A selection of Bruce's key points follow below the link as well.
In England there was a conference of theologians and they tried to distil what it was that was unique in Christianity. They considered a number of technical theological elements but they couldn’t find any unique to Christianity. Then C. S. Lewis wandered in and asked what all the fuss was about. They explained the question and he settled all arguments with one word – “Grace”.
Other religions and the world we live in can offer everything that the Christianity can, except for grace. Grace is what makes the gospel the good news. Grace is the defining concept of Christianity.
Sinful state: According to scripture, all have sinned and, if guilty of one sin, we are guilty of them all:
1 John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
James 2:10 “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” Just as it only takes the telling of one lie to make you a liar it only takes one sin to make you a sinner."
Redeemed state: Equally according to scripture, if on the other hand we have placed our faith, indeed our very lives, in the hands of Jesus then there is a very different picture. Despite the fact that we are still sinners the following points are also true:
- All of our sins, no matter how heinous we consider them, are forgiven. (1 John 1:9 see above)
- God has restored to us our relationship with him that was destroyed by our rebellion.
- God chooses to adopt us as His children. Gal 4:4 “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Gal 4:7 “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ.”
- If we are the sons and daughters of the King then that makes us royalty too.
These two states are poles apart. How can we move between two so vastly different positions? The answer is simple - Grace.
Dictionary definition: “the free and unmerited favour of God shown to man.”
Phillip Yancey's definition: “Grace means that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less” .
Since it is unmerited it means that no one deserves it more. There are no degrees of salvation or different types of Christians. Just as all sinners are equal all Christians are also equal . We all receive the same grace, for the same reason and it has nothing to do with us. The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). However, just as with sinners there can be different practical consequences – only this time degrees of good.
Grace is linked with faith & the spirit, just as the law is linked with works & the flesh.
Concepts used interchangeably.
Grace covers both justification and sanctification. Gal 3:2-3 “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” We start by grace alone and go on by grace alone.
 Phillip Yancey, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”, 1997 Zondervan.
 Romans 3:22-24 “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”, Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Does it cover all of a Christian’s sin automatically (ie a 'free pass')?
Does it cover sins that we do not ask forgiveness for?
Surprisingly the answer is yes but that is not what grace is all about. It is so much more.
“It is sufficient that we recognise through the wealth of God’s glory, the Lamb who bears the sin of the world; from this, sin does not sever us, even if thousands, thousands of times in one day we should fornicate or murder”. “Be a sinner and sin mightily, but more mightily believe and rejoice in Christ.”
“Love God and do as you please”
 Martin Luther.
 St. Augustine (354-430 AD)
Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.” Romans 8:1-2 “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
(Also Romans 6:7, 18, 22-23.)
Romans 7:1-6 shows that, by grace, we are dead to sin and alive to the Spirit of God. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin again – it is a question of jurisdiction.
At this point Bruce gave a great example of what it would be like if you were pulled over by a cop on the way to Wellington because you were speeding. You'd be kicking yourself for it as the officer slowly walked up to your window, and started to write out the ticket. But then you suddenly notice this officer is a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. You'd laugh and drive off - not because you were innocent, or because it is ok to speed, but because this officer has no jurisdiction over you.
Jesus' grace removes us from sin's jurisdiction.
Gal 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” If it were not possible for us to use our liberty to indulge in sin then Paul would not need to warn us not to. It is simple logic.
When speaking to the supposed Christians on their way to hell Jesus doesn’t say you sinned too much he says I never knew you (relationship – same word as sexual intimacy)! Foolish virgins, sheep and the goats.
 Romans 7:14-20
 Matthew 25 1:13
 Matthew 25:31-46
“God loves people because of who He is not because of who we are.”
If you follow this to its logical conclusion this kills the image of the mathematical God.
It goes against all of our natural instincts.
God does not wipe the slate clean he breaks the slate.
Not only does the bible clearly state that we are saved by grace alone but the any other alternatives are clearly impossible – remember our sinful state.
Galatians 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ...for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
If grace was not the total mechanism for our salvation then Jesus went to the cross for no purpose:
Gal 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
 Phillip Yancey, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”, 1997 Zondervan.
Can I do whatever I want? The doctrine of grace has been described as a hair’s breadth away from heresy. Paul often calls it a mystery.
The number of times Paul has to remind the reader not to go too far is evidence of the radical nature of this doctrine: Galatians 2:17 “is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!” Romans 3:8, 6:1-2, 6:15. Should we then sin it up large – certainly not. Let’s be clear God hates sin, but He is also bigger than sin.
Jesus showed anger only to those who most opposed grace, the Pharisees, and never the sinner (who he accepted without qualification). Jesus was accused of wanting to do away with the law because of the radical nature of his teaching (Matt 5:17-19 is his response). When talking to the Pharisees he said “tax gatherers and harlots [i.e. sinners] will enter the kingdom of God before you.”, purely on the basis that they believed.
Matt 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
We are not expected to be righteous, we are expected to be hungry for it.
The test is not do you always obey God but do you really want to.
 Ephesians 3:2-3 & 9
 Matthew 21:31
Falling From Grace?
Gal 5:4-6 “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
Falling from grace here only refers to trying to work for your own salvation (legalism). It is not talking about sinning. When we sin we fall into grace. Grace is not required when we do right - it is there for when we do wrong. Grace is not withheld because of sin. Instead Romans 5:20 “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Grace, instead of encouraging sin, actually has the opposite affect. Grace conquers sin. Liberty promotes obedience. Once we take our eyes off the sin and put them, in faith on God, He can prove that He is worthy of our trust. It is scary but it works better than trying to do it yourself.
The scandal of grace
Why be good if I know I already have God’s forgiveness? It comes down to a true understanding of what God has done for us, and the relationship we'll desire with him as a result. When you truly understanding you'll stop feeling like you have to try and please him, because you'll simply want to please him.
What does sin affect? It affects our end of the relationship. Each sin damages us and also our ability to love God. God tells us not to sin not because He is a spoilsport but because He wants only the best for us. If we indulge our sin, we don’t risk losing God’s approval - we put ourselves in His place and run the risk that we will stop wanting a relationship with Him.
The level of sin in our life is an indication of the extent of our relationship with God. God loves all of us equally but He is too good a parent to entrust the immature with what they can’t handle.
What are the implications?
- An enlarged concept of grace affects how we see ourselves.
- And how we view others:
- We can be honest about sin.
Grace takes away our need to justify and explain away. Acknowledgement and then repentance is the healthiest response to sin.
 C. S. Lewis
 Martin Luther.
This is not something new.
Jesus walked the Earth in the 1st century, Augustine in the 3rd century and Luther in the 16th century.
“It is a fact beyond question that there are two kinds of Christian experience, one which is an experience of bondage, and the other an experience of liberty. In the first case the soul is controlled by a stern sense of duty, and obeys the laws of God, either from fear of punishment or from expectation of wages.
In the other case the controlling power is an inward life-principle, that works out, by the force of its own motions or instincts, the will of the divine Life-giver, without fear of punishment or hope of reward. In the first the Christian is a servant, and works for hire; in the second he is a son, and works for love.”
Hannah Whitall Smith wrote this in 1875.
“The law says do, the gospel says done.”
“There is nothing but God’s grace. We walk upon it; we breathe it; we live and die by it; it makes the nails and axles of the universe.”
Robert Louis Stevenson.
“The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.”
Martin Lloyd Jones.