Free Grace 24

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

Luke 23:32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left…38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

In considering the conversion and death of the criminal who was crucified with Jesus, we again look for what would have moved God to save the criminal. Matthew 27:44 says that both robbers were insulting Him. What we have, then, is a man who was a criminal and is said to have been a robber. We don’t know if he assaulted his victims or even killed some, but he was a criminal and a robber. While this man was on the cross he was insulting Jesus and mocking Him. This man was born dead in sins and trespasses and it would appear that he had been given over to sin during his life and appeared to be a fairly hardened sinner.

There can be no doubt at all in this case that there was nothing in this man and there was nothing that this man did to move God to save him. This man was a sinner by nature and a sinner by practice. He was not even an outwardly good man. Even after he was nailed to a cross himself he mocked and insulted the Lord Jesus. Was there anything at all that could have moved God to save him? One could argue that he still had free-will and so he chose to be saved. In light of the teachings of Scripture as a whole, we know that argument is simply impossible. A hardened criminal will not confess his sin unless by grace God opens his eyes to his sin. We know that Peter was told when he confessed Christ that he was blessed because flesh and blood had not shown that to him but the Father who is in heaven had taught him that. The criminal had nothing in him to move God to open his eyes to his sin and then to show him something of the glories of Christ.

How could this hardened criminal know who Jesus was apart from having his eyes opened and being taught this by God? How could this criminal have such a change of heart apart from his heart being changed? How could this criminal who was a hater of Christ and mocked Christ now turn to the Lord Jesus who was also hanging on a cross and ask Him to remember him when He (Jesus) came into His kingdom? The free-grace of God is our only answer to the questions. This criminal stood and stands as an example and wonder of free-grace. There is absolutely nothing good that could be said about this man and there is nothing that could make him more savable than any other, though in the eyes of moralists there may have been some who were worse. Behold the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus that saves sinners despite who they are and what they are and makes them trophies of Divine grace!

We can see how this man was brought to a realization of his own sin and what that sin deserved. We can see how he went from enmity toward Jesus to faith and submission to the Lord Jesus. We can see that he trusted in nothing of himself but simply looked to Christ, but not just looked to any Christ but he was looking to Christ who was on the cross and being crucified before his very eyes. God had to have opened his eyes to see that this Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews. This criminal went from mocking Jesus about that to believing Christ was the true King in an eternal kingdom and that while Christ was being crucified as a criminal. If a person cannot at least see the concept of free-grace in this, that person has a hardened heart. But for the rest, behold the wonder, glory, and beauty of free-grace! Behold the loveliness of a thrice holy God who saves sinners through Christ because of who He is and not for anything found in us sinners. Look to this free-grace alone and ask God to show you the nature of free-grace and the workings of free-grace. This free-grace will work in your heart to show you your sin, subdue your heart to Christ, and then give you a new heart and all of that quite apart from what you deserve. This grace has no cause found in you, but all is found in Him and His love for His own name and glory.

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