Two-Hundred Proof Grace
John Dink has assembled some excellent quotes on his blog. This one from Robert Capon is one of my all-time favorites.
The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case. (Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three, pg. 114-115)
Reflecting on this quote, John writes, “Sola Gratia, Grace Alone, was not merely a leaning of the Reformation… it was a pillar. The reformers trumpeted God’s grace as the only Christian method, with no compromise. The Gospel was being unleashed again, not reinvented, but rediscovered… the unending love of God, freely given to the undeserving. The truth–so scandalous, so surprising, our hearts have to be sitting down to hear it… God saves sinners single-handedly, He will not be needing our help. In fact, diluting the Gospel with our own help is precisely why grace ceases to amaze us. So busy trying to help Jesus help us, we hardly ever taste His gift and we remain unchanged and unmoved by it. Over time, our blended, balanced, watered-down cup of grace leaves us cynical and sober. We want so desperately to mix in some of our rule-keeping or our performance… we’d give anything to add something of our own label! But it never turns out as we had hoped. We start to feel like we can’t keep up our end of the bargain – we feel as though we’ve failed. But… what if we don’t need our own label? What if Jesus kept up our end of the bargain for us? Those who are broken and bold enough to ask the questions, find themselves seated at a table with smiling sinners – too drunk on grace to remember the rules, and yet, they all seem to know them by heart. We’re served glass upon glass and something happens… the Gospel becomes the power of God and the wisdom of God. The power of God, because we taste something strong enough to save us. The wisdom of God, because we taste something good enough to change us. The bar is always open and the drinks are all paid for–just thank the Bar Tender, raise your glass and drink it straight. It’s all Grace.”
Are you busy mixing or do you drink grace straight? Are you always in a spiritual hurry or is your soul free to rest and raise a glass? Is it possible that free grace in Christ causes people to love like Christ?
John 1:16-17, Luke 10:38-42, Ezk 36:26-27