Three Faces of Grace

Ephesians 4:1-8

 1I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called. With all humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another in love, be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
How many times have I heard the word “grace” in church, on the radio, or from a friend, but still not understood its meaning?

Grace is another part of the multiple facets of God’s love. By this I mean that God deals with His people not on the basis of their merit or worthiness or what they deserve, but simply according to their need.  In other words, He deals with us based on His goodness and His generosity, not on what we earned.

Simply put, Grace is the free an undeserved love and favor of God toward man.

Lewis Sperry Chafer, an American theologian and founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, said:

“Grace is what God may be free to do, and indeed what He does, accordingly, for the lost after Christ has died on behalf of them.” 

 Ephesians 2:1-3

1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, (Satan) the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

 The fact that all people, without exception, commit sin proves that we have a sinful nature.  Does this mean only Christians do good?  Of course, not, many people do good things to others.  On a relative scale, many people to criminals, we would say are very good indeed.  But on God’s absolute scale, NO ONE is good.  Only through uniting our lives with Christ’s perfect life can we become good in God’s eyes.

 Ephesians 2:4-5

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Mercy means God does not give us what we deserve. Grace means He does give us what we don’t deserve.

The first face of grace is the face of salvation. According to the Bible we are saved by grace, and only by grace!

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.

 When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice – how much do I owe you?” No of course not.  The appropriate response is “Thank you.”

Yet often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God.  Some religions teach this, and some religions even teach you can lose your salvation if you don’t do this or that.

That’s just not biblical at all.

Jesus said:

John 10:27-28
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

 Let me repeat that: “, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”.

Meaning you can’t lose it! And it gets even better:

John 10:29
29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

That is your guarantee right there.  No man, no power, no nothing,  can take away your salvation! Your soul is in the hands of Jesus and His hand is covered by that of God the Father.  How much more secure can that be? Not only that but,

we didn’t earn it; we can’t do anything to get it. We have received it because of God’s loving kindness and His undeserved favor. His GRACE.

The second face of grace is the face of ability.

2 Corinthians 12:7

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Paul describes a “thorn in the flesh” that he received. There are various ideas about what this might have been, but whatever it was, Paul asked God to remove it. God said no. Instead He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 The presence of this thorn was proof of Paul’s godly experience. God gave him the thorn (what a gift that must have been!) to keep him from getting proud.  The enemies at Corinth had been accusing Paul of being weak, and now he admits that he was weak, but that his weakness was a gift from God, by the grace of God. The very weakness they accused him of was actually an argument for his apostolic authority.

Spiritual blessings are more important than physical ones.  Paul thought he could be a better Christian if he were relieved of his weakness, but just the opposite was true. Because he was able to work with and through his pain, brought glory to God because God gave him the strength to work through it.

God will give you the strength to work through your “thorn” if you just ask Him to.

Reach up to Him and he will give you that strength. As He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”

“Faith healers” who preach that sickness is a sin have a hard time with this chapter.

God’s grace, His favor, freely given, was enough to help Paul endure. This face of grace gives us the ability to do stuff: to raise children, to endure something difficult—and to live our life in a sinful world.

Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and invigorate us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

The last face of  grace is the face of blessings.

This one is a little harder to define… “His unearned favor…” We don’t always recognize blessings when we get them.  We sometimes get something from out of nowhere and say “Oh” and go on our way.  When in reality, it was a blessing God just bestowed on us.

In researching this message I came across and article that really exemplifies what I’m saying.  This woman, Tina, was relating her difficulty in defining grace.  The following is her story:

“This one hit me hard as I thought about the definition of grace: it’s His unearned favor. In an effort to understand grace better, I prayed, “Lord, show me your grace.” I expected Him to show me His favor in the days to come or bring my attention to something in the present. Instead, memories of the past came flooding in carrying with them the blessings that I had received and times of unmerited favor. It was as if He was saying. . . 

“Tina, do you remember the job you were unqualified for that I gave you? ”

  “Ah, yes Lord. That was your grace.”

  “How about when I provided for you financially in narrow places?”

  “Yes, grace too.”

  “I healed your illness.”  

  “Grace indeed, Lord.”

  I was beginning to see a pattern. Then a flurry of other times when God had given me unearned favor flooded my mind. A new bicycle as a gift after my old one was stolen. Repairs on my car that I couldn’t fix. New friends that I didn’t find. Safety while traveling that I didn’t grant myself. Love from family and friends I didn’t earn. Tender compassion from a friend I didn’t deserve. Safe places to lay my head for the last year that I could not have arranged. All of these things and more. . . blessings I didn’t earn and I didn’t deserve.

After I traveled down memory lane, I was overwhelmed with how much grace, how much unearned favor God has lavished on me in love and I became aware of my ingratitude toward Him. I had often thrown a tantrum because I wanted more and thought I got less. It was as if the Lord was saying, “See how much I have given you that you didn’t deserve, didn’t earn, and almost always didn’t ask for? See My grace? See how much I love you?”

Then this happened.  This a part of some dialog I had with a person I minister to on Facebook.

Thank you Pastor Leon you are my religious rock you help me understand the teachings of Jesus and explain what I don’t understand. I don’t know a lot about the Bible but I’m learning. Last night I got my Bible to look up 1These.:16-18 which you pointed out to me it helped me understand about prayer.

 The really strange thing was when I opened the Bible a lot of things fell out memorials of my sister Mom and my husband’s Grandmother book marks with my to favorite prayers .Footprint in the Sand and the Serenity prayer. And pressed flowers, and my Son’s memorial, which have one in my wallet too.

 For the first time I didn’t cry I felt more of peace and memories of good things. I feel Jesus was with me I felt a calm in me that I don’t think I ever felt. Thank you God Bless you and keep you safe.

 I said, Sally that shows the Holy Spirit is listening and helping you. He brought you peace instead of tears, love instead of fear. Talk to God and He talks to you. You were meant to see those things from your past to bring peace to your heart.

I think we can all related to some of these things.  If we really put our minds to it like Tina and Sally did, I’ll bet we could think of something we received we didn’t necessarily asked for, but got anyway.  A job, an illness cured, a friend you sought and never found suddenly shows up in your life.  There are many blessing God gives us besides the blessing of salvation.

That is grace…. Blessings undeserved and unearned.

Here are some final thoughts about grace:

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore guard your minds, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 We are to be prepared for action (guard your minds), live with self-control. Be sober and watchful against all spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate in all behavior.  Be sober minded in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgements of yourselves. and set our hope on Christ’s return. To this end, we will receive God’s grace.

 John 1:15-17

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 We have all received from His fullness grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 In order of appearance Jesus came after John the Baptist, but in every other way He was before him.  The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existed before He appeared on earth. All fullness dwells in Him, from which alone fallen sinners have and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. What we receive from Christ can all be summed up in this one word, grace. We have received His grace, a gift so great, so rich, so valuable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us.

The law of God is holy, just and good; and we should make the proper use of it. Jesus came to earth and died for our sins so we could receive God’s law and God’s grace.

 Romans 5:1-2

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 Paul says that, as believers, we now stand in a place of highest privilege (this grace in which we stand). Not only has God declared us not guilty; He has drawn us close to Him.  Instead of being enemies, we have become His friends – in fact, His own children!

John 15:15

15 I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I have heard from My Father have I made known to you.

 Galatians 4:5

to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

 Matthew Henry said:

“A blessed change take place in the sinner’s state, when he becomes a true believer; whatever he has been.  Being justified by faith he has peace with God.  The holy, righteous God, cannot be at peace with a sinner; while under the guilt of sin.  Justification takes away the guilt, and so make way for peace.  This is through our Lord Jesus Christ; through Him as the great Peace-maker; the Mediator between God and man.”

Stop today and thank God for His grace in your life for salvation, to help you do what you couldn’t do without His help, and for all the blessings that you didn’t earn, then name them one by one.

 2 Corinthians 13:14

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Here is a prayer for you to keep:

Lord, how magnificent is your grace! Your unmerited favor is everywhere and there are so many times that I don’t even notice it. I am so thankful for how good you have been to me. Amen.  

 

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