Guest / Limited Access /
Whatever Happened to Grace?
Image: photo by Henrik Sorensen

Three stories that illustrate the crisis of grace today.

I was visiting a Texas megachurch that was baptizing 200 people one Sunday morning. A few of the candidates for baptism were interviewed by the pastor on stage, and the script went like this: after the candidate's testimony of new life in Christ, the pastor asked if the candidate believed that baptism saves us. The prompted answer was, of course, no. Then he asked the candidate what does save us, and this time the prompted answer was our faith in Jesus as God incarnate and/or our trust in his sufficient death on the cross. The answers were formally correct, but "faith," it seems, had become a new work. We weren't so much saved by Christ as by our mental assent to a few theological propositions.

I was at another church where the message was grounded in those astounding and miraculous verses that culminate in "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, ESV). Things were going well until we got to the end, when the preacher said, "Have you experienced grace?" His tone, and the background music that swelled as he prayed, suggested we were not saved by faith in what Christ accomplished but by a certain type of religious feeling we might have.

Third: I was speaking with a professor at a Christian university, and we were talking about the relationship of grace and good works. At one point he said, "We are saved by grace, yes, but after that, the Christian life is mostly about our effort to live a Christlike life."

I pick these three anecdotes for ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Unremarkable Call to Love Our Gay Neighbors
Subscriber Access Only The Unremarkable Call to Love Our Gay Neighbors
Glenn Stanton shows how friendship and biblical fidelity belong together.
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickWhat Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
Rooting our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives.
Comments
Christianity Today
Whatever Happened to Grace?
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.