GRACE FOR GRACE
One of the four keywords that describes God’s activities in the entire Bible is the word “Grace”, the three others being Love, Covenant and Faith. Grace has been described as “Unmerited Favour” in Christian parlance, but I believe that grace is far more than that. Let’s look at Paul’s exposition on grace.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love, with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places In Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show us the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
(Eph. 2:4-9 NKJV)
In this short passage, Paul, used some phrases to describe God’s feelings and actions in applying grace for our salvation, such phrases as;
1. Rich in mercy.
2. His great love.
3. Exceeding riches.
4. His kindness.
5. Gift of God.
Such exemplary words were used to explain the action of God in saving us fallen souls. Showing further that he was even more lost for words, Paul went on in Chapter three of his epistles to the Church in Ephesus to explain the principle of grace as a mystery. He wrote;
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles - if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” (Eph. 3:1-7)
This powerful exposition reveals some critical principles of grace to us.
1. Grace is a gift of God.
2. Grace is given now as part of a dispensation of God.
3. Grace requires the effective working power of God
Through verses eight to twenty one, more superlative expressions of God’s heart towards us was revealed: like;
4. Unsearchable riches of Christ
5. Manifold wisdom of God.
6. Riches of His glory.
7. The love of Christ which passes knowledge.
8. To be filled with the fullness of God.
9. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above our conception
10.By His power that works in us.
In order to clearly define his exposition on grace as contrary to human effort and works but purely a gift of love and mercy from Jehovah, by the effective working of His mighty power which can do far mightier things than we can conceive, Paul effectively told us that every action of self justification through alternative, human works, theologically defined as the “Law” is an affront to the principle of a free gift of God. Israel, being addicted to the legal requirements of the Mosaic system, rejected God’s love, which He freely demonstrated in that while we were still dead through our sinful nature, He sent His son to pay the price for our sins (Rom. 5:8). This dispensation of God’s grace, which is after all a “mystery” continues to elude the Jews and all fallen men, who, though the light (or revelation) of God is in their midst, could not comprehend it (John 1:4-5).
The Apostle John wrote to the Church, this express instruction, that because the Word of God has now “tabernacled” (dwelt) (John 1:14) among us, and was the carrier of the fullness of God’s grace and His truth, we no longer need signs and seasons, feasts and sacrifices, works and religiousity, and every man made ordinance in any temple or Church, a type of which the Mosaic system demonstrated. We are to come to our inheritance, our blessing, our salvation and our worship, by receiving Him (John 1:12) for it is written “And of His fullness and grace we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.
The use of the title Christ as early as this in the book of John indicates that the “Anointed Saviour” was already in town. As the prophet John represented the bridge between the old and the new dispensations, and by his declaration he must decrease so Jesus may increase, this also demonstrates that when grace came, law began to decrease.
In Matthew Chapter 5: 17, Jesus alluded to the works of the law as requiring fulfillment. But even in the Church today, we have modern men who do not accept that Jesus gave the proviso that ‘until it be fulfilled”, the law stands. However, on the day of the Passover, Jesus began the process of fulfilling the law and all its ordinances, setting it aside for ever. When He declared “It is finished” (John 19:30) that ended the ceremonial principles of the Mosaic system, and ignited the dispensation of grace. From this point onwards, whomever would come to God must come by faith only through His son Jesus, that is the only work required of men (John 6:40).
When God raised Jesus up, He ordained a new priesthood (Heb. 4:14), by so doing He forever cancelled the Aaronic and Levitical orders (Heb. 7: 15-17). The word of God condemns the weakness of the Law and establishing the priesthood of grace in Christ Jesus with an oath (Heb. 7: 20-22). Jesus was arrested by the Law, tried by the Law, crucified by the Law, under the Law. But, in resurrecting, He demonstrated superiority to the Law (Heb. 8:6).
God has given us, through our faith in Christ Jesus, the blessings of a better covenant. Our attempt to be saved/blessed by all of our religious actions and activities nullifies the power of grace in our lives. Jesus already pronounced that if we seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, all that we need (not want) will be added to us. (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, that $50 you sowed, believing through that to be a millionaire, is not God adding to you but you trading with God, like the people selling at the Temple when Jesus came into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:12-13). Washing the pastor’s car or kneeling before the woman of God, is works. Trying, in your power to work for God, rather than God working through you is works.
Abraham found grace before God, Noah found grace before God, Jacob found grace before God, David found grace before God, so did the Apostles and every true believer. Having tasted His grace for your salvation, why do you revert to the Law to get your blessing? Who has bewitched you? “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect (sanctified, blessed) by the flesh (works)?”(Gal. 3:2-3).
Brethren, this is God’s message to you if you reject God’s message of “grace for grace” (John 1:16) given by the effective working of His power, and His mercy.
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. Which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal.1:6-9)
The Apostles put a seal on this debate with the letter to the Church in diaspora;
“Since we have heard that some of you who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying “you must keep the law” – to whom we gave no such commandment –it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same thing by word of mouth. For it seemed good to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (Acts 15:24-29).
The Grace of God is sufficient to the true believer, anchor your hopes on God’s promises (2 Peter 3:9a). Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding ().
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in Jesus name. Amen