The Face of Grace


Pencil sketch by JC Chambers

Part seventeen in a study of God's grace from the book of John.

Many people think God is mad at the world.

If this were so, why did He send His Son to save it?

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:17-18

It is hard for us to believe that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” In spite of God’s saving purposes, it’s easier for us to believe that God is either disappointed or disgusted with this world and its inhabitants because of our frequent transgressions.

Surprisingly, condemnation does not await those who have failed to obey God’s commandments.

Condemnation awaits those who have failed to believe God’s commitments. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

God condemns disbelief, not disobedience.

God promised in the Old Testament that He would send a spokesperson; one who would fully and finally express His words and clarify His relationship with this world. God told Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him.” Deuteronomy 18:18

God went on to say that anyone who refused to listen to this particular prophet would be condemned: “If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.” Deuteronomy 18:19

By His life, death and resurrection, Jesus proved that He was this prophet. If anyone fails to “listen to” Jesus’ message, God “will call him to account.” This is why John writes, “whoever does not believe stands condemned already.” That individual falls under the sentence of condemnation God warned Moses about.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What exactly are we supposed to believe?

Jesus' death is commonly portrayed as the means whereby God satisfies His holy hatred of sin: According to this view, mankind’s sin is on one side of the scale, Jesus’ blood on the other.

Although many people use the Bible to argue that God sent Jesus into the world to balance the scales of divine justice, this is not what the Bible teaches. Quite to the contrary, we read that, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

To “reconcile” is to change the nature of a relationship. If a person’s been offended by another, reconciliation means that the offended party “buries the hatchet” and approaches the offending party with open arms.

Jesus didn’t come to proclaim that God the Father was at war with mankind because of millennia of sin. He came to proclaim that His Father was “not counting men’s sins against them.” In Christ, God approached the world with open arms rather than pointing fingers.

God the Father sent His Son into the world to announce that His intentions were peaceful rather than hostile, kind rather than harsh, loving rather than wrathful.

This is what God sent His Son to say to us.

This is what God want us to believe.

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