Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Grace Q and A: What is Grace?

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NKJV

  In our last two studies, we examined the place that the Old Covenant has in the life of the New Covenant Christian. This was in direct response to the backlash that arose when a well-known minister dared suggest we unhitch our faith from the Old Covenant. The outpouring of wrath against the minister made it quite clear that many in the Church still have no concept of Grace. 

 Many apparently are still linked to the Old Testament, looking for daily guidance and growth from the Mosaic Law. During my research, I was astounded how some fringe Christian groups even denied the New Covenant Epistles as being Scripture. This led me to seek the Lord about what more to share. I sensed His leading to just get back to the basics and go line upon line of what the Gospel of Grace actually is. 

 So let's begin a study of what Grace is. Let's just ask questions and see what God's Word actually says about Grace. You might be tempted to say "I already know all this." Hebrews and 2 Peter have some good advice we should all heed.

 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NASB

12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 2 Peter 1:12 NASB

 What is Grace?

 Here we go, how do we define Grace? Is Grace simply empowerment? I have heard several definitions of Grace when I was in Word of Faith charismatic circles. I heard Grace defined as God's ability gift. I heard it defined as God using His ability on your ability even though you don't deserve it. Is this accurate?

 I have used this illustration before, but it bears repeating. How do you define an airplane? You may answer it's a flying vehicle that takes people or cargo from one place to another. Is that the right definition? Nope. That just explains what it does, what its function is, not what it actually is. An airplane is a powered heavier-than-air aircraft with fixed wings. Its function is to fly people or cargo from one destination to another. 

 The point of the illustration is for you to see the difference between what something is and what it does. So many define Grace as mere empowerment. Why is this a problem?

 When we define Grace as simply empowerment we leave the door open for different interpretations. Empowered to do what? Is Grace empowerment to now keep the 613 commands of the Mosaic Law? That has actually been taught. 

 When they cite that passage in Matthew that Jesus said He didn't come to destroy the Law, some tradition-minded interpret that to mean God's New Covenant is simply a renewal of the Mosaic covenant. That Grace now empowers men to do what they couldn't do before, that is to keep the Law and commandments. 

 Another interpretation comes from the performance-minded leaders. Empowerment to them means all the particular rules and regulations their particular religious sect clings to are still in effect but Grace gives people the empowerment to keep them. If you don't measure up, it's because you haven't tapped into Grace. 

 These Law minded and performance driven views are not the Good News of the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So how do we define the Grace of God? According to Strongs Grace is the divine influence of God upon our hearts. It's His acceptance, divine favor, and benefit to us. 

 Fully defined, we see Grace as God's unmerited, undeserved, unearned divine favor and when received His divine influence upon our hearts produces an empowerment to live victorious in every area of life. It's His goodness on our life. It's His loving kindness toward us. Grace is God stooping down, entering our life with His redemption, righteousness, and favor bestowed toward us, apart from any personal goodness, performance, or merit. 

 This is the Grace of God. This isn't a message or a movement. This is the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Accept no substitute. If one comes preaching Jesus plus your performance or ability to be faithful brings about righteousness, redemption, victory or blessing, know that is not the Good News, that is not the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of the Grace of God. 
Image courtesy of Pansa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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