Category Archives: Grace

Grace – God’s encourages changed lives

When the Pharisees, in unconscionable cruelty towards the woman, and in inexcusable arrogance towards Jesus, brought the woman taken in adultery, they considered it a slam-dunk conviction of her or him.  If Jesus pardoned her, he neglected Moses.  If he condemned her, his reputation as a merciful teacher shattered into bits John 8:1-11.

When he out-thought them by writing their own sins in the dirt, they left one by one, oldest to youngest.  Then…appreciate his personal pastoral nature…he refused to condemn her.  That comported with a reminder Cominius offered Coriolanus when he determined to exact vengeance on the Romans.  “…how royal t’was to pardon When it was less expected.”

In John 8, however, Jesus faced a woman whose only sorrow may have been getting caught in the sex act.  He didn’t ask if she had repented.  Or if she wanted to make a new start in life.  He simply said he didn’t condemn her—forgiveness in another form surging through the words.  For he then added that she shouldn’t continue in that sin.

The woman’s condition, leading to the Master’s gracious refusal to judge her, establishes a spiritual principle.  The very fact that God doesn’t immediately damn us if we sin should inspire a new life in us.  His forgiveness offers a chance to renew our perspectives.  Though we still often use it as an excuse to sin again and repeat the cycle of repentance, forgiveness and renewal.  Why won’t we instead put into action the Spirit-given energy that expresses Christ’s resurrection power instead of repeatedly exercising his Calvary forgiveness?

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Grace – the inexhaustible word

In different dictionaries, the word honor had eight meanings in 1908 and fifteen in 1996.  Two encyclopedias, in 1931 and 1966 listed three columns and fifteen respectively.  Since 1966 its meanings have expanded exponentially.  The Genuine Article, 122.  That doesn’t mean the word honor HAS that many applications, but that linguists have simply created new ways it can be understood.

Revelation 19:11-16 describes Jesus Christ, and verse 12 declares that all honors ascribed to him are too few to understand him completely.  Since Jesus embodies Grace, it also has endless complementary words and meanings, and not all of them compiled exhaust it.  Unmerited favor being the basic meaning, let’s consider it in this context.  While we’ve truly stressed grace as unmerited favor, we’ve mistakenly considered it cost-free.  Grace is cost-less to the sinner:  what he needs, but never deserves; what Jesus gives as a free gift, no charge; what we can accept without shame since Jesus gives without condition.  We are each saved by grace alone through faith, not by faith alone without baptism.

Beyond that, however:  grace free of cost to the confessing sinner doesn’t mean grace exacting no price from the forgiven sinner.  Colossians 1:13-14, one of many scriptures, stressed its post-baptismal cost.  We’ve been rescued from sin’s darkness and brought into the Kingdom, where we have responsibilities, obligations, standards and duties.  As Professor Marion Henderson told us, we’re transferred when baptized, not discharged.  Transferred from one realm of service to another, not discharged from further impositions.  And if we’re willingly and stubbornly unfaithful to our new enfranchisement, we’re guilty of a spiritual dereliction of duty even grace won’t cover.

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Grace – our permanent possession

We can lose God’s grace by turning from obedience to rebellion, from spiritual fruitfulness to sterility.  That ever-present possibility warns Christians to be alert to and persistent in discipleship.

But we’ll never lose God’s grace because he gives it to the wrong person.  Whether comedian Steve Harvey will emcee another Miss Universe pageant; or whether he’ll take reading lessons so he can correctly identify the winner THE FIRST TIME, he certainly blundered when he announced the crown belonged to Miss Columbia, then apologized because it really belonged to Miss Philippines.  San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/21/15

O.K.  It’s the season of forgiveness.  Cut him a little slack.  Anyone who speaks publicly knows the danger of getting their tongue in front of their eye teeth so they can’t see what they’re saying.

Gaffes commonly accompany any human endeavor.

That never happens with God.  He never misidentifies the person he wants to honor OR disgrace.  Nor does he withdraw grace from a winning disciple to favor a really winning disciple.

So here it is, the day before the day before Christmas—with the last blog of the week.  Let every Christian praise God for his flawless recognition of each.  That he knows who are his; that those who are his must turn away from wickedness II Timothy 2:19.

And…blessed privilege, if we remain faithful to Jesus Christ, God’s grace will be our permanent possession, beginning now and continuing in the world to come.

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Grace – pray for God’s to be extended

General George Meade rightly stayed on the defensive when General Lee’s Confederates attacked all along the fishhook line at Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863.  The battered but victorious Federals held, despite several close calls at losing the battle.

Lee began retreating July 4—the same day that General Pemberton surrendered to General Grant at Vicksburg.  As he withdrew his badly-battered army, Meade held his victorious troops in their bivouacs.

President Lincoln sent him repeated attack-messages.  “Assault, harm, diminish, possibly-destroy the Army of Northern Virginia.”  Anything but do nothing and let Lee escape with his troops and armament.  This was an especially urgent demand with the Rebels backed against a flooded Potomac River.

When activity finally replaced inertia, he advanced July 12.  When he spied Lee’s Army, still backed against the swollen Potomac behind fortifications, he called a council of war—another action the President expressly forbade.  All but two of his officers counseled caution.  When Meade finally decided to attack July 14, Lee had crossed into Virginia.

When the President learned that Meade’s failure allowed Lee to withdraw uncontested, he was livid with disappointment and anger.  He wrote a scorching rebuke to Meade.  Then the President, always intent on justice, but more easily directed to mercy, filed rather than sent the letter.

In a later conversation with Simon Cameron, Lincoln explained, “Why should we censure a man who has done so much for his country because he did not do a little more?”  Sandburg’s The War Years II, 354

THAT was grace from  the greater to the lesser person.  Grace granted but undeserved.  Yet, but only a distant cousin to the Grace Jesus Christ gives those who obey and serve him.

May we always appeal for That Grace.  May we never appeal to our works.  May we never even appeal to our effort.  May we extend to others the grace Lincoln extended to Meade.  That will simplify and smooth personal relationships.  May we ask Jesus to give us the Infinitely greater Grace he gave the Penitent thief.  That will prepare us to enter Judgment with courage and pass it into God’s Presence.