Today, we will explore this biblical idea of grace a little more in depth.
I have chosen Ephesians 2 as a starting point. Here are verses 1-10:
“1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh a and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” NIV
Grace is used three times here. I think we can, from this passage, identify some aspects of grace.
Grace can save. We cannot earn salvation. God has given His grace so that we could be saved.
Grace can survive. The text says the phrase, “incomparable riches of his grace…” Despite what this world brings, his grace will outlast it.
Grace can supply. Verse 9 says that we are saved by grace. The next verse tells us we are God’s handiwork. I think that God’s grace helps us to do the good works for which we were created.
Grace can suffice. Although not specifically stated here, it is implied that God’s grace is enough for our life.
And to that end, I want to leave you with one more verse. It also comes from the apostle Paul but it is not in Ephesians. II Corinthians 12:9 says it all, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
These are words of Jesus directly to Paul. Click here to read the whole chapter.
God’s grace is his favor and favorable inclination towards us. God is extending Himself, reaching forward because He is disposed to bless us.
We do not deserve God’s grace. But we can have this gift anyway.
Can you see that His grace is truly amazing?
Grace has a cousin named Mercy. Next week will feature mercy, another one of God’s amazing characteristics.
Remember taking tests in school? Did you have a favorite type?
Multiple choice or fill-in-the blank?
True/False or Essay?
Short answer or Matching?
How about the bubble tests?
The sin test is different than all of those. It is a pass or fail test. You don’t fill in blanks or circles or write an essay. There is no matching word banks or T/F questions.
You either have it in you to pass…or you don’t.
What is it, referring to that last sentence? In a word, righteousness.
There are multiple verses in both the New and Old Testament scriptures that explain the righteousness of God and how we obtain it.
I am only going to share 2 today.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah 53:6 and from the New Testament, II Corinthians 5:21
Is 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.” NIV
II Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If we look at these verses, there is a similarity. Isaiah says that our iniquity was “laid on him”. Its as if our sin, guilt, and punishment of sin were a great cloak. It was heavy and cumbersome so we shrugged it off and turned away from God. So, God being loving and holy, picked up the discarded cloak and laid it on His son, Jesus, while he was on that cross.
Now compare that to the N.T passage.
Jesus became sin so we could become righteous. We emerged or transitioned out of a sinful state into something that now, God would approve of. Again, we sloughed off that old, sinful cloak for a new, righteous one. Jesus took the old one to the cross with him.
In both examples, we see an exchange.
We start with the sin and end with righteousness.
Jesus is the opposite. He starts pure and free from sin but ends up taking our sin.
God is holy and just. He cannot abide sin. He hates it. He can’t even look at it.
But He also loves us!
So making Jesus take our sin was the only way he could be holy and just and loving at the same time!
So, in light of the sin test, do you see how we would fail 100% of the time?
But Jesus makes it all possible for us to pass!
For our part, we need to accept his gift and live for him.
Our salvation motivates us to love others and do good works.
When my kids were young (think 4 or 5 years old), I could do magic tricks easily. Pulling quarters out of ears or making a penny disappear were standard. Throw in a few cards tricks and they would be amazed.
As an adult, I enjoy a good magic show. It amazes me how these magicians can make big things disappear! How does a helicopter vanish into thin air!?!?
But all of that is just slight-of-hand or misdirection. The helicopter does not really vanish.
The Word – Magic
The Worth – God is magic. No, not Harry Potter magic or Gandalf the Grey type stuff. He really can make stuff disappear!
If you have not read the post “What do you want?”, please click here. It will give you a context that will make more sense when reading this post.
In that post, I had written a line near the end;
He took action so we can take action.
Let me unpack that a little more.
2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
John 1 tells us to “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
This is God doing magic! He took away the sin of the world. He made it disappear! The action that God took was to make it possible for us to be sinless. We now can become the righteousness of God!
He loved us so much and was longing to be connected with us again. He wanted us so much that he took His son and used Him to take away our sin.
When I was 16, I got my first speeding ticket. This was 1989 so it probably was not too much of a fine. It was more embarrassing because I had three friends in the car with me!
I broke the law and deserved to pay the fine. But then my dad performed a magic trick.
He told that he would pay for the first one. He paid my ticket. That was both merciful and gracious all in one simple act.
God did a magic trick 2000 years ago. Jesus became our sin. See Isaiah 53:6
The Work – This part takes faith.
Understand that Jesus is the way back to God.
Jesus also took our sin upon Him.
Our part is to accept that payment. Just like my dad paying my speeding fine, we can accept this gift.
We can now live our life because of what has already been done.
Stop trying to earn salvation and enjoy the magic that God has performed!
Live to reflect your righteousness!
After all, God is not going to bring back your sin.