The grace of God is foundational for our salvation and our sanctification. Without the grace of God, we have no basis for a relationship with Him.
Incorrect Perception: The Chutes and Ladders God
Chutes and Ladders is a game that seeks to defeat your opponents by being the first to reach the top square of the board. You move higher by climbing ladders when you perform good deeds, but you slide lower on the chutes when you break rules. Any varying level of success or failure can change in a moment with a simple action. The lesson it teaches children is that you climb higher faster by the greater the deeds you do.
Many people follow the Chutes and Ladders God. This syncretistic version of God attempts to infuse the God of the Bible with the philosophy of karma. Believing God to reward good behavior and to discipline bad behavior, we reckon that God is dependent upon our moral integrity in order to determine how he should best deal with us. The danger of such a belief is assuming that anyone is worthy of God’s love and anyone is beyond God’s love.
God does not operate like a Chutes and Ladders board game. God is gracious.
Explanation of Grace
- The mercy of God means that we do not receive what we deserve.
- The grace of God means that we receive what we do not deserve.
- The grace of God is greater than our sin (Rom. 5:20).
- The grace of God is an offering that can never be based upon obligation (Ex. 33:19).
- The grace of God is often spoken of in the Bible as the favor of God (Gen. 6:8; Ex. 33:17).
- Salvation has never come at any time by any means other than grace (Eph. 2:8-9).
- Grace has never been offered outside of the person and work of Jesus (even when unnamed and unknown) [1 Pet. 1:10-12].
Enemies of Grace
- Legalism– Legalism is the belief that prioritizes the keeping of the Law by neglecting the power of God’s grace. By adhering to a strict list of rules, the legalist believes he or she can earn the favor of God. Salvation by grace is the exact opposite of salvation by human merit (Rom. 3:23-24).
- Antinomianism– Antinomianism is the belief that believers are not held to commandment expectations due to the grace of God. The danger in this belief leads to a moral decline that cheapens God’s grace. For believers, the grace of Jesus should crucify ourselves to the world (Gal. 6:14) and cause us to hate sin (Rom. 6:1-2).
- Maturism– Maturism is the belief that no further development is required or needed. Some people believe that the grace of God saves and neglect that it is also that which sustains. Grace is the foundation for the daily Christian life (1 Cor. 15:10).
Experience of Grace
- Grace is given to those who acknowledge their sin (1 John 1:9).
- Grace is given to those while still in sin (Rom. 5:8).
- Grace is given to those who have nothing left to give (Luke 15:11-32).