Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Great Gift of Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10

Of all of the great truths mined from Ephesians Chapter 2 none is as precious as the truths from our scripture today. God’s great act of love for us through Christ given by grace is nowhere more clearly stated in the Bible. If you want to be richly blessed, read those verses substituting the words “us”, “we”, and “you” with “me”, “I” and “me.” Go ahead and do that before you read on.

Grace is a great big concept that can touch the smallest of people. Consider Zacchaeus. The children’s chorus says Zacchaeus was a “wee little man". (Luke 19-1-10) He was a tax-collector. A nice way of saying (in that day) that he was a crook. Hated by the people and despised by the Romans, he was probably one of the most unpopular of all the people. No one wanted to be seen with him or deal with him.

Jesus was coming to town and Zacchaeus wanted to see the man who was called Messiah. He was short. Probably late to the place Jesus was passing his view was blocked by the crowd and nobody was going to do him the favor of letting him through where he could see. So he climbed up in a tree. Jesus told him to come down and he would dine with him that evening.

What a shock. You see Zacchaeus knew what a rotten guy he was and no one had to tell him he didn’t deserve to sit down with Jesus. Yet the grace of God reached out and touched him, changing his life forever. But that’s the wonder of grace. It reaches out to those of us who don’t deserve it. Even Zacchaeus...even me.

Remember The GONG Show on television? It was a forerunner of America’s Got Talent and American Idol. It had to have been one of the cruelest, meanest and worst game shows ever. People would perform on stage, but if one of the professionals didn’t like the act or felt it was bad, they would hit the gong and the contestant was done. It was over. The contestant tried hard, as hard as they could, but if they were gonged then they were done. Though many of them were certainly saved further embarrassment by the gong, others were pretty good. But if in the opinion of the judges they failed, the gong sounded. Grace means we’ll never be gonged! Not because we’re so good, but because God is sooooooo goood!

The motivation of grace is seen in verse 4: His great love• Who is rich in mercy

The act of grace is seen in verse 5 and 6: made us alive...seated us with Him

The person of grace is seen in verse 7: kindness toward us in Christ Jesus

And finally the source of our salvation in verses 8 and 9: it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,

We could never save ourselves and frankly, we could never be righteous enough on our own even after our baptism to work our way into heaven. The good news is we don’t have to be that good. We don’t deserve His grace - we just need it - and he was happy to supply it.

Scripture to Claim:

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

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