After being a Christian for several decades now I see more and more words being thrown about by different professing Christians. Concepts like “grace” surprisingly mean different things to different people, although we all may claim that we believe in the Bible as the word of God. Being a word fanatic myself, (ahem…I am after all an author) the nuances of what each word signifies are important to me, and context speaks volumes.
Today I thought we look at the word, “grace”. But not only “grace” but also simpler words like “stand” and “have”. These might seem obvious at first glance but the Greek, in which the New Testament was written in. might throw us more understanding as to what our Living God wants us to know about Himself, and His Plans for us.
Take Romans 5: 1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this GRACE in which we now stand.
This is really good news. In the Greek, the verbs 'have' and 'stand' are in the perfect active indicative tense.
Perfect tense means the action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect now. The action (justified) occurred once—not something that has to be had again and again--and is not repeated.
We have access to GRACE and we STAND in grace continually because of the finished work of Jesus.
Active indicative implies that they are factual statements with Jesus as the performer of the action of placing us in grace.
Grace, as most of us already know, is the unearned, unmerited, undeserved favor of God. (We have been saved through Grace, and not of ourselves…)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but each time a preacher promotes “grace” there is always someone who’d butt in and say, “Yes, but…” like the proverbial bike that sputters in protest…but…but…but.
But, there should be no protest. Grace rules, all else drools. Nothing compare with Grace because recognizing it is by HIS Grace means that we have nothing to contribute---nothing, nada, zilch.
But should we as Christian not produce some good works? I am sure you already know the verse I am referring to but for the sake of brevity for this week’s blog we leave this issue for another blog. For toady let me leave you with this maxim:
Grace produces what Work cannot
A rich young ruler comes to Jesus. He asks Jesus what must he DO to inherit eternal life. Doing is WORKS so Jesus gave him the law - and then told him he still lacked one thing, to sell all and give to the poor. The man could not.
Now contrasts this with Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and all Jesus did was to invite Himself to Mr. Z's house. No doing of WORKS was given by Jesus yet notice how Zacchaeus freely without any prompting gives away half of his possessions to the poor and repays 4 times anyone he has cheated.
Why? Receiving grace freely and unconditionally doesn't necessarily make you the most righteous in works but it makes you the most grateful because you know how undeserving you are. This gratitude is what transforms you inside out to produce fruits of righteousness. And it is unconscious because we are no longer looking at self –the “what must I do” attitude, but we are looking at Jesus at what He has done.
As a believer, looking at Jesus above all else, should not be difficult, but something in our flesh tends to seek its own glory. But I believe if we continue to press on to study HIS Word it will not come back empty and His Word will empower us to hold on to Him, cling on to His finished work and look only to Him for our righteousness.
Why don't believers practice more righteousness? Because they need to receive more grace first. Next time we will study this topic even more--by His Grace, of course.