One of the truths of Church is that people must be free to come as they are. Another truth is that when the Word of God is ministered in love, they will not remain as they are. When these truths are evident, the Grace of God is manifest.
Grace is one of the chief characteristics of God and one of the key elements of discipleship.
Grace, defined, is God’s unmerited favor. In other words, there is nothing you did to deserve it and there is nothing you can do to obtain it. It is God’s gift OF Himself TO you!
Just like God gives us all the measure of faith with the expectation we will grow in it, so, too, are we expected to grow in Grace.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
Jesus Grew in Grace; since He is our example, we must emulate him:
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40)
God never stops giving Grace. Because Jesus IS Grace and Truth, and His Spirit abides in us, we have an unending supply of Grace.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)
Submission to God is evidence that we understand our supply of Grace. When we are submitted to God we have the power to resist the devil and the expectation he will flee from us.
Grace is not just a New Testament principle – it can be found throughout the Old Testament as well. The first time Grace is actually mentioned (Law of First Mention) is in the case of God using Noah to spare humanity:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8)
An important note here is that you cannot find Grace without first seeking the Kingdom of God. This is why Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom and His Righteousness first. When you seek the Kingdom, you discover God’s Love and His Grace. And when you DISCOVER Grace, you FIND Grace!
The first instance of Grace, though, is when God decided not to kill Adam and Eve for the original sin. But another, more riveting example is when God spared Cain after he committed the first homicide.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. (Genesis 4:15)
Another example of Grace is that when God dispenses it, there are blessings that come with it…
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11)
To understand this completely, we must graduate from the notion that “grace” is a concept bound to a covenant; Grace is a person — Jesus Christ — who transcends covenant! When we grow in Christ, we grow in Grace.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)
Now, there are some folks who will speak of “Greasy Grace.” However, you can’t make something greasy that is created to be glorious. Contrary to popular belief, Grace is not a license to sin – it is an invitation to righteousness!
For sin shall not have dominion over you:for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14-15)
To tie all this together, we must see that Grace flourishes, can be frustrated, provides forgiveness, and is the hallmark of fellowship. It is also his unmerited favor!
God causes Grace to flourish among us to the end that we are equipped to do His Work in the earth:
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Abundant supply in all things is a promise of God. We cannot accomplish the work of the Kingdom if we are sick and impoverished!
Sadly though, Grace can be frustrated:
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21)
Another misconception is that sin causes you to “fall” from Grace. Let me tell you, there’s a remedy for sin – it’s called repentance. And when we repent, we change our minds. THE THING that will cause anyone to fall from Grace is turning back to the Law!
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
Religion, by its strict adherence to the law, frustrates (negates) the power of grace in the life of a believer and causes them to fall away from the very person — that is, Jesus — who saved them. It is no wonder, then, that today’s church — steeped in religion — is completely void of power!
Through Grace, we have Forgiveness:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)
Grace is the ultimate “pay-it-forward!” When we become fully conscious of the Grace bestowed upon us and the degree to which we have been forgiven, our true (new) nature should be to extend Grace and forgiveness to others. Far too many in the Body of Christ forget what they’ve been forgiven of and, thus, refuse to forgive others of even less.
An illustration of the contrast between Grace bestowed and grace abused (unforgiveness) can be found in Matthew 18:23-35 (MSG):
23 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. 24 As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. 26 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ 27 Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. 28“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ 29 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ 30 But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. 31 When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. 32 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. 33 Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ 34 The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.35 And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
In verses 23-27, we see a man, who owed a debt he could not pay, beseech his king for mercy. The king extends grace to the man. While this king extended grace, God’s way is even better — our debt has been forgiven in advance; we only have to appropriate it by receiving the free Gift of Jesus.
Verses 28-30 show how legalistic religion takes the gift of grace but refuses to extend it to others; demanding its adherents pay a debt far less than they, themselves, are forgiven of.
Grace should be the emphasis of Fellowship:
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)
Jesus said that Love is the hallmark of discipleship (John 13:35). You could also say that it is the foundation of fellowship. If love is absent, true fellowship is impossible. Grace is impossible without love because God is Love (1 John 4:8) and Grace and Truth are personified in Jesus. Therefore, if we walk in love, we should grow in and extend grace.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)