“Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 1:2 (NIV)
At least twelve times the opening verses of letters in the New Testament we read words about God’s grace and peace. When we speak of God being merciful we are primarily addressing His activity toward us as miserable. When we are suffering, and in pain of various sorts, God comes to us in mercy and pours His peace into our hearts, the peace that passes understanding.
When we speak of God’s grace we focus on His work of dealing with our need. We need to be saved from the consequences of our sin and God sent His Son to be our Saviour. We have peace with God through the grace of Jesus Christ.
God’s grace is always greater than our need. No one can sin more than God’s grace is adequate to cover. Matthew 12:30-32 speaks about a sin that God will not forgive but, apart from that one sin, all other sin can—and will be—forgiven by the Father for all who repent and forsake the evil that came between them and the Lord.
In the newspapers, on TV, and in magazines we read so much about the evil of society. Many people shake their heads in bewilderment at the remarkably evil ways of people. Citizens in certain countries are bombed and shot by their own government. Certain rulers in some areas make the streets run with the blood of innocent citizens. These despots maintain a reign of terror and hundreds of thousands of citizens flee to other countries for refuge.
Can God’s grace cover the horrible sins of these actively evil men? Many who suffer under these dreadful men would say God cannot act in a kindly manner to such people. Yet, as we read Scripture, we see how God forgave anyone who repented and sought His grace. Even the most evil people are offered God’s grace.
Men who lied about Jesus in order to do Him harm were forgiven when they confessed their sin. Jesus sought forgiveness for the soldier who ruthlessly flogged Him until He was so mutilated He ceased to look human. The soldiers who drove the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus heard Him repeatedly asking the Father to forgive them. Even those who spit in His face and ripped out pieces of His beard were prayed for by Jesus.
God is more willing to forgive than people are willing to be forgiven. Do you think God is unfair because He offers forgiveness to the greatest of sinners? Is it your opinion that God should never think of being gracious to such horribly evil people as a Hitler or a serial killer?
While I despise the wicked acts of such people, I must be willing to offer them forgiveness through Jesus if they will listen to me. I cannot turn away from anyone and refuse to urge them to repent and believe in Jesus. God’s grace is indeed marvellous.