He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, with him, graciously give us all things?
Grace is a tricky concept believe it or not. The basic meaning is favor or to give. When we speak about God’s grace we predominately think of being saved (Eph. 2:8-9). But we also need to understand that God’s grace is just as important for how we walk with Jesus after we are saved. Romans 5:1-2 tells us once we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God, but we also have our introduction into this grace in which we stand (5:2). There are other passages that also make it clear that grace is very much part of our sanctification or walk with Jesus after we are saved (Heb. 4:16; Titus 2:11-12).
We have traditionally defined grace as – grace is God’s undeserved or unmerited favor. This is pretty clear when it comes to being justified before God because the Bible is clear that we are justified by faith (or a law of faith). Justification cannot be obtained by a law of works nor by a law of love. Only through believing God and having faith in His promise in Christ are we saved.
But when we think about grace in this new mode of existence of being a Christian and doing life with God, grace gets a little trickier. I propose that as children of God, grace is freely given by God, we are entitled to it, and we need God’s grace to walk with Him as fully adopted children; we have all the legal rights and privileges as His children since we are co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). If grace is defined by always being unmerited or undeserved, it is here that I have trouble in my thinking with that concept. God promises to give to us everything for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We are also told that grace is vital to teaching us to deny ungodliness and to live self-controlled lives (Titus 2:11-12). So the question is this: Is grace still unmerited or undeserved as children of God? My answer is no!
On Wednesday nights we are running a parenting class called “Grace based Parenting”. Our struggle to understand grace really surfaces when it comes to parenting because the typical idea of grace is that you “give them grace and give them grace and give them grace until you have to step in and take action”. The problem with this idea is that we think of grace as “doing nothing” or simply expressing patience towards others while hoping they will respond to our requests. The question is how do we interpret grace in real life? To say that grace is being giving or showing favor is not the same things as doing nothing or simply being patient.
Here is a different perspective of grace – grace is the generosity of God to provide what is both necessary and sufficient for life and godliness. I’d like us to set aside the idea that grace is always unmerited or undeserved for a moment, as I believe that as children of God we are fully entitled to grace. Grace is just as indispensable to the Christian life as becoming a Christian. God does not withhold what is necessary, but grace always points us to embrace life (with God) and to experience godliness. Grace is not just being patient or tolerant. It is not just “not reacting” to injustice and calling it grace. In fact, grace is always about doing what is necessary and sufficient for life and godliness. This is the true nature of the gospel – Christ is both necessary and sufficient for new life; God’s grace provides what is necessary and sufficient for us to resist temptation and act godly; grace teaches parents how to provide what is necessary and sufficient to their children to experience the life of Christ and live godly lives; grace is essential to marriage to do all we can do so our spouse has what is necessary and sufficient to be filled with the life of Christ and live in godly ways. Grace is not about forcing something on someone else, but in some ways, making sure I am not the obstacle that keeps them from experiencing His life and living in a godly manner. If I live with His grace, I make sure that I selflessly put my spouse before myself, and I help them discover a life of grace filled with the life of Christ, where he or she has the freedom to live a godly life.
Grace is not a spectator or passive, which tends to be the way I often hear people express it, “grace is about not reacting, and it is gracious, polite, and non-offensive.” Therefore, we often interpret grace as patience. But I propose that grace is very active, committed to life with Christ, and consistent with always living godly.
In His grace, Pastor Brad