Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Grace ~ Ganeida

Before we move into our study proper I want to make sure we are all on the same page so when I talk of God’s grace we all understand what I mean by that term.  This is probably one of the most important doctrines to understand correctly because grace covers a lot of faults & misunderstandings.

At its simplest Grace is the unmerited favour of God towards us.

By now you all know what I’m going to say next…there’s so much more to it than that! 
So let’s define our terms.  The Greek word used is charis ~ grace, favour.  It is the attitude of kindness towards someone who doesn’t deserve it that wishes to prosper them. James D.G. Dunn  says it this way; Grace denotes effective divine power in the experience of men.”  This is why it is so often used as a blessing in the N.T ~ May the God of all Grace…that is He in whom all the abundance of blessing is found.  It is effected by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We have never deserved God’s grace ~ but we get it anyway.  Grace understands we can never be saved by our works, we can never be saved by the law but works out our salvation in us anyway. In this sense grace is the love of God in action.  Eph 2:8&9 for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith~and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God~ not by works, so that no one can boast.

The word most closely related to Charis [grace] is chara ~ joy.  Charis comes from chairein meaning to rejoice. We see that in the Greek Grace & Joy both come from the same root word: chairĊ
There is an interconnection.  We are saved by grace; the result is joy. We have joy in the Lord.  Joy is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit. Joy brings praise & thanksgiving.

Note: We have a Greek speaker in our congregation who pointed out she had only ever heard charis used to denote joy so the connection between Grace & Joy is closer than English speakers understand!

The Hebrew is a little more complicated as more than one word can be translated as *grace*.  We understand both hen & hesed can be translated that way so love & mercy as well as favour are implied.

So there is our foundation. We know from 1 Peter 1:2 that grace has quantity: Grace & peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God & Jesus our Lord but that grace must be accessed:  Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain & that we can fall from grace ~ Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

We know there are different types of grace for different purposes.
·      Saving grace: Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
·      Standing Grace ~Hebrews13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; … & I will just mention here there are multiple ways we may need to stand: against satan, against the flesh, in difficulties, in prayer ~ you get the idea.
·      Serving grace. Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  

Grace is usually referred to as a gift & one of the more unusual uses of the word charis refers to a monetary gift as in 1 Cor., 16:3  When I come I will send your loving gift with a letter to Jerusalem, to be taken there by trustworthy messengers you yourselves will choose. Gift here is charis as it is in 2 Cor., 8:7  But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us~see that you also excel in this grace of giving.  So we see that giving is an aspect of the Grace of God & part of serving Him because it grows out of the love He has shed abroad in our hearts & reflects His image in us.

There is a 3rd word that has the same root: charisma.  From this we get our word charismatic. The charismatic gifts are by the grace of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit & result in our ability to rejoice before the Lord, minister effectively & continue in the good works he has prepared for us before the foundation of the world.

Put simply God’s grace is a gift that is, firstly unto salvation, then when it operates in our lives, brings joy & an ability to minister in whatever gifts the Lord has imparted to us.

Let me give you a story by way of illustration. I expect you’ve heard it before.  A nun was dressing a leper’s wounds in Africa when a visiting tourist made this comment:  I wouldn’t do your job for a million bucks!

Nor would I, the sister answered quietly. Grace leads us where the flesh would never go.

Now John 1 :17 says that Grace & Truth came through Jesus Christ. This is an important point because when we have the Holy Spirit we have access to God’s Grace because we have Jesus & we have His spirit & both reside with us. The Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth & Grace is part of that truth. 

Head knowledge is never going to be enough.  Lots & lots of people know about God. Many of them know more about God than I do. Satan & his demons know more about God than I do ~ but they do not know God as I do. 

Remember Ezekiel 28:14 says of satan Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
I can assure you, much as I think it would be super cool, I have not walked up & down in the midst of the stones of fire the way satan did. I have not been on the Holy Mountain as satan has. He was anointed. He was the cherub that covered God’s very throne, His presence. Satan knows things about God we do not.  He knows about the throne room; he’s been there [see Job]. He knows about the ministering angels.  And he fell.

There are things neither satan nor his demons will ever know, never experience. They have no access to God’s Grace. They can not experience forgiveness of sins.  No provision has been made for their redemption.  God’s Holy Spirit does not reside within as He does within me. In a sense you & I have what satan wanted ~ the ability to be like God.  Not to be God ~ but scripture says we have the mind of Christ [1Cor 2:16], the authority of Christ, [Ephesians 2/1 Cor 6:17] & power over demons by Christ’s authority. You begin to understand what an amazing gift grace is to us who have been granted the faith to believe in God’s son, Jesus Christ.

 Genesis says we were made in the image of God.  That means we have an ability to know Him in ways no other creature can. Think of those things you might be good at ~ maths, painting, gardening…all expressions of the nature of God; All ways by which we can experience Him & come to know Him.

Psalm 8
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,[a]
And You have crowned him with glory and honour.

The Grace of God.  What a wonderful thing that is! We have done nothing to deserve God’s favour ~ quite the opposite in fact.  Yet while we were still sinners He sent His son. Grace…

The things of God always bring life; He is the life~giver. There is grace for salvation & that moves us out of the Kingdom of death & darkness into the Kingdom of light & life ~ the life Jesus promises us.  There is Grace to stand which establishes us in the faith.  And there is grace to serve because

Acts 20:24 says:
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

The very gospel we are called to share is called the gospel of grace ~ the story of God’s unmerited favour towards His creation. It is not a hard thing. Phil 2:13 , for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God’s grace covers us & our testimony, the witness of God’s Grace in our lives, is one of our most powerful weapons because no~one can deny it.

Over the coming weeks we are going to look at Grace in more depth as we consider what it means to have grace for life.

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