Monday, April 18, 2011

Grace and the Scratched Ferrari

I couldn’t let Easter week pass without sharing a message of the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and goodness of Jesus Christ. Please let me know your thought on this message and if you enjoy it please share it with others. The following is an excerpt from my book “Twelve Paradoxes of the Gospel.” You can order this book at The book is also available as an unabridged audio book. Below are the links to order the audio book.

“Twelve Paradoxes of the Gospel” on 4 CDs

“Twelve Paradoxes of the Gospel” MP3 Download

Grace and the Scratched Ferrari
For several years I volunteered as the scoutmaster in our local troop. Our troop was creating a movie to earn the cinematography merit badge, and we needed to film one of the scenes with a luxury car. One of my neighbors at the time had two beautiful Ferraris, so I arranged with him to film the scene at his home.

My son Mitchell, who was five at the time, came with me for the filming and was to have a part in the scene as an elf. We were in my neighbor’s garage, and he was showing me the pictures on his “wall of fame and shame [crashes]” of his various vehicles. As we were looking at the pictures, we heard a crash and turned around to see a chair on the hood of the red Ferrari. In front of the Ferrari was a raised workbench area with a chair on wheels. My son had accidentally knocked the chair off the workbench platform onto the hood of the Ferrari.

My son ran and hid behind one of our friends who was with us, who later told me my son’s heart was beating extremely fast as he waited to see what would happen next. We were each in silence looking at my neighbor, and I was quite impressed by his reaction. He remained calm and said to my son, “That is why they make paint; I will be able to have it fixed.” To see that his immediate reaction was one of patience, love, and concern for my son illustrated that my neighbor truly was a man who had the attributes of forgiveness, love, and patience.

When we arrived home after filming, I told Mitchell that even though it was an accident, he was still responsible for the damage that he had caused, and he needed to give all his money to our neighbor to help pay for the repair. I returned to my neighbor’s home, and I explained my desire to pay to have the Ferrari repaired. I handed him the envelope and told him that my son had emptied his savings and that I had also enclosed a blank check to cover the cost to repair the damage. My neighbor handed me back the envelope and said, “You are a man of honor, but I can’t take this.” I replied, “I am responsible for the damage, and I want to pay to fix it. It’s not fair for you to be responsible for it.” My neighbor then explained that he would be able to have it repaired, and that I did not need to worry about it. He then said, “I view it as a gift.”

My neighbor extended forgiveness and grace to me and my son. He agreed as a gift to pay for the damage to his Ferrari that we were responsible for. Likewise, Christ has paid the price for our sins so we do not have to. We each sin and as a result are in a fallen and imperfect state that separates us from God. Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” There is no way for us to perfect ourselves, so a Savior was provided to save us from our sins. Only through Christ’s grace can we be forgiven and avoid paying the penalty for our sins. The New Testament records, “And being in an agony [Christ] prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, KJV) Christ has paid to repair the damage each time we metaphorically scratch a Ferrari with sin.

Just as my neighbor lifted the burden of payment for the damage to the Ferrari, so has Christ lifted from us the burden of sin through his atoning sacrifice in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. The book of Romans declares, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . . . Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. . . . Being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And . . . we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for . . . all have sinned. . . . For . . . the grace of God, and the gift by grace . . . hath abounded unto many . . . the free gift . . . of . . . justification . . . the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. . . . For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Christ] shall many be made righteous. . . . As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:8–21, KJV)

Christ’s Unconditional Love
When I sin, I am at times initially hesitant to go to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. I have a natural tendency to want to hide, as my son did after scratching the Ferrari and as did Adam and Eve after they partook of the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:8 reads, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”

When I sin, Satan and the natural man work to convince me that if I go to the Lord with my sins, the response from the Lord will be one of disappointment, condemnation, and alienation. Satan will put thoughts into my head such as, “You screwed up again. Do your really think the Lord will forgive you for the 432nd time? You are a failure. You are never going to change, so why try? Just give up.” Or with such thoughts as, “Hide so you do not have to experience the disappointment and wrath of the Lord.” You think I would have learned from previous encounters with the Lord seeking forgiveness and example from the scriptures that this would not be the case. The scriptures are filled with stories of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. The prophet Nehemiah describes Christ as “a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” (Nehemiah 9:17, KJV)

Nevertheless I still find that I have to fight the tendency to hide my sins from the Lord. Eventually I get up the courage to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for forgiveness again. Each time I petition the Lord in prayer for forgiveness, I am overwhelmed by His outpouring of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. The Lord declares, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. . . . I will forgive . . . and I will remember [your] sin no more.” (Isaiah 1:18, KJV, Jeremiah 31:34, KJV)

The book of 1 John states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [Christ] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . . and the blood of Jesus Christ . . . cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7–9, KJV)

May we each have the strength to resist the temptation to hide from the Lord and have the strength to repent and confess our sins to the Lord, so we may each repeatedly hear the glorious word of the Savior in response to our petition for forgiveness, “Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Matthew 9:2, KJV) We never need to hide from the Lord, for His love and acceptance are not based on performance. His love is unconditional.

My Witness of Christ
True success and happiness are found in the teaching of the Master Jesus Christ. Christ is the light and life and the world and the foundation upon which if men and women will build they shall never fall. I do share my witness that I know that we are each children of a loving Heavenly Father who know each of us personally and intimately. I do testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The accounts of His life and ministry recorded in the New Testament are true. Jesus healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, gave sight unto the blind, and raised the dead, he comforted and lifted the weak, and embraced and forgave the sinner. He lived a perfect life, and he did take upon himself the sins of the world. He is our Savior and Redeemer who is full of grace and truth. He was crucified and His body was laid inside a tomb and on the third day following His death on the cross He did rise from the dead. He is the resurrection and the life. I do share my witness that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives. Christ is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. May the grace of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalms 145:9

Have a Wonderful Easter!