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Old 03-30-2010, 10:58 AM   #1
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Default What is Grace?

With Easter coming up, I thought that I would post something that has transformed my life. It is just a read and reflect piece. I am not posting this to argue with anyone, just offer some encouraging words and a different perspective on why Easter is celebrated. Thanks

I once heard the story of a preacher that was asked to give a sermon at an urban mission in the heart of a slum. before him were assembled some of the least distinguished citizens. Human derelicts, long time down and outers, hopeless residents on the one way street. it was the kind of people of whom I once heard someone say that the new car smell had worn off.

The preacher did his best and preached for a solid hour urging his audience to lift themselves to better living. it was one of those motivational sermons filled with oughts, and shoulds and what can be's. Rising to the height of oratory, he concluded with several refrains from Rudyard Kipling's inspirational poem If. You can be somebody if..If all about you are losing there heads and finally he concluded with the challenging refrain, "If you can fill the unforgiving mile with 60 seconds worth of long distance run. The sermon was met with silence as the audience sat with bowed heads. After a few moments the silence was broken with a voice in the back that cried out, "But what if you can't?"

What if you can't? I've observed that is not just the cry of skid row. it is the cry of everyone, even those who are faithful Christians. Those who are frustrated as they battle sin and come away a loser. What if you can't? Does the Bible have anything to say concerning this? yes, thank God it does, and it comes to us from the pen of the apostle who said that he could not but learned to trust in one who could. "For by grace are you saved and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God."

Do we catch the magnitude of that statement? I believe that some of us don't. We know what grace is and we tell people that Jesus saves but some of us are still privately trying to save ourselves. Through an agonizing and frustrating pursuit of perfection, we somehow try to merit our favor with God through what we have done. But you know what, it is never quite enough.

Let me ask this...do we enjoy the thought of meeting God one day? Most of us would lamely say, "I hope so". How is the gospel good news if it only resorts in a maybe? Do we think that Jesus went to the cross to produce a community of guilt ridden and spiritually insecure people? Were are the forgiven people in church these days? People are so uptight these days that no one even sleeps in church anymore. And then you have some bucolic preacher behind the wooden box beating on your brow with some more guilt.

Paul says in Romans 8:1, underline that verse and let it sweep the guilt out of your lives, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those of us in Christ Jesus." In our efforts and lives we have cried, "I can't" but at the cross, God has cried, "I can." For by grace are you saved.

You know, I think most of us have never really experienced grace. It was kind of like a doorman that I once heard about on Broadway. It was his job to greet all the theater goers, tell them the times, and answer any questions that they might have and yet in doing that for 13 years, he never saw or sat through an entire act of any production. That is about as close as some of us get to grace. We know what it is, we preach that Jesus saves, but we stand back and approach it from an academic view and try to figure out what it is and what meaning it has for our lives.

So what is grace. We can understand it in some of its more modern connotations. For example, there are provisions in insurance policies in case of a late payment. Those are periods of grace. I know some people that send their awkward daughter to dance school so that she might learn grace. If you ever are in England and meet a high ranking clergyman in the church of England, you are expected to address him as "Your grace" and when we sit around a dinner table, someone might bow their head and say grace. So what is grace?

Well, the Bible is varied in its use of the term as well. When we give, it is according to the measure of grace. When we are patient, it is due to the sufficiency of grace. When we pray we go to the throne of grace and when we are self-righteous we frustrate grace. So what is grace anyway?

Grace is a glimpse at the face of God. Better than any other term in scripture it describes how we respond to God in Christ Jesus. Grace means God can love me when I can not love myself. Grace means God can accept me, when I cannot accept myself. Grace is nothing less than the face which love wears when it meets human imperfection, doubt and guilt. And while it is good for us to know what grace is, it is quite another to learn by love to live in its light.

My Old Testament professor in college told us the story of why he never drank. It wasn't because he did have peer pressure to drink or had the opportunity. His father was an alcoholic and when he went to work with his father, his father would stop off at a bar and get drunk, while the son would just wait in the car. There was only one reason that he never drank...his mother hated it and he knew it and he just wasn't going to do that to her.

Now, if we can understand that, we can understand how grace has the power to draw forth from us good deeds and resistance to evil greater than any fear of punishment or prohibition. Grace does not become an become an excuse to sin. Paul said, "God forbid" to that. I would suggest grace is a new reason not to sin.

You see, with grace we don't get what we deserve and to that I say, "Praise God" because I know what I deserve.

With grace we are a bit like a rich women who wanted her portrait done and commissioned a young artist with a sizeable amount of money and charged him by saying, "Now young man, you do me justice" and he replied, "Ma'am, you don't need justice, you need mercy." Don't we all.

John Newton was a man who needed such mercy. As a sailor he literally burned up his youth in the pursuit of worldly desires. One night, after a storm at sea and under the tutelage of a godly sea captain, he came to know Jesus as lord and savior and penned in verse his experience in one of the most famous songs ever written. You know it...Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I was once lost, but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see.

So, to what shall we appeal as we somehow face the thought of meeting our maker. To what shall we say brings us hope and helps us long for that day. The purity of our doctrine? The measure of our lives? The quality of our service? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. I think it is life at last that teaches us what the Bible has said all along...by grace are you saved...and isn't it amazing.
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: What is Grace?

Great post! Thanks!
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: What is Grace?

My daughter's middle name....


but seriously, good stuff
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: What is Grace?

2000...FANTASTIC!!!!
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: What is Grace?

"For by grace are you saved and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God."

Great Post!
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Old 03-30-2010, 12:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: What is Grace?

My friend, you have got it! Grace is the most misunderstood concept by modern man. You have addressed the essence of it all.

My ministry stresses the importance of grace. You are right; we all talk about it, celebrate it, preach it, and so on, but in reality we practice salvation by works. I stress to the people in my congregation, "It's not about religion; it's about relationship." Religion exhorts us to "do better"....Grace assures us "I'll take you as you are".

One Sunday I made the statement that I had absolutely no doubt in my mind I was going to heaven. After the service, a man cornered me and asked for clarification....He said he thought that the statement was "extremely arrogant".....I tried my best to tell him that I was sure I was going, because it had nothing to do with me.....It was all about what Jesus had already done. He could not wrap his head around the idea that he could not make himself presentable to God. I don't deserve it, could never achieve it, but it's mine because of grace.

I could go on, but you elucidated it well.....good job.
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Old 03-30-2010, 12:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: What is Grace?

What an absolutely wonderful post! Thank you!
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Old 03-30-2010, 04:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: What is Grace?

Great post! You make some excellent points. I think grace is one of those things you can't really define but you know it when you see it.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:00 PM   #9
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Thats what it is about
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: What is Grace?

God Is Good!!
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: What is Grace?

What a great post!
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:38 PM   #12
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Superbly done.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:44 PM   #13
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Default Re: What is Grace?

great stuff. pts when i can again.
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Old 03-30-2010, 10:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: What is Grace?

been awhile since my last post,,,, this deserves a comment!
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:18 AM   #15
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Default Re: What is Grace?

Thanks so much for a great post. We all need to be
reminded of this as often as possible, it is so true!
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:05 AM   #16
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Default Re: What is Grace?

Great post! Probably one of the best pieces I've read in a long time.
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:36 PM   #17
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Default Re: What is Grace?

I thought that I would bump this since this is my annual Easter Post.

God Bless!
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:51 PM   #18
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Default Re: What is Grace?

DUDE!! 2000!!!! You have just reached a newfound respect in my book man!! like REALLY, you have no idea how awesome that post is!! Points? I think so!! Hears a few verses I really like.

" But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Jesus Christ. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."- Ephesians 2:4-8 NIV
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:04 PM   #19
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Default Re: What is Grace?

Awesome & superb, thanks my friend for reminding us.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:20 PM   #20
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Default Re: What is Grace?

That was awesome. Thanks for sharing. Points to you!
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