Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Grace, grace, God's grace...

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.


Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

I used to think that grace was only for the sinner to be saved. I had a limited view of grace. I didn't understand that I had need of God's grace in my life every single minute of every single day.

The key to understanding grace is to understand the depravity of our heart. Not one thing we do is pure and undefiled, because of the Fall. Everything, yes, every single thing that we do or think or say is tainted by sin. Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

That's why the grace of God is so amazing! That's what fills my life with joy. I know that my Saviour KNOWS me, and sees my heart. He knows that I fail, every day, but still is my Advocate and Friend. He was willing to die for me, knowing that I would not live one day without sin for the rest of my life. Amazing grace!

It is my belief that *sometimes* (please, understand that I am not bashing holy living) when a person lives outwardly a very clean, respectable, holy life, they can tend to have pride in their accomplishments. They can tend to look down at other Christians who are not dressing right, or reading the right books, or using the right curriculum, etc. The list goes on. Of course I know that this is not their heart's desire. They truly want to live for Christ, and they are doing it by following a list of 'do's' and 'don'ts'. For the most part, that list is very good.

But, I sometimes wonder if they know that their much-striving is tainted with sin. For example, if they read their Bibles for hours at a time, they are still apt to sin, even in their reading of the Bible. We all sin, because we are sinners.

Yet, we are saved by the grace of God, and we are called to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. If we are dressing right, reading the right books, etc., with the attitude that we are THANKFUL that we have the opportunity to reflect Christ in all of it, and with the knowledge that we know that our dressing and reading are but miserable attempts to do right, compared with Jesus; but we are doing it "as unto the Lord", for His glory, then we ARE working out our salvation in fear and trembling. And with that kind of attitude and knowledge, we can graciously cover a multitude of sins in love. We know our own frame, but more importantly, we know Jesus knows our frame, and we know that everyone else shares that same frame. Understanding our weakness and seeing the mercy and grace of God in our lives frees us to love without judgment or without alienation of our fellow believers.

It is important to understand the difference between living by OUR rules, and living by God's grace. The law is our teacher, and what it teaches us is that we are entirely incapable of living a righteous life, apart from Christ. We MUST abide in Christ, daily, hourly, moment by moment.

It's not about what we DO. It's about who we ARE. We are sinners, saved by the grace of God. Wonderful grace!

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

Paul is astonished that the Galatians have abandoned the clear teaching of the gospel of Christ (that by grace they were saved!) and have turned back to works of the law.

2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

No one is justified by things he or she does. Our works, our keeping of rules, our keeping the law...these do not justify us. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ; and that is only by grace, for it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any should boast.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law,then Christ died for no purpose.

I do not become righteous through my own works, but through Christ who lives in me. Christ died for me precisely because I could not keep the law.

Galatians Chapter 3 is so rich:

1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?

7Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

It is not in keeping the law that we are justified. If we think we have to keep the law, to keep the rules, to live a certain way, in order to please God, then we don't get it. He adopted us into His family. He did so because He loves us.

I think of my friend Debbie and her family adopting those sweet girls from overseas. Debbie is like God, in that she chose to love those babies. It didn't matter that her daughter never, not once, slept more than 20 minutes for the first 9 months of her life with her adopted family. Debbie chose to overlook the baby's faults, and just love her.

In the same way, my Father loves me. He knows that I may cry through the night, that I may make a mess of things, that I may disobey. He disciplines me, and He teaches me, and He loves me. But my status as His adopted child does not change because I do wrong. He knows I will do wrong.. He knows my frame. I am not His child because I do right, but because I was redeemed by the precious blood of the Only begotten Son of God.

Does that mean I can go ahead and sin as much as I want because of God's grace in my life? Read Romans: God Forbid! How can we who are dead to sin live any longer in it? My position in God's family makes me want to strive to please my Father, just as little baby wants to please her Mommy. Will she do it perfectly? No, of course not. She is young, and foolish (foolishness is bound in the heart of a child) so she will sin. Will I be able to live perfectly? NO, of course not. My heart is deceitful above all things. Yet, I strive to do what is right, knowing that my efforts are smiled upon by my Father, who loves me with an everlasting love.

Debbie, forgive me for using your precious child as an object lesson...but I mean it for good. Every time I see those girls I am reminded that God adopted ME into His family. He took me from a far-off land where I was stuck in a life with no hope, and brought me into His home, to live with Him. He gave me brothers and sisters, family, who loves me and loves Him, too. He feeds me with spiritual, nourishing food, so I can grow in grace.

Such a lovely picture. What a marvellous, gracious God we serve.

In Christ,


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