The merciful mystery of God’s grace

Marnus Nel
Marnes Nel

I often think of how fortunate we are to receive God’s grace because we don’t deserve it. Yet, without the grace of God, I for one would still be floundering around in sin, much like a pig sloshing about in slops, oblivious to the mess I was in.

Instead, we are saved from the mess of our sinful lives by the grace of God without any effort of our own.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9

We have been graced through faith with our salvation, which is a gift from God of infinite measure, because as “Singing a New Song”, the 40-day Prayer Guide for reconciliation in South Africa describes so beautifully, we are able to approach our Holy Father’s “throne of grace, the place where love and forgiveness meet, where righteousness and peace kiss each other”.

“God’s unmerited favour to us”, which is a description of grace that I have often heard, makes sense to me.

Grace is depending on Jesus and not trying to do things to please Him, but doing things from a place that you know He is already pleased with you.

According to allaboutgod.com: “Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven.”

For He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” — 2 Corinthians 5:21  and …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:23-24.

Act of love
Essentially God’s grace is an act of Love with the aim of justifying us without any debt.

However, it is through our faith in Jesus as the only begotten son of God and accepting Him as our Saviour that we enter into God’s grace — for it is only through the grace of God that we are drawn to His Son in the first place.

It is up to us to choose to surrender to His love and forgiveness, for He will not force salvation on us, salvation is for us to accept – in joy and relief, humbly, in humility and great gratitude, because we are all sinners.

We have all stumbled about in the darkness (sloshed around in the slops of sin), self-satisfied and proud, but confused and lost . . . now we are found in the light of His glory, humbly resting in the assuredness of His grace, surrendered to His unconditional love and mercy.

As Andrew Wommack says: “The truth is that you need to put your faith in what God has already done, not in what you do. God, by His grace, has already provided healing, prosperity, forgiveness for sin, and much more. However, it must be appropriated by faith.

“God has done His part by giving His Son, Jesus. His grace has provided everything through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is nearly too good to be true because there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it and nothing we can do to lose it. Our part is simple: We respond to His grace by faith and appropriate what has already been accomplished.”

Wommack explains: “Grace existed before you ever came to be. Another way of saying it is, grace is God’s part. Faith is defined as being a positive response to what God has already provided by grace. In other words, faith is your positive response to God’s grace, or faith only appropriates what God has already provided for you. Therefore, faith is your part.

Balancing grace and faith
“Grace and faith work together, and they must be in balance.”

Wommack says God’s grace has provided not only for salvation but also for every need of your life.

“That provision is not based on whether you are reading the Bible enough, praying enough, going to church, or even paying your tithes. Before you ever had a financial need, God created the provision. Before you were sick, God, through grace, provided your healing (1 Pet. 2:24). Before you ever became discouraged, God blessed you with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). God anticipated every need you could ever have and has met those needs through Jesus before you existed. That’s grace.”

Wommack says put your faith in what God has already done for you, and you have the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

Marnes Nel, Pastor at Abundant Grace Ministries in Potchefstroom, says that the emphasis in Church teachings is often on what we should do to mature and grow as Christians, which he found difficult to reconcile with his experience of salvation.

“I finally realised that the same grace that saved me is the grace that works in me to change me into the image of Christ, which changed my life forever.

“That is God’s plan and purpose with His Church. He wants to transform believers into the image of Christ: But we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. — 2 Corinthians 3:18.

“We are new creations in Christ — that suddenly became real to me; I am a completely new person in Christ, which is how God sees me.”

Growth through grace
Nel says without grace there is no growth or maturity, because if we mature in any other way we are trying to produce what only God can produce.

“The only true fruit in a believer is when Christ lives through us, instead of us trying to live like Christ.

“Practically, Christians need to hear the message of the Gospel of Christ. Hearing the Word is how grace is imparted into your life.”

Nel says grace comes into our lives through faith and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“People should do all the effort to hear the right message (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and not a message that shows the old you.

“Grace is God’s Holy influence in us. We should do effort to hear His truth and the message that points to the new you in Christ, which is who you are, because of what He did — you are perfect in the sight of God.

“When I read God’s Word I look for Jesus, I focus on the most important thing, which is to know Jesus. If I see Jesus on each page that I read, then I can see myself in Him, which is how grace is imparted. ”

Jesus is alive
Nel reminds us that Jesus is alive: “He wants to reveal Himself to us every day. We must just be aware and ready to receive and say, ‘Lord, I want to know You’.

“That is the basic outlook, a desire to know the person Jesus, a desire to walk with Him, hear His voice . . . and then He comes and reveals Himself by grace . . . and in revealing Himself He gives grace.

“Grace is depending on Jesus and not trying to do things to please Him, but doing things from a place that you know He is already pleased with you.

“We are not simply called to try and live better lives, but are transformed by God’s grace, which even changes our desires and motives. We are changed from the inside to allow Christ to live through us,” says Nel.

He emphasises that grace is available to the entire human race, but the way it is received is through faith in Jesus Christ.

This is reflected in the very last words in the Bible: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. — Revelation 22:21.

Perfect personal gift
Max Lucado in his book Grace explains it thus: “You have been given a perfect personal gift. One just for you. ‘There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’.” (Luke 2:11)

Lucado says Jesus is the gift.

“He Himself is the treasure. Grace is precious because He is. Grace changes lives because He does. Grace secures us because He will. The gift is the giver. To discover grace is to discover God’s utter devotion to you, His stubborn resolve to give you a cleansing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet.”

Lucado says the gift that God gives is a grace that grants us the power to receive love and then the power to give it. A grace that changes us, shapes us, and leads us to a life that is eternally altered.

“Do you know this grace? Do you trust this grace,” he asks?

“If not, you can. All God wants from us is faith. Put your faith in God. And grow in God’s grace.”

Lucado says the same work God did through Christ long ago on the cross is the work God does through Christ right now in you.

Hence, as Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Lastly, the “boldly” of Hebrews 4:16 speaks of confidence born of faith, not of pride, for grace is drawn to humility, but repelled by pride.

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:5-6.

Thank You, Beloved Holy Father.

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