By Dan King
I often wonder why so many people turn a deaf ear to the grace of God given so freely in Christ. While I recognize that they have their own individual reasons for turning down what is undoubtedly the most gracious offer ever made to mankind, yet it never ceases to amaze me! Think of it: God has extended forgiveness to man which is absolute. He forgives all our sins, clears the record, and permits us to begin all over again. It is as if we had never done wrong. As the old prophet told the people of Israel:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:18).
The problem then, as now, is the conditionality of this great offer of grace. God places conditions upon this complete clearing of accounts. He explained to Israel that she must meet the conditions to receive the gift of grace: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (vv. 16, 17).
Things remain so today. The Lord expects us to respond to his loving offer of forgiveness with both a change of attitude and a change of life. The willingness of God to forgive sin (regardless of its particulars) is amazingly kind and merciful. But it is not at all surprising that he expects some change of attitude on our part. Nor is it shocking that he wants us to mend our ways. What is unbelievable to me is the fact that there are people who seem to fool themselves into believing that this alteration of attitude and action is somehow unnecessary, and that God extends his grace unconditionally.
Such folk rightly marvel at the forgiveness extended to man in the Bible. As Paul himself said: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1,2). Yet they seem to be blind to every demand for a change of attitude and action.
Let it suffice for us to quote John’s statement in 3:36 of his gospel: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him ” (NASB). Empty, fruitless faith is worthless in any attempt at receiving the grace of God. So says the Scripture. See also James 2:17,24.
While, in the current religious climate it is essential that we say what we have about the conditions attached to the grace of God, we must, to be true to our text, return to the main point. And that is this: God is perfectly willing to wipe the slate clean for you. No matter what you have done in the past – how awful your deeds may have been – your Father in heaven is anxious to forget all about it. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).
All God wants from you right now, is an indication that you are willing to accept his terms. Surely you would agree that he has come more than half-way!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 24, pp. 738, 752
December 19, 1991