It is my belief that grace is without a doubt one of the most important concepts of the Bible; however, it is often misunderstood and misused. There could be endless discussion on the topic of grace and I will admit I was a little overwhelmed by it all as I began my research. The truth is that grace can be as simple or as complex as we want to make it. Grace in and of itself is not complicated; it is when we start looking at how it relates to other matters, such as salvation and repentance, that it can get complicated. For the last few months, God has laid repentance on my heart and I have been looking into the roles of grace and repentance in regards to salvation and spiritual growth. It is such a broad topic that I will not even begin to discuss that here and I will just focus on how too much reliance on grace causes some Christians to not read the Bible.
Let us begin by defining the word grace. Grace is most often recognized as an unmerited gift that cannot be earned or lost, and for which there is no expectation of a pay back. It is by His grace that we are saved.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
God’s love for me is not based on my works. My salvation is not based on my works. Grace is a gift given by God to all sinners who repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is important to also remember that we are not only saved by God’s grace, but grace allows us to serve our Lord and live our lives according to his will.
Grace is imperative for us. There is no argument there. I take great comfort in the fact that my Savior loves me today,and if I mess up tomorrow, my Jesus is still going to love me. As a struggling perfectionist, this was hard for me to accept. I was use to performing to get love and this seemed just way too easy. The problem some Christians start to have with grace is that they misuse it. Grace was never intended for us to use it as an excuse to keep on sinning. If you are going to the altar every Sunday with the same sin, are you really repenting (topic for another time)? Grace will get you saved, but if you do nothing with that grace, you will never lead a victorious life in Christ.
So, what does that have to do with Christians not reading the Bible? Well, often times Christians see the Bible as a set a rules or a list of do’s and do not’s. How many times have you heard “I don’t live by the law, I live under grace?” How many times have your said it? Yes, we live under grace, but that does not mean the law is no longer necessary or we don’t have to grow and make changes.
Titus 2:11-12(NLT): For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
The purpose of the law is to point out sin. There is nothing wrong with the law; there is something wrong with us. The law also helps us see that we cannot please God in and of our own strength. Yes, it is true. We cannot please God without grace. However, our Christian walk begins at salvation it does not end there. We must learn how to walk with the Lord and live like the Lord.
Charles Spurgeon said it best, “I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the Law.” Then he warns, “Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt; this is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [its most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ . . . They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place.”
The best illustration of grace I have heard in present times I believe came from James McDonald. If I am wrong, I apologize and hope someone can let me know where it came from. I heard someone share this in a message once and I have held on to it.
The story begins long ago at a slave auction. The auction was ending and there was one young woman left. Her family had already been sold to many different masters and this young lady was spitting mad and not afraid to show it. Everyone around could see the defiance in her and would not touch her let alone buy her. Just before the auction ended, a man came along who had no intention of purchasing a slave that day, but felt called to buy the young women anyway. Needless to say she was not pleased and did not go easily. Another kind of master would have probably had her killed. This master drug her along until they were out of sight of prying eyes, then bent down and told her she was free to go. This took the young woman by complete surprise. Why would he do that? Didn’t he just pay good money for her? After a few moments the girl got up and began following him. The man just looked at her and said “What are you doing? You are free.” The young woman replied that she knew she was free but she wasn’t coming with him not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
This is how it should be for us. We are not bound to the law because God gives us grace, but we should follow his ways because we love him, we want to be with him, and we want to be like him. In order to do so, we must be in his word every day. This last week and a half we talked about the 5 most common reasons Christians have for not reading the Bible (time/priorities, conviction, lack of knowledge or understanding, self-centered mindsets, and heavy reliance on grace), but those reasons are just excuses and there is no excuse for not reading the Bible; period; end of discussion.
As I come to the end of this series, I have come to realize just how far I have come in my walk with the Lord. The things I used to believe are nothing like I believe now and I am so excited to see what else I will discover as I continue on in my growth journey. For those of you just beginning, I would like to encourage you to keep on going. You will hit some rough spots, but God will use those spots to grow you. Keep the faith. For those of you who are well seasoned let me encourage you that you still have growing to do for it will not end until we meet our maker.
Lord, thank you for your unending mercy and grace. Thank you for sending your Son because without him I would be just a helpless sinner destined for the pit of hell. Help me to be ever mindful of the gift I have been given and to use it for your glory each and every day. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,