My late mentor and pastor, Larry White, taught me to always have the concept of grace in every message. I would like to say that I have, but I haven’t. I’m more of a teacher than a preacher. However, I am a strong believer in the grace of God.
The problem is so many of us do not really understand the concept of grace, that salvation is a gift from God; unmerited favor as some like to say. Oh, we sing about grace, we say grace at meals, and read about grace. However, I have to say that most of us do not live our lives believing we have received grace.
There was a story in a Methodist Sunday School Book (2/12/2017) written by Kevin Baker. He doesn’t quote where he heard the story, only saying he heard about it. It’s a story I’m sure I will be using as well.
The setting is a high school classroom where the teacher, known for giving difficult tests, tried to teach about grace. One day, he began the class by telling the students that they would be taking an unscheduled pop exam. He than proceeded to hand out a multiple-page exam and instructed the students to read through the entire exam before beginning.
One student, Jerry, did as instructed. Halfway through his reading be began to panic at the level of difficulty he was finding. When he came to the last page, he read words that confused and elated him at the same
time: “If you want to take this test to try to and receive an A, please return to the first page and begin; but if you want to receive an automatic A, just add you name to the first page and turn it in.”
Jerry could not believe his eyes. He added his name, turned in the exam, and left. Soon after, many other students did the same. Then there was Tim, who struggled with good grades. He did not follow the instructions, so he was graded on problems he was able to answer. He missed the opportunity to receive what would likely have been one of his only As in the class.
Finally came another student named Tiffany. She did read to the end of the test first, but became angry after reading the final note. An automatic A? What kind of teacher would give As out to students who had not earned them? She was outraged and decided to return to the front page and take the test on principle. No one was going to give her anything she had not earned or deserved!
As I read this, I had to think of God as being that teacher. He has given us His word, the Bible. Some treat it like an exam, a list of the things we must get right if we’re going to get into Heaven.
We can attempt to find all the things we must do in order to receive salvation and God’s grace, when he clearly tells us we only have to do one thing: Accept the gift. Martin Luther found grace when he studied Romans 1:17: “The righteous will live by faith.” The rallying cry of the Reformation became “faith plus nothing.” One writer stated “Grace is no longer grace when earning it comes into the picture.” There is absolutely nothing you can do to earn salvation, you just have to be willing to accept it.
Unfortunately, we have too many Tiffanys and Jerrys among Christians today. We have a works mentality and look down on those who haven’t worked for what they received. Let’s face it. We were sinners when Jesus adopted us into His family. And we are still sinners and His love for us hasn’t changed. All you have to do is sign your name and turn in the paper. He loves us that much. It’s called grace.