Grace That Came Part 2
Grace, The Best Teacher in the World
By Pastor Tony Butler
Titus 2:11-12 - "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;"
Most of us can remember our favorite teachers when we were in school or college. There was a special connection and appreciation for them. We loved being in their class. Well, if I could put an apple on the desk of my favorite teacher in the whole world it would be the teacher called "Grace". Grace is the means by which the Holy Spirit teaches us. That is why He is called "The Spirit of Grace". (Heb. 10:29)
Grace teaches us how to live in an acceptable way with the true heart of God. Grace has never and never will separate itself from godly living. Its conduct is always above reproach, bringing balance to every aspect of our lives. It doesn't need to be balanced with the Golden rule, the Ten Commandments, or any other standard of conduct. Unsaved people may think this way as well as some unlearned or ignorant believers, but God never. All believers must leave human effort principles as an acceptable way to serve God and come into grace alone. Grace replaces human effort with the person of Christ Himself. Christ in us is the grace and glory of God. We are to love others, obey God, and live a moral life through the grace of God working in us. Grace is the very thing that balances us so we can do that which is pleasing to our heavenly Father. Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:5) Do you believe that, reader?
Grace is never an excuse to sin but the power not to be dominated by it.
Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
Notice in the verse above how sin dominates the law keepers. Law keepers are dominated by sin because it is only by the law that sin is known. Once sin is known through the law, one is condemned by that knowledge. (Rom. 7) Grace is the only means through which sin doesn't dominate. People who try to serve God by moral codes and religious regulations are dominated by sin, though they think they are pleasing God. Sin still has full power over them regardless of their morality because they are still dead in sin. They don't understand that the knowledge of sin through the law/human effort was never meant to be a means of obtaining righteousness. The law was intended by God to help man understand His sinfulness so that when grace came, it would be used to escort guilty sinners to Jesus so lost men could receive grace. It is Jesus alone that can save men and give them His very own righteousness through faith. (Gal. 3:24,25; Rom. 5:1)
The law was weak in the flesh (Rom. 8:3) and couldn't accomplish anything before God except the condemnation of the sinner. All attempts of men seeking righteousness before God must find it in grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Any person not established on grace for salvation is like a house built on sinking sand against which the waves of God's judgment will wash away. Grace teaches us that the cure to all worldly lusts and ungodliness is found in a personal union with Christ Himself. By God's grace through faith in Christ we have been declared the very righteousness of Christ Himself. (II Cor. 5:21) This imputed righteousness is given completely by grace without the means of any human merit. Our righteousness as believers is totally dependent on Christ's finished work on the cross. Rejecting human effort as a means of righteousness doesn't mean there is no righteous living in grace. In grace we have the "Righteous Life of Christ" living in us. Christ Himself is our righteous life and Christ Himself through grace helps us to live in such a way that we do not fulfill the sinful lusts of the flesh.
Grace Completes Us In Christ
Jesus said, "It is finished". Because of what the grace of God accomplished through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, there is no more work to be done for man's salvation. All the righteous demands of God and payment of sin have been met fully through the person of Christ. Grace in Christ is the great completer, but human effort is the great competer. Men competing against God to accomplish their own salvation can never attain the needed righteousness. Man can only find their completeness by grace that comes through Jesus. (Col. 2:10)
The Perpetuity Of Grace After Salvation
Philippians 1:6 - "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"
The ministry of grace continues right until the time we see Jesus face to face and throughout eternity. Satan knows that grace is his undoing and the believer's victory. As a result he is waging an all-out war to keep religious people performance-based so he can dominate them through the guilt and condemnation of sin. The sad reality is that most people love the law/human effort because it has the ability to exalt them in the eyes of man resulting in self-righteousness. This is why religionists despise grace and are the enemies of the gospel. The gospel of grace robs man of any capacity to bring God honor through his own merit. The gospel of grace declares that man is hopelessly lost and lacking any capacity by his deeds to produce sufficient righteousness before God. For this reason, the apostle Paul (one of the most religiously zealous people that ever lived) refused to boast in anything concerning his past achievements as a means of righteousness. He completely understood and taught that true righteousness could only be found through faith in Christ alone by God's grace. (Phil. 3:1-9)
The unsaved cannot understand these truths about God's grace unless it is revealed to them by His Spirit. Until the understanding comes through the proclamation of preaching or reading, man will continue to attempt to establish his own righteousness by performance in what he deems is necessary to go to heaven. That kind of human effort is the very thing that keeps him in bondage; the very place Satan desires all men to be. The strength or power of sin is the law. (I Cor. 15:56)
The good news is that Jesus has declared us free from bondage through faith in Christ by grace. Man doesn't need to be held anymore by the shackles of human effort in the attempt to produce his own righteousness. (Gal. 6:1). Paul declared he was what he was by the grace of God and not by his own accomplishments. (I Cor. 15:10) Every victory, every advance, and every work after salvation was seen by Paul as a result of grace. Grace is the very essence of the gospel, and the essence of all godly ministries.
The Bible tells us that since God is a God of grace, grace will continue to work in us and be expressed through us throughout all eternity. Even more grace will be given to us when Jesus comes again. (I Pet. 1:13) The church of Jesus Christ will be an eternal showcase of the grace of God. God's greatest goodness and loving kindness will be eternally expressed to all the angels forever by the grace poured out to the church of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:5-7 - "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 3:8-10 - "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,"
Are you getting the picture yet? God is a God of grace who provided salvation and the means of godly living and ministry. Only by grace can we be saved and serve Him in an acceptable way. The very eternal purpose that God purposed in Himself was to bring great glory to Himself through the church, which was purchased by the blood of Jesus. Our salvation and forgiveness from the beginning to the end finds its fulfillment through grace. (Eph. 1:7) Though we as believers have a certain understanding of grace, it will be understood and appreciated even more when God's plan is finished.
Like a divine artist God is striking the canvas of His purpose with grace paint, but the final unveiling of His masterpiece is yet to be seen. One day the glorious, radiant bride for whom Jesus died will be presented before the throne of grace blameless and holy before God. She will be glorious and bring great glory to God on an unimaginable level that can't be completely comprehended in the present.
Finally, in that day when all will have been recovered and restored, all creation will rejoice as we come into our eternal inheritance and the fullness of our eternal position as Christ's bride and church. (Eph. 5:25-27; Jude 1:24) Nothing throughout the rest of eternity will bring God more glory from His creation. The church purchased by Christ's blood forever will stand out as the most exceeding example of God's loving heart. All this will have been done by the grace that came through Jesus.
The Sufficiency Of Grace
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - "And unless I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to strike me, less I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
As an Apostle and caretaker of the churches, Paul wanted to be strong for God in his flesh, but God allowed something in his life that Paul described as a beating. Paul saw a thorn in his flesh as something detrimental and asked God three times to remove it from him. God's response to Paul was to declare that His grace alone was sufficient for Paul. Paul humbled himself and agreed with God to the point of rejoicing in his personal weaknesses because he realized through grace the power of God was revealed in him. Paul understood all glory is for God and it can come only through God's own grace. Grace doesn't need or want our sufficiency, even if we are apostles. It operates completely in the sufficiency of God Himself.
Grace alone is the true strength of the believer's life. Paul didn't tell Timothy to be weak in the grace of God but to be strong in the grace of God. (II Tim. 2:1) Too often it is just the opposite in many believers' lives because of the lack of teaching of grace through proper discipleship or lack of obedience as to what grace has taught.
Hebrews 13:9 - "Do not be carried about with different and strange doctrines, for it is good for the heart to be established with grace, not with foods, in which those who have walked in them were not helped."
If grace isn't our foundation then we will be carried away with doctrines of human effort and religious rules made after the traditions of man, and possibly even doctrines of demons. These are the things that make the Word of God void so that man's word rules over God's Word. (Mk. 7:13) In my opinion grace does more to protect God's people from false teaching, false guilt, and detrimental actions than anything else. Grace establishes us so that we are steady and immovable. When we stand in grace, we will refuse anything that isn't in sync with how God ministers. Jesus came and ministered completely in grace and in truth.
More Is Better
You can eat too much, drink too much, sleep too much, work too much and have too much fun but you can never have too much grace. Grace is to abound in us. The more grace the better.
2 Corinthians 9:8 - "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:"
Look at the connection to abundant grace and output of ministry. You can't mix grace and works for salvation but all good works will be produced by grace. A life with abundant grace brings sufficiency and abundance of ministry. Jesus, who came in grace, went about everywhere doing good. The Bible says the grace of God was upon Him. (Lk. 2:40)
1 Corinthians 15:10 - "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was toward me has not been without fruit, but I labored more abundantly than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God with me."
The entire ministry and labor of Paul was that of grace. He preached and ministered grace by grace. By the grace of God he was the apostle to the Gentiles and magnified his office to which he was called. (Eph. 3:8)
2 Thessalonians 2:16 - "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation/encouragement and good hope through grace,"
We are also called to abound in grace for another reason. We live and minister in a sinful fallen world which brings many difficulties and hurt. We often face difficult circumstances and trials that require regular encouragement. Encouragement builds us up and causes our weary hands to be raised to the Lord. So often people let us down and are unable to give us what we need, but God's grace never lacks and will always console us with the confident expectation of hope.
To The Reader
I hope God will place a thirst in your soul to come fuller into the knowledge and experience of His grace. Grace is the means to bring God glory through His creation. Don't let Satan's lies trump what grace teaches. Grace is the greatest teacher in the world, and the most sufficient power source to accomplish the will of God in the believer's life.
If you who are reading this are trusting in anything other than what Jesus did for you on the cross for salvation you will perish in your sins. Only by grace can you be saved through faith and that not of yourselves, not of works lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8,9)
If you are a Christian then you need to realize that what began in grace should continue in grace. Grace is our teacher. Grace is the means by which the Holy Spirit works in us and through us. It is the only way to serve God acceptably. By understanding this now you can be spared great loss before the judgment seat of Christ when all our works will be examined by the refining fire of God. (I Cor. 3:11-15; II Cor. 5:10) What is accomplished through grace will bring God glory and will stand in the day of the judgment seat of Christ and will be rewarded. What was done through mere human effort to please God outside of grace will bring loss. Not loss of salvation but loss of reward and loss of opportunity to glorify God. Never forget, all glory is for Him, and Him alone. Blessed be His Holy name for all time. Amen