“When we exalt God’s holiness and put man in his rightful place, we magnify grace.” —Steve Lawson, “Saved by Grace,” Ligonier Leadership Conference.
It seems to be common knowledge among “enlightened” Christians that grace is somehow exalted when we soften the holiness of God and diminish the wrath of God, while at the same time elevating our view of man. As Dr. Lawson reminds us in his lecture today, the exact opposite is the truth.
When we have a true understanding of who God is, of His perfect holiness, of His infinite goodness, and when we have a true understanding of who we are as sinful and wicked people, the true size of the gap between God and man is revealed. And it is only when we understand that the gap between a holy God and sinful man is infinite, that we begin to understand that the only thing that is able to bridge this gap is God’s grace and God’s grace alone. We cannot bridge this gap by our own effort. We cannot bridge this gap by doing our part and letting God do the rest. We cannot pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. No. Only God can bridge this infinite gap.
He has done so by sending His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the mediator, the only mediator, between God and man. He bore the punishment for our sins. He bore the wrath of God on the cross in order that we might not bear the wrath of God in hell. He takes our filthy rags upon Himself and gives us a perfect robe — His own righteousness that we might stand before the Father.
It is by grace, amazing grace, that we have been saved.
Dr. Keith Mathison is associate editor of Tabletalk magazine and dean of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies.