One of my favorite things to do in ministry is a teaching call. A teaching call is where we take the Bible and learn what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. One of my favorite parts of the teaching call takes place when we talk about God’s grace. I like to ask the question, “What is grace?” I have received many responses to this question. One of the most prominent responses is, “I don’t know.” I appreciate the person’s honesty when they say that they do not know what grace is. I love explaining grace with the following illustration. If a state trooper pulls us over on the interstate because we were speeding, the state trooper has three options. At this point, the person I am sharing with looks at me suspiciously because he has only heard of two options. The first option is a speeding ticket. A speeding ticket represents justice. We broke the law, therefore, we deserve to pay the penalty for breaking the law. The second option a state trooper may choose is a warning. We really like that option. We call that option mercy. Although the law was broken, the penalty for breaking the law was not paid. Then, I share with the person that there is a third option. He looks at me like, “What kind of trick do you have up your sleeve?” I share that the third option is grace. This happens when the state trooper looks at you and says, “Here is a ticket for breaking the speeding law. However, I will pay the ticket for you.” The person always looks at me like, “Yeah! Right! Sure!” I love this look on the person’s face because there is a look of a pleasant surprise with a smile.
Then, I make the correlation stating this is what Jesus did for us. We broke the law of God when we sinned. Therefore, we deserve justice. We deserve to be punished for breaking the law of God by spending eternity in hell. However, in God’s grace, Jesus Christ took our place; He paid the penalty that we owed. Therefore, grace is where God gives us what we need, not what we deserve.
I remember sharing this with a lady in a teaching call whose past was very rough and hard. When I said to her that Jesus took our penalty so that we could have eternal life, big tears streamed down her cheeks. She was so overcome with emotion that she could not talk. Sin is sin. We are all guilty. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. But thanks be to God for His immeasurable grace extended to us through Christ Jesus! The Gospel is the greatest story! May our speechlessness turn to praise!