First, I must apologize for my absence… I have not posted for awhile… I have been working diligently on my upcoming book, and also have been doing some teaching in my local church (which has demanded a great deal of study and reflection time). I thank all of you for your kind encouragement to continue these posts. I am glad that they are of value to you. I enjoy doing them… it is just that sometimes it is difficult to find the time to sit down and write. You understand. We are are all way more busy than we would like to be!
I have been thinking a great deal about God’s grace… and will be teaching on “Grace” at our church this week. This has prompted me to post from a portion of my book on this all-important topic. So much of the true Christian life flows directly from God’s grace. Yet, it is a topic we often do not fully understand — which makes it difficult for us to walk in the fullness of all that God has for us as His people. With this in mind, I thought I would share with you “The Two Sides of Grace” in three parts. Enjoy…
The Two Sides of Grace
If I were a collector of coins and I were to show you a rare 1933 Gold Double Eagle you would probably be amazed at its immense value. In 2002, this coin sold for over 7.5 million dollars! Now, if I were to ask you which side of the coin you find more beautiful, enjoyable, or interesting, you might offer an opinion – but your opinion in no way effects the value of the coin. But if I were to ask you: which side of this coin is more valuable? You would probably look at me with a puzzled glance. Obviously, neither side of the coin is more valuable than the other – they are one coin with two sides. Or we might look at it another way, both sides of the coin share equal value because they are, together, one coin with two options of viewing the coin. To emphasize one side of the coin as valuable or glorious while ignoring or de-emphasizing the other side of the coin is just nonsensical. The two sides are one, and share equal value in the total worth of the coin.
By now, and by the title of this piece, you have realized where this is going. We would be best served to recognize that there are two sides to God’s grace. Both of them together make up the one thing we call “grace.” Both sides are inseparably intertwined. We see one side and we should also, most often, recognize the other. Both sides of grace convey immense value to our lives. As we study the word “grace” in the Scriptures we see grace as both God’s unmerited love and His unlimited power, knit perfectly together, reaching out to connect with human souls. Sometimes, in Scripture, the aspect of God’s love carries greater emphasis. At other times it is the aspect of God’s power that merits our attention. Many times both may be properly seen and acknowledged. But however grace is emphasized, we need to understand that God’s grace is the extension of His divine Character to our lives. Grace reveals His motivation and His purpose set in motion to invest Himself into humanity. God did not just create this world and then step away from it. His purpose has always been to interact with the people of this world – and at the heart of His interaction is what is best understood as grace.
As we have mentioned, one side of grace is God’s unmerited love. It is God’s unconditional love poured out to human beings who can never earn or deserve His love. This is the definition of grace that most of us have been taught. What we need to understand is that God loves us simply because of Who He is – He is Good and His love just naturally flows out from His infinite Goodness. Scripture reveals that God is so aligned with love that He is literally called love. As the apostle John summarized: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) His love is worthy of our most intent observation and meditation. As the apostle said, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (from Ephesians 3:17-19) God’s love is vital to comprehending grace. To know, understand and experience His love invariably leads us to peace, contentment, satisfaction and to being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” The fullness of our relationship with God begins with the understanding of just how much God loves us. Without this bedrock to our relationship, we will wonder off into a dearth of human effort and religious activity in our attempts to please Him. Nothing truly Christian can begin outside of the understanding that the underlying core of our relationship with God must flow out of His love. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Because God is all-loving, His love is deeply invested in reaching out to capture and captivate our hearts. Our first and foremost response is to receive His love and to love Him in return. This is one invaluable side of grace.
The other side of grace is unlimited power. God is not only all-loving, He is also the Most powerful Being that has existed, or will ever exist. He is infinitely laden with limitless power. There is none to equal Him. Scripture informs us: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power… The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power…Oh LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty, Oh LORD, and Your faithfulness surrounds You… Your arm is endued with power; Your Hand is strong, Your right Hand exalted… ” (Psalms 147:5; Job 37:23; Psalm 89:8, 13) God has revealed Himself, in Scripture, as Almighty. This conveys that there is nothing impossible for Him. The very act of Creation itself reveals that He alone has the power to create any thing He desires out of absolutely nothing. The understanding of God’s unlimited power leads us to comprehend that He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20) This “power …at work within us” is grace! Our point of application is that God exudes His power to accomplish His purposes. He is not only able to accomplish anything He desires, His ability is applied to His will and to His purposes as He desires. If it is something He wants to do, His power prevails and provides for it to happen. “The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth…” (Psalms 135:6; see also Psalms 115:3; Job 23:13) Because God is all-powerful, His power is expressed toward us to empower and enable us to be, and do, whatever He desires. By His nature, this power goes beyond human limitations, possibilities and weakness. His power enables us to do what simply cannot be done otherwise. His power enables human beings to be vessels to accomplish the impossible – as was so masterfully demonstrated through our Lord Jesus…
(to be continued…)
Excerpt from “The Great Missed Understanding”