26th July 2015

Grace without limits

God’s grace has no limits. You will never exhaust or run dry the well of grace, mercy and love that He has for you. He likes you! He loves you and delights in you!

Have you ever found out about a party you weren’t invited to? Sometimes when we read the Old Testament it can look like God is only interested in some people – a select few who receive God’s blessing. It looks like God’s grace is limited and not everyone is included.

The truth is that God has always had a plan to provide a means of salvation for all who would come to Him. He has always been concerned about the multitudes. The whole Bible is a book about rescue. God promised Abraham an inheritance from all nations, more numerous than grains of sand on the seashore.

God has always wanted a people for Himself who are noticeably different to everyone else – He has set this people apart and made them distinct. In Exodus 19:5-6 God identifies His people – the Jews were God’s “treasured possession”; there was an exclusivity to it. They did things that other people groups didn’t, and they refrained from things that others did. They were the only people to inherit God’s promise.

If we fast-forward to a few years after Jesus has died, been raised, and ascended to heaven, we read in Acts 10 the story of Peter (a Jew) and Cornelius (a Roman centurion who is generous and prays to God, but is not a Jew).

Both men have visions. Cornelius sees an angel who tells him to bring Peter to his house. Peter sees a sheet lowered down with animals – some clean and some unclean: some Peter would not touch let alone eat. But God says, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Not eating certain food was one of the things that made Peter, as a Jew, distinct. By telling Peter to eat ‘unclean’ meat, the distinction between Jews and Gentiles is being broken down.

This is a key turning point in the spread of the gospel: the boundaries of God’s Kingdom and grace are changing!

Peter’s initial response is, “No!” But God tells him, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” God isn’t primarily talking about food here – He’s challenging Peter’s understanding of the gospel story: the distinction is no longer between Jews and Gentiles, but is now simply whether you have been adopted by God and brought into His Kingdom – and the doors are open to anyone! No one is ruled out.

Most of us were like Cornelius – excluded from God’s promises, outside of His grace, not His people. But now God’s grace has no limits, meaning those who were not God’s people can now be His people, His beloved, sons of the living God (Romans 9:25-26). We are now included in God’s promises and part of Abraham’s inheritance.

Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for everyone who would put their trust in Him. There is no longer Greek or Jew, but all are one in Jesus (Galatians 3:28-29).

So Peter enters the house of a ‘common’ Gentile to bring salvation from God, which would have never been possible before Jesus. Cornelius and his household were baptised in the Holy Spirit and Peter declared: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.” (Acts 10:34)

What this meant for Cornelius is also what it means for us: God overcomes our rebellion and brings conversion (Ephesians 1:4); He overcomes our condemnation and brings us forgiveness (Psalm 103:12); He overcomes our wrongdoings and brings righteousness (1 John 1:9); He overcomes our sadness and brings joy (1 Peter 1:8).

Do you understand that you were once cut off, but have now been brought near? Do you understand the great cost for you to be brought into God’s family? Do you rejoice in your salvation?

Aled Cousins

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