Glorious Grace was one Jonathan Edwards’ earliest sermons, preached in 1722 when he was only 19 years old. At that time, he was completing his M.A. studies at Yale University and was the pastor of a Presbyterian church in New York City. The sermon gives us a glimpse into Edwards’ own intense spiritual experiences, which were at a highpoint at this stage of his life.
Essentially, the message is a powerful celebration of God’s grace and the corresponding joy it brings to the soul of a believer. He shows how each individual part of the gospel is made all the sweeter when considered in relation to the glories of God’s grace.
As is typical of Edwards’ preaching, the last part of the message is loaded with application. In particular, he urges his hearers to accept the wonderful gift of free grace from God without hesitation and to never attempt to earn God’s salvation through one’s own power or morality. Without God’s grace we are eternally hopeless.
If you are interested in having this sermon updated to contemporary English in book form, along with two more of Edwards’ powerful messages, see Many Mansions, Glorious Grace, and Christian Knowledge at Amazon.
The Glories of God’s Grace
And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” (Zechariah 4:7)
Of all God’s attributes, it is his mercy that we, the fallen and sinful race of Adam, need most. Thankfully, God is happy to pour his great mercy into our lives. He knows the depth of our need for it, so he demonstrates it to us more than any of his other attributes. And when he showers us with it, he does so in the most glorious ways! The wonders of divine grace are the greatest wonders of all.
God’s divine power and wisdom are also marvelous. With these he brought the entire world into existence. Likewise, his holy justice is simply awesome. With it he punishes sin in a most profound way.
Besides his power, wisdom, and justice, all of God’s other attributes are also utterly fantastic and amazing, and with them he has performed uncountable wonders. However, even though all of this is true, nothing can compare to the wonders of his grace.
“Grace, grace!” That is the sound we hear ringing in the gospel! “Grace, grace!” That is the shout that will ring in heaven forever!
The angels sang of this grace when they gathered at the birth of Christ, joyfully lifting up the words of God’s good will towards men. Perhaps, even as they sang, they were considering the profound theme of God’s grace in a way they never had before.
Now, in order to understand the words of our text from Zechariah, we should note the scope and design of the whole chapter. Its purpose was to comfort and encourage the children of Israel. They had recently returned home from Babylonian captivity and were in the process of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple.
As they labored, it seems they were disheartened in their work because of the opposition they faced. Plus, they were discouraged because the new temple they had constructed did not have the same external glory as the previous temple, the one that stood before they were taken captive. We are told that many wept at the site of this new structure (though some were very joyful):
Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, through many shouted aloud for joy.
To fully understand the background, I suggest studying Ezra 4 and 5, where you will see the full account of the great oppositions the Israelites faced and how discouraged they were as a result.
It was at this time that God sent prophets to comfort them. In particular, Haggai and Zechariah foretold of the glories of the gospel that would be displayed in the new temple. Though the former temple was far more glorious in external beauty, this new temple would by far exceed the older one at some point in the future. The prophets spoke of the tremendous gospel glories that would appear in connection with the new temple. Consider these words:
Haggai 2:3-9 Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: “Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”
Now consider this passage:
Zechariah 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.
That same theme runs throughout Zechariah 4 and also in our text for this sermon: “And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
The top stone was used to crown and finish the whole work. It signified that the entire dispensation of the gospel would be finished by grace alone. The stone was brought as the people shouted repeatedly, rejoicing loudly at the grace of God, so glorious and praiseworthy.
With these background thoughts in our minds, we now turn to formulate a doctrine from our text.
When we consider our text in light of Christ, we find it teaching the following:
The giving of the gospel is done entirely—from start to finish—by free and glorious grace. God’s glorious grace shines in every part of the great work of redemption. The foundation of it is laid in grace, the superstructure is raised up in grace, and the whole of it is finished in glorious grace.
Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Adam had not sinned? No doubt he would have been happy, but his happiness would not have been rooted in saving grace. Rather, it would have come from the fruit of his own labor and goodness.
To be sure, God did give Adam a kind of grace (before the fall). After all, he wasn’t obligated in the least to reward Adam for his obedience, and nothing necessitated that God had to bless Adam just because he obeyed. But that changed when God obligated himself by making a covenant with Adam, which was essentially a guarantee that if Adam obeyed, then he would be happy. This covenant was a kind of grace, because again, God was not obligated to provide it. So had Adam obeyed, he would have been happy by grace, but—and here is my point—it would not have been the same kind of saving grace we find in the gospel.
The kind of grace Adam received promised blessing and happiness in return for his obedience, which means Adam would have been saved on the basis of his own good works. In contrast, the grace provided in the gospel is given completely free. It is not premised on obedience, but is bestowed upon people who are not able to stand in their own strength. So we read:
Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Since that verse is true, then the converse is also true: If salvation comes on the basis of works, then it is no longer by grace; otherwise work would no longer be work.
In the next section, I want to give you as full an explanation of this doctrine as possible in a short amount of space. I will break up my remarks into two sections. First, I will show that free grace shines in all the distinct parts of the wondrous works of redemption. That is, when we analyze the gospel in it various components, each and every aspect of it shines brilliantly because of God’s saving grace. And secondly, I will describe the glorious magnitude of God’s saving grace. Oh, how glorious it is! Once we finish the doctrinal analysis, I will demonstrate for you a number of ways to apply these truths to your life.
Every Part by Grace
When we analyze the gospel, the various individual aspects of it must be recognized. Each part was accomplished by God purely on the basis of his divine grace. What is true of the whole gospel is also true of each distinct facet of it.
For example, God made a plan to save guilty sinners, thus the plan itself is one feature of the whole gospel. Furthermore, God achieved salvation for sinners by giving his only Son, so the act of giving his Son is also considered a particular feature of the whole gospel.
We will now consider several of these individual aspects of the gospel and show how each part was accomplished by God’s glorious grace.
1. Every part of the work of redemption was carried out by grace alone.
A. The Plan
After the fall, God planned a way to rescue mankind. Free and glorious grace was the foundation of his plan. In fact, without grace God wouldn’t have had any reason to even consider the possibility of saving the guilty. The sinful rebels certainly didn’t deserve to be rescued. Humanity possessed nothing good that God would have felt obligated to accomplish our salvation.
However, he did make plans to save us, and he did it strictly on the basis of grace. There is an immense fountain of goodness in God. We know this for sure, because if there wasn’t, it wouldn’t have even crossed his mind to redeem us after our defection.
Just after creation, mankind was happy, and if he’d wanted to, he could have stayed that way for all eternity. He wasn’t forced to fall into sin, but succumbed to it willingly. Had he not rebelled against God, he wouldn’t have been driven away from the garden like an unworthy wretch. But he chose the way of disobedience and was consequently forced from paradise.
God had been so kind to him, pouring blessings into his life. He was appointed as the head over the lower parts of creation, a ruler over all other creatures. God had planted a garden for him that was designed for his delight and joy, and God would have fixed him in a place of eternal happiness, so long as he obeyed the easy command of his Maker—only one very reasonable command.
But, although God had blessed him with all these wonderful things, Adam rebelled anyway. He turned away from God and turned to the devil. Why? He had a wicked ambition to be a god himself. He refused to be content as a mere man even though he was in such a happy condition, and thus he became a renegade against God’s authority.
Only a God of boundless grace would have entertained thoughts of recovering mankind in this condition. Anybody else would have been far too provoked by man’s disobedience to care about rescuing him. Anybody else would have left the man in the miserable state which he had brought upon himself, abandoning him to suffer the punishment he deserved. Anybody else would have discarded him into the hands of the devil, since that is where the man had thrown himself. If he would not be content in the arms of his Creator, then anybody else would have resolved to help him no more.
But God is full of boundless grace. He did not abandon mankind, though man deserved nothing but harsh treatment. Instead, God’s grace moved him to consider ways of saving his lost creation.
This fact is even more amazing when we remember that God has no need of us at all. He doesn’t even need our praises. He has enough glory and praise within himself to be fully and eternally satisfied. The great King neither needs nor desires any additions to his happiness.
But for the sake of argument, suppose he did need his creatures to worship him. Even then, he still would not need our worship, especially in our fallen and sinful state. Remember, he has thousands and tens of thousands of angels who worship him. If that were not enough angels, he could easily create more. Truly, God did not plan to save sinful human rebels because he somehow needed us.
Actually, God would have been perfectly just had he planned to punish all of us for all of eternity instead of planning to save us. Had he done that, he could have easily created some other type of being that would have been more perfect and glorious than man. These beings could have sung his praises eternally without fail.
God could have done all of these things, but instead he decided to save fallen humanity. He had no need of us, no obligation to us, and plenty of other options besides us, but he planned our redemption anyway. This is glorious grace!
B. Giving his Son
We further see the rich and boundless nature of God’s grace when we remember that his plan to restore mankind involved giving his only Son.
The miserable plight of man could not be sufficiently corrected without a great deal of cost to God. Our fall into sin plunged us deeply into the most wretched and sinful condition, and it would take much sacrifice to get us out of it.
Yes, it is true that all things are infinitely easy for God, since he is omnipotent. But because he is also holy and just, our redemption could only be obtained at a great cost (indeed, an infinite cost) to himself. To put it bluntly, the only way mankind could be saved was by the shedding of the infinitely valuable and worthy blood of God’s divine Son—the blood of God!
Redemption for our souls could only be acquired in this way, since absolutely nothing else could have or would have satisfied the justice of God. Our rebellion and subsequent alienation from God brought about this either / or situation. Either we die eternally or the Son of God spills his blood in our place. Either we suffer beneath the weight of God’s wrath or God’s own Son suffers there. Either we (miserable worms of the dust who deserve to suffer) are punished or the Son of God (who is glorious, kind, beautiful, and innocent) is punished as our substitute.
It had to be determined one way or the other. And it was determined. On the basis of his strangely free and boundless grace, God sent his own Son to die so that rebellious worms might go free. No longer must they face the punishment they have earned. The death of Christ made it so that those who deserve wrath might actually be happy in God’s justice, since he has given them liberty.
Oh, what grace! It seems only right to shout, “Grace, grace!” when we consider all this!
At one time among heathen peoples, it was believed that the sacrifice of an only son was the greatest gift that could be offered to the gods. They would sometimes do this during periods of great distress. Even to this day, there are some people who continue to perform this type of sacrifice, and in some places in the world, it happens constantly. But something even stranger than that has been declared to us in the gospel—not that men have sacrificed their only sons to God, but that God gave his only Son to be slain as a sacrifice for men.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to God, as God had commanded him. You may interpret his willingness to obey as a wonderful demonstration of faith and love to God. Not many today would have been willing to obey such a difficult command. But if Abraham’s obedience fills you with wonder, then you should be filled with even more wonder when you consider what God has done. Instead of Abraham offering his only son to God, God gave his only Son to be offered for Abraham and all of Abraham’s children. Certainly you will agree that nothing is as wonderful as that!
Besides the sheer wonder of it, consider who received the benefit from this act. God did not sacrifice his Son for his friends, but for his enemies who hated him. He gave his Son not for the sake of loyal subjects, but for the sake of rebels. His sacrifice was not for those who were his children, but for those who were children of the devil. It wasn’t for excellent people, but for those who were more hateful than toads or vipers. It wasn’t for people who could ever pay him back, but for those so weak they couldn’t in the least bit help themselves, much less offer something profitable to God.
What a gift God has given to fallen man! There is nothing left for people to do except receive what God has given. This is the only way we can know true happiness. Even though man has sinned, God does not require him to make amends nor to work for his own restoration. If a person receives his Son from him, that is all that is needed. God does not require money, since there is no further price to be paid. Neither is a man required to do penance in order to be forgiven, because God offers this gift freely.
Eternal happiness is granted on far more gracious terms since the fall than it was before it. Before the fall, man could do something that would bring about his own happiness—obey the law. But since the fall, God offers to save him at no cost. He must only receive the salvation that God freely provides through Christ, and he must receive it by faith.
C. The Son’s Willingness
The Son’s willingness to endure the pain of obtaining our salvation was also by grace alone. He undertook the task freely, cheerfully, even joyfully, though he had to suffer terribly in order to save mankind. He had to bear the weight of our sin. He was even made to be sin. Still, he expresses delight in it all:
Psalm 40:7-8 Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God.
In Proverbs 8:31, he says that he is “delighting in the children of man.” He certainly is, and we know it, because he loved them so much he died in their place to alleviate their misery.
He carried out his painful work freely and on the sole basis of his love and pity for sinners. He did not suffer for us in order to be repaid, which he never was and never will be. Sinners are incapable of paying Christ back for his blood. He didn’t redeem us for repayment, but rather to give us eternal joy! What glorious grace!
D. Application by the Spirit
Every part of redemption was brought about by God’s grace alone, as we have seen, and this truth extends to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit applies the redemption promised in the gospel to the souls of mankind—a critical part of the process.
Yes, the Father has provided a Savior for us, and Christ has come and died. And yes, the only thing lacking is our genuine, heart-felt reception of Christ. But in spite of all this, we will still perish eternally if the benefits purchased by Christ are not applied to our souls, which is also by grace alone. We are dependent upon God’s free grace applied by the Holy Spirit in order to even have the ability to take hold of Christ.
Therefore, the entire administration of the gospel, from start to finish, is by grace alone:
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
If we accept Christ, then we receive his salvation totally free of charge, but we will only accept him when the Holy Spirit provides the necessary grace that gives rise to our faith. We will most certainly not be saved in any other way. We can’t save ourselves because it is “not a result of works,” rather it is the free “gift of God.”
2. A description of the great magnitude of God’s grace.
The glories of God’s grace can be illustrated by how the heavenly hosts are affected by it. The angels stoop down, their eyes full of wonder and admiration, in order to catch a glimpse of God’s grace in action. When they see it, they are filled with joy and shout with gladness.
Remember the multitudes of heavenly hosts shouting at the birth of Christ? They proclaimed, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” They caught a glimpse of God’s grace as they looked upon the face of Christ. Their proclamations echoed the command of Zechariah 4:7 to bring forth the top stone of the house and shout, “Grace, grace” to it!
Take a moment and consider how the glorious attributes of God can be seen in the face of Jesus. These attributes shine so brightly when we look closely at him.
For example, we see God’s wisdom in him. It was his brilliant wisdom that planned the conquering of death and the devil. It was his wisdom that also brought an end to the hard and rocky hearts of depraved men. Furthermore, we see God’s justice shining through Christ, since God would not allow the sins of men to go unpunished, but rather punished those sins upon his own dear Son. But even more than these, it is God’s mercy (as seen especially in that sweet attribute of grace) that is magnified supremely over all the rest.
Let me provide you with just two reasons why God’s grace is a glorious grace, especially as it is exhibited in the gospel.
A. It is a glorious grace because it is such a great grace.
In the previous section, we observed that very aspect of the gospel is heightened to a surprising degree by God’s grace. Whichever part of the gospel message that we inspect, there we see enough grace to cause an overflow of admiration to God forever, both from our own hearts and from all the angels in heaven.
The gospel starts with God the Father. Think deeply of his greatness, and his grace will utterly astonish you. Though he is holy, all powerful, full of justice, immense, and eternal, yet he showered mankind with compassion and took incredible pity on us.
Likewise, the gospel message includes us as the recipients of all its benefits. When we focus on this part of the gospel (intently considering ourselves as beneficiaries), we are astonished at his grace. After all, what are we? Nothing but worms before God! No, we are less than worms in comparison to him! Yet this great God has bestowed marvelous grace upon us.
But remember, we are not just worms; we are sinful worms. We are those who are swollen with enmity against God! Even still, in his kindness and pity, he showers us with glorious grace.
Now, focus on the Savior, whose work is at the heart of the gospel message. We receive God’s grace through him who is the very Son of God. He is the one who made heaven and the one who, in almighty power, is equal with the Father. Think of the greatness of what he did to show us mercy. He took on our weak nature, was publicly shamed, and faced an excruciating death.
All of these facts about the Father, ourselves, and Christ have a way of increasing the value we see in grace by infinite heights.
B. God’s grace shines gloriously because of the fruit that comes out of it.
Why is God’s grace so great? Because nothing less than salvation and eternal glory bloom from it!
By grace we receive adoption into the family of God, union with Christ, communion with God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By grace we receive heavenly happiness, the pleasure of living in eternal paradise (the New Jerusalem), and the glorious and triumphant resurrection of the body. By grace we will reign with Christ forever in the highest glory! These and nothing less are the fruits of God’s marvelous grace!
Oh, what a vast difference between a poor, miserable sinner and a saint clothed in a bright, shining robe of glory. The sinner is full of his sin and condemned to the fires of hell, while the saint wears a crown of victory and triumph. God’s grace is so glorious that these two descriptions, as utterly different as they are, can be speaking about the same man. That is, he begins his life as a condemned sinner, but later God’s grace arrays him in robes of glory. He moves from an extremely precarious state of damnation, but then transforms into a state of eternal joy and bliss. No wonder we call God’s grace glorious!
With that we conclude the doctrinal section of the message. God’s glorious grace has been declared in your hearing. In the next chapter, we will shift to the application section. What will you do with God’s grace?
Receiving God’s Grace
Learning the biblical facts about God’s glorious grace is a tremendous thing to do, but we must go further. It isn’t enough to simply understand it, we must respond to it. That is our goal in this section.
I will offer three applications. The first explains something we should avoid doing, while the second and third explain things we should do.
Application 1: Do not dishonor God by depending on anything else except grace.
As we consider the nature of saving grace, it’s clear that we should never depend on anything else. If we do, we blatantly dishonor God.
The gospel is by far the most glorious manifestation of God’s glory he has ever made to us, and free grace and mercy are what make the gospel so glorious. So people who reject grace are depriving the gospel of its glory. To refuse grace is actually to stand against it.
In fact, when people depend on something else besides grace to save them, they are actually defiling the glory of God that shines through the gospel. Instead of giving God the praise he deserves for his grace, they steal his praise for themselves. They act as if they are, at least partially, responsible for saving themselves through their own works.
This attitude has to be incredibly provoking to God—a crime on the highest level. Imagine the insult! Here are the miserable sinners, fallen into a pathetic state. Their salvation is completely impossible by any other means except pure grace. And here is God, so gloriously rich in goodness, so kind in offering free grace out of pity for those sinners. How disrespectful and dishonoring it must be to God when these miserable, helpless wretches attribute any part of their salvation to their own power or work.
God doesn’t offer us grace so that we can use it to buy and secure our own salvation. Rather, he offers grace to give us an opportunity to take hold of the salvation he has already bought and secured for us. Furthermore, when we do take hold of it by faith, we don’t do so by our own power. Even our ability to exercise faith is a gift from God.
Some people are hoping to be saved in a different way which was never proposed in the gospel. These want to be so good and do so well that God would count their goodness as a sufficient counterbalance to their sin. In other words, they want to be saved by their own righteousness. But in taking this course, they are acting as through their own goodness is equal in value to the blood of Christ. This kind of conceited thinking is extremely skilled at creeping into a proud heart.
Some people, like the papists, openly profess that they are able to merit salvation. Others, not going as far, say they are able to prepare themselves for the salvation that Christ has merited. These believe they must get themselves fit first before trusting God’s grace. But this is to say they can contribute to it, at least in some way, by their own power. Still others would never openly profess their own righteousness or strength to merit salvation, but when their lives are examined, it is clear they very much depend on both.
When we truly understand the wonders of God’s glorious and free grace, we see how much these people dishonor God by rejecting it. So make sure that you depend on nothing but the grace of God for the salvation of your soul.
Application 2: Accept the grace of the gospel.
Each and every person must do this! This point seems so obvious that some would say there is no real need to make it. But, alas, man’s heart is so dreadfully wicked and so horribly lacking in gratitude that he needs to be persuaded again and again to accept the kindness which God has offered to us.
On the level of human relationships, consider how we might help someone who is poor and needy. If this lowly person refuses our offer of help, then we rightly believe him to be tremendously ungrateful. After all, we are not looking to gain anything from helping him. We simply pity him and want to relieve his hardship. But when he rejects our kindness, we see it as a horrible response to our help.
Imagine seeing a man in extreme distress, who will die unless someone helps him. Out of compassion you decide to lend a hand. You pour various supplies and support into his needy situation, all designed to relieve his agony and save his life. You spend your own money and devote your own labor to this cause.
How would you feel if, after everything you have done for him, he proudly and spitefully refuses your help? Instead of thanking you for it, he mocks the gifts you have brought. Wouldn’t you be offended by such a response? Wouldn’t you think this man very ungrateful and unreasonable?
How, then, do you think God feels if you refuse the glorious grace he offers you in the gospel? You think of the one who refuses your help as a low and ungrateful person, and you are justified to do so. But God is a thousand times more justified to consider you the same way when you refuse his grace and kindness. Can you think of any reason why that wouldn’t be true?
God took such great pity on mankind, rescuing them from the jaws of destruction by his own blood. He saw mankind in a most needy condition, in extreme distress, and exposed to the fires of hell. He saw that people had no way of delivering themselves from this dreadful state and that no other means existed to deliver them. In his mercy and through his blood, he brought them out of the horrors of eternal death.
How great the ingratitude of those who refuse this kind of amazing grace! How could anyone be any lower and unthankful than this?
In spite of these facts, however, multitudes of people will not accept the free gift from the hands of the King of the world. Daring and horribly presumptuous, they turn their backs on God’s kind offer.
They refuse it when it’s offered to them by Jehovah, the Father, and when it’s offered by his own Son, who is equal with him. They refuse it even though Christ died a tormenting death for them! His death is sufficient to deliver them from hell and give them eternal life in heaven, but they still say no. They desperately need grace and will forever be miserable without it, yet they do not want it.
God the Father invites them and seeks to persuade them, but they will have nothing of it. Even when the Son of God himself knocks on their doors and calls out to them, they ignore his pleas. Christ patiently stays and continues to knock. He calls out to them into the night, his hair wet with sweat and rain, pleading with them to accept the gift for their own sakes, but they only turn away.
He speaks through their doors loudly enough for them to hear, reminding them again and again of his many glorious promises and all the precious benefits that might be theirs. He seeks to draw them towards true joy and happiness, which can be theirs for eternity and for their remaining years in this life. In spite of all his patience and persistency, these people are obstinate and refuse all of it.
Has there ever been a greater ingratitude than this? Can you even conceive of a greater ingratitude than this? What do you want God to do for you? What would it take for you to receive his great gift? Maybe the problem is that you think his gift is too small. I hope not—God has offered you the gift of his very Son! What more could he offer than that? Indeed, God does not have a greater gift to offer than his own dear Son.
Maybe the problem is that you think Jesus hasn’t done enough for you. Perhaps you stubbornly refuse his gift of grace because you want him to do more. But what more could he do? He died for you so that you might have eternal life. There is nothing greater the Son of God could have done for you.
Maybe the problem is that you want to be invited before you receive. That is, you refuse his gift because you don’t feel he has properly wooed you to it. But if you will listen, he issues an invitation to you each and every day.
The problem could be that you don’t believe you stand in need of God’s grace. But surely you know you need it. If you will not receive his grace then you will be damned for all eternity. How can there be a greater need than this?
Oh, we are miserable creatures! We think the gift God has offered in the gospel is not great enough for us, when in reality, we are the ones that deserve nothing good at all! Because of our sin, we deserve God’s mercy less than the least of all. We don’t deserve the smallest crumb of bread, the least drop of water, or the tiniest ray of light, much less the dying Son of God!
We think Christ hasn’t done enough for us, though he died in such great pain and dishonor! But this is the truth—we aren’t even worthy for him to so much as look at us. Yet in his love he shed his blood on our behalf. We do not deserve even the smallest benefit (even one time) from Christ, much less the way he patiently urges us to be eternally happy.
Heed the warning: Whoever continues refusing Christ will eventually find out how much they need him. When this life is finished, they will see the true value of his blood. The smallest drop of his blood is more valuable than anything else in the world. In eternity, those who refuse Jesus will finally come to understand this.
So don’t be ungrateful to God or unwise about yourself! Don’t refuse the glorious grace of the gospel.
Application 3: Spend your life in praises to God.
For those of you who have accepted the free and glorious grace of God, this application is for you. Spend your life praising him and singing hallelujahs to him!
Oh, the wonders of his redeeming mercy! To you, the redeemed of the Lord, this doctrine applies most directly, because you are the ones who have received his glorious grace!
Christians, consider this amazing truth: God thought of you as he planned redemption. He thought of how he would restore you after your miserable fall into sin, depravity, and corruption. He considered how he would save you from all the dangerous, dreadful miseries that come as an unavoidable consequence of your rebellion.
It was for you—the redeemed—that God sent his Son into the world. Yes, his only Son was given for you. And Christ willingly and freely gave himself away for your benefit. It was for you that he was born, that he died, and that he rose again. It was for you that he ascended into heaven, where he now intercedes on your behalf. It was for you that the fruit of Christ’s labors is freely applied to your hearts by the Holy Spirit, even though you don’t deserve it and have no strength or righteousness of your own. Therefore, let your life be spent praising God!
When you praise God in prayer, don’t be cold or indifferent. In your prayer closet, offer God praises with your whole soul! When you praise him through singing, don’t hold back or barely make a noise. Let the song stir the affections of your heart, creating an internal melody, not merely an external tune.
Christians, you have overwhelming reasons to shout and cry, “Grace, grace be to the top stone of the temple!” You don’t need any extra mercy or blessing to motivate your praise to God. You just need a heart with lively affections.
Surely, if the angels are absolutely astonished at the mercy God has shown to you, then you have every reason to be as well. The angels shout with joy and admiration when they observe God’s mercy to you, but you are the one on whom his grace has been bestowed. You have much more reason to shout about it than they do!
Remember this: You will be praising God forever in heaven for his free and glorious grace. You are redeemed, and he has redeemed you! Praising him in this way will be a major part of your happiness for all eternity.
Indeed, if you would spend more time on earth focused on praising God, you would find this world to be much more like heaven to you than it is. So make it your aim to do nothing while you live except speak, think, and live the praises of God.
With these applications I bring this message to an end. You have heard the message of grace proclaimed, and it is time for you to respond.
What will you do today with God’s glorious grace? Will you receive it or reject it? Will you praise God for it or steal his glory for yourself? Don’t neglect such a great treasure, for nothing else compares with the glorious grace of Almighty God! Amen.