You Can’t Do It On Your Own
AUGUST 22, 2018
Grace literally means “favor.” When it refers to God, it means the unmerited favor of God toward us. In fact, grace is an attribute of God. God doesn’t just act in a gracious way. God is defined by grace. God is grace.
I believe that every major problem the Christian faces arises from a misunderstanding of the biblical doctrine of grace. What does grace do for you today?
Grace Calls You
Grace calls you. “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5-6). “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Before you were ever born, God chose you to be his own. God named you, gave you life, brought you to himself and is going to give you life eternal…all because he is gracious. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Accept it and be glad.
Grace Justifies You
Grace justifies you. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). The word “justify” means that we can be made just before God even when we aren’t and don’t deserve it. The truth is, you’re not good enough to be a Christian. You’re justified by grace. Either you are a Christian by only God’s grace or you aren’t a Christian.
On the cross Christ took the penalty you deserved. The demands of the law have been met. Your sin—past, present and future—is covered. When you stand before God, if you have trusted in him, you will be declared just and perfect…because he is gracious.
Grace Holds You
Grace holds you. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
In John 10, Jesus gives nine guarantees that he will never let us go. The passage ends this way, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
You are kept by the grace of God. Your salvation is sure. You are not holding on to God; he is holding on to you because he is gracious.
Grace Assures You
Grace assures you. “When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed” (Acts 18:27). “For it is by grace you have been saved—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You believe because a gracious God gave you the faith to believe. When you think about it, what we believe really is absolutely unbelievable; while on the inside, it isn’t unbelievable at all. It is simply natural. We believe that God entered history. We believe it because it is true. We are convinced that it is true simply because God gave us the gift of faith.
As Christians, we have come to have a belief and an assurance that Christ is the center of all that is. That very fact, belief itself, is a gift of God’s grace.
Grace Corrects You
Grace corrects you. “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).
Every time I teach on the doctrine of grace, someone (usually someone who has a great concern that everyone fit into their mold) will come up and say, “That is very dangerous teaching. If people believed what you taught, everyone would just go out and do what they wanted. They would run out and sin!” Logically, that seems true, but biblically and existentially, that simply is a lie. My friend’s comment is true: “I am under no obligation to give up anything I don’t wish to give up. However, I wish to give up everything…and that is the requirement.”
God doesn’t grade on a curve. In fact, God does away with the grading system altogether. Paul says that the law is taken away. We don’t have anything to hit against so we find that we grow. The growth itself is a gift of God’s grace. What does that mean? I am better now than I was. I love more now than I did. I care more now than I used to care. I am more moral now than I was before. I don’t know why. I just am…and it is a gift of God’s grace.
Grace Equips You
Grace equips you. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:6). “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). The Scripture teaches that God has certain things he wants done in the world and in the church. In order to get those things done, he gifts certain people by his grace…and then he gives them the gasoline to do what he wants done.
We often fall into the trap of assuming that, if we do something different or special, we will then get the resources we need. The truth is, what you need you will get by the grace of God. There is an Eastern saying, “When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.” That sounds silly, but it isn’t. By the Father’s grace, he gives what you need when you need it to do what he wants.
There are two kinds of religion in the world. One is man-centered and the other is God-centered. The trouble with many Christians is that they’re trying to live a man-centered life…
…to save themselves by being good
…to keep themselves saved by hustle
…to justify themselves by balancing books
…to believe by closing their eyes and pretending to believe
…to become better and better every day in every way
…and to really work at being useful.
If you have been doing all that, stop it. It will kill you. Besides, you don’t have that much grace…but God does. All you have to do is ask.