Here is why grace is so critical to our lives: Can you side with Peter who, hours before Jesus crucifixion boasted that he would lay down his life for the Master – only to miserably deny him? (Jn. 13:36-38; 18:15-18, 25-27) Man! I can! If so, have you observed the incomprehensible grace of Christ gently manifested to Peter after his failure as recorded in John 21? I dont know about you, but I, Dwight Hill desperately need that grace because I am the worst of offenders in hurting Jesus over these many years through my pride, rebellion, judgementalism, lack of faith, etc., etc. If it were not for a clear understanding of his grace, I would have despaired years ago. I am continually reminded of John 1;16: For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. (Amp. N. T.)
Perhaps you, like I can readily identify with Pauls disciple Timothy, a rather fragile soul whom Paul felt needed to grasp the concept of Gods grace for his life. Thus Paul enjoined him: You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:1) That is, be empowered by Jesus grace, appropriate it, and rest in it. Timothys need to experience Gods grace is understandable when you consider that Timothy was of mixed blood (Jewish and Greek), who doubtless experienced the prejudices people of mix blood often incur. He was raised by two women (2 Tim. 2:5); the father, it appears was out of the picture; he seems to have struggled with fear (2 Tim. 1:7), and the overwhelming task of running a church as a youthful pastor (1 Tim 4:12). He also battled ill health, Paul advising him to take wine to calm his stomach (1 Tim. 5:23). I, like Timothy, need to live in the grace of God if I am to make it victoriously to the end of my pilgrimage.
In my studies on grace over these many years, several truths have stood out:
1) Gods grace does not give us a license to live in sin: Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?Certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Rom. 6:1,2; Jud. 1:4). (See Rom. 6:15; I Pet. 1:14-16; 2:24; 1 Jn. 2:3-5)
2) Gods grace does not absolve us of our calling to live a cross-focused life: If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it (Lk. 9:23, 24 Phillips Trans.). (See Matt. 10:38,39; 1 Cor 15:31; Gal. 2:20)
3) As recipients of Gods grace, we carry the responsibility of taking the message of Christ to the lost For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others[God] gave us this wonderful message of reconciliationWe are therefore Christs ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:10, 11a,19b, 20a NLT). (See Rom. 10:14, 15; 2 Cor. 6:1; Eph. 6:20)
4) The grace-centered disciple gives it 100% to become all that God intends: Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on meand not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace (I Cor. 15:10 NLT). (See 2 Cor. 3:5; Philip. 3:10-14)
CONCLUSION: In the final analysis, it is only in our weakness and brokenness that we truly experience the life-giving grace (and power) of God: [Jesus] said 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 (2 Cor. 12:9, 10).
QUESTION: Are you learning to live daily in the dead center of Gods grace? If not, why dont you start on that path today?