“… I felt the need of writing at once to encourage you to fight on for the faith which once and for all God has given to his people. For some godless people have slipped in unnoticed among us, persons who distort the message about the grace of our God in order to excuse their immoral ways, and who reject Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord. Long ago the Scriptures predicted the condemnation they have received.” Jude 3-4
One thing it seems all erroneous definitions of grace have in common is the rejection of Jesus as Master and Lord. Not necessarily a rejection of Him as Saviour but an unwillingness to obey Him as Lord.
I have not heard every sermon nor have I read every book written on the subject of grace, thus I can not speak on every definition out there. However, there are a few more definitions I do have personal knowledge of.
In the so called “word of faith camp” grace has been explained as the favor of God. Favor as in the favorite child of God. Repeated quoting of a sentence like, “ I have the favor of God!” is taught as a means and method of keeping and increasing that favoritism.
This grace or favoritism is described as an “extra” that helps you get the best deals, open the best doors or get you that promotion everyone else in the company or “ministry” is vying for. This definition of grace is narcissistic and self glorifying.
In yet another of the many religious circles of my past, grace is described as a mysterious mercy that basically goes into operation when you die.
Your responsibility is to obey all the man made rules of the denomination while you are alive and trust in the grace of God to cover the distance between you and God when you die. However, only as a member of that denomination can you have assurance this grace will work for you.
This convenient definition not only insures that people remain in bondage to man made rules as a means of pleasing God but also insures an entrance to heaven for all the obedient folks in that denomination, no matter the what fruits of their life are.
So what is the true grace of God or rather, what does it look like? What does it do?
For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all people. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world, Titus 2:11-12
Of course I cannot describe the multi-facets of the manifold grace of God. What I can do however, is speak of some of the grace of God that I have personally experienced. Here are only a few of the results of grace that many people can identify at work in their lives.
It was the grace of God that influenced my heart to repent of my sins and believe the Gospel. Without that work of grace I would still be dead in my trespasses and sins and on my way to hell.
It is the grace of God that cleanses me from worldly lusts and fleshly desires. Without that work of grace I am reduced to white-knuckling any resistance of sin, if I desire to resist at all.
It is the grace of God that turns me into a servant of righteousness and delivers me from dominion and slavery to sin. Without that work of grace I will secretly resent the Lord’s commands to be holy as He is holy and look for ways to convince myself that’s not what He really meant.
It is the grace of God that transforms my soul and purifies my agenda to seek only the glory of Jesus Christ and God the Father. Without that work of grace I will exalt myself, even in “my ministry” as it’s often referred to.
It is the grace of God that enables me to know the difference between the voice of the Shepherd and the voices of the hirelings. Without that work of grace I am reduced to my own understanding to navigate the maze of a thousand versions of Truth and I will be deceived.
It is the grace of God that works in me the gifts and abilities I carry to further His Kingdom. Without that work of grace I am reduced to programs, eloquence and entertainment of the masses as a means of winning some.
It is the grace of God that causes me to be content with the leading given to me by the Spirit and the doors opened for me. Without that work of grace I will be swayed by results and numbers as a measure of success instead of the peace of His approval.
It is grace of God that spurs me and motivates me to seek and lay hold of an ever increasing measure of God’s nature and character as my own. With out that work of grace I do not know Him!
Christ in me the hope of glory!