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The many mysteries of grace

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I recently said to a theologian I was talking with that I thought that grace was a very difficult concept to fully understand. Given that he knew a little about me he probably wondered what was wrong with me.

After all, grace is the foundational concept of the New Testament. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved …”

I was trying to express that the many uses of the word grace can sometimes leave you scratching your head. At least my bald head.

The problem begins when grace is distorted in ways that it is presented in part truth and then somehow removed from all contextual significance so that the earlier presentation loses its value. Let me be more specific.

It is certainly common to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 “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, so that no one may boast.”

But then the same pastor or Sunday School teacher who quoted that verse will go on to teach that the unconditional love of God is about performance-based acceptance.

If you are in a Bible class at church I challenge you to listen to the typical conversation that goes on during discussion time. If it is not filled with concerns of trying to earn Gods approval I would be very surprised.

When you stop to think about it every institution in our society is based on performance. Unfortunately it didn’t stop at the church door.

God is a God of grace. He can be no other. John 1:14 gives us the clear picture. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And then verse 17, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Could there be anything more clear? Moses gave us the law, Jesus gave us grace, and yet these 2000-plus years later we are still trying to mix the two for our daily living.

The law was a task master, grace is a free gift that literally frees us to live the Christian life from a position of acceptance free from performance to earn anything. All the earning was done for us at Calvary on the cross, where blood was shed, to usher in the New Covenant.

All our debt of sin was paid, past, present and future. All forgiven and forgotten. So we don’t have to beg for forgiveness for our sins. It has all been taken care of.

It is found here in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Colossians 2:13-14 “… He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

In the spiritual realm grace is another word for freedom. Freedom to be the person Christ has made us to be. Fully alive in Christ with our identity firmly established in him. Go in grace my friend.