Understanding Grace

Grace 1   “Until we come to that point of understanding what wretches we are; we will never understand the amazing grace of God. It takes a wretch like me to experience the amazing grace of God.” (A.W. Tozer)

Grace. We talk about it, we sing about it, pastors preach about it, writers write about it, but do we really understand it? Do we truly appreciate how amazing God’s gift of grace really is? “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8) There is no more valuable nor miraculous gift we will ever receive than the gift of God’s grace and, as Tozer noted, to fully appreciate it we must recognize why we need it.

Paul wrote in Romans 7:24, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” The word translated in the NLT as “miserable” is the Greek word “talaiporos” which means enduring trials, afflicted, wretched. When we grasp the definition of the word in the original Greek it helps us understand the terrible condition Paul was writing about; and it makes clear his words that follow: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ephesians 7:25a)

The other thing we should understand, to fully grasp God’s gift of grace, is the holiness of God. The believer understands his or her own wretchedness in direct proportion to how clearly he or she understands the holiness of God. “No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2) “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” This is an impossible standard, one we can never attain, but God is holy and can set no lower standard, because he is perfect. So it is the marvelous wonder of the Gospel that Jesus met this standard for us! And that was what Paul was pointing to when he exclaimed, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Chris our Lord.”

Paul teaches us plainly that we cannot attain God’s standard of perfection, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:20) So it is by understanding this principle that we can see ourselves in stark contrast to God’s holy perfection. And from there we can find the generous gift of grace he offers us: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24)

And that, friends, is grace. Praise be to God! “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” (Titus 2:11) “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Truly the Lord is full of grace and he longs to offer you his gracious gift. I pray that today will be the day you accept it, if you haven’t already.

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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