This is gospel coaching session number 5
I’m sure you’ve heard this said before: “Mercy is not getting what you deserve; grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”
Never ask God to give you what you deserve. We all deserve hell. If you live by law, but don’t keep every bit of it, you are guilty of breaking it all (Gal 3:10, Jam 2:10). Due to Jesus, Abba Father God transmits his mercy to us and doesn’t hold us accountable for our sin. That is real grace.
God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” We often see this as a statement of coping, and adapting to things that happen. And it does have this element to it. But this is a warfare term, a term of power. God says, “My grace is divinely productive and supernatural for any situation you face. I bring all of my Kingdom to bear on you.” God’s grace is meant to help us through anything we face in the best possible way. God did not take away Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh,’ but he empowered him in many other ways.
Grace Is Like A Road We Walk On
Many see grace as being like a destination. Once they have lived long enough, or have done good enough, or have matured enough, then God gives us his grace. This is an wrong view of grace. Grace is like the road we walk on our whole lives, at least from the time we come to know Christ.
Grace is not a destination as much as it is a journey. We walk in grace every step we take, and in every trial or problem we experience.
The Gospel Road vs. The Dirt Road
If we live in the gospel, we walk The Gospel Road. III John 2-3 spoke of having truth in us, but also walking in that truth. But not having gospel revelation we walk The Dirt Road. It has potholes, construction, detours and dead ends.
The Gospel Road is easy according to Jesus. And it is lived in his simplicity, according to Paul. The Dirt Road is complicated. There are lots of theologies, opinions and even whole denominations. It’s like the Second Tower of Babel. There is something to attract everyone.
The Gospel Road is the road of grace and peace. Grace and peace tell us, “God is not angry with me.” Due to Jesus, God sees me as having ‘put on Christ,’ as Paul says. It’s like I wear a real-life Jesus costume. God doesn’t know if it’s really Jesus or if it’s me in there, at least if all he judges by is the costume. It’s the same thing with God’s armor. If we have God’s armor on, each piece of which is a description of the gospel. Satan doesn’t know if it’s God in there or if it’s us in there. After all, it’s GOD’S armor, not ours.
We sometimes think God is angry with us because of bad things we do. But we saw earlier Paul assures us it is only in our minds, it is not reality (Col 1:21).
We work so hard to try to be right with God when it is Jesus who has made us to be right with God. “If it is by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. If it’s by works, then it is not by grace” (Rom 11:6). I Peter 4:10 talks about the MANIFOLD grace of God. This means there are many types of grace, not just one type.
Don’t forget that God’s desire is to BLESS us and to BENEFIT us. The way he does this is in his gospel. This is why he wants us believing it and living it. Living by grace, and grace only – not by works, is the part we play in the New Covenant gospel of God’s Kingdom on earth. It is the key ingredient to living the abundant life of Christ (John 10:10).
Is Grace A License to Sin?
Grace is not a license to sin. I don’t know why some choose to call it this. I’ve never had a license to sin and I’ve done just fine without one. The gospel is really the grace of God’s power in us to keep us from sin. Paul says it teaches us not to sin.
Religion demands that we live life right. The gospel is the presence and power of God in us that enables us to live life right. It empowers us to live better by accident than we ever could on purpose.
We Receive, Respond and Release
This defines the Christian life in a nutshell. We are meant to be receivers, not initiators, as we saw. What we receive, is what we release to others. God is smart. He knows if he plants apple seeds in us he won’t raise pumpkins. He knows if he plants good gospel grace in us, our hearts will release good gospel grace (Heb 13:9). “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and an evil tree cannot produce good fruit” (Matt 7:18).
The step in between receiving and releasing is responding. God pours his love into me (and everything else good in his Kingdom) and I just use it up for me. I become selfish wanting it all. But this is with a Kingdom mindset, knowing what God puts into me is going to come out of me: I’m going to release it to others. I’m going to give them ‘used love.’
Paul says that God causes us to (1) INCREASE and (2) ABOUND in love one to another (I Thes 3:12). It is talking about love, but it applies to everything in God’s Kingdom. First, we increase, which means we
become obese in God’s love – we become like a balloon so full it is ready to pop. Second, we then abound, which means we spill over onto everyone else around us.
This is living in heaven’s ways. This is living in the process of the gospel. This is how we trust God. This is how we receive his power, respond to and experience his power, and release his power. We become like a reservoir for the things of God, but then we have a spillway that releases what we receive. Jesus says, “As you have freely received, so freely give.”
Grace Is A Hard Subject to Understand
It’s because most of us don’t have minds filled with grace, but assessment, criticism and judgment. It takes being filled with the gospel to begin to have a heart of grace. The act is our human minds can never begin to interpret the grace of God. Every time I try, I fail. If you’re honest, you fail too.
God’s covenant with us is one of unmerited favor. The Old Testament demanded from mankind what it could not produce, but the New gives to us what it does not demand. What a difference!
This is why Paul says to rightly divide the word of God (II Tim 2:15). What he means is divide the Old from the New, as Jesus talks about in his parables of the new patch on the old garment, and the new wine in old bottles. All demands were fulfilled in us by the righteousness of Jesus.
Grace sets us up for success in life. Law sets us up for failure. Paul says our success is ‘reigning in life with Christ Jesus’ (Rom 5:17). To be a success, all we have to do is receive grace from God., as this verse says: receive both grace and righteousness that are both gifts.
People in the Old Testament were always striving after ‘atonement,’ meaning being ‘at one with God.’ They could never accomplish it. But in the New Testament, Paul only mentions atonement one time: “You have now received the atonement” (Rom 5:11). What Old Testament people strived for had arrived. The fact is that success is not determined by circumstances, but by circumcision. But not the Old Testament way. In the New, Paul says WE have become the circumcision (Phil 3:3). God has made us to be what Old Testament folks could only dream of.
Living in God’s grace produces prosperity and health, as III John 2 says. In the Old Testament it says the same thing, in talking about wisdom. Proverbs 3:16 says, “Length of days are in her right hand, in her left, riches and honor.” That’s health and prosperity. The fact is, in the gospel, Jesus is our wisdom as Proverbs says (I Cor 1:30).
Flesh and self cause us to live in pride. Grace causes us to live in humility. In pride, we are self-focused. In humility we are God and others focused. Paul says we should ‘prefer others more than ourselves.’ Taming the soul is the biggest spiritual battle we face. In Ephesians, Paul calls it our ‘inner man.’
To control our flesh, self and pride, we must eat of the bread of life every day. This speaks to communion. If you need it daily, take it. I did for period of time. Now I take it as Jesus says, “As often as you do it.” To me this is about weekly. You don’t need a church or a minister, and it’s the only sacrament we protestants have.
Grace is having favor with God and man, as Jesus did (Luke 2:52).
How much more grace is there than having favor with God and man?