The scandal of grace is offensive, for it reveals the uncomfortable reality that the redemptive power of God is able to take everyone—from wicked Old Testament kings like Manasseh to religious New Testament Pharisees like Paul—and restore them. To the self-righteous, the gospel is offensive. To the rest of us, it’s resurrection power.
To launch you into the revelation of new covenant grace, I want to take you to the old covenant prayer God gave to the priests (Numbers 6:22–27). God told the priests to ask him to bless the people with a declaration that includes the phrase “be gracious.”
It’s an odd thing to consider that God would wait for us to care enough about another to ask him to do what we know is in his heart to do. Why make us the broker? He’s good, and we have a hard time caring about those who need grace, so keep us out of it! But even in the New Testament, Jesus issues the challenge once again to take ownership of releasing grace to others (John 20:23). The challenge is daunting. Can you care enough about other people to ask God to bless, keep, smile upon, and give grace to them? Every time someone asks God for grace or mercy, God releases it in some measure. Freely we release what we have freely been given.
Our inability to release grace demonstrates that we don’t fully know how much God has given us. Our criticism of grace as a weak message or a license to sin demonstrates that we don’t even know what God has freely given to us. If you want the praise and applause of man, preach judgment. But if you want to get criticized, preach grace, undiluted, in all its power and love.
When all is said and done, there are really only three questions worth considering for every human being.
1. Have you been born again?
2. Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?
3. Are you being filled right now?
Without the grace of Christ, without the reality of your reconciled union in him, these questions would be impossible to answer. You can’t work your way into them. You can’t strive to be worthy to say yes to any of them. It’s only by the grace of God that any of us have the ability to say yes to any of these questions, and it’s through the grace of God that we surrender and allow his love to overtake us. It’s my prayer that this plan will lead you on a journey to answering these questions with a resounding yes.