Monday, November 28, 2016

The Advent of Grace

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:14–18)

Grace is a five-letter word that can also be spelled J-E-S-U-S. The Word—God Himself—became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s not a popular message in a day when Christianity is suffering in the public square. But it’s the theme of our lives, and nothing is stopping you and me from keeping Christ central to our celebration, even as we pray for others to find Him too. 

Thomas Brooks wrote, “Saving grace makes a man willing to leave his lusts as a slave is willing to leave his galley, or a prisoner his dungeon, or a thief his bolts, or a beggar his rags.” Grace is the key, and while it appears in human form in Bethlehem, it is explained theologically in the epistles. In this post, I would like to show you some facets of grace that Paul outlines in the book of 2 Corinthians.

Facet #1—God’s Grace Is Our Grace (2 Cor. 6:1–2). The church in Corinth was in trouble, morally and doctrinally confused, and divided. Writing to them, Paul pleaded with them not to waste God’s grace. Christ came to earth that grace be given to us. This is not our grace. It is a gift from God to be treasured and experienced every day.

Facet #2—God’s Grace Is Relational Grace (2 Cor. 8:8–9). Paul realized the church in Corinth was on the verge of becoming selfish with the grace God had given them. But, just as God had freely given grace to the Corinthians, they were to freely express the grace of God to others. The sincerity of our grace will be tested time and time again in the way we lavish God’s grace on others. It makes us reach out to others in tangible ways that meet their needs. We become not just recipients but conduits of God’s grace.

Facet #3—God’s Grace Results in Abounding Grace (2 Cor. 9:6–11). God’s grace should motivate each Christian to be a gracious giver. Just as the grace of God caused Him to give us His own Son at Christmas, it motivates us to give of ourselves, as well. Giving should be the result of an inward resolve resulting in an outward expression. Therefore, when we give we do so cheerfully, knowing that we are giving as an extension of God’s grace to us. The supply of God’s riches will never run dry. It is always abounding. Perhaps this Christmas season, there is a special need you can meet in someone’s life. Perhaps God will lead you to take on a special project, to find a family or individual to care for.

Facet #4—God’s Grace is a Conquering Grace (2 Cor. 10:3–5). If we want to be full of God’s grace we cannot be full of self. Grace is not to be used as an excuse for sin. Instead grace is to be used as a divine weapon to tear down strongholds and set us free! We fight spiritual battles constantly, and by exercising God’s grace we can be more than conquerors.

Facet #5—God’s Grace is Enough Grace (2 Cor. 12:7–10). The word sufficient in this setting means “more than enough.” God told Paul that His power was made perfect in weakness. The more a Christian acknowledges his or her weaknesses the more evident the power of God’s grace becomes. The grace of God is enough. It is all we need.

Karl Barth once wrote that “Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.” God wants to fill us full of His grace—full of Jesus. And He wants us to be free from self and free to give in every facet of our lives. This is all possible through the gift of grace found in Jesus Christ.