In The Gift of Forgiveness, Dr. Charles Stanley relates an unforgettable story of his college professor who illustrated the concept of grace in a very practical and memorable way.
“At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam, and caution the class to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.”
“The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard throughout the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read:”
“You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment.”
“We sat there stunned,” Stanley said. “Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A? Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.”
What a lesson! Grace! Undeserved. Unearned. Unmerited. Yet, the professor’s grace pales in comparison to God’s gracious gift through Jesus Christ.
One of the great verses of the Bible is Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Paul’s description of the Ephesians’ past lives is ours!
We were dead! As one writer expressed it, “We weren’t in God’s doghouse. We were in the morgue!” A spiritual morgue. We were outside of Christ. Living apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And estranged from God. We were dead! Dead in trespasses and sins.
We were dominated. We were under the control of the world. The world of wickedness. The sphere of ungodliness. The realm of worldly thinking. We were under the domination of the Devil. We were controlled by carnal desires of the flesh. It’s not a very pretty picture!
We were doomed! We were without hope. Separated from all that is holy. And sentenced to eternal damnation.
But God…intervened. “The God of all grace” sent His Son from heaven to earth on a rescue mission to pay the price for my ransom, to redeem me from sin and to reconcile me with Him
And what did I do to deserve heaven’s gracious gift? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
In his commentary on Ephesians, Dr. Charles G. Caldwell explained it this way: “Grace is undeserved blessing. Grace manifest God’s attitude of love and pity for sinful man in relieving him of guilt. To justify such relief by grace, God provided the sacrifice of His Son. To inform us of his grace, God provided special revelation. To teach us how to receive his grace, God provided the gospel made known in that revelation.”
A gift, however, requires one who is willing to receive it. Just as in the story of Stanley’s professor, the students were offered a gift, but they were required to accept it. Sign their name to the test. And hand in the paper.
Dr. Stanley related that he discussed this test with his professor later. Some students took the test without reading it. Only to discover at the end they were sweating it out for two-hours unnecessarily.
“Others read the first two pages,” he said, “became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.”
The professor related that one student decided to take the test anyway, saying “He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade.” He earned a C+. However, he could have received A.
God did for us what we cannot do. He provided the means of salvation. By faith, he asks us to receive it. And when we do, we have no room to gloat. We didn’t earn it. God’s grace provided it!
“Amazing grace. How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost. But now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” Amen!?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman