What’s The Difference? Part III: Grace!
Thoughts related to Casey Ingold’s Sermon, Covenant Baptist Church, April 3rd, 2011
Casey’s series, What’s the Difference?” is helping us see the many things that are different in our lives when we make the decision to become a Christ follower by placing our complete trust in Him. As the Word says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. The old life of sin, shame, guilt, and fruitlessness, has passed away and we are living a new life in Christ.
Having looked at the blessings of forgiveness and reconciliation in the messages from the previous two weeks, Casey spoke about the fact that as Christ followers, we stand in the grace of God. As he pointed out from Ephesians 2:8-9, we are saved by grace, or God’s unmerited favor. It has nothing to do with our supposed “good works,” but is a free gift from God. No one will be able to stand in heaven and brag about how they deserve to be there. Every inhabitant of heaven will be there as a result of God’s gift of grace.
What Does Grace Look Like?
A good example of grace is found in the Old Testament in Genesis 50 and the story of Joseph. His brothers had horribly mistreated Joseph. He was sold into slavery in Egypt and went through many trials as a result. But God blessed Joseph and eventually made him ruler second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. (Read about it in Genesis 37-50) Joseph ends up saving the entire country of Egypt from a famine and in the process saves all his brothers as well. When Jacob, their father dies, Joseph’s brothers are afraid that Joseph will decide to take revenge on them for what they did to him. “What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” Joseph would have every right to do this. They sent him a message saying, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin. For they did you wrong.”
When Joseph heard this he wept, and when they came and fell down before him he said, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant if for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
This is grace. The brothers deserved death for what they did to Joseph. They knew that. But Joseph showed them love instead.
Another example of grace from the Old Testament is found in Psalm 32. Read and meditate on this Psalm and the other passages from Psalms below:
The heart of God is seen in Psalm 103. God is a God of grace. When we put our trust in Christ, we are partakers of this amazing grace. Read and meditate on the following verses:
To go deeper into this concept of grace, read Romans 5-8. In Romans 5, Paul shows us that we cannot be saved by keeping the law. It was Jesus’ righteous life that fulfilled the law for us. In Romans 6, Paul asks the question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” In other words, if I’m saved by grace and not by my good works, does it matter how I live? Can I live in sin?
Paul says, “May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” God saved us by grace so that we would die to sin and live for Him. The very reason for our coming to Christ was our realization that we needed a remedy for our sin. We have been baptized (or immersed) into Christ. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
We were saved by grace in order to walk in newness of life (the old things passed away). As we walk in God’s grace we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives to make us more like Christ. We abide in Jesus, in relationship with Him. Sin has no place in this new life. But when we do sin, we can confess our sin to God (1 John 1:9) and he will forgive us.
We are saved by God’s grace. Praise God that our salvation does not depend on us, but on His grace bestowed on us through Christ! Let us walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. (Colossians 1:10)