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Grace … It’s Everything We Need

May 22, 2012

Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  As a child, those were the days I remember hearing the word ‘grace’.  “It’s time to say grace,” someone would say before an adult would “beseecheth the Lord in thine bestest Old King Jamesian” tongue. Or maybe they would get a child to recite the traditional, “God is great, God is good and we thank Him for our food.”  We were always left wondering why ‘good’ and ‘food’ didn’t rhyme and why we would talk about thanking Him rather than just thanking Him directly.

In my teens I was taught an easy way to remember the difference between grace and mercy. 

  • Mercy is not getting what we deserve.  You broke the rules, you deserved punishment, but for whatever the reason, you weren’t punished and that is called mercy.  
  • Grace is getting what we didn’t deserve. An example could be not earning a big bonus on a paycheck and being surprised when you receive it anyway. That is called grace.

Same coin with both sides being shown.  Grace on one side, mercy on the other.  Grace and mercy are always found together in topic and life — and rightfully so … kinda like peanut butter and jelly, only more so. Because they go hand in hand, one cannot be found without the other being present.

God extends to us His grace.  There is nothing (read: NOTHING) in or about us that merits even a single merciful thought from Him towards us.  The very best we could possibly offer is like filthy rags.  We are wholly corrupted and saturated in sin. As sinners, we are completely worthy of eternal punishment at the hands of a righteous and holy God.  And yet His grace is more powerful than His wrath.

Through the work of Christ on the cross, God the Father extends to us His grace.  Calvin would go on to describe that grace as irresistible: His grace being so overwhelming to us that we could not possibly say no to Him.

Imagine an elderly bum wreaking of alcohol.  He’s toothless and his clothes are filthy and tattered.  His health destroyed by decades of drugs, alcohol, and non-stop bad decisions.  He’s disease ridden and covered in body lice.  The stench of dung is nauseating.  Got the picture?

Now picture a royal, holy King in pure white walking up to this wretched man.  Pure, bright, elegant, powerful, and just.  This majestic, beautiful, King in white reaches out and embraces this disgusting man.  Wrapping His arms around him and embracing him tightly.  Then the King pours out gift upon gift to this man.  The King heals him of all his diseases, renews his mind, gives him new clothes, a mansion, a car, and a brand new start in life.  The former vagabond now has everything he could ever need or want.  This is an example, albeit flawed, of His grace.  A shadowy glimpse into the enormity of His gift to us.

It’s by His grace that we have been drawn to repentance and brought to salvation.  It’s by His grace that the shackles of sin have been broken off our life.  It’s by His grace that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.  The Father used the fulfilling work of Jesus on the cross to complete His grace “bridge” to reach us.  His grace bridged the gap between His holiness and our un-regenerated heart.  While we were still enemies of the cross and enemies of God Himself He ‘graced’ the great divide that kept us hell bound.

Grace gives us the ability to live for Him out of loving obedience instead of mandated acquiescence.  It almost sounds the same, but the reality is when we surrender to the cross He redeems us — purchases us — by the blood of Jesus.  We’re no longer slaves to sin or the father of sin (Satan).  We become slaves to righteousness and to the King of righteousness.  And it’s because of that change of ownership that we obey.  It’s human nature to think we have to obey to receive God’s favor.  But being hidden in the blood of Christ (the purchased Price) we are already favored of the Lord apart from obedience.  When He looks at us, He sees us as holy, blameless, beautiful, wonderful … His adopted children.  How?  Because the obedience required of us was fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ on the cross.  None of this was possible without His grace.  And because of His love and grace, our heart cries out, “YES, Lord,” in response with our lives.  You see, he who is forgiven much loves much.  It’s this love that gives us the desire to follow and serve our Savior.

Religion is trying to be obedient in order to gain God’s favor.  True Christianity is realizing we have God’s favor through the work of Christ and our response to that understanding is obedience.

His grace is a beautiful thing. We see His grace at the start of our new life in Him, but we must cling to it every moment of every day until He brings us home.  We shouldn’t be surprised when the enemy tries to lie and deceive us into serving him again … our old, dead nature will want to fall back into old, dead habits.  But it’s through that very same grace that we continually have victory over sin.  His grace is a reminder to us that Satan and our slavery to sin is already defeated.  Trust me, the devil knows it, too, and God’s grace is a reminder to him as well.

Now go, walk in His grace.

— Pastor Rick

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