Understanding the Depth of Grace
Have you ever used a word that you are not sure what it means? Or you thought it meant one thing when it really means another? You thus use it wrongly, or out of context. Or what about words that we just don't realize the depth of them, or what we imply about ourselves or others when we use them.
Today I want us to ponder a word that we say we grasp, but I am not sure that many of us actually grasp, even myself. And I am confident we don't often think thru what this word implies about us and others when we use it.
The word is GRACE.
What comes to your mind when you think about grace? Is it possible that we don't truly understand the depth of this word, what it teaches us about God and ourselves, that it has become watered down similar to that of love?
I think this is at least part of what John implies in 1 John 3:1 when he says "see how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." The word here John uses points to a "foreign type of love". God's love, ie grace, are foreign to us. Thus it is easy to not grasp it in totality.
At its core, the word grace implies total freedom on the part of the giver of grace, and thus a total lack of merit or deserving on the part of the recipient of grace. So the point becomes this, that God is free to offer His grace however He wants, and we are undeserving of this grace at every point in our lives. We never deserve it.
As sinners, what we deserve from God is justice, and thus justice would lead to condemnation due our sin. God owes no person anything other than condemnation due their sin, and yet He has freely offered grace and forgiveness. God was free to do this, and He was free to not do this. Romans 9:16 says "it does not depend on man's will or effort, but on God's mercy."
The grace of God is love and forgiveness of sin freely offered to ones who deserve condemnation due their sin. Grace is actually the total opposite of what we deserve. Think about that. We deserve condemnation, and yet God offers grace in the gospel. Eph. 2:8-9 declares "it is by grace you are saved." Titus 2 declares that it is "the grace of God that brings salvation." Romans 5:8 declares "while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
If we read the New Testament, we see grace as the theme throughout. God is and remains the doer and the keeper. God is the hero. We see this in at least two ways:
- Grace is the source of our forgiveness and salvation. Our justification, forgiveness, being declared righteous, hinges and is sourced in grace. Not works based, totally undeserved. Our justification, while free to us, cost God dearly, namely the death of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:32 declares "God did not spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all." Salvation is of grace. Romans 3:24-25 also declares this was done freely by God. Not deserved on behalf of its recipients. Eph. 1:7 declares our salvation was in accordance with the "riches of God's grace." Ponder this this morning, the enormous grace of God in our lives, namely our salvation, but that grace that John 1:14 declares is new every morning. Undeserved. And this was no accident. God planned this before the foundation of the world as Eph. 1-2:10 tells us. Therefore we can be certain of it at all times.
- Grace is our guarantee that we will receive what God has promised. We can have assurance no matter what we face because our assurance is rooted totally in the grace of God, from start to finish. 1 Peter 1:5 declares "we are kept by the power of God." Believer, that means we have no need for nor no place for anxiety, worry, despair, etc due to the sure grace of God and promises to carry out what God promises and begins. Indeed, as Romans 8:31-39 declares, and I encourage you to read this passage this morning, to be reminded that "nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." Everything about our lives is rooted in the sure and free grace of God, from start to finish. All grace. Therefore we can be sure and confident no matter what we face, that it cannot separate us from the love of God that has come to us thru Christ.
So, how do we respond rightly to this grace today as believers? One might start with gratitude. Rejoicing in circumstances. Unwavering trust. Confidence no matter what we face. unceasing obedience.
This is where Galatians 5 comes in and the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These flow from God and His grace. Produced by grace. Fruit of the Spirit. A person who is overwhelmed by God and His grace, who truly recognizes the undeserved nature of this grace will exhibit these at all times. Mindful of grace. Opposite of our flesh.
If you walk away from the truth of grace thinking your behavior and ethics and obedience doesn't matter, then you haven't rightly grasped God and His grace. That same grace that brings salvation that we saw in Titus also teaches us to deny ungodliness, see Titus 2:11-13. This grace is not a license to do whatever we want, but to rejoice in God no matter what we face. To glory in God at all times.
Think about this as well - what about grace being offered to others? If we have been so rich and undeserved recipients of God's grace ourselves, doesn't it make sense we would then offer this to others? If we didn't earn our grace, why then should we require others to earn our grace? Even in difficult times. Even when we are frustrated, pinned in, quarantined, suffering. God's grace to us still flows freely, see John 1:14, thus our grace to others must flow likewise freely.
May we be a people who truly grasp the grace of God, and may this be seen by grace freely flowing to others, no matter the cost. And may God be glorified in it. \
Maybe that's how God uses this time for us, to grow in grace, to better appreciate God's grace, even in the gift of other people, even the ones who are tough to love (by the way, I mean all of us here, as we are all tough to love so stop thinking of someone else), even in the joy of our gatherings, maybe that grace increases thru this, better appreciating God's grace in bringing us together because we need each other. What God gave as a gift had possibly become routine and monotonous and lacking the fullness it truly brings. This is all grace. Undeserved. May we grasp this rightly as well.