Man is in no position to accomplish certain things for himself, unless something happens to his position, either by his being moved or by the obstacle in his way being moved. Grace is possibility from beyond man. What is impossible becomes possible for him through grace. More precisely and importantly what is possible with God becomes possible for man through grace in Jesus Christ. Grace is about what God desires and intends to accomplish on behalf of man.
For God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). In his omnipotence, he can do anything, anytime, anywhere. God’s power to accomplish things, though, is subject to his infinite wisdom and love. As a result there exists the intrinsic impossibility that God will and even can do what is unwise and unloving. To say that God is holy is to say that there is no imperfection in him, no darkness in him, no bent in him, but that everything about him is fully and wholly good.
God is, then, willing and able to do everything he should do and unwilling and unable to do anything he shouldn’t.
But what if we feel that all things are possible for us? What, if anything, would we need God for? If all things are possible for us in the world, if everything we need is in the world, then we don’t need grace anymore, and in our self-sufficiency we can sever ourselves from grace, from anything beyond this world.
To cut ourselves off from grace, however, is to cut ourselves off from what only God can do, from what we can’t do. What is this? Salvation. It is only by grace that we can be saved from our sins and a life cut off from God and, through repentance and forgiveness, be brought into the life that God created us to live. Grace deals a death blow to your self-sufficiency.
Salvation is the creation of a new heart, a new life, and a new world as it were. Grace is not to be taken out of this world but to live in this world, yet from beyond this world, from within a world of grace. This new heart and life comes to sense or feel this world differently, to understand it differently, to enjoy it differently, to navigate it differently. Grace is now behind and below how the heart experiences everything.
For example, when we forgive someone out of the grace we’ve received, we recognize that we’ve changed and give to them the same grace, the possibility that they and things can change. Or when we encounter suffering, we suffer with grace, the possibility that sorrow and pain can only sweeten and brighten my delight and joy in Christ.
So, it is by grace alone that in Jesus Christ we can know God and be known by God; that we can love God and be loved by God; that we can enjoy God and be enjoyed by God. And while grace begins with our being with God, it continues and overflows into our being in the world and with others–a life of knowing, loving, serving, giving, and enjoying.
In short, grace brings all things together in Jesus Christ. It changes your position and removes every obstacle. It brings you into the life of Jesus and Jesus into your life. It clears away every obstacle of sin and opens up the way for you to come to God through Jesus and for God to embrace you in Jesus. There and then, in that cross-shaped embrace of grace, all the wonders and possibilities of a new and abundant life in God open up to you.
To believe in Jesus is to receive a world of grace; to believe in yourself is to hold your breath in that world.