The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 46

A Discussion of the Word, “Grace”

Grace comes from “charis” (in Greek) and its verb form “chairo” means to rejoice. In English it is translated as “charity.” Beggars need “charity” even as sinners need grace, for we are all spiritual paupers outside of Christ, but “God gives where he finds empty hands,” said Augustine.

Grace is a word which defies a simple definition but at its core conveys the sense of favor while the specific nuances of charis depend on the context in which it is used. The word grace is probably the greatest word in the Scriptures, even greater than “love,” because grace is love in action, and therefore includes it. It is hardly too much to say that God has in no word uttered Himself and all that was in His heart more distinctly than in this word ‘grace’ (charis).

J H Jowett summarizes grace as God’s “holy love on the move” (Another source attributes this quote to H G C Moule). This reminds me of the phrase that God is like the “hound of heaven” chasing after sinners, sinners who before Christ saved them by grace through faith, chased after sin but now because of the transforming power of sanctifying grace, they no longer chase after sin but sin “chases” after them! And so we see the continual need for God’s grace!

Charles Allen offers a succinct synopsis of grace noting that…
The grace of God is described as… Glorious (In the Bible there are three distinctive meanings of grace; it means the mercy and active love of God;
it means the winsome attractiveness of God; and
it means the strength of God to overcome. Jamieson calls the grace of God
“God’s gratuitous favor in the scheme of redemption.”

Where then do we find the source of grace?

In 2Tim 2:1 Paul clearly states that grace that is able to continually make us strong to fight this good fight of faith (1Tim 6:12, 1:18, 2Ti 4:7) is found in the Person of Christ Jesus, the very One Who is now “our life” (Col 3:4)

As discussed above, in Titus 2:11 Paul equates the “grace of God” with Jesus Christ (cp Jn 1:14, 16, 17). So He and He alone is the Source of all “grace upon grace”. Chuck Swindoll wrote that “Grace is summed up in the Name, Person, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How do we appropriate God’s amazing grace in and through Christ?

God’s unmerited favor is not earned or deserved but is appropriated by faith in Christ. Paul, in writing about Abraham’s appropriation of God’s promise states that “is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace” (Rom 4:16). Paul amplifies this truth in Ephesians explaining…

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph 2:8, 9; Acts 26:18b)

Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book:
‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb, Who all my sorrows took.
Philip Doddridge

And so we see that we begin this race of salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8, 9) we run daily by grace through faith (Col 2:6 with 2Co 5:7, Hab 2:4, Ro 1:17, Heb 10:38) and finish by grace through faith (Rev 22:21)..

Grace is God’s generous favor to both undeserving sinners and needy saints. Therefore, it behooves every Christian runner to understand some of the practical truths about how he or she is enabled to run with endurance the grace race that is set before us (Heb 12:1). One of the primary ways by which we are to run is by keeping our focus on our Source of Grace, the One Who ran and “won” the race, Christ Jesus (Heb 12:2).

To reiterate, saving grace is God’s provision for the believer’s sinful past (see Eph 2:8, 9) while enabling grace is His provision for day-to-day Christian living (Titus 2:12) where the grace of God is depicted as our “instructor” for daily living [= sanctification], cp Heb 13:9 where “strengthened by grace” is in the present tense = indicating that one function of grace is to continually increase our inner strength and resolve to run the grace race with endurance).

How do we appropriate God’s amazing grace in and through Christ?

Through Weakness and Humility. These truths are in taught in the following passages from James and Paul.

From the apostle James…
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (Jas 4:6).

Peter experientially understood this truth (Compare Peter’s affirmation in his natural strength in Mt 26:33, 34, 35, 69, 70-75 with the transforming power of God’s grace in Peter’s change in 1Pet 5:5- note, 1Pet 5:6)

A young Scottish minister walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his first sermon. He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was confident of himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer he preached, the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not in the wind.” He finished his message quickly and came down from the pulpit with his head bowed, his pride now gone. Later, one of the members said to him:
If you had gone into the pulpit the way you came down, you might have come down from the pulpit the way you went up.

The humble man realizes that all that he has comes from God and must be given back to God. But when we think we’re humble – we’re not!

The “gravity of grace” works like the earth’s water system, which always flows from the highest to the lowest point. Just as the waters of Niagara roll over the fall and plunge down to make a river below, and just as that river flows ever downward to still more low-lying areas where it brings life and growth, so too it is with God’s river of grace (Jn 7:38, 39). Grace’s gravity carries it to the lowly in heart, where it brings life and blessing. Grace goes to the humble.

The gravity of grace will always channel the rivers of divine favor to the lowly – to those
(1) who submit to God,
(2) whose soul’s momentum is away from the Devil and toward God,
(3) who purify their inner and outer lives,
(4) who mourn over their sins, and
(5) who obey the final summary command, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (Jas 4:10).

Notice that all five of these aspects of a lowly heart are themselves dependent on bestowal of God’s grace. What a mystery is His grace!

The unbowed soul standing proudly before God receives no benefit from God’s falling grace. It may descend upon him, but it does not penetrate, and drips away like rain from a statue. But the soul lying humbly before God is immersed—and even swims—in a sea of grace. So while there is always “greater grace,” it is reserved for the lowly—the humble in heart.

Andrew Murray:
Humility is the only soil in which the graces root. The lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.

William MacDonald commenting on James 4:6 writes…
Think of it – the mighty God opposed to our pride and determined to break it, contrasted with the mighty God powerless to resist a broken and contrite heart!

No grace, no peace. Know grace, know peace .

For that reason, Grace and peace are found in the greeting of all of Paul’s epistles. It is no accident that grace always precedes peace, for grace is the fountain of which peace is the stream. When we know the grace of God, we have peace with God and then can daily experience the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension (Phil 4:7).

Grace is the foundation and peace is the result. Grace is God’s free unmerited favor toward man. Peace is the result to those who respond to His grace. Our hearts are kept in peace as we realize that the favor (grace) of God is upon us.

William MacDonald has said that the combination of grace and peace is in one sense “in miniature, the gospel for the whole world” for the essence of the gospel is grace, therefore peace. Through the gospel we are all brought under His grace and therefore have peace with Him and peace within. The gospel is not so much about “not fighting” but about wholeness of life (shalom) as God intended it. The peace flows out of the grace, and both together flow from God our Father and were made effective in human history through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Edited by Pastor Bob Phee

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