When we think of God’s grace, we often think of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Primarily, we think of his blood that he shed on behalf of his people. And we would be right to think of grace in these terms. The grace of God is almost always viewed in terms of the salvation of sinners. “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). This is good and right. The Bible portrays the purpose of our election and redemption as the praise of the glory of God’s grace (Eph. 1:3-6). This is why we sing: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me/I once was lost but now am found/Was blind, but now I see.”
However, God’s grace is not limited to the scope of the cross of Christ. God’s grace is much more fundamental than many of us realize. And though God’s grace in salvation is all that some Christians focus on, there is an overall tendency for Christians to not be awestruck by God’s saving grace. This is apparent with the amount of blatant and unrepentant sin that plagues countless Christians and churches today. Grace has been abused and portrayed as a free pass to sin among many who profess Christ as Lord. I think that the reason many Christians do not get excited about God’s grace in salvation is partly because they miss out on this initial, fundamental grace that I have in mind here. Grace did not begin on a cross outside Jerusalem around 30 AD. Grace is prehistoric and precreation–like the God from whom it flows.
Genesis 1 is one of the most important and most glorious chapters in the Bible highlighting God’s power, glory, and sovereignty in creation. It contains necessary truths for the faith. God’s kingship, lordship, and sovereignty are rooted in the fact that he is the Creator of everything and everyone. God can only be judge and savior if he is the reigning Lord over his creation. And he is, because he is Creator. But Genesis 1 is also a passage that highlights the glory of God’s grace. Maybe the most grace-filled phrase in the entire Bible is “In the beginning, God created…” (Gen. 1:1). Out of the perfection and eternal bliss of the Trinitarian relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit flowed a powerful, sovereign, and intentional act of grace and love. God freely decided to share his glory. God freely decided to make heaven and earth, sun and moon, plants and animals, Adam and Eve, you and me. Truly the only free will that ultimately matters is God’s. When we forget this grace, pride sets in. We mistakenly believe that we deserve to exist.
At this point, it is important that we make a very clear distinction. I am not suggesting that men and women do not inherently have worth. When I say that we do not deserve to exist, this in no way justifies murder, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, suicide, etc. Once there is human life (from conception until death), this life is sacred and worth protecting and caring for. Biblically, murder is prohibited because man is created in God’s image (Gen. 9:6).
Why Do We Exist?
We are alive and this world in all its beauty exists because God freely chose to create and we did nothing to deserve or earn this. What then is glorified is God’s free will, not ours. And out of this free will, God created man in his own image (Gen. 1:27). We are amiss if we overlook the truth that our very existence is due to grace. God was not compelled or coerced to create. Adam did not command God to make him, nor did he suggest it. The great distinction between God and Adam is seen in the fact that God made Adam from dust (Gen. 2:7). God created both moon and man to showcase his glory and he chose to showcase his glory through grace. And so we exist to reflect the glory of God’s grace. Christians have been redeemed to exist as mirrors, and though our cracks will from time to time show themselves, God is on a mission of grace to restore that mirror so that it will, like Christ, perfectly reflect the Father.
Relish God’s Grace from Beginning to End
I pray that our minds would be taken captive by God’s grace in creation. When we think of our very existence as an act of divine grace, we cannot help but be affected by it. Consider a few implications. If we as creatures did nothing to earn or deserve physical life, then why would we as sinners deserve to have spiritual life in light of our deliberate and direct rebellion against the One who created us? If we do not even deserve earth then by no means do we deserve heaven! If God was not compelled to create man in the first place, then he absolutely was not compelled to recreate fallen man in Christ! Therefore, by marveling at God’s grace in creation, you will tremble in reverent fear of God in his saving grace that he showers upon unworthy sinners.
It is an amazing truth and grace that even though man did not deserve to exist, God not only created him, but created him in his own image. It is an even greater truth and grace that even though man does not deserve to be forgiven for his sin and reconciled to God, the Father sent the Son in the Spirit to live and die and rise for sinners to be recreated (born again) in the image of Christ who is the perfect image of God (John 3:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). Awake to and praise the glory of God’s Trinitarian grace in creation and in new creation. When you do, your heart will be full of joy in the glory of God’s grace and his grace will be the basis of all your boasting. It was grace that created you, grace that redeemed you, and grace that will keep you until that day when the glory of God’s grace will be your dwelling place.