Grace to You
“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” are familiar words to any one who has ever read Paul’s epistles. As a matter of fact all of his epistles begin with this salutation, as do Peter’s letters, and two of John’s. It would seem that each Christian should have these attributes of our Lord manifested in our lives, but do we? Do we even understand what this manifestation of God’s goodness, and this fruit of the spirit really are, and how to attain them in our lives? Grace is said to be God’s “unmerited divine favor” to us. This definition has been repeated so many times that we might get the feeling that it is in the Bible, but it isn’t. It’s not even in the dictionary. This is a result of one person repeating what was said by another without stopping to test the information.
Mercy gets us back to where we should be in Christ, grace ps us to do more than can be done by natural means.The Bible tells us that God will give grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). If grace were unmerited then there would be nothing that we could do to influence God to give it to us. We would be given it totally by His indiscriminate choice. However, Paul told Timothy to be strong in grace, (2 Tim 2:1) and we are told to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Now wouldn’t it be a frustrating thing for a Christian to want to grow in grace and be strong in it, and then have no way to influence the growing process. In fact many Christians are needlessly frustrated because they have not been taught the truth about grace. How much simpler it is to walk in power in this, the Age of Grace in which we now live, when we understand God’s grace. He has told us what we can do in order to receive His grace.
If grace were unmerited then there would be nothing that we could do to influence God to give it to us…Praise the Lord!! If there is one thing we subconsciously feel we can do to get God’s grace, it is sin. We say, right after we sin, “praise the Lord that it is by grace.” We should say, “thank God for His mercy,” after we sin. Let me give you an example of grace. Just yesterday while I was driving down the right lane of a four lane street I came under an overwhelming sense of a car accident. I immediately prayed from my spirit “protect me Lord”. Within seconds a truck in the lane to my left slammed on his brakes to make a quick left turn. This caused the car behind him to slam on his brakes and swerve into my lane. There wasn’t time for my senses to react, I don’t even remember turning the wheel. But I was spared extensive damage to my vehicle and myself because of divine intervention through a warning and a prayer. That is grace. Mercy would have been if I had dismissed the warning, but had my life spared anyway. Mercy gets us back to where we should be in Christ, grace helps us do more than can be done by natural means. We are to use God’s mercy to get to God’s grace, but too many of us never grow into a walk of grace.
If we think that grace comes as a result of sin we will never walk in it’s true power. Grace abounds where sin “abounded”, not where it abounds (Rom 5:20). Grace will be strongest where sin is in the past. Paul asked the question “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom 6:1), and his answer was a resounding “NO”. Paul understood that where sin IS grace will never be strong. Luke 2:40 says that “ …the grace of God was upon him [Jesus]”. John 1:14 says that he was “…full of grace and truth.” If sin was a prerequisite for grace to exist than Jesus wouldn’t have had any. The Bible never says that Jesus needed mercy, but that he gives it to those of us who sin and need it in order to obtain His grace (Heb 4:16). We confuse the two. Grace is the empowerment of God to us and through us, mercy is His with holding of judgment that we truly deserve. If we call grace “unmerited favor”, then we are really only giving another description of mercy. This is a big stumbling block to truly walking in God’s grace consistently. If we understand that God’s grace comes to us when we are humble and obedient, we will see more of what grace truly is and see how the Lord empowers us to do more than we could have done by our own abilities. Acts 4:33 says “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” Let’s determine to walk in a greater amount of true grace and we will witness with great power as the early church did. You will also find, as I did after I was spared this terrible accident, the peace and joy that comes through God’s grace.