What does the Bible tell us about grace?
SEPTEMBER 27, 2022
Justin Holcomb: What does the Bible tell us about grace? Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
If you’ve suffered too long, under a do more, try harder religion. Key Life is here to proclaim that Jesus sets the captives free. Steve invited Justin Holcomb teach us this week. Justin is a Priest, a seminary professor, and the author of God With Us: 365 Devotions on the Person and Work of Christ.
Justin Holcomb: Thank you Matthew. My name is Justin Holcomb, and I have the joy of teaching this week. The entire Bible contains one big story, which is the story of Creation and redemption of the world by the grace of God. Scripture reveals that almighty God is the God of grace. Over and over again, he reveals his unmerited favor and kindly disposition through specific acts of unwarranted kindness, to redeem his people who have been ravished by sin. Yesterday we focused on the claim that the grace of God is the central message of the Bible, the work of Christ, and the Christian faith. Today, I want to look specifically at what does the Bible say about grace and try to answer that question in, you know, the time we have together. So, let’s start by looking at something in the Old Testament, an example that I think is a very poignant and helpful and clarifying passage on this, Exodus 34 verses six and seven. I believe this is a great place to start in considering God’s grace specifically depicted and revealed in the Old Testament.
The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty.
God declares this about himself to his people, showing that grace is rooted in relationship and expresses the essence of God’s character. And he doesn’t clear the guilty because his holiness will be dealt with, the guilt goes somewhere else to the substitute. So we, because we have a substitute, are clear. Grace outlasts his wrath and spills over in abundance, in activity that saves and sustains our life for eternity. The fact that God describes himself as abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness right after his people have betrayed him and rebelled against him by worshiping an idol, shows us just how trustworthy and unfailing his love really is. It’d be one thing for that message to come on the front end of rebellion and them to take it for granted and then just sin because they thought, well, God’s gracious, he doesn’t care. No, no, no, this message, this declaration of abounding and steadfast love and faithfulness comes on the heels of unbelievable offense and rebellion of worshiping an idol that they made. People can ask for God’s favor, but God joyfully, sovereignly decides when and where he gives his grace. He says this in Exodus 33:19.
I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. And will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
His choice to give grace does not hinge on a person’s actions or how they will respond if given to it. It depends purely on himself. This is how we can be gracious toward the unrighteous and sinners. No one can deserve God’s grace. God’s gracious character shines through in redemption, which is at the core of his identity. He describes himself as this. This is Exodus 20 verse one.
The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
God has compassion. He takes the initiative to rescue his people from bondage and torture, and he gives them a special place among the nations, and he gives them unbelievable, unconditional promise in the covenant with Abraham. There’s plenty of other examples in the Old Testament to which we could go, but let’s turn our attention toward Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In those three books, the extravagant grace of God is at work in and available through the ministry of the Godman, Jesus Christ. The seed of the word of God is sewn without discrimination, regardless of the response. That’s the parable in Mark four. In Matthew eight and nine Jesus’s presence, power, and grace of God’s dominion to those marginalized in that society. Go back and look at it. There’s a leper, the slave of a Gentile army officer, an old woman, a demon possessed person, a paralytic, a collector of tolls, a young girl, and a blind person. It is important to note that in Luke and Acts grace, the word grace can be used as a parallel for the gospel or salvation. Whenever you look in Luke and Acts and see grace or the gospel or salvation, it means the same thing. Jesus’s sermon at Nazareth is summarized as words of grace. And believers can be said to have received grace or to be full of grace and be challenged to continue in grace. The missionaries in Acts proclaim the grace of God. And it’s through this grace that people are able to respond with faith. Luke consistently grounds salvation in the ancient purpose of God, which comes to fruition at God’s initiative. This reveals God to be the great benefactor who pours out his blessings on all people, that all people is in Luke 3:6, it’s in Acts 2:17 and 2:21. Even the opportunity to repent is God’s own gift to us. The ministry of Christ, is the giving of God’s salvific blessings to all who will receive them. And especially to those who are on the margins of society. John’s gospel strongly emphasizes God’s love toward the blind, stubborn, and rebellious world. In John, the son of God dwells in the love of the Father and mediates that love to the world. This is found in John 3:36, John 5:20, John 14:31, John 15:9 through 10. He calls on his followers to love one another in John 15:17. From a different perspective, Revelation another book written by the author who wrote John’s gospel portrays the invincible love of God sovereignly at work, spanning the period from creation to the new creation, bringing his gracious purpose to fulfillment. According to Paul and we’ll look more at Paul in the next two teachings. God initiates and is the source of salvation. And God’s grace culminates in Jesus’ work of redemption. Paul’s emphasis is expressed in Ephesians 2:8 through 10. And we will dive in more deeply, but it says this.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. This is not your own; it is a gift of God.
Paul goes out of his way to make the point that God’s grace is overflowing and abundant. And while grace is expressed throughout the entire Old Testament and New Testament, I want to look specifically at Jesus cause Jesus Christ is the deepest revelation, embodiment of God’s gracious nature, an almighty power that at the same time is a boundless love, so great it allows him to be trampled upon and sacrificed to save the children He loves. The ultimate expression of the grace of God is found in Jesus Christ. This is what John 1:17 says.
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
The theologian, Lutheran theologian Werner Elert writes this.
Christ is not only the truth in person, but also grace in person. Christ is not only the truth in person, but also grace in person.
Almost sounds like the quote from yesterday’s teaching from Michael Wharton.
Grace is what is meant in Romans 5:6, while we were still sinners Christ died for the ungodly.
The very last verse of the Bible summarizes the message from Genesis to Revelation.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all.
Christ is the center of the Old Testament and the New Testament. All of this grace we read about in all 66 books, culminates in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’ve seen that the message of Jesus in the entire Bible is the grace of God to sinners and sufferers. And Jesus reveals his purpose of his ministry, clearly connected to this grace of God. He gives some purpose statements about what he’s doing.
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I came to call not the righteous, but sinners.
The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
I have come to seek and save the lost.
Capturing the texture of Jesus’ ministry, Martin Luther writes this.
Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.
John Calvin also summarizes this tone well.
God’s face shines out, full of grace and gentleness to poor unworthy sinners.
In a conversation with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus revealed God’s gracious disposition toward the world.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish that have eternal life.
Indeed God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Amen and Amen.
Thank you Justin. That was Justin Holcomb continuing to teach us about the abundant, overwhelming, gratuitous nature of grace. When you were growing up, what did you dream of becoming? A firefighter, astronaut? Well, for me for a time, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Look, it just, the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles were a big deal for a nine year old boy. I don’t, I don’t have to explain myself to you, the point is, we’re thinking about our careers from an early age because we often find our identity there. But when we define ourselves by what we do, instead of who we know, we tie our self worth to our performance, instead of who we are as a son or daughter of God. Well, our good friend Justin Holcomb. Yeah, the guy who’s teaching us all this week, Justin wrote about this in a special mini-book called What Do You Do for a Living? If you ever struggle to understand your identity and value apart from what you do, we would love to put this mini-book into your hands, for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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