Why grace is so hard to believe


Let’s face it: grace is hard to believe. Why is that the case when it’s so easy to get? Well that’s actually one of the reasons right there. We are all taught that to get anything valuable, you have to work for it. It’s part of human nature. So for salvation to come as a free gift runs counter to our nature. We want to earn it because we want credit for it. Like the Pharisees before us and within us, we want control. Grace comes without controls, and that bothers the heck out of us. We’re not in charge of who gets it and who doesn’t; we are only in charge of receiving it and giving it out to everyone as freely as it was given to us.

That’s probably the biggest problem with grace: We have nothing to do with it.

Jesus told many stories about this, like the people who were brought in off the street to the fancy banquet because it was the host’s desire to invite them when the invited guests chose not to come. Or the landowner who paid a full day’s wage to all the workers in the field, even those who only worked the last hour, because it was his prerogative to do so.

It’s Jesus who says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” That’s it? He’s just going to hand us His kingdom because He wants to? That’s what it looks like.

You’ve heard of cheap grace. Oh it’s not cheap by any means. It’s quite expensive, it’s just not an expense we can pay. None of us is the Son of God. We could die on a cross if we could arrange it, but it would be pointless. It wouldn’t do any good for us and certainly not for anyone else. Only the death of the Son of God could buy salvation for the world. Only the resurrection of the same could seal it. That’s a huge expense, but we are way out of our league to think we can have anything to do with this.

That’s why grace makes no sense. It defies logic and reason. It runs counter to everything we’ve learned about cause and effect — about rewards and punishment. Robert Capon said it best when he said that “the gospel makes no more sense than the square root of minus one. … that God has up and done the damnedest thing (or to get the direction and adjectives right) He has down and done the blessedest thing that you or I could ever not have thought of.”

And one more thing about grace: It comes by way of failure, brokenness and sin. It’s a reduction principle. It reduces us to those who are poor in spirit. You must be undeserving of grace in order to receive it. You must know why you are undeserving, and that you can do nothing about it. Grace puts you in the lowest place — the lowest of the lowly. Indeed, we are looking up at everyone. I know this because it took me the longest time to get there even though I was there all along. It’s coming to see yourself as you really are.

But there must be something we can do, isn’t there? Yes. We can reach out and take it. A gift does have to be received. You can refuse a gift. This is why it is not God’s desire for any to perish, because He has paid the price for everyone, and for anyone not to receive it, that will break His heart.

Tomorrow: What’s so scary about grace?

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11 Responses to Why grace is so hard to believe

  1. Kathleen Nagy says:

    This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me of the book, Gospel, by JD Greer. I know some Christians who struggle with this very thing (perhaps we all do at times). Amazing grace, so humbling, so perfect, so costly and precious,, totally undeserved. God’s love unfathomable.

  2. John A Fagliano says:

    I think the heart that has truly come to understand the wonder of God’s grace and mercy, for themselves and for all the sinners of the world is captured best in the song “All Thy Mercies”.
    (I love Marj Snyder’s version of this old hymn.)

    When all thy mercies, O my God,
    my rising soul surveys,
    transported with the view, I’m lost
    in wonder, love and praise.

    Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
    my daily thanks employ,
    nor is the least a cheerful heart
    that tastes these gifts with joy.

    Through every period of my life
    thy goodness I’ll pursue,
    and after death, in distant worlds,
    the glorious theme renew.

    When nature fails, and day and night
    divide thy works no more,
    my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
    thy mercies shall adore.

    Through all eternity to thee
    a joyful song I’ll raise,
    But oh! eternity’s too short
    to utter all thy praise.

  3. Sandie says:


    Jesus took on Himself what we deserved and then gave us what we did not deserve.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    … giving it out as freely as it was given to us….. Is that hard or what?

    • jwfisch says:

      It’s actually hard to receive. We don’t receive well. it’s an affront to our pride. You have to be pretty low to have no choice but to receive.

  5. Mark D Seguin says:

    Where did Jesus say this? the book, chapter & verse, please…It’s Jesus who says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” That’s it? He’s just going to hand us His kingdom because He wants to? That’s what it looks like.

    PS I might be miss understanding this point: “the gospel makes no more sense than the square root of minus one. …” Sure the square root of -1 = an imagery number – you’ll learn that in I think in the Calculus series. above Cal.1 maybe in 2 or could be in 3… but it does make sense when that mathematics theory is developed, or shown in a Calculus classroom and the reason why it’s need…

    • Sandie says:

      Before the foundation of the world was laid, God’s plan for our salvation was laid out by Him. God created us in His image so He could fellowship with us. Adam’s sin fractured that relationship and we are born with the mark of that sin. And then of course, we sin on our own. We have to have faith in His love for us; a love we can’t comprehend this side of eternity. A love that paid the price for Adam’s sin; for our sin…a love that a perfect Father gives to an imperfect child. Jesus beautifully laid out that in His parable of the Prodigal Son. The son rebelled willfully against his father, took his inheritance and, as we say, ‘went to hell in a hand-basket.’ Only when he hit rock-bottom did he come to his senses and head for home. Despite his incredible sin against his father, somehow he knew he would not be rejected. Sure enough, he found his father eagerly waiting for him, meeting him to escort him home, where he was welcomed with joy by his father. That about sums up grace…a gift that is impossible for us to earn even the smallest measure of. All we can do it, like the Prodigal Son in his filthy stinking rags, is humbly accept it. And thank Him forever for His grace.

      • Sandie says:

        I neglected to add the very best part of the Prodigal Son parable…Not only did the Father welcome his lost son home with joy…in His joy He showered the son with precious, costly gifts…gifts he had done nothing to earn, gifts that were earned by someone else at great cost, gifts that he had in fact spurned when he rebelled against his Father. This truly is a picture of the grace That God shows us when we turn back to Him.

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