Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 2011 … The Meaning of Grace

Blogger’s Note: Get your bible out, pilgrim. I make reference to a lot of scriptures below, some of which you may not know by heart. I hope that I don’t seem to be pounding home a Christianity 101 lesson about God’s grace here, especially for you well initiated Bible students/scholars. But I certainly benefitted today from John MacArthur’s lesson on the basics of God’s amazing grace. If you’re with me here today, I hope you are edified as well.

Passage of the Day: Exodus 34: 6 [note bold, underlined portion] … 6 And He [The Lord, Jehovah] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

My Journal for Today: Out of God’s infinite and unconditional love springs His grace … to quote those famous lyrics by John Newton … “amazing grace, … which saved a wretch like me.” Exodus 34: 6, today’s highlight passage, is repeated several times by a number of Old Testament authors (e.g., Nehemiah 9: 17, 31; as well as in Psalms 86: 15; 103: 8: 145: 8). In the New Testament, both Paul and John declare the same thing (see 1st Tim. 1: 14 and John 1: 16). And think of how God’s grace, i.e., His unmerited favor, worked in the lives of all of these authors … for Moses, setting God’s people free from Pharaoh … for Nehemiah, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem … for David, the adulterer/murderer, who was “the man after God’s own heart … for Saul of Tarsus, the Sanhedrin hit-man, who became the Apostle Paul; … and for John, the simple fisherman, who was given mental entrance to see Heaven. Could God’s love and grace be more evident than for these men?

As we look at God’s grace, freely offered to any believer who receives it, we find that it comes to us in three forms; and the first of these is God’s PREVENIENT GRACE, … the grace that “comes before” (the meaning of “prevenient”). This is the grace offered to any sinner whom God foreknows is destined to be His child forever as well as the grace which draws a born-again child of God back when that one has strayed from God. And I can speak from testimony as to how God’s prevenient grace Shepherded me through the circumstances of my life, seeking me out, hunting me down, and drawing me into God’s eternal flock. This grace that goes before (see Deut. 31: 8) brought me to a place where I could finally receive the second form of God’s grace, … His saving grace.

And to discuss this second form of grace, which is God’s SAVING GRACE, the Apostle Paul’s Spirit-led writings abound with the truth that God saves any believer who freely, without any works to earn it, comes to God in humility to receive His salvation (see Eph. 2: 8, 2nd Tim. 1: 9, and Titus 3: 5). And God, through Paul, further wrote that where sin abounds, so much more does God’s saving grace abound (Romans 5: 10). Christ died and now lives so that anyone who comes to Him might be saved by His amazing saving grace.

Finally, there is God’s ENABLING GRACE [sometimes referred to as “sanctifying grace”] the grace that sustains me and gives me the power to overcome my weaknesses from my sin nature, just as Paul testified personally in 2nd Cor. 12: 7, 9 and Phil. 4: 13. And oh, how I identify with these passages. We’re all weak; but God’s enabling grace allows us to deal with any of life’s challenges (see 1st Cor. 10: 13 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9).

Truly God’s grace is sufficient to draw the sinner to Himself (prevenient grace), to save any wretched sinner (saving grace), and to lift up that sinner (enabling grace), shaping him or her into God’s own image. Are you not humbled, as am I, that God would choose us (see Exodus 33: 19) to be His own children, and not only that, but heirs to His Throne? And so it is God’s grace that lifts me and drives me to apply it in my life, … becoming the workmanship which Paul wrote about in Eph. 2: 8 – 10.

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2: 8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So …

My Prayer Today: To God be the glory, … by His grace. Amen

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