Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 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. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I love good news. Testimonies are my favorite. The impossible situations that turn into possibilities thanks to a loving, kind and good Father. The unexpected called coincidences by the world but are blessings and benefits of Kingdom Living. I certainly do not deserve the goodness that the Lord has shown me in this lifetime so far. Often I think if He did nothing else, I still couldn’t help but give Him praise for the rest of my life. But if it wasn’t for the Grace of God…the Gospel is not good news.
Grace is probably the hardest component of salvation to wrap our head around. The word “grace” in Hebrew is CHEN and CHARIS in Greek. It literally means “favor”. To bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior. It is the benevolent action of God by stooping down to us in His Kindness and Goodness to reach us in our need and convey upon us a benefit. It is termed as “unmerited favor”. His Mercy is the fullest expression of His Compassion for us. Grace is the action that transformed His Mercy into action that releases His Power in our life. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a Gift of God.
“Not by works, so that no one can boast…” I cannot earn God’s Grace. I cannot provoke His Grace to do more than it has already done. This is a point of contention in many religions that cannot embrace a God of Grace who loves us no matter what. It is not a form of weakness implying a reckless God who doesn’t have a backbone. No, God’s Grace portrays His Perfection. If I could earn grace that leads to salvation, I wouldn’t need the Blood of Jesus. The power of His Name would be eliminated if there was another way to God the Father. There is not. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Willful sin and rebellion does not change the heart of God for mankind. He decided to love us and therefore He does. Always. At all times. In every season. Good or bad. God’s love for us never fails. It is constant. He loved us when He created us and will love us through this life and will continue to love us whether we choose to accept His Grace that leads to salvation or not. God is love.
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are still sinners. It doesn’t matter if we strive for godliness and work at serving God. The Love of God established grace in our life before we knew about it or even wanted it. To consider our life worthy of grace is the point that grace loses its power by changing the definition. Grace is favor. Grace is given to the needy. It is received in our weakness. To compare my life to another believer and decide I have pleased God more or less is a dangerous game of pride. One sin required every ounce of the Savior’s Blood shed for me. The sacrifice of my life to fully embody and embrace Christ is not an act of service but simple salvation and full acceptance of grace freely given.
A socially acceptable sin still grieves the heart of God. Changed habits and better choices will never make a difference in how much God loves us or the sufficiency of His Grace given to us. You may find this a hard pill to swallow. God doesn’t have favorites. He rejoices when one comes to repentance. True repentance begins the process of full redemption that takes a lifetime to complete. It is not about perfecting us but God’s Love being perfectly for us. To become do dependent on the Love, Grace and Mercy of God that it is our constant pursuit at all times. I cannot pursue God my way. I must continually enter the Gate already opened in Jesus Christ. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. It is the color of Grace. It is the point of absolute and complete acceptance that I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ that our lives are changed by grace.
2 Corinthians 12:8-110 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What would happen if we lived in glass houses? Total transparency between us and the world. Where everyone who walked by could peer through our windows. Would the pristine yard, freshly washed window, rooms flooded with light, and people perfectly poised and presented to the world reflect real life? To project perfection in this life of salvation is a farce. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The Gospel is only good news because of God’s Amazing Grace. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that a new life is possible. We can change all our bad habits. Make better choices. Clean up our act and still there will be transgressions in our life. Willful thoughts. Rebellious acts. Delayed obedience or outright disobedience. Paul detailed our plight in Romans 7. The Grace of God will always be the Good News of the Gospel to others. How can I judge another person when despite my best and forthright efforts not to sin, I still manage to on a daily basis. To begin to think there is no sin in us is prideful revival – but to daily live in the constant need of Jesus Blood and His Way of Righteousness is to fully and completely declare our absolute weakness outside of His Grace. The Power at work in me is Christ. The only good thing in me is His Spirit who lives in me. I am nothing apart from Him. Grace gives me the opportunity to have a relationship and live in the perfect love of God despite my complete imperfection.
Romans 11:5-6 (NIV) So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10) Paul summed it up. By the Grace of God, I am what I am. What you see is who He made me? I must daily or more honestly momentarily deal with my flesh and constantly nail it to the Cross. I do not have time to put other people there because keeping myself in the Love and Grace of God is a full-time effort. His Grace to me changed everything. His Love for us is established in His Perfection. Unchanged or influenced by my behavior, but offered in spite of me. If I could achieve grace it is no longer grace so my acts of service are nothing more than offerings.
The Lord takes my weakness and gives me His Power. How will I represent the Grace given to me today? Will I reflect the Love of the Father? Will my light shine in darkness or be covered under a basket labeled pride? Without Him, I am nothing. Lord, make me the part of the “remnant chosen by grace” to be the city on the hill. Let my life be transparent before you and a glass house that others may see that while I was still a sinner you gave your life for me! Remind me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones!
John 3:30 (NIV) ”He must become greater; I must become less.”