Perhaps, A Different View of God’s GRACE?

BIBLE STUDY:  2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 2:8

QUOTE:  “Worship is our invitation to God to fill wherever we are with His presence and power–His grace.  When we worship, we draw close to Him.  And the closer we get to God the more of His grace we will access.”  Barry Johnson.

In my daily Bible reading this week in 2 Corinthians 12the Apostle Paul is found pleading with God three times to handle “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan,” sent to stop him from preaching the gospel.  The Lord’s response to Paul’s plea gave me goosebumps along with encouragement regarding my own “thorns in the flesh.”

Let me share with you with what Paul shared in a different Bible translation.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Living Bible)

[9]  Each time He said, “No.  But I am with you; that’s all you need.  My power shows up best in weak people.”  Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am.  I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power instead of showing off my own power and abilities.

If God’s GRACE is all Paul needed in dealing with the devil’s assignment to stop him, perhaps then, there’s more about GRACE that we need to know and understand.

In the New Testament, TWO WORDS define and capture the essence of what it means to be a CHRISTIAN–

GRACE & FAITH –

We generally refer to GRACE as the “precious, unmerited favor of God.”  Even my study bible uses this definition.  And FAITH is often described as “believing and trusting in God to take care of us.”

In Scripture, GRACE & FAITH are inseparable–work together, for example in Ephesians 2:8 to bring about God’s FREE GIFT,  “For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith.  And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God”  [AMP].

  1. Our FAITH accessing God’s GRACE is how we are “born again.” 
  2. Our FAITH gives us access to God’s GRACE and we need to understand more clearly what happens when our FAITH touches that GRACE!

My narrow view of GRACE– my textbook answer of GRACE was simply “God’s unmerited favor.”  God had given me something I didn’t deserve.

GRACE was also the one thing that made me different from Old Testament believers.  I didn’t have to worry if I sinned–accidentally or on purpose–because I wasn’t under the Law.  I was now living under GRACE (Romans 6:14).

YES, my view of GRACE was narrow, self-serving.  If I sinned, I was under my Heavenly Father’s unmerited favor.  I knew He’d forgive me when I sinned (not “if” I sinned).  First John 1:9 told me what I needed to do when I sinned.  I was behaving as though God applied a different standard for being under GRACE than He did under the Law.

You know what?  The STANDARD never changed.

Under the Law, God demanded HOLINESS and OBEDIENCE.  And you are probably way ahead of me, here…God demands Christians today the same!

So, could our view of GRACE be off–just a little?

When we talk “churchly talk” about GRACE, we usually associate it with God’s “FEELINGS” for sinners and for error-prone and /or needy Christians.  We also associate GRACE with His willingness to FORGIVE.

But is that all there is to GRACE? 

If God’s Grace is only about His FEELINGS, there are certain verses in Scripture difficult to understand.  Take Luke 2:40–

[40]  And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the GRACE (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.  [AMP]

Did Jesus sin? NO!

Was Jesus error-prone?  NO!

Did Jesus need God’s forgiveness?  NO!

Now look at the words in Acts 10:38–

[38]  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  [NIV]

I saw similarities in these verses.  Whatever this GRACE is, it gives us access to the same ANOINTING and POWER that Jesus had when He was here on earth.

I’m now seeing GRACE through new “glasses”.

In Acts 4, the religious leaders forbid Peter and John to preach about Jesus.  When they went back to their own people and reported all that the religious leaders had said to them, notice the response:  “they raised their voices together in prayer to God”.  You can read more about this in verses 24-30.

Now look at verse 33–

VERSE 33 connects “great power” with “abundant (great) grace”.

Could it be that GRACE is more than we’ve imagined–more than God’s “unmerited favor”?

Is it possible that GRACE is a spiritual force–A POWER–released by God into our lives to help us accomplish His will?

After much study and meditating on God’s Word for answers, I’ve come to believe the answer to both questions is “YES!”

The 20th Century New Testament renders “abundant grace” as “divine help”.

It presents an image that gives more insight into the real nature of God’s GRACE.

God’s Word found in the Scriptures, the portrayal of God’s GRACE is much broader than simply God’s “unmerited favor”.

For example:

  • Acts 11:23, Barnabas saw the grace of God in the believers at Antioch.
  • Acts 13:43, Paul and Barnabas persuaded the Jews and religious proselytes to continue in the grace of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 says God is able to make all grace abound toward us.
  • In Galatians 2:9, James, Cephas and John perceive the grace that was given to Paul.
  • Ephesians 1:7 says we are redeemed through the blood of Jesus according to the riches of His grace.
  • 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul tells Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • James 4:16 says it’s possible for God to give more grace.

God has given us His GRACE “to HELP in the time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

To limit its definition to “unmerited favor” is to limit God’s POWER in our lives.

GRACE is POWER to us and in us!

If we are to truly walk in the same POWER, the anointing and authority as Jesus, we must re-think and alter our understanding of GRACE.

GRACE contains all our Heavenly Father has to offer us.

GRACE IS A SPIRITUAL FORCE and functions like a channel from God to us.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the morning after walking our dog is to make a pot of coffee.  After putting in the right number of scoops of coffee, pouring in the right amount of water, push a button, the power comes on and the coffee-making process begins.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Our home receives electricity from a channel that connects it with the source of the power–the utility company.  The utility company provides the power; but I determine how it’s used, how much is used and whether or not it’s used.  Not only that, I can use the power for other things, like turning on the lights, using my computer to publish my blogs, etc…  And the POWER from the utility company is flowing whether I use it or not.

GOD’S GRACE is like the channel or conduit that connects our homes with the utility company.

EVERYTHING the Father has made available to us flows to us through His GRACE.  Everything!

And like using electricity, we’re responsible for accessing God’s GRACE and activating it in our lives.

Looking again at Ephesians 2 –

In verse 5, Paul says we’ve been made ALIVE along with Christ:  “Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation)”  [AMP].

“By GRACE” describes the POWER used to make us alive. 

And because of GRACE–the POWER that raised Jesus from the dead–says we sit together with Christ in heavenly places  (verse 6).

Because of GRACE–God will show us the exceeding riches (immeasurable–Amplified Bible) of His Grace in this life and in the next life (verse 7).

GRACE has “immeasurable riches” really stuck out to me.

That brings us to VERSE 8 –

The word “SAVED” is “SOZO” in the Greek language–“material, temporal, and spiritual deliverance from sin and its effects and power.” [See footnote [i].]

This is what God has done for you and me through the POWER OF GRACE!

“SOZO” is the GIFT of God’s GRACE and our FAITH putting is in the position to receive it.  We must learn to tap into God’s Grace so that we can live the fullness of our SALVATION.

Learning to “stretch” our FAITH to access more and more of God’s Grace.

LEARNING TO TAP INTO GOD’S GRACE –

One way to access more of God’s Grace in our everyday lives is through spending time in His Word–our Bibles.

In Acts 20:32,  “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (NIV Bible).

I love the words in Jeremiah 15:16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.”

Another way to tap into more of God’s Grace is through WORSHIP –

John 4:24, Jesus says “God is Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” (AMP)

WORSHIP becomes an invitation to God to fill us wherever we are with His presence and power–HIS GRACE.

When we worship, we draw closer to Him–or should draw closer.  And the closer we get to God, the more of His GRACE will become accessible.

“More is better!” as the child in the TV commercial explains.

A third way we can tap into more of God’s Grace is through our FAITH –

Romans 5:2 says we can tap into God’s GRACE through our FAITH.  

And in 1 Timothy 1:14, Paul tells the young pastor, Timothy that the Lord’s grace was “superabundantly and beyond measure with faith”.

I don’t know about you, but I want “more”, because “more is better” in my life when it comes to God’s Grace.

As our FAITH increases and accesses MORE of God’s GRACE, we increase His ability to work in our lives to BLESS not only His people but those who are lost.

Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed and consecrated Jesus [put your name in here] with the [Holy] Spirit and with the strength and ability and power; how He went from doing good and in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.”  (AMP)

Perhaps now, with a better understanding of the GRACE OF GOD, shouldn’t this be the heartbeat of our hearts?

____________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  Strong’s #4982: “zozo” – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); and other translations as noted in the text.

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