“Christ - The Ultimate Expression Of God's Grace”

Categories: Doctrine: Grace


Christ—The Ultimate Expression of God’s Grace

David Barnes

the word “ultimate” is somewhat overworked in our society. Anywhere you might care to look you will find folks attempting to provide some kind of “ultimate” expression. We have all heard of “the greatest game ever played” or “the supreme work of art.” It may be the ultimate for awhile, but before long someone will replace it with another. Religion has not been excluded from these attempts. In Micah 6:6–7, we read of human attempts to provide the ultimate sacrifice for sin. These attempts began with a calf and progressed to human sacrifice. Those sacrifices resulted in failure for two basic reasons: First, none of the sacrifices mentioned in this passage were really man’s to give. Everything on earth belongs to God. We are merely stewards entrusted with a few possessions during our lives on earth. Second, none of these sacrifices had the power to atone for sin; therefore, man has nothing to offer and, even if he did, what he gave could not remove his sin. Man alone cannot provide the ultimate sacrifice to God. He is lost in his sin and personally helpless.

God, however, knows of man’s inability to atone for his own sins. God had this knowledge from the beginning and thus planned to make provision for His creation. This knowledge of our weakness, coupled with His love for us, prompted Him to make a sacrificial gift of His only begotten Son. This magnificent display of love shows how important man is in the eyes of God. God gave Jesus, a perfect, innocent lamb, for the sins of wicked man—the innocent dying on behalf of the guilty. Here was the sacrifice that could remove the guilt of man and atone for his sin. In the giving of His Son, God provided the ultimate expression of love.

An examination of John 3:16 reveals the pertinent facts about this great gift of grace in simple, thrilling language. In this passage, Jesus claims that the origin of the gift is “God.” This is the God who created, revealed His will, and blessed humanity. God’s motive is simply “love,” a love which is of such quality and depth that we really only begin to comprehend it. Furthermore, Jesus says that “God so loved.” The word “so” indicates the intensity of the love. He did not merely “love,” He “so loved!” The quality of the love corresponds to the quality of the gift. We understand God’s love through Jesus Christ. The recipient of the great love is “the world.” The action God performed is seen in the word “gave.” He makes no demands of repayment and He requires no overwhelming burdens for men to bear in payment for His grace. He “gave” us a gift in the purest sense of the word. The gift was “His only begotten Son” and the purpose of the gift was “eternal life” for you and me.

God does not rejoice in the prospect of anyone perishing. His aim for man in Eden was paradise and eternal life, but man lost this by sin. He regained it in the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. In this way God becomes the Justifier of mankind through the provision of Christ. The purpose of the gift of Christ at Calvary was the redemption of man. It is the offer of eternal life. The circumstances of our eternal life depends upon our reaction to God’s action. Throughout the whole of Scripture there are only two reactions possible—we may obey and be saved, or disobey and be lost. Jesus, then, is expounding the positive side of God’s gift in this passage.

This gift of God’s Son is the focal point of all human existence. Everything that God has revealed to man relates to the gift of Christ. It is this event that gives the Old Testament purpose and the New Testament authority. This gift is the very thrust of all revelation. The sacrificial Son is the reason we sing, pray and rejoice with unspeakable joy. His gift is the reason for all commands, promises and attendant blessings that God expresses in His Word. Without it, we would still be groping—searching for an “ultimate expression” that would repair the breach in our relationship with God. We would ever be searching, never finding, and always failing. With this gift, we can express ourselves completely as we frame our lives within the supreme and final statement of God’s gracious love for man. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Christ—the ultimate expression of God’s grace.

Originally appeared in the June 1984 issue of Christianity Magazine.