No, we are not talking about not those words your mumble with your head bowed before eating lunch...
No, we are not referring to how one might describe the graceful moves of a ballerina...
Grace, in the spiritual context, refers to unmerited favor. The dictionary definition contains the following definitions under the subheading of “Theology:”
a. the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
b. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
c. a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
d. Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God's favor or one of the elect.
Grace is when you receive something good even though you actually deserve something bad. Because of our sins, we deserve eternity in hell. Yet, because of God’s love and His great grace, we are offered eternal life through Christ. And even though we fail to live like Jesus lived, He offers us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and provide loving correction so that we may change our behavior.
Grace is the topic of this week’s blog. You will read the teachings of Pastor Jake, Judypie, Pastor Francis, and Annie Lobert.
May these articles be a blessing of grace upon your life for the upcoming week!
Grace and the Lawby James C. Sanford
Yes, the scripture clearly states that the believer is under grace and not under the Law (Romans 6:14), but what does this mean? What Law is the believer no longer under? Is it the Ten Commandments? And---What is the role of grace?
The Bible speaks of two “laws;” The Law of God, which is called the Ten Commandments or two tablets of the Testimony, and is also known as the Moral Law, the Law of Love and the Decalogue.
And then there is The Law of Moses, also known as the Book of the Law, the Book of the Covenant, the Ceremonial Law, and the Mosaic Law. This Law contains over 640 ordinances written by the hand of Moses.
These two laws are quite often referred to in the New Testament. God had a unique role for each of the two Laws to serve. But carnal reasoning of the differences between these two Laws has led many amuck---particularly in interpreting New Testament references to the Law.
The writers of the Scripture most often use the singular word “law” to refer to either the Ten Commandments, or to the Law of Moses. Keeping every verse of Scripture in its context and following the nature of its use is the only way to determine which Law the writer is speaking of. If we don’t have a clear understanding of their different purposes, it is easy to miss the context of the writings and arrive at a misguided conclusion.
The role of the Moral LawThe Law which contains the Ten Commandments is the only way sin is defined in the Bible. Thus its purpose is to govern the moral conduct of God’s children.
The Apostle Paul writes,
The same could be said of any one of the Ten Commandments of the Law. Without the Moral Law there would be no knowledge of sin, but the Law was given that sin might be revealed; sin is transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4).
We read in the letter to the Church at Rome,
It is clear that in the above Scriptures the Apostle is speaking of the Law containing the Ten Commandments. Men were sinning ignorantly until the Moral Law was given thus they were not judge based up the Moral Law; but the Apostles continues,
Because of the curse (Genesis 2:15-17), known as the Law of Sin and of Death (Romans 8:2) given to Adam in the Garden, men were dying because of sin even thou they had not committed the same sin as Adam.
The law, as important as it is, can only identify sin. But the law, though it reveals that all men are sinners, does nothing to rectify the situation; it does not remove the curse of death nor does it pay the death penalty for man’s transgressions. Thus the law is powerless in regard to the salvation of man.
The biggest problems of the Jews were they had lost sight of what their father Abraham had---righteousness by faith. They were seeking righteousness or justification by the works of the Law; they had become legalist. The Law could not impart life but in the revealing of sin, because of the weakness of flesh (Romans 8:3-4), it became a minister of condemnation and death. Many today have fallen into the same trap; they have become legalist performing worthless ritualistic acts and other dead works. Others have gone to the other extreme vainly trying to use grace for their covering while continuing to willfully sin; a horrific mistake.
The role of graceHere is the answer to the question, “what does it mean that we are under grace and not under the Law. “Those who have faith in Christ Jesus are under the grace of God’s forgiveness and are no longer under the curse of the Law; the curse being death (Romans 3:19-26). Therefore where the Law has no saving power, grace has the power of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8). God sent His Son “to take away sins” (1st John 3:5). He paid the penalty on man’s behalf. According to the Scriptures, the LORD laid on Him (Christ) the iniquity of us all and made His soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:6,10). Grace does something else that the law can not. According to the Scripture, the Savior’s mission was to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Bible makes it clear that Jesus does more for man than just pay the penalty for sin, by His grace He sets the believer free from the dominion or control of sin (Romans 6:14). Through the gift of the Holy Spirit the believer is led and empowered to walk in the ways of righteousness (Romans 8:5-17).
The Spirit of Grace speaks by the hand of the Apostle Paul as he writes:
Then grace appeared in the person of Jesus to free man from the curse, the Law of Sin and of Death, and to transfer him from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and eternal life. Thus grace delivers men’s souls from the PENALTY of the Law containing the Ten Commandments, BUT NOT FROM THE LAW ITSELF. True believers keep the Law, now written upon their hearts (Hebrews 8:8-12), out of faith and love toward their Savior, not according to the letter written on stone or paper.
Is the Law still in effect then?The Apostle answers that question:
It is a Biblical fact that by and through faith the Law containing the Ten Commandments is established by the believer; it is still in effect, it is not done away with.
Jesus, speaking of the Ten Commandments and the Prophets says:
I did not come to abolish but to fulfillThrough love and faith our Lord was obedient to the Moral Law from birth to the cross.
Jesus also said,
The role of the Ceremonial Law or the Law of Moses:Many of the misguided think The Ten Commandment Law was nailed to the cross with Christ. They base their understanding on the following Scripture.
The Law containing the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God on tablets of stone; a sign of their durability. The ceremonial Law was written by Moses on a scroll, a sign of their being temporary, for Christ is their substance.
The ceremonial Law; which is the law of circumcision and all the rituals that were performed in the tabernacle services—the killing of the lamb, the sprinkling of the blood, the Passover Feast, the keeping of the Passover Sabbath and other festivals and etc. These were all types and fore-shadows of Christ and serve as a “tutor” to lead the worshiper to Him (Galatians 3:23-29). By love and faith through His sacrificial death He completed every one of the Mosaic Ceremonial Laws. Thus the Ceremonial Law is no longer in effect because their prophetic practices were fulfilled in Christ.
Summary concerning sin:
Summary concerning grace:
Love, Mercy, Grace and Faithby James C. Sanford
It is a beautiful expression, “God is ‘rich’ in mercy;” overflowing or abundant, more than sufficient. Thus mercy is the riches or the wealth of God rendered in abundance to someone who is miserable, needy and hopeless, someone who is without claim to favorable treatment.
Mercy is closely related to compassion in the Holy Scripture; their differences are barely definable. The Greek word from which compassion is derived means literally “from the bowels,” denoting the deep innermost being, an intensely emotional reaction to someone or something in a hopeless condition. Mercy, therefore, is both feeling compassion and acting upon it. Thus mercy can be though of as compassion in action.
The most important fact about mercy in the Bible is that God is the fountain of mercy. There are, to be sure, references to human displays of mercy in the Bible but God was the source. If man desires mercy from man he must go to God and ask Him to supply it.
God’s infinite love is the groundwork of man’s salvation; in reference to man that love assumes the form of mercy, and that mercy provides the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is God’s love that motivated Him to be “rich in mercy” and moved Him to the greatest act of compassion ever shown man.
The hopeless is the sinner who is without hope, born into Adam, bound to eternal death under the Law of sin and of death. When Adam sinned against God he became separated from the life of his soul, God’s Spirit of life, and became one with his flesh; thus he became “sin in the flesh.” Every child of the flesh of Adam is born “sin in the flesh” and he sins because he is born a sinner. And like Adam, does not have the Spirit of Life in him; thus he is spiritual dead.
In Christ is the Law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:1-2) and by the grace of God we are made alive with our resurrected Lord through a spiritual rebirth. So from God’s love and mercy comes grace.
And by grace God has exalted the believer.
The grace of God the Father has been placed on every man’s plate through the sacrificial death of His Son on the cross of Calvary; He died “to take away the sins of the world.” But the message of the Gospel is that to partake of this wonderful grace, the gift of eternal life that is on every man’s plate, one must believe (John 3:16), he must have a lasting faith (Matthew 24:13) and put total trust in the work of Christ for the salvation of his soul.
But where does one get such a faith, a faith that leads to the Divine attribute of faithfulness? “Faith comes by hearing,” but how does one hear? “And hearing by the word of Christ;” (Romans 10:17 NASU). So it is the word of God being preached by the anointed preacher (Romans 10:14-15) that quickens the ear of the spiritually dead and causes the dead to hear. And hearing the word of God the formerly dead turns away from his sins (repents) and receives the gift of faith. Thus the faith that God’s grace works through is a gift from God and not of works or anything that man conjures up, thus he cannot boast.
We leave the reader with this though: Salvation is not by the works of the Law or works of faith, but by faith through God’s grace. Unless we repent and receive His gift of faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). We are justified by faith and we must live by faith (Romans 1:17) and by faith we faithfully walk in the works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10), but it is the grace of God that flows from His fountain of love and mercy that saves our soul, working through His gift of faith.
A Prayer for Graceby James C. Sanford
It was once said to me by one of my friends on MySpace that “truth without mercy is hope out of reach.” She also stated that, “truth and mercy together is grace.” My request then Father is that you supply mercy with your truth that you have taught us that our hope may be strong in you and your grace may be in abundance toward us. Thus Father I come asking for grace in the time of need.
I do not come to you asking you for these favors as if you are my personal servant, but I come as your servant knowing that you are my Lord, Master, Teacher, King and Father---the source of all our needs. You and you alone can fulfill all our hopes, our dreams and aspirations. You are the source of all that we are and can ever hope to be.
By your love and mercy you have called us as your children. We were a people of unclean lips and polluted minds. You have cleansed us by your blood; you have purified and made us righteous as you are righteous. You have taught us your word---your word is truth---and you have given us a ministry of reconciliation; now I humbly request that you strengthen us Lord to do your will.
Give us health, make us strong in body and spirit, supply us with all we need and give us directions that we might walk in the light of divine faith and not as blind men stumbling in the dark. Continue to fill us with your Holy Spirit that we might have power to perform mighty miracles, to set the captives free from the grasp of the evil on, to heal the sick and cause the blind to see, and yes—even raise the dead in you name that you might be glorified in the earth. Make us to be the church of your word, “a pillow and support of truth.” May we, by your power and authority, bring forth your kingdom in all the earth that it may be as it is in heaven.
I love you my Lord with all my heart and I ask that you continue to pour out your love into my heart that I will love my fellowman as you have loved me. I thank you Father for hearing me and I praise and honor you. I look forward, with a great hope in you, for the manifestation of this request. And I summit this prayer on behalf of all who say amen.
Filled With Graceby JesusLover Judy
Father, I do not want to be judged harshly. Help me to remember that I can’t know what’s inside of a person unless that person tells me.
I pray that I will be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting others in love. I ask for wisdom that I may avoid reacting to what others say or do.
Please give me words filled with grace, and help me respond in a manner that will help others become stronger.
In the Name of Jesus.
My desire Lord is for people to see You in me... May I reflect your love and grace and mercy... May I be more like You Lord everyday with a heart of compassion... You are the reason I live and breathe...
Do We Really Believe We Are Forgiven?by Annie Lobert
So when I first became a devoted Christian, I kept reading in the bible about grace. I had no real clue what it actually meant to be honest with you! I could not understand why God would be “graceful” to me… I mean come on, was he going to make it so I physically “carried” myself well? Like a ballerina??? LOL J
Honestly, as a brand new Christian, did you? Does anyone outside of “church” REALLY know what this means? You have to remember that the only church I experienced was Sunday school from a denomination that didn't exactly explain the gospel to it’s full extent… I was told that if I was good, and I didn't break any of the rules, that God would be good to me, and that if I was bad, God would be mad and punish me.
I asked other Christians questions about the word “grace.” In so many words, they told me it was unmerited favor. Well, what is that suppose to mean, really? They all tried to explain it to me as best as they could. But guess what—a lot of them could not put it into words of what it actually meant to them. You want to know why? Because I believe that they themselves had no idea of what real grace looked like in their own lives.
Well, me being the investigative reporter that I am, I just felt so compelled to look it up!
Check out Webster’s meaning on grace, and I will note that it is the FIRST meaning of grace:
a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
Then check out the THIRD meaning of grace (does third listing of what it means make it not as important? )Note that the letter “c” is what we are taught in secular schooling:
a : a charming or attractive trait or characteristic b : a pleasing appearance or effect : CHARM all the grace of youth -- John Buchan> c : ease and suppleness of movement or bearing
No wonder why I was confused! Here I was taught that you are “graceful” by having good looks while you carry yourself well, I wanted to KNOW the true meaning… so I searched, I studied the scriptures, I read commentaries, and I dug in to find the truth. If the first listed meaning of ”grace” in Webster’s Dictionary was true, I WANTED IT!!!
I wanted it so bad I prayed for it, I asked God to show me His grace, I wanted it manifested in my life so I could partake in what was promised to me from the very beginning of my birth… the very kingdom of God. Then God showed me something that literally blew my mind.
Mary Magdalene was forgiven, and immediately she became a follower of Christ. And not just the ordinary type… she became SOLD OUT. She went EVERYWHERE Jesus went. When others left… she chose to stay.
You want to know why? ? ? I believe she did this because she understood God’s GRACE from being pardoned from SO much!Here she is, facing judgment with stones, about to die for adultery and BAM! Radical Jesus comes along and sets her free EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS A PUBLIC NOTORIOUS SINNER!
She knew she had been forgiven much… and she was so very thankful for it! She was there to anoint Jesus with oil,she stood by him at the crucifixion, (despite the other diciples vamping the scene) she was at the burial… and because of her sincere dedication and LOVE for what Jesus had done for her… I believe Jesus chose to appear to her first when He was resurrected. Jesus told her to “go and tell” that He was alive! Mary became the first missionary to tell of the resurrection! How cool is that?
HOW much more would Jesus appear to you if you really understood His awesome grace? ? ?
Then you have the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told…
Tell me something, when the prodigal son came home, did the father throw the book of the law at his head and punish him? Did He tell him that he couldn't come on his property until he straightened up his act? NO! HE RAN TOWARDS HIM FROM AFAR OFF TO EMBRACE HIM!!! He gave him a robe, shoes, and the family ring. Then the father was so overjoyed that HE THREW HIM A PARTY!!! What incredible grace was given to this man!!! It made me think of myself and how God ran to me in my need. God didn't question where I was, or what I had been doing, He was so happy that I finally called His name and came home!I didn't have to take a sponge bath or a shower; he embraced me right where I was EVEN in my dirtiest state!!!
I didn't know this when I first became a Christian… so I let other people tell me what grace was. This had me living in defeat. Oh, how I wanted to know that grace! We all have our own personal experiences when we first get saved… and unfortunately some of us never grow out of a certain “baby” stage. In this “baby Christian” stage, we tend to think that we all have to be perfect ALL of the time, and because of that we worry that we are not “good enough” or that we might not “measure up” to some extreme standard that a church or organization has set. This is dangerous… because we will then unknowingly start to impose our beliefs on others that now THEY have to be perfect like us, or do ministry a certain way like we do. What kind of love and grace is that? This causes hurt feelings, mistrust, judgment, which leads to offense! THIS IS A TRAP from the devil!!! It puts you into a type of “spiritual bondage” having to always worry what people think, and you start to be afraid to really be yourself! Is that freedom? ? ?
People, that is NOT grace, it’s called LEGALISM… and God is not pleased with this!!! Jesus didn't die for us to be under the law—He died for us to be free of the death that the law brings so we would become alive in Him and accept the grace that He has given us! It is free, underserved favor!!! It also says in the quoted meaning of Webster’s that its “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification” What does “regeneration” mean? It means spiritual renewal or revival!!! What does that mean to us? That we can receive GRACE daily for the renewing of our minds… NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES WE MESS UP!!!
I did not have this knowledge in the beginning of my Christian life,so many days I felt condemned, and I walked around continually in fear of making mistakes. It was messing with my peace, my study time, the way that I treated people. Well, I had had enough so I did it… . I chose to actually believe what was written about grace in the bible!!! That’s right, I believed in the God’s grace despite the fact I knew that would make a mistake sometimes. I believed I would be forgiven even if I didn't always make the right choices. But the most important part was when I chose to believe I was forgiven and granted grace, even when I didn't feel like it inside!!!
When I stepped out in faith and CHOSE to do it, It transformed my walk with God and my ministry… literally. I could love and accept myself, and because of that, I could truly love others without judging them!
So you want to know how to break free of the bondage? Believe in what Jesus taught! Remember the story of the prodigal son! Don’t forget Mary Magdalene, (a prostitute, caught in adultery) Peter, ( a liar, denied Jesus) Paul (a murderer, killed Christians for a living) and their stories. What were the most significant parts of their lives that that stood out ? They ALL knew that they were sinners and needed God’s grace to get them through everyday! They were not perfect, yet God still chose to use them, in fact so much they shape a huge part of the New Testament!
Face it, we are NOT perfect and ALL of us are works in progress. So if you are living in defeat from perfectionism, legalism, condemnation, judgment of yourself OR others, remember that God forgives you, and as long as you are submitted to Him, trust that God is giving you the grace to walk in freedom! EVERY single day that you are alive! I Don’t know what I would do without Jesus' continued GRACE in my life, because the peace and liberation that I feel now I cannot even put a price on it! I love Jesus so much for that!!!
He knows every stupid thing you are going to do, BUT also every great thing you are destined to accomplish for Him!
I challenge you to look at your life and ask yourself “Am I truly walking in freedom and victory everyday? ” If you're not, chances are you Don’t know how to receive Jesus’ free gift of grace! Do God and yourself a favor… make a change and accept this free gift DAILY. Then watch how Jesus will radically change your life and take you to a whole new level of revelation and power in Him!
Now that’s what I’m talking about… the gospel of grace!!! AMEN!
Treasure in Earthen Vesselsby Pastor Francis Ng
When John Mark decided to take time off to visit his family, it didn’t sit too well with Paul.
Later when Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on their next missions trip, Paul exploded!
The contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas (see Acts 15:38-40).
But the story doesn’t end there. Later, an older and wiser Paul who had learned to add grace to his grit, writes:
There are three important lessons here for you:
- Always be willing to give someone a second chance. After all, that’s what God does for you. Now, in extending grace you can get hurt and disappointed. However, if you’re going to be Christ-like it’s a risk you must take.
- Don’t measure everybody else by your standards and goals. The truth is, they may not be called to do what you’re called to do. Or they may have been called to do it in a different way. Don’t make your personal preferences a precondition for loving, accepting and working with someone.
- When you look for the best in others, you usually find it. The Bible says, “...We have this treasure in earthen vessels...” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
So every time you meet the treasure, you’ll bump into the earthen vessel. Don’t allow that to devalue the treasure, or your responsibility to look for it. Motivated people will rise to meet your expectations.
Pastor Ng Francis