When I think about the many powerful sermons that have been preached on God’s grace, the countless numbers of thought-provoking books that have been written on the subject, and the numerous beautiful songs that gave been composed about the unlimited and marvelous grace of God, one might wonder what else could be said on the subject of grace.
So — my disclaimer up front is: I am not writing as an expert on the subject who can “add” anything to what others have said or written. I’m just an ordinary person who has experienced the grace of an extraordinary God in my life and I want to share with others — or maybe just give a reminder — of some of the wonderful truths he has taught me–first from his Word, and then experientially in life. Grace, in its simplest terms, is undeserved favor–received from a holy and loving God, what we totally do not deserve or merit.
Often our first encounter with God’s grace is described as experiencing his “Saving Grace.” — grace that completely forgives our vilest sins when we believe in Jesus Christ and receive him as Savior. By that simple act of belief and faith, we come into a personal relationship with the Almighty God of the Universe. Isn’t that mind-boggling!! That same God who spoke creation into existence takes us into his family by a spiritual rebirth and he becomes our Father and we become his child — for all eternity. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 ESV) Awesome! But, as wonderful as that is, it is only the beginning of the grace he wants to make available to us.
Many years ago I was introduced to pastor and author, Max Lucado, (not literally–just to his books!) and was captivated by his giftedness in putting words on paper. I described him as an artist…who painted with words! One of his books written back in the 1990’s carried the long but expressive title and subtitle: God loves you just the way your are, but he refuses to leave you there — He wants you to be — Just Like Jesus.
That title so aptly describes first, God’s Saving Grace but then, the next step in God’s journey of grace in our lives–His Sanctifying Grace. God’s purpose for every child of his is that they become “just like Jesus.” (Romans 8:29) And, his transforming sanctifying grace makes that possible. The process begins by making us a totally new person. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV.) We have new purpose in life; “…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV)
God speaks very clearly on how his grace is to be applied to our lives to transform us and enable us to live godly lives. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11 ESV) “The Lord knows those who are his, and, ‘Let everyone who names the names of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV) God makes very clear the direction our lives are to take because of his sanctifying grace.
I wish God would just reach down and give us a “holy zap” of sanctifying grace and instantly make us into godly, self-controlled persons, always choosing to “depart from iniquity.”
But, if we’ve been a Christian longer than one week, we know it doesn’t work that way. Sanctifying Grace is a journey toward becoming “just like Jesus” but God has promised he will not give up on us, but at the “day of Jesus Christ,” he will bring the good work he has done in us to completion. (Philippians 1:6 ESV) But… the journey is a joint venture between us and God. God will be faithful on his part, but I must also be responsibly faithful on my part. More about that later.
Okay, I’ve already broken all the “writing tight” rules so will sign off for now and save more for the next blog. We’ll also ask ourselves the question: “What is ‘cheap grace’ and am I ever guilty of turning God’s rich grace into ‘cheap grace’?