The Grace Scandal

Elizabeth Zabel

I’m learning that grace is not like glory. Grace applies in all moments, all postures. It doesn’t wait for anything. Where there is darkness, there can also be grace. Though glory may require acknowledgment, grace can stand quietly in the shadows.

Present Grace

Sometimes, we sin more deeply than we think we are capable of. What makes it worse is that we plan it. We know what we are doing is wrong, but we deliberately choose it anyway. Maybe we think that if God really wants to stop us, He’d do it physically—a lightning bolt or an invisible straightjacket. Afterward, we expect God to punish us. We often do experience consequences, but God still forgives us—He still offers us grace.

It sounds scandalous because it is. Grace is not something we have invented. We cannot earn it, we cannot manipulate it, and we cannot hold on to it. It holds us.

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:20–21 NIV).

We rarely ask the theological question: At what point on Easter weekend did salvation occur? When was grace birthed? Was there no grace until Sunday morning’s light? Was grace unveiled on Friday as the clouds gathered and the earth shook? Was grace released when His side was ripped open to spurt blood and water? Was grace coming closer when all in heaven turned their eyes away from Him because of the utter evil He bore in His body? Or did grace breathe its first clean breath as He took his last ragged breath and closed His eyes?

Future Glory

Every moment of Jesus’ life, both before His death and after, is an act of grace. And every moment the world exists is a sign of God’s graciousness—a chance for Him to show His glory.

Though we struggle, we know our future is secure because of what Christ has done. And it is glorious, because it is His work, not ours. Paul says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.… And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom 8:28, 30 NIV).

His glory can even be displayed in our failings. He continues to show grace to sinners like us. The grace given to us in Christ’s sacrifice brings us reconciliation with the Father and glory to His creation. We only see a glimpse of this now, when God gives us what we don’t deserve, but one day we will see His full glory revealed.

Our present moments of grace aren’t always glorious. Grace usually doesn’t get the glory it deserves. But in these moments of grace, God is showing us His glory.

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Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 3 No. 1