No Substitute For Grace

The driver of the Ford Mustang was ticketed out on the freeway for speeding 20 miles per hour over the posted limit. Rather than send in a check to the court, he dutifully appeared before the judge and pleaded his case.

What he wanted was not mercy -- the forgiveness of the court for his transgression -- but a chance to explain his side of the story and win the indulgence of the state for his continued aggressiveness.

Surprisingly, the benevolent judge offered him mercy if he would promise to stop speeding -- no fine would be levied and no incarceration would be required -- but the motorist was intent on something more. He wanted to be liberated to have those blessings and more; he wanted to speed without consequence.

The judge's offer of grace was deemed too little and the motorist refused. He walked out of the court and zipped out of the parking lot, only to be pulled over again, ticketed and jailed for a number of more serious offenses. He never did pay his fine and he never got out of jail. He should have repented and accepted grace instead of pressing for indulgence.

This bizarre parable illustrates the way that many otherwise religious people approach the grace of Christ. You see, it is not really grace that they want. Grace is dependent, in part, upon conversion, conviction and repentance (John 16:7-11, Acts 3:19). That means a cessation of the transgression that grace is supposed to be covering. Many would just as soon have their cake and eat it, too.

There is no substitute for grace. Men have tried to work their way into heaven through philanthropic largesse and bodily neglect, but sin is not remitted by those (Phil. 3:4-8. Col. 2:23). Others have pretended that salvation is attained by faith alone, but they had to tear the book of James out of their Bibles to get there (James 2:14-26). Still others imagine that anyone who dies at the hands of a criminal, in a freak accident or act of heroism is instantaneously added to heaven's population, but that project would shun the blood of Christ altogether (Acts 4:12).

Now, we find so many have actually altered the definition of grace, substituting indulgence and tolerance in the place of mercy and unmerited favor. Christians misuse the liberty in Christ and convert it to a license to commit the very deeds he condemned and came to save them from (Gal. 5:13). People who fancy themselves under grace suddenly feel liberated to indulge their sinful appetites, believing that God could never remove his fellowship from them, but they are not under grace; they are under delusion (2 Thess. 2:11-12).

By J. S. Smith

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