Mr. Bill Wiisanen and Mr. Cristian Pana, two of our Bible teachers, gave an extra credit question to their Apologetics classes about the topic of grace. They asked their students what it would look like if they gave grace on the exam that they had just taken. They then asked whether they should show grace or not, and if they should show grace even if everyone did not agree to it in the class.
What really surprised me about the students’ answers was that most of them said that the teachers shouldn’t show grace on the exam because it wouldn’t be fair. Some students felt that if a student did not study, then that student did not deserve grace, so it should not be given. Those students who had studied did not like the idea of someone who hadn’t studied getting the same 100% as they would – even if 100% was higher than they had earned on their own.
Another common opinion was that grace should be given to those who had tried their best or who had participated in class. The students attached grace to the idea of merit – you should be able to EARN grace. But if a better grade was given to those who deserved a better grade, then it really wouldn’t be grace, would it?
An interesting point that several students made was that it was really up to the teacher whether or not he showed grace on the exam, because he was the one who created it. I think that comment shows a real understanding of how grace works with God. Since God created us, it is He who extends the grace. The created human beings really have no say in the matter.
In reading all of these comments, it reminded me that it is hard, even for Christians, to accept grace for what it is. We want to have some say in who receives it and how it is extended. Even if we won’t admit it, we may still think of ourselves as meriting God’s favor because we are good people, or because we have tried to obey God’s commands. It is really hard to think that God extends his grace to EVERYONE. Maybe that’s why when someone has had a really hard life and has come to God when he’s at the end of his rope, he experiences God’s grace in such a deeply amazing way that he just has to share his experience with others.
Grace is not fair. It cannot be earned. It is the creator’s right to extend grace to those whom he desires. Enns describes grace this way: “the unmerited or undeserved favor of God to those who are under condemnation.” Mr. Wiisanen worded it like this: “Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve (salvation).” So how did the story end? The teachers took the test in place of the students. Whatever the teacher scored is what was entered in as the students’ grades. So every student got a 100%, a grade not based on their actual performance, but because of grace.
Even though they all received an A+, several students still had trouble accepting the outcome. One student really wanted to know how he had done on the test on his own. Another student was very truthful and said that she really didn’t know how she felt about it. Others who had prepared well were not happy that those who had not studied got the same grade. In the end, this is one lesson that the students will remember, possibly more than anything else that has been covered this year.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8).
Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.