Tag Archives: the law

Grace and Truth

Peninsula Community Church

Grace and Truth 

September 2, 2018

John 1:14-17  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

As we read Scripture, there are some words that blow me away, as I try to understand them. The word grace is one of those words. Within this word there is so much truth that bears our consideration. For that reason, over the next couple of weeks, we will look at the amazing grace that has been given to us. We will explore the duality of grace and truth, as well as grace and mercy. We will consider what it means to be a good receiver of grace, but also what it means to be a good giver of grace. Additionally, we will consider how to give ourselves much needed grace personally. An understanding of grace is critical as we encounter those who are EGR people, and when we face EGR moments in our life. Do you know what EGR people and moments are? They are people and moments in our life where Extra Grace is Required. Of course many times, we are that EGR person, even to ourselves. 

This week we will begin our study by briefly defining what grace means. In that regard, we find that one of the most common definitions of grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” To understand grace is to understand that grace is receiving what we do not deserve. We receive the blessings of God not because we deserve them, but because of who He is and because it is He who is giving them. The fact is, grace has been and continues to be the mechanism by which God gives us everything we need for life and spiritual growth because none of us are worthy in ourselves of God’s grace and blessing because we have all sinned.

In our passage today, we find that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is a big deal. Christ freely came to give us grace. That is the linchpin of our salvation and it is the cornerstone of the belief system we live by. Without grace, there would be no free salvation. Without grace, we would have to work and work hard for our salvation. We would also have to work hard to keep our salvation. Without grace, there would be no hope for us. We would worry about making it to heaven and being acceptable to God. Without grace, we would be forced to attempt to reach a level of holiness and righteousness that is unattainable, apart from grace.

The Word, Christ, became flesh and He dwelt with us. That is grace at its best. Christ freely left heaven to come to earth and be an example of what life could be and should be. Think about this, the God of Heaven came to live among us. He did not just come to earth as an observer or an uninterested party, He came to live among us. That is amazing to me. He did not have to, but He did. He did not have to give up heaven, but He did. He did not have to humble himself, but He did. He did not have to forgive me, but He did. That is amazing and that is grace in action. 

The second aspect of this passage is that grace and truth are inseparable. There is a sense, by some, that grace is an excuse to sin and do whatever we please, whenever we want to. That is not the objective of grace at all. Grace is never an excuse for sin, but it is a means to receive forgiveness and healing. Unfortunately, there are some who believe in hyper grace that says we can do whatever we want because we are under grace and God will cover our sin. While that is true to some degree, grace can never be an excuse for sin, but it is the primary reason to seek forgiveness and redemption. 

When discussing grace, we find that too often grace is equated with the idea of a free pass. We see sin, and somehow we imagine that God gives us a free pass, but when grace is combined with truth we realize that we cannot ignore sin but rather we must confess it. We are living in a culture that encourages the minimization of sin, and the cover up of unrighteousness, particularly if it is our sin and our unrighteousness. Our culture scoffs at taking responsibility and accountability. We are quick to give a free pass and to receive a free pass but that is not entirely what grace is about. True grace gives us the power to give forgiveness and seek redemption, because, we recognize these things are freely given by a gracious God. We do not have to hide them, but we can expose them and be delivered from them.

True grace does not ignore truth, but the real power of grace starts with truth. It is grace that settles the score that is against us and it is that grace that sets us free. It is by grace that we are redeemed. It is by grace we are given the free gift of salvation. So you see, grace is the undeserved favor of God. 

As I was preparing for this message I read an interesting take on how the Lord’s Prayer illustrates God’s grace in many ways. Let me explain. It begins by calling God “Our Father.” We do not deserve to call Him Father, but by grace we have been adopted into His family. We ask for His kingdom to come. We do not deserve His kingdom, but he allows us access. In this prayer we ask for “daily bread” we do not deserve, and for forgiveness we cannot earn, and for deliverance from temptation we cannot overcome, from a devil we cannot defeat on our own. This prayer from beginning to end is a frantic cry for undeserved favor. It is call for grace. Why? Because grace changes us. As we encourage truth, God’s grace turns rebels into citizens, orphans into children, enemies into friends, and an adulteress into a sinless bride.

The second aspect of this passage is that For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John here makes a great theological statement. He states that the law came through Moses. This is critical for those in John’s day as they understood the concept of the law. The law was all that was available to them to deal with their sin. The problem however is that the law was good at pointing out sin, but it did little to remove sin. John understood this and that is why John’s next statement is so powerful. The law came from Moses, but the fullness of grace and truth came from Christ. 

Paul understood this when he wrote the following in Romans 5:20-21. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law increased the trespass by revealing what was wrong.  Grace came so that where sin abounded grace was there in great abundance. In other words, there is no sin beyond the ability of grace to cover and redeem. The law calls us to work harder. Grace calls for us to trust God. The law does nothing to heal, but grace restores and heals. 

The law was limited but grace came in the fullness of all we needed. It does not lack anything. The law continually demands righteousness from man, while grace gives righteousness freely to man. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Romans 3:21-25). Listen to romans 4:15-16. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

The law is connected with Moses and works; grace is connected with Christ and faith. The law demands that blessings be earned; grace is a free gift. I love this quote “The law was given by the servant, and made men guilty. The grace which came by the King freed them from guilt.” In His grace toward us, God says, I see your sin and I have made a way for your specific sin to be dealt with upon the cross of Christ. You do not have to cover it up, ignore it, or try to deal with it on your own. Because of Christ, you have an avenue to be free of your sin. How? We confess, repent, accept his grace, and you will be completely forgiven.

Here is what God’s word says to us. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17). Grace amazing!

So where do you need grace today? What sin or wrong is haunting you? What are you trying to cover up and hide rather than deal with? Where do you need to confess sin and receive His grace? That can be done and the riches of His grace is available to all who will seek Him. Turn to Him, repent, confess, and accept His grace, today. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Is Grace?

Peninsula Community Church

What Is Grace? 

May 15, 2016

This morning I would like to look at the subject of what is grace. We talk about grace. We sing about grace. We read about grace but what is grace really. Let’s read this passage together.

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What a powerful scripture. As we begin I ask that you notice a couple of things about this passage. First, God who is rich in mercy did not give us what we deserve. You see we deserved death. Because of our sin we deserved the penalty that was laid upon the back of Christ. Instead of the penalty of death, through mercy we received life. Secondly, notice that Paul says that we are saved by grace. Through mercy we did not receive what we deserved and through grace we received what we did not deserve. But notice a third thing in this passage, it takes faith to believe that Christ has given us eternal life. This acceptance is not because we deserve it but it is just the opposite. We did not deserve it but because of Christ’s love for us He has saved us. That is Paul’s message to us.

To fully understand grace let us look at three distinctive qualities found in grace. First of all grace is unmerited. Paul stated that “It is by grace that we are saved and not by our works.” I heard Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway church, tell the story of a pastor who was questioned about what grace is. After the pastor thought for some time he described grace like being in a row boat. He described the boat itself as grace and the river as being life. He described the Christian life as placing the oars into one’s hands and then rowing like crazy against the current of life. If successful and if he maintained his strength he believed he would make it to the end and he would receive his reward. But here is the problem. Being fully dependent on the one doing the rowing is tiring, exasperating, and not very joyous. The pastor’s idea was that if he was good enough and strong enough he would make it to the end but that is so far from the truth. And that is certainly not grace. We cannot work for grace and we cannot work to maintain grace.

The second observation about grace is that it is undeserved. Look at what Paul had to say in Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… We must understand that our sin disqualified us for redemption because our sin had separated us from a holy God. But because of God’s grace the very thing we did not deserve God gave us. We deserved death but God gave us life. He gave us life regardless of what we have done. The grace of God is not measured by our sin but by His gift of love.

The third aspect of grace is that it is unearned. Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Please note this, there is a big difference between free and earned. If it is free then it is not earned and if it is earned then it cannot be free. It is either or but it cannot be both. Can you imagine getting a birthday gift and the person giving you the gift saying here is my gift but I need $89.52? That is not grace.

To understand grace we need to understand the meaning of the Greek word for “grace.” The word is CHARIS. Before CHARIS was used by the Christian community the word originally was used by the Greek culture. The word represented a superior who gave a gift to one that is inferior. We would assume that there were two people involved but in the Greek culture there were often three people involved. The first person was the one providing the gift. The second person is the one receiving the gift. The third person was the broker. The role of the broker was to survey the needs of the community and then approach those with the ability to give to satisfy the need. The gift giver would be asked to donate or provide for the need. But here is the amazing thing. While the broker would connect the patron and the client together, it was the broker who paid for the gift. Imagine with me for a moment as we apply this spiritually. God was the one with a great gift of grace to give. But grace was beyond our ability to pay. So Christ brought us together with God and as the third party Christ paid the price with His life. He connected us to God through grace and He paid the price. That is unearned grace.

So what is grace? Grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless. Grace is the divine activity of God enabling humankind with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and bless. How powerful is that? His love and forgiveness is tireless and beyond measure. This means that there is no sin or wrong that is too big to be covered by God’s grace. That is grace.

While we see what grace is let me give you a couple of things that grace is not. First of all grace does not negate the law. The law was given to show us sin and to bring Godly conviction when we disobey God’s purpose or plan. The problem with the law is that we can be deceived into believing that we are followers of Christ by keeping the rules. We are deceived into believing that a good relationship with Christ is based on what we do or what we do not do. The result is that we feel that by keeping the rules we are accepted and loved by God. Grace however speaks to who I am and not what I do. Through grace the law is actually fulfilled and here is why. It is much easier to follow the rules when we are in a relationship where we are given love unconditionally. Through grace we know that we are accepted by Christ and I am more about being than doing. I keep the law because I am righteous and I am whole, not because I have to, that I want to be accepted by God, or that I want to be loved more by Him.

This brings me to the second the concept. Grace is not a license to do whatever we want to do. The argument against a grace teaching often centers on the idea that there is an emphasis on giving people a license to sin or do whatever they want. Paul addressed this in Romans 5:19-21-6:4. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Many of the Romans believed that because of grace they were free to do whatever they wanted to do. The word here for “increased” speaks of sin growing larger and being more expansive with the passing of time. This describes the growing nature of unrestrained sin. So Paul is not saying that we should sin more so that grace is expanded but rather true grace frees us from sin. Because of the Roman view on grace Paul continues in Romans 6 by asking if we should continue in sin so that grace would abound. While grace covers sin and produces righteousness in us we do not sin more so that grace is revealed more. That is circular thinking and is an error. Here is the fact. Grace covers sin but more sin does not increase the value of grace. No! Grace is a free gift of God so what we do or don’t do never impacts grace. Grace is grace because it is a free gift.

John Piper made this observation about sin and grace. No matter how deep in the power of sin we have sunk, God’s grace is deeper still. No matter how deep into the power of sin we have sunk in the rebelliousness of our lives, Christ’s grace abounded all the more in order that righteousness, rather than sin and life, rather than death, might have the final word.

Grace does not remove our responsibility. We must receive the gift of grace. The action we are to take is to receive God’s gift. God is offering a free gift that has been paid in full by Christ’s death and resurrection. While it is free we must receive the gift that He is giving. And then we must apply the work of grace into our life. We can try to obey all of the law and keep all of the rules so we feel accepted or we can receive His grace which covers all of sin and removes the guilt of striving to be loved and accepted. How freeing grace is? How freeing it is to know His love?

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized