THE EPITOME OF GRACE

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Another definition of grace commonly used is ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’ where the alphabets of the term grace are expanded to define the epitome of grace in the salvation effected by Jesus on the cross.

‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8,9).

We previously saw how grace, by creating a relational dependence of man on God bridged the gap between man’s finiteness and God’s fullness. However when man sinned, he cut off this bridge and decided to go alone. In rejecting God’s rule over him and proclaiming his independence, man put away the possibility of sharing in God’s fullness and his eternity. Hence sin, which in reality is man proclaiming independence from God, resulted in death. Eternal life was lost.

The first response of man in attempting to solve this problem is to try to reclaim what was lost. He attempts to do things- to become good, observe penances and go on pilgrimages, but fails to realize that all these are only his attempts to set right what cannot be set right by human effort. How can man with all his imperfections reach the holy God? How can man with his finiteness grasp the infinite? When he attempts to take hold of God’s riches with his puny effort, he realizes he cannot make any headway. Like a man who knows no swimming, all his effort and struggle only pull him further down. What he really needs is the strong arm of a Savior.

Yet, Christ came to earth and died for man’s sins so that man might be set right with God. In the brilliance of God’s wisdom, at that moment when Jesus gave his life on the cross, sin’s requirements were adequately met and the bridge to God became open again. What man could not do by his own effort was made possible with God’s gift at Christ’s expense, the cost of his death on the cross. All man needs to do now is believe and move from struggling to make headway; to being swept into the very presence of God- and that is truly grace at its best!

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