Summary: It is a word that has been used as an alternative term for prayer. It has been used to describe the way a person moves. It has also been used by many parents to name their daughters. Still, none of these uses seem to catch the true nature of what Grace is
Grace. A word used in a variety of ways. Have you ever heard these:
Time for lunch, honey, would you say grace. – Did you see how she danced? She has so much grace in her steps.
Have I introduced you to my friend Grace?
It is a word that has been used as an alternative term for prayer. It has been used to describe the way a person moves. It has also been used by many parents to name their daughters.
Still, none of these uses seem to catch the true nature of what Grace is. They fall short of the true meaning. They miss the purpose of it.
This morning, I want to try and bring you closer to understanding what the Grace of God truly is and what it should mean to each and every one of us. Through a couple of short stories, I hope to accomplish this.
(Illustration by Len Kageler)
Just about everyone enjoys playing computer games. One of the best is Microsoft’s “Flight Simulator.” In most versions of the game, you can choose a prop plane or a Lear jet, and you can also choose which of 180 airports around the country to take off from or to attempt a landing at.
Only after acquiring landing skills after many hours of practice can a player avoid crashing the plane and land safely. It’s all very realistic. You can crash into the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sears Tower in Chicago, or the Space Needle in Seattle. Your plane can break apart in midair, breaking the sound barrier over Dallas. You can nose-dive into Lake Michigan going five hundred miles per hour.
The greatest thing about “Flight Simulator,” though, is that the game always restores you. No matter what happens, you can start all over again. Whenever you crash and burn, fall apart, or splash into the ocean, the game always puts you back together and places you back on the runway ready to take off again.
That’s the way it is with the Lord. He’s absolutely faithful to forgive us and to restore us when we mess up and to get us back into action, hopefully a little wiser after our failures and bad decisions.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
When we are with Christ we are never out of the game. Peter writes:
1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”
So as our lives continue to move forward, we will encounter some rough times. We will have those days where it is difficult to keep going. There is so much stress, so much work, so many commitments to maintain, and we just don’t know how to get them all done.
à On top of that, there is the daily battle to resist temptation in our weak spots. We have an enemy who knows where we struggle, and he makes sure to remind of those struggles. He reminds us of our inadequacies, our sinful nature and he reminds us that we are not worthy of God’s grace.
à So again, what is this Grace we’re talking about. Well Paul gives us some good insight in his letter to the church at Ephesus. (Chap. 2)
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved… (Jump to verse 8)
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Eph 2:9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Over & against humanity’s rejection of God, Paul sets God’s gracious acceptance of human beings in Christ. Though God cannot approve of sin if He is to remain righteous, yet God is not vengeful toward those He has created. He loves them and has made possible their reconciliation to Himself. Had He decided to destroy his rebellious children, He would be entirely justified, and nothing could stop Him. Instead, love leads to mercy"-- God’s compassion for the helpless, requires an action for their relief.
Paul’s main point is that God "made us alive with Christ". For those who were spiritually dead in their sins, God gave new life together "with Christ." The life Christians now possess is an effect of which Christ’s resurrection was the cause.
Christ’s resurrection was an act of God’s power & the regeneration of believers is an act of God’s "grace" which is repeated in verse 8.