While attending Wheaton College, one of my roommates, Kimberly Long (Wyckoff), and I
would sing "His Loving Kindness" while we walked the six blocks to campus in the
morning. In the evenings when we walked home, we sang heartily, "Great Is Thy
Faithfulness." The idea came to us from Psalm 92:2: "To show forth thy
loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night."
Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, 1991,
Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 104.
During the building of the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay, construction fell
badly behind schedule because several workers had accidentally fallen from the scaffolding
to their deaths. Engineers and administrators could find no solution to the costly delays.
Finally, someone suggested a gigantic net be hung under the bridge to catch any who fell.
Finally in spite of the enormous cost, the engineers opted for the net. After it was
installed, progress was hardly interrupted. A worker or two fell into the net but were
saved. Ultimately, all the time lost to fear was regained by replacing fear with faith in
the net. As we paid nothing for God's eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love,
and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our eternal
rest...What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference
between our deservings and our receivings. O, how free was all this love, and how free is
this enjoyed glory...So then let "Deserved" be written on the floor of hell but
on the door of heaven and life.
Richard Baxter, The Free Gift.
You're worried about permissiveness--about the way the preaching of grace seems to say
it's okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and
take the free gift of God's forgiveness. . .While you and I may be worried about seeming
to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn't. He wasn't afraid of giving the prodigal son a
kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in
the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same
objections you do. He's angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering
standards and ignoring virtue--that music, dancing, and a fatted calf are, in effect ,
just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one
thing: "Cut that out! We're not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother
was dead and he's alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not
Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three.
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that
is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his
performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long
service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of
earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award--yet receives such a gift
anyway--that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk
about the grace of God.
G.W. Knight, Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, p.