There’s a guy at the end of the street I’ve noticed recently. He wears a black trenchcoat, a black hat and sunglasses. Standing there at the corner, he holds a sign that reads, “The end is near.” I think that’s the perspective that some people may share regarding the gospel…that it’s nothing more than a message designed to induce blame and shame.
But the gospel isn’t really the gospel until grace is introduced. Grace is the resolution to the dissonant that sin creates in our lives. And while some are unbalanced on guilt, in fairness I think some are unbalanced on grace. But we cannot treat guilt and grace as either/or propositions. The message of the gospel is both/and.
Having dealt with glory and guilt, Peter then moves to the climax of his message: God’s grace. The Bible states, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:19-21, NLT).
In those three verses, Peter informed his audience of three things that grace would bring to them. First, grace provides forgiveness of sin that eliminates the guilt of the past. Writers point out that in the first century ink contained no acid content. The ink would dry on top of the parchment, but would not become imbedded in the fibers like our permanent ink does today. Ink in the first century was not unlike our modern dry erase markers where if you make a mistake, you just wipe it away. That’s a good word picture of forgiveness…the slate is wiped clean.
Grace also provides refreshment for today. That word is lost on our younger generation today, but those who are my age and older know what refreshments are. Refreshments are served at the end of a meeting or in the middle of a difficult task and offer rest and renewal. Grace recognizes that even though we have been “wiped clean,” life here on earth is still filled with difficult challenges. Grace provides refreshment so that we can continue our Christian journey through life.
Finally, grace promises a future deliverance from the cares and troubles of this world. When Christ returns, he will make all things new. The brokenness we experience in our lives and our creation which has resulted from the fall will be eliminated. We will be delivered and all things will be restored.
Past, present, and future. God’s grace deals with our yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus is glorious, we are guilty, but God’s grace is sufficient to meet every need of our lives. That’s the good news of the gospel.