Grace is something that we cannot live without. Grace starts where mercy leaves off. It’s more than our not getting what we deserve. It’s our getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is, ultimately, God giving Himself to us. It’s by grace that we are saved. That is, we are saved not because we deserve to be with God, but simply because God chooses to save us. Grace is a gift.
Grace doesn’t dumb down the immensity of sin. Grace isn’t cheap. It doesn’t pretend that a blind eye can just be turned towards evil. But at the same time, grace can never be outsinned. At the start of humanity, there was only one prohibition from God: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else you will die. Later, as Paul writes in Romans 5:20, “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”
Sometimes, people assume that the God of the Old Testament is a very different God than that of the New Testament. By being selective in what we read from both testaments, we can build up a picture of an angry, vindictive, violent, genocidal God from the old and a peaceful, loving and gracious God from the new. But that would be to do a dis-service to the God of the Bible – old and new. Because it’s a misrepresentation of who God actually is.
For starters, the God of the Old Testament is full of grace; full of loving kindness. Listen to God’s description of Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”
One of the first things God says about himself is that he is filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. And it is out of this love and faithfulness that God’s grace flows even towards us.
God has always been gracious towards us. Even from the dawn of creation (yes, even before that!) God has been showing grace towards humanity. God’s grace echoes throughout the pages of His-story.
This weekend, we’re looking at the start of the story of grace. In other words, we’re looking at the start of history. We’re looking at creation and the fall of humanity. Yes – the fall! Because even when dealing with rebels, God’s grace is on display. As we’ll see, grace doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for our actions. But the consequences of our action, we’ll see, don’t nullify God’s graciousness towards us.
There was grace in the garden. And there is grace still for us today. Sin must make God so sad. But love makes God act to undo sin. And grace says: I still love you. Come to me. As Jesus – God become man, the Rescuer; our Christ, said, “…Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (John 7:37-39)
That’s grace. The same grace from the garden, from the same God.