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Grace Expressing God’s Heart, God Riches at Christ’s Expense

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer on June 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Grace Expressing God’s Heart

God Riches at Christ’s Expense

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(1Pe 5:10,12)  Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little….I have written briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it!

 Have you ever asked yourself why God would create man with the capacity to choose sin knowing he would do so?

 Does it seem strange to you that God, knowing all things, foresaw the day when His beloved children would rebel against Him and forfeit their paradise?

 If God had not allowed man to choose sin He would not have had the opportunity to display His incredible attribute of grace. Have you heard people define grace by what it isn’t? Way to go grace, they sure weren’t very gracious; it seems ethereal and undefined except when we violate the caricature of it. Musicians use the term “grace note” to describe a softly played note that gets a melodist from one note in a chord to another – even if that note isn’t right! Credit cards offer “grace periods” between the time their billing periods end and they demand you pay a minimum amount in return. Then the ignorance of grace by people who heard about in Church but really fully understood it or how it’s supposed to affect our lives. If we miss out God transforming power through the gift of grace, we suffer, others suffer, and the kingdom suffers through damaged relationships, and worse destroyed lives.

 First a view from Heaven: Do you ever try to visualize heaven?

 Men and women were designed to enjoy personal fellowship with Holy God, enjoying his love for eternity. We see a picture of that friendship with Adam and Eve before the fall, everything was provided for, and God would walk and talk with them in true fellowship. We’ve never had it so good since. Then a horrific tragedy occurred with all creation and worst of all mankind. God’s friend and creation man rebelled against him we have literately and spiritually died from it.

 (Rom 5:12-20)  Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to one’s account when there is no law.

Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification. Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

 Yet our Creator’s response to this drastically set Him apart form his creatures, He sent his only Son to pay the enormous debt for our pride and selfishness.

(Rom 5:8)  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

God took the most heinous and despicable act ever perpetrated against Him, and transformed it into His greatest gift.

(2Co 5:21)  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

To quote Richard Blackaby: “Grace recognizes people’s sin, anger, rebellion, and foolishness but looks beyond all these to see what people can become.” At our worst and darkest moment, God’s grace shone brightest. I order to be Grace givers we need to really clarify what grace is and what it is not.

Grace (Webester’s)

GRACE, n. [L. gratia, which is formed on the Celtic; Eng. agree, congruous, and ready. The primary sense of gratus, is free, ready, quick, willing, prompt, from advancing.]

1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.

2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.

And if by grace, then it is no more of works. Rom 11.

3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.

Grace is not being “tolerant” in today’s definition nor is it being a door mat to the people who oppress us. Some people assume grace refuses to confront sin or say hard things. Some mistakenly see grace as one time event not the transforming work throughout our lives. As we can see from the definitions above grace has several complete meanings. Because as believers we face the struggle with sin until the day we see Jesus face to face, we need God’s grace every day of our lives. We know we are saved by grace and we kept by grace as well.

(Eph 2:8-10)  For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

God continually supplies grace to his people in countless practical ways. More importantly he expects to be grace-givers. We see the English meaning of grace what did it mean in the time of the Apostles. In Greek it had 3 meanings as well: 1. a thing that brought pleasure, 2. to describe a person in powerful position showing mercy or favor to someone of inferior rank, 3. to denote gratitude. Grace appears nearly 150 times in the New Testament, showing grace’s rich and multifaceted nature.

(2Co 9:8)  And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

Grace is what motivates God to relate to us moment by moment day by day with perfect love. If God didn’t see us with eyes of grace we would have NO HOPE! Because of this grace we can boldly approach even the throne of God in every situation, what a wonderful and reassuring promise.

(Heb 4:16)  Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

The stories of Martin Luther the Great Reformer and Paul the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament we see the transforming nature of grace in their personal encounters with Jesus.

First Martin Luther the Great Reformer planed on being a lawyer but a narrow escape from death in 1505 changed the course of human history. He went the priesthood and became quite a scholar, he also battled with justification and grace, so much so that he would spend hours confessing sins, even at one point abusing his body to keep the flesh in subjection. He was haunted by Romans 1:17,

(Rom 1:17)  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

He knew he wasn’t just and tried to earn God’s favor and escape his wrath on the unjust. There are no amounts of works we can do that will earn God’s righteousness. Finally after the Holy Spirit opened his understanding to the truth of this verse it forever changed how we worship God. It isn’t the righteous who have faith; rather those who place their faith in Christ’s saving work on the cross who are made righteous. WE can’t earn something that has already been provided all we can do is accept it.  Thus was born the reformation, and millions of people found freedom in Christ. The message is simple Salvation is a gift from a gracious God. Every promise God has made is waiting to be received if we freely accept His grace by faith.

 (Rom 3:23-24)  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

 (Rom 11:6)  Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

 Let’s quickly look at Paul, who began life as Saul the Pharisee of Pharisees who kept the law better than anyone of us and had zeal for serving what he thought was God’s will. He had no tolerance for those who disagreed with him or weak in their religious duty.

 (Gal 1:14)  and I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

 What happened? God encountered Saul on the Damascus road grace found him and changed him so much it changed his name to Paul. He didn’t just change his outward behavior but his entire view of life was transformed he had experienced grace. The evidence is incontrovertible when we encounter grace we are transformed. If we have an encounter with grace we will be transformed if we haven’t been transformed then we lack the grace encounter. There is no amount of works we can perform, no amount of any religious behavior other than an encounter with the living  person Jesus Christ will we have a grace transformation. Then we can know the abundant life, joy, freedom and an eternal friendship with God.

 (1Co 15:9-10)  For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.

 If you have trouble expressing this story in your own life here is a brief Q&A to help:

 What I was

  1. What I became
  2. The role grace played

 Can you make Paul’s testimony of grace your own?

For I am

  1. But by the grace of God I am

 Pray that you will not receive God’s grace in vain.

 We Christians can be deceived into thinking we cannot change the things about us that are ungodly, even though we have amazing promises from the Bible that God Himself can change us from the inside out. So-called Bible teachers prey upon weak believers, selling programs and performing “healings” that create emotional experiences but that ultimately fail to produce real change. To quote Richard Blackaby:

 “Grace looks beyond a person’s misguided attitude and sees the beautiful potential of a life freed from sin’s grasp.”

 In a personal story Richard tells of a Bible Study he was leading and made the statement, “If you are a person who gets angry, then you are an angry person.” Seems pretty straight forward but people really got upset, he held his ground in the explosion of comments. It matters not our circumstance upbringing, dysfunction, or struggles. God’s grace is still sufficient to set us free. He tells of a lengthy voice message from a lady in class, who said she was praying for his judgmental attitude and hard heartedness. But she sensed God saying to her “but you are an angry person” She was devastated asked for God’s transforming grace in her life and she was thoroughly transformed. Everyone saw a major change in her life. She had believed in her mind that God could deliver people from sin but her theology was far from the reality in her own life.

 (2Co 12:9)  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

 Paul dreaded receiving God’s grace in vain and abusing the gift that God has provided. Grace is not a license to sin but a provision for our failure as believers to keep us reconciled with God when we fall. To have all God’s kind intentions and loving resources freely available to him and then to squander his life in bondage to his sinful past would have been a travesty, disrespectful and unloving. He opened every area of his life to God and invited his transformation. Grace is not a concept, event or doctrine it is a continual reality to be experienced and shared. The sad reality is so many Christians missing his transformation and personal relationship living out God’s grace in vain. Richard Blackaby puts it this way “Becoming all God wants for us takes time and a lot of grace. Salvation does not mean automatic perfection.” God never gives up he knows what we can become. That’s why our sins and setbacks do not stop his outpouring of grace. He intends to perfect what he began.

 (Php 1:6)  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

We see the evidence of grace listed in Hebrews chapter 11 in the hall of fame of faith. It was evident in the fall, the Old Testament patriarchs and with the New Testament apostles. The real hope is it is available for us right now today this very moment.  

 What’s the one thing about yourself that you think needs the most grace from God?

 When you are tempted to act ungraciously toward others, remember this weakness that you’ve considered in yourself. Ask God to help you be as gracious toward others as He has been toward you.

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