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Grace

Grace doesn’t come to us in doses. God doesn’t have a grace bottle where he doles out a little grace here and there when we hurt, or need encouragement, or have misbehaved.

They say of God’s grace that it is unmerited and at Christ’s expense. That is true, but it does not go far enough. The cost to God the Father, who sent His Son into the world to die, breaking the eternal, loving relationship between the Father and Son, all at the expense of our sin, is incomprehensible. How can we ever comprehend such a cost?

Scholars argue about cheap grace as though we have some control over what it is and how we use it. Simply a commodity that God gives that we can abuse. Cheap they say as if we could negotiate the price. Grace is not something I can spend or exhaust. It is never mine. I do not possess grace. I can only experience God’s grace.

I know what is meant when there is talk of cheap grace. It is about the law, a correct response, our obedience, or good behavior. Our response to grace must be in proportion to its cost otherwise we cheapen it. However, how can I diminish the greatest act of love [Grace] that was given for sinners, none of whom could earn the benefits of Gods death on the cross if they tried? Christ came to save sinners, not the righteous. There is never any merit with God’s grace. It is always undeserved and comes at God’s initiative. “God have mercy. Lord have mercy.” As Michael Card sings so wonderfully.

What then is grace? Grace is not a kind act, or forgiveness for a transgression. Grace is Christ alive in us now and forever made possible through the Cross. I bet we only see a tiny part of the grace that is in Christ. Grace is the incarnation, the death, resurrection, ascension of Christ. It is the coming of the Holy Spirit, Christ and the Father residing in our very being. Grace is the entire package, not some part of it. Grace has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with Jesus. Grace is not a thing to be possessed or used. Grace is Christ’s activity, His living presence. Grace is what Jesus is doing in our lives, and in our very being. Grace has everything to do with what we cannot do for ourselves.

John reports in John 1:16, 17 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another.For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. [NET Bible] Charin anti charitos in the Greek is translated as “one gracious gift after another.” This is a long accepted translation. God’s graciousness is beyond measure. There might be a better translation given the context. The preposition anti is most often translated “instead of.” Try this, “For we have all received from his fullness grace [Christ and all he brings to us] instead of grace [the perfectly good, but no longer applicable grace of the law]. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

The grace we experience in the New Testament is far different and far better than the grace of the Old Testament. Never confuse the two.

I highly recommend the following:

James Fowler: The Grace of God: http://www.christinyou.net/pages/gracegod.html

ἐξήγησιςBlog: http://ntexegesis.blogspot.com/2010/05/in-john-116.html

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Categories: Grace, Law, Theology
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