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See to it that no one misses the grace of God

“On what basis do you believe God will accept you into Heaven or not?”

This is one of my favorite questions to ask people, and I hope (and predict) it will become one of yours as well.

This question is designed to pinpoint the object of a person’s faith. Will they name the name of Jesus or will they appeal to other things as what makes them right with God?

From my experience, the answer given by nine out of ten people sounds like this:

“God is looking for how faithful you have been; if you really loved Him or not, and if you did your absolute best to follow His commandments.”
“I’m unsure, because there’s always more you could be doing for God.”
“I think effort is the difference-maker. I think there’s a big distinction between those who don’t care and those who try.”
“I feel terrified to meet God because I might not be good enough.”

I’ve found that these responses represent all people, regardless of their religious background.

Many people have misconceptions about Christianity, thinking acceptance into Heaven is based on our ability to follow Jesus’ example and obey his teachings.

In reality, Jesus didn’t come to show the way to salvation; he came to be the way.

This sobering realization brings us back to our responsibility to the Great Commission which is echoed throughout the Bible at different times, in different ways, by different people.

One of those passages is Hebrews 12:15 (NIV, 1984), which says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.”

In this 25 minute podcast (with supplement slides), Tyler Ellis walks us through this verse, highlighting each of the four phrases, one at a time, beginning with the last phrase and working to the first.

In other words:

  1. What is “the grace of God”?
  2. Why are people “missing” it?
  3. Who does “no one” include?
  4. What does it mean to “See to it”?
  • Rev. Kim A. Stover

    Think of grace not so much as deserved or undeserved, but simply as divine affection. The terms “deserved,” which “undeserved” implies, are terms better fitting of the grade school or stock market and general economy. (one child deserves an A the other an F. The business is financially efficient, so merits a higher price value. The economy rewards productive workers but closes the businesses of unproductive workers). They are a part of human bargaining which gives us a false hope about human ability. Because we understand how the “economy” works, we believe it is true of God as well, which you say at about 15 minutes.

    Hence, we believe we are able. To use the term “undeserved” (though it has been used for a long time to describe human need for a gracious god), ties us to the notion of deserved. And in that we are already in trouble with understanding divine love/grace/lovingkindness. Imagine for a moment, God’s “attitude” is that of joy and affection for humanity habituating a peace that surpasses all understanding. This peace (not war) is the product of divine reconciliation expressed in and through the story of Jesus. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.”

    A last thought here, on Christian action post-revelation (grace). Nothing changes for God, with regard to the grace of God and humans. What does change is our awareness of the grace that has preceded the awareness. Infants are not aware of God’s grace (so far as we can reason!), but are baptized because baptism need not be based on the human condition of unawareness. This is because we are talking bout God’s grace, which I venture to say is universal, and eternal. From a human point of view that may well be foolish. With regard to our awareness of this, I can only say, what a blessing! My encouragement to all who become aware of this divine goodness (grace), is that of living into the Spirit’s sanctification; not as a discipline or something to be scheduled, but as a walk of life. You need not worry about this happening, for again, it is God’s purpose for us and itself is an expression of divine grace. One does not schedule a meeting with unaware friends, but more simply walks with those friends as an embodiment of divine grace. In this way we do nothing that keeps people from seeing the contemporary expression of divine grace. This is what Jesus was pointing to in the story of the Samaritan (a horribly unaware soul) assisting the traveler in the ditch. Divine grace expressed through the least likely, even the unaware, towards the man in the ditch whose morality, social standing, economic standing is not judged or even known.

    I imagine that when he himself returned home, his neighbors and family chastised him for putting himself at risk, and therefore putting them at risk economically.

    Too much said, but thank you for the morning’s devotion and the opportunity to respond.
    kim a stover