What Is Grace?

Sunday, June 23, 2013, 7:30 a.m. – When I sat down to have my quiet time with the Lord Jesus this morning, he put the song “More About Jesus” in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1:1-17 (NIV):

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

This is not a thorough study on the subject of God’s grace. Rather, I am sharing some thoughts from my quiet time with the Lord Jesus this morning from this first chapter in Romans on the subject of God’s grace, and how it is realized and lived out through our lives.

As I read through the words to the song “More About Jesus” this morning, I was stopped by the Spirit of God, I believe, at the second line: “More of His grace to others show.” So, I asked myself the question, “What is His grace? And, how do I show it to others?” And, then I read in Romans 1 where Paul said he had received God’s grace to call the Gentiles to obedience that comes from faith. So, if it is God’s grace (undeserved favor) which saves us, and it is his grace which calls us to be his holy people, then it is also his grace which empowers, strengthens, encourages, calls, and excites us to show his grace to others. So, how do we do that? First we need to understand what his grace is, and then we can learn how to show it to others. His grace (in Romans 1) is:

A Call to Obedience

Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, was resurrected from the dead in conquering sin, death, hell and Satan, and because his death on the cross meant life for us, through faith in him we have grace to call others to obedience that comes from faith. Jesus commissioned all of his disciples to go and to make disciples of Christ of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded us (see Mt. 28:18-20). Jesus also said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him (see Lu. 9:23-25).

As well, he said that to love him means to obey him, and that if we don’t obey him, that means we don’t love him. Not only that but he also equates obedience with our eternal life in Christ and with our relationship with God. God the Father and the Son will make their home with those who love God and who obey his commands (See Jn. 8:51; and 14:23-24; cf. 1 Jn. 2:4-6). No one will do this perfectly. Yet, that is never to be an excuse for continued willful sin. This, I believe, is speaking of lifestyle (our walk of faith), intent, will of the heart, belief and purpose. Do we believe we must obey? Do we purpose to do so? Is it our intent to obey? And, does our lifestyle reflect an attitude of and actions toward full obedience to Christ and to his commands? Or, do we think obedience is not necessary?

A Call to be Saints

God’s grace not only saves us from slavery (bondage) to sin on a day-to-day basis, and from eternal punishment in hell, providing for us eternal life with God in heaven, but it gives us full and abundant lives in Christ Jesus while we still live on the face of this earth. We are called of God by his grace to be his saints; his holy people, set apart for him, for his righteousness and for his service. In other words, our lives are no longer our own to live however we want to please ourselves, but we are God’s people, called of God to live holy lives pleasing to him, which is our reasonable service of worship to him, no longer conformed to the pattern (ways) of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus our Lord (boss) and Savior (see Rm. 12:1-2; Ep. 4:17-24).

Mutually Encouraging One Another

God’s grace within each one of his followers, because Jesus Christ, by his Spirit, is now living in and through us, gives us the desire, knowledge, discernment and spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to mutually encourage one another in the faith. This word “encourage” is often diluted, though, to give only a sense of saying to others what makes them feel good about themselves. Yet, to mutually encourage one another in the faith means to inspire, urge, incite, hearten, nurture, aid, persuade, push, advise, counsel and insist on the same things Jesus taught and the apostles taught that we must do to live godly and holy lives pleasing to our Lord. This type of encouragement should not only be uplifting, helpful, inspiring and heartening, but it should also spur us on to obedience, faithfulness, holiness, the forsaking of sin, idols, and sinful pleasure; and to making Christ our only Lord.

Unashamed Sharing of the Gospel

Paul was all about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever he went. The gospel is not only the gospel of our salvation, but also of God’s grace. Yet, it was God’s grace which also called him, equipped him, inspired and strengthened him to share the gospel of Jesus Christ unashamedly. We cannot do this in our own willpower or in our own strength. This has to be the working of the Holy Spirit of God in and through us for it to be effective. Yet, even if we share the words of Christ with the wrong motives, the Bible teaches, what is important is the gospel is going forth, providing it is the true gospel, because God’s holy word will not return empty (unfulfilled), for only it has the power to convict hearts of sin and to show the way to Jesus Christ. Our job is just to be obedient to sharing the true gospel of salvation to the people in our lives, or to those whom God would send us, and to do so unashamedly.

A Desire for a Spiritual Harvest

Paul longed to visit these young churches in order that they and he might be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, and also that he might have a spiritual harvest among them. A harvest is the result that comes from seeds that were planted in people’s hearts and lives, and from the nurturing and watering of those seeds, i.e. this mutual encouraging of one another’s faith. The harvest, thus, could be new believers in Jesus Christ and/or it could be the spiritual growth and development of those who had already believed. Yet, what I see here is not only God’s grace in providing this harvest of souls, but in giving his servants and witnesses the desire to see others come to know Christ, and to grow and to walk in their faith. This desire for a harvest of souls comes from God’s grace within us, and it is yet another way in which we demonstrate God’s grace to others – not only in the desire, but in the sharing of the gospel and in the mutual encouragement of one another.

Living by Faith

The only way in which any of us can live by faith in Christ Jesus is by God’s grace working in and through us for his glory. Only through the Spirit of God are we even drawn to Christ, are we saved by grace, and are we given the gift of salvation (including repentance and obedience). And, it is God’s grace within us which empowers, strengthens and inspires us to live holy lives pleasing to God. Faith in Christ, according to scripture, involves death to sin and to our old way of living to please self, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and toward Christ, and putting on our new lives in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (see Lu. 9:23-25; Ep. 4:17-24; Gl. 2:20; Rm. 6; and Ac. 26:16-18). It involves daily communion with our Lord in prayer and in the study of his word, listening to what he teaches us, and doing what his word says. And, it involves showing his grace to others through sharing the gospel, mutual encouragement in our walks of faith and obedience, and a desire to see a spiritual harvest in other’s lives, teaching others to obey Christ, and encouraging them away from sin and toward holy living in Christ.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.
Grace is God's unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don't deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God.

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach..." (Titus 2:11-15a)
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach..." (Titus 2:11-15a)

Great passage; really it's about being prepared to do the opposite of one's natural inclinations.

Grace doesn't sanctify natural passions; it rather subdues them and rescues the believer from them.