After Church – Oh Happiness, There is Grace

Oh Happiness

Oh happiness
There’s grace enough for us and the whole human race
Oh happiness
There’s grace enough for us and the whole human race

Friend or foe, stranger or kin
All who come begin again
Hard or frail, rich or poor
All who need, need fear no more
Such a thing to give away

All regrets, let go, forget
There’s something that mends all of it
Such a thing to give away

Sound the church bells
Let ’em ring, let ’em ring
For everything can be redeemed
We can be redeemed, all of us

What is grace, though? The terminology, even in the Bible, isn’t that clear, but from the language implemented we can glean a pretty full picture of what it is.

God is Love, as I think any Christian knows. So, grace becomes the free gift of God, of Himself, to everyone and everything in the entire universe. The gift, of course, is entirely undeserved and unwarranted; there’s no particular reason why God, who hates sin, wants to associate Himself with sin, yet here we are in this state of grace, an ocean we cannot escape, Christian and non-Christian alike. Whatever the specifics of one’s theological inclinations, this is clear: grace remains the essential aspect of the Christian faith.

Without it, who could be saved? Those who follow the 613 commandments, the Law, set by God to Israel in the Pentateuch. Yet, we find Paul telling us that we ARE the Law. Huh? Well, not so much that we are the physical embodiement of said Law, but that we establish said Law through the grace of Jesus Christ.

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He notthe God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the  uncircumcised through faith is one.

31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

We don’t establish the Law by doing the Law. Far from it! Who could even say that they do follow said Law to the letter? If you believe in any form of human imperfection, there could be that one slight moment where you’re off key and you’re cooked. Some have said that these early sections of Romans are little more than a dialogue between Paul and his opponents – hence, the grace component receives comparatively little play, for we don’t quite know what Paul wants to say here. I find that to be utterly preposterous. Sure, I’m using a pretty conservative translation (New American Standard Bible for the win!), but even if you don’t have the word “propitiation”, what does Christ offer us that can’t be found in some other religion? Is Jesus a good person? A role-model? A rather fantastic magician who created a giant conspiracy with a bunch of uneducated guys to create a fake Messiah for the Jewish people, just like the hundreds of similar people who were around at the time? I wouldn’t think so, and I hope you don’t think so.

Rather, the issue at hand is this: does God offer grace to all, or is this not the case? If not, I’d say we are in pretty dire straits. What would there be to save us from? This is the entirety of our existence – there is nothing beyond what you can see, nor anything beyond what circumstances you find yourself. Some are perfectly fine with this conclusion – I am the master of my own destiny, and that is the end of that. On the other hand, we have those who cannot bear yet another day, who see nothing but heartache and despair in their situations. Do you think government restructuring will help them? Will social programs help them? Will giving them the tools necessary for their own self-empowerment help them? Will educating them help them?

I say that love conquers all and brings people out of the mire. It’s Christ, love incarnate, that can bring people out of their circumstances, out of death and despair into new life, When Christ lives within you, seriously, who can look at reality the same again?

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Jesus could have taken any number of different options. He could have just solved the problem, blotted it out of existence with a wave of His hand. He could have done anything else other than dying on a cross, yet He did so anyway. Love died, and then overcame all by rising again. It can’t die; it’s immortal, incorrigible, and unbreakable. Anyone, even you, can be redeemed. There’s grace for the whole human race.

And there you have it: Christianity in a thousands words.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.