able to resolve the dispute.  Still today we have a great deal of confusion, strife, and anger over the issue.  Nobody is burning anybody at the stake right now, but plenty of people are at war over grace.

How in the world can grace cause so much trouble?

Grace is the offer to take away punishment, for free.  It doesn’t seem like anybody could be mad about grace.  It doesn’t seem like anybody would want to protest against it.  But that’s because grace really isn’t causing the trouble.  The trouble is caused in the human heart.

I rarely have trouble receiving grace from others.  But I often have trouble with watching someone receive grace because it takes away my opportunity to hold power and condemnation over that person because of what they did.

This is why leading false clergy in England burned William Tyndale at the stake.  They didn’t want the poor to believe that they were saved by grace alone.  They didn’t want the poor to believe they could be forgiven of their sins without retribution.  That would mean the “unholy” masses would be on equal ground with the “holy” clergy.

(The funny thing about grace is, even if you don’t believe you need it or want to receive it, it will still affect you.  Even though the clergy believed they were close to perfect and did not need grace, the fact that the poor could be freely forgiven would mean the clergy’s “close-to-perfectness” would be overshadowed by the total perfectness of the poor man forgiven by Christ.  This was totally unacceptable to them.)

Withholding grace is all about control and ranking.  The people who pretend like they don’t need grace or as much grace end up “on top”, and the people who need grace must instead “work to earn it”.

But, of course, the very moment I work toward earning grace, I am no longer looking for grace.  I am looking for merit.  And trying to earn God’s approval on merit is like trying to carry a load of dry cleaning through a mud shower and present it as satisfactory to the customer.  It will never happen.  Our very “good works” (which are not good works because we are corrupted by sin) are mud showers, and getting to God by them is hopeless.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (Isaiah 64:6, NLT)

Published in: on July 11, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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