What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Grace?”
Assuming you’ve moved past the former Princess of Monaco or a description of Fred and Ginger (disclaimer: they were before my time), most people with any exposure to the Bible or Church World will mention the cherished hymn.
Or, of course, what the cherished hymn refers to:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
And there it is… grace served for breakfast in the Christian walk. Where would we be without the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace of the Lord Jesus?
For a lot of people, however, that’s where the conversation ends. God in His grace sent His Son to die so that I could be forgiven for my sin – and once I turned away from that sin and received Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord, I experienced the beauty of God’s grace.
See what that all has in common? Vital as it all is, it’s all pointed toward the past.
Do a little digging in your New Testament – especially Paul’s writing, and you’ll see a different story. Check this out:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Nobody could testify more loudly of how amazing grace was than Paul. But his grace-timony wasn’t limited to that day he was body-slammed by God on the road to Damascus. He discovered what many believers have yet to: God doesn’t stop being gracious when you first get saved. That’s just the beginning.
Paul uses the word “grace” three times here, and three times it’s in a different context. Paul is showing the believers how the grace of God had continued to work in his life – and yours – way past the day he said “yes” to Christ.
Grace establishes your identity.
“By the grace of God I am what I am,” Paul said. His identity was not defined by his performance – either before his coming to Christ or after. He was defined by what the grace of God had accomplished in his life. This kept him from shame on one hand, and pride on the other. And the same goes for you and me.
Just so we’re clear, let me remind you of a few things the Bible says about your identity in Christ. Try reading this out loud…
You are born of God (1 John 4:7) and adopted by God (Romans 8:15) as His child (1 John 3:1-2) and heir (Romans 8:17) – a joint heir with Christ (Galatians 4:7).
You are redeemed and forgiven from your sin (Ephesians 1:6-8), eternally alive (John 5:24) and justified (made righteous – Romans 5:1).
You are dead to the power of sin (Romans 6:1-6), free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), and alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
You are the friend of Christ (John 15:15), God’s “work of art” (Ephesians 2:10), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the recipient of God’s promises (2 Peter 1:4).
You are chosen of God – holy, beloved (Colossians 3:12), blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), connected to the True Vine (John 15:1,5), reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18), and delivered from Satan’s domain (Colossians 1:13).
You are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), a willing slave of righteousness (Romans 6:18,22), and one spirit with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17).
You are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12), a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians12:27), a citizen in God’s kingdom (Ephesians 2:19), and a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
You are a saint – a holy one (1 Corinthians1:2) with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), fullness in Christ (Colossians 2:10), and free direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18).
You are brought near to Christ (Ephesians 2:13), crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), a partaker of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), and a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
You’re the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), and a royal priest (1 Peter 2:9), chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16) as a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
You are an expression of life in Christ (Colossians 3:4) and a partaker of a heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1).
That’s just for starters. The rest of your life on earth you will spend unpacking what the grace of God did for you in an instant when you said yes to Jesus. Stop identifying yourself by your performance or by what others say about you. The grace of God tells a different story.
Grace aligns you with God’s purpose.
Paul says that God’s grace was not in vain. That suggests that when God revealed His grace to you and me, He did so with a purpose in mind. Part of that has to do with what we all share in common – the things we just mentioned. But part of that has to do with the things that make each one of us unique.
For example, Paul was an apostle. But God’s manifested grace doesn’t make everybody an apostle. It makes some people evangelists. Others become prophets. Some become pastors and teachers. Some speak with wisdom, others with extraordinary revelations of knowledge. Some manifest great faith, some work miracles. Some serve greatly, others give abundantly. Some encourage profoundly, others feel great empathy.
The point, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is that all believers are gifted by grace. So what did the grace of God gift you to do?
And what are you doing about it?
Grace offers you God’s power.
“Yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” God doesn’t just show us his unmerited favor when we need to be saved. He shows us His unmerited favor when we need to be strengthened as well.
Neither you nor I have the power to live the Christian life. But in Jesus, we don’t have to depend on our own power. We have the grace of God, freely bestowed, freely favoring, freely strengthening us to do what He has called us to do.
In practical terms, here is what that means…
Neither you nor I have the power to work for God. But His grace will work through me.
Neither you nor I have the power to wait on the Lord. But His grace will sustain us through the waiting seasons.
Neither you nor I have the power to worship the Lord as He deserves. But His grace enflames us to worship with abandon.
Neither you nor I have the power to walk in endurance when everything is falling around us. But His grace lights the way just enough for the next step..
Neither you nor I have the power to win in spiritual warfare. But by the grace of God you can tell the devil to go eat rocks.
What are you depending on to get you through the day, or through the battle? I have good news… Victory comes when you realize it isn’t about you. It’s about the grace of God working through you.
Last words are significant. And Paul had some last words for the believers before he was arrested. Here’s what he said in Acts 20:32:
“And now I commend you to the care of God and to the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the blessings God has for all his people” (TEV).
The grace of God is your gateway to God’s care, to your growth, and for God’s blessing in your life. God doesn’t stop being gracious when you first get saved. That’s just the beginning.
Grace… it’s not just for breakfast anymore.
And that’s still pretty amazing.
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