For a quick recap on how this goes click HERE and read the intro from last week.
Lord, we are surrounded by brokenness. Our culture seems to be falling apart around us. We need Grace. We need you. Teach us to love as you have loved us. Teach us to serve us with the tools you've given us.
The topic of Grace is DEEP! This is a long one; but there could easily be more. Some thoughts will be articulated better in time, but the general idea is there. After reading, please let's engage in discussion in the comments. This one should leave plenty of room to talk.
What is Grace? If you ask people this question you will undoubtedly hear some variation of“the unmerited gift of forgiveness”. Interestingly, this definition does not fit in context with the majority of the times that the New Testament mentions “grace”.
When talking about grace maybe the first thing to do establish proper perspective.
We are the creation, when does the created ever establish it’s own value? The first thing we have to do to understand grace is humble ourselves and step away from the mindset that we have the authority to establish our own value. Our value can only come from our creator. What value does he place on us? Well that’s a great question. Let me refer you to a fun little parable that Jesus told.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” -Matthew 13:45
You've probably heard this one before… but how does that relate to anything that I’m trying to say, you ask? Well, let’s compare it to the scripture just before it in Matthew.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44
Both reference something of great value and a person selling everything to obtain that thing of great value. But there is a distinct difference.
Matthew 13:44 the kingdom of heaven is the treasure and we are the man, he sales everything to get it. To us we should be willing to let it all go for the sake of the kingdom, whatever it takes to grab hold of it.
Wait for it... here it comes...
In Matthew 13:45 the Kingdom of Heaven is like the merchant… think about it. The merchant establishes a value and sales EVERYTHING to obtain it! He lets it all go to grab hold of the pearl!
This gives even more depth to: “but [Jesus] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus gave up HIS life for us. He, the Merchant, sold EVERYTHING for the pearl of great price.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son”
You do not determine your value, your value has already been determined and the price has already been paid.
It may sound counterintuitive but it’s time to humble yourself and know that you are valuable. Stop assuming that you have the authority to place value on yourself and allow the reality that you are worthy to sink in. You’re not worthy because of anything you did, you are worthy because HE says you are and that’s all that matters!
“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.” Ephesians 2:8-9
This is a good grounding verse, even though we are of great worth, it’s not on our own merit… it is God at work the entire time. It is His value assigned to us that matters, not a value that we have earned. If it would have been through the Law it would have been through our own power to obey the rules, but salvation comes through grace…. But what is grace?
Before we move on stop and take a moment to allow the Lord to speak value and worth over you. It’s already done and the lack of worth that you place on yourself is a lie.
You are valuable.
You are worthy.
You are His.
Let that sink in for a moment. Just pause. Be still and know that He is God and he calls you His.
Understanding our worth, I believe, is foundational to attempting to grasp an understanding of grace. We have to understand that God sees us as worthy that he gives to us freely. We are not his enemies. We are his children!
The idea of grace being “unmerited or undeserved forgiveness” is diametrically opposed to the idea that God establishes our worth. It places us in the place of judge, saying that we have the authority to make that call. The only thing that would give us that power would be the law… and we’ve already covered that.
Placing ourselves in and undeserving place is not where the Lord wants us. When we walk around with a mentality that we are worthless and not deserving of what God gives us we miss the real gift, the gift that he says us as deserving and he delights in us! That is empowering, that is beautiful. That is love. This is not a place of entitlement that we deserve something; but of confidence that we are his.
The idea of undeserved forgiveness is closer to mercy than grace and that is the first place that we go wrong, we confuse the two. I do believe that mercy and redemption happen through grace; but let’s stay focused on Grace though! That’s what this is about.
It's GRACE that empowers us to live a life of righteousness.
It's GRACE that empowers us to live a life of repentance.
It's GRACE that empowers us to life of love.
The life of a follower of Christ can only be found in a life of GRACE.
The thing about all of those things is that it takes power beyond our own to achieve it. We lack the ability to do these things. It's God's grace that allows it to happen.
“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
God’s grace is sufficient… in our weakness his power is made perfect! What does that look like? Well my friend and Pastor, Joshua Stump, has a great definition of Grace that fits right along with this.
“The hand of God placed upon you to empower you, to do what you are called to do but lack the strength, talent, influence, or finances to do.”
As I have read through scripture looking to nail down Grace I’ve come to realize that it’s more closely related to the “power of God” than “undeserved forgiveness”. The hand of God placed on you to empower you is a great starting point for this journey into Grace!
In those areas of life where we are not capable, God empowers us and carries us through to complete the task. That’s a great entry point to the idea of Biblical grace.
The power of God comes to us when we are not capable. The first step is to acknowledge that we are not capable. We have to humble ourselves. As Paul says, “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.” (2 cor 12:10)
It’s in our weakness that we are strong; the power of God comes to us. Grace… the power of God comes to us when we admit that we aren’t able to. Through humility glory shines.
“… he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud; but shows favor to the humble.” … “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
He gives us more grace by showing favor to the humble. Humble yourselves and the Lord will lift you up. This is grace at work, the power of God… promoting the humble.
We are talking about the power of God here, so what does that look like? That kind of strength should stand out, right?
Grace is our call and ability to engage the natural in a supernatural way. It’s through grace that heaven meets earth, on earth as it is in heaven only happens through grace, the power of God.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” –Acts 4:32-35
“God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them” this is the power of God at work! On earth as it is in heaven! This isn’t “unmerited forgiveness” this is power. This is the work of a God who loves us, empowering us to live beyond “sin” and dive head first into the ways of love.
When Jesus speaks of life to the fullest that is a life of grace. Grace enables us to live abundantly. The life of a person who has encountered grace is the life of a person forever changed by their encounter with God. The person abiding in Christ is so deeply touched by grace that their life speaks loud enough, they stand out from the crowd. How many people that we know who call themselves believers blend right in with the rest of the world? Imagine if every person who claimed to have an encounter with Christ, claimed to be his disciple, actually carried the grace that we are talking about. Imagine how much different the world would look!
Let’s go further!
“Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.” Acts 6:8 msg
The Greek word used throughout the New Testament for grace is “Charis” (transliterated cause none of us can actually read Greek). Here’s where we dive full force into God’s hand on us. Charis is the root for Charismatic… you know that word used to describe those crazy Christians who actually think that God still does stuff and isn’t napping, the ones that believe that he actually has his hand on them… empowering them to do things beyond their ability!
I’m not here to tell you that you aren’t saved if you aren’t prophesying over nations or speaking in tongues or praying and seeing people healed… but I may be telling you that Grace enables those things and God’s grace is real and it’s here.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8
The power of God, His hand placed on us manifests itself in different ways for each of us. This is just a brief list of some of those things. Each of these things come from the power of God empowering us; prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, being merciful… these things are Grace operating in our lives!
Grace is a sign of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. The downfall of thinking we are not worthy is that we allow flesh to step in and tell us we are not worthy of operating in these things… we tend to quench the spirit. We don’t trust God. The revelation of knowing that you are worthy, that you are called, that you are valuable to Him allows us to take steps to trust, to trust his Spirit in us. Grace is the power to walk in that trust and everything that flows from it.
The power of God is alive and well. We live in a time where it’s needed more than ever. We need the overflow of Grace in our lives to be Mercy and Redemption. The world seems more and more broken, but it’s not beyond redemption. God’s love is calling us. His Grace is empowering us. He is telling us we are worthy and able. We have been bought, we have been empowered, and we have all of the tools to change the things that break our hearts. We have the power of God to take into the darkest of places.
Grace, the power of God, is the vehicle for mercy, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, all of the things that our faith i founded on flow from Grace. But grace is from God and God alone. And the beauty of it all is that when you look in the mirror and see a broken person and you list off all of the reasons why you are unlovable, why you are unworthy, the power of God comes and makes you worthy, makes you forgiven, makes you redeemed. It happened before you did anything to make you believe that you are unworthy.
When we talk about Grace we are talking about God's active hand in our life. We are not alone. He is walking with us and when we grab hold of grace we are walking together. Grace is the glue of the church, empowering each person in the Body of Christ. Without grace we are just a group of people that get together, sing some songs and listen to someone talk... but with Grace we are the hands and feet of God here and now.
In the comments below please feel free to discuss Grace. Let's dive deeper in it together!