Summary: As we allow ourselves to be moved and motivated by God’s amazing tranforming grace, wonderful, life-giving changes occur. Let us learn more about God’s Transforming Grace.
Victor Hugo wrote a great novel, Les Miserables. The novel opens with a young man named John Valjean, who had been unjustly imprisoned for seven years for a small offense. He left the prison with a rage in his soul. In the musical this is portrayed in the opening scenes as Valjean tries to find somewhere to fit in. He can’t fit and he is constantly shunned. As a parolee, he’s treated badly. His anger builds and builds.One night he goes to the home of a monsignor. He is given a meal and invited to spend the night. While everyone is sleeping, Jean Valjean sees some silver candlesticks and cutlery. He steals the cutlery and goes out into the street. The police catch him and bring him back to the monsignor. When the monsignor sees the young man, he sees something no one else sees. He sees Valjean through the eyes of Christ and with the love of Christ. Hence, the monsignor did a very surprising thing. He told the police that he gave the cutlery to Valjean and then he asked Valjean why
he didn’t take the candlesticks, too. Let me read you Victor Hugo’s incredible portrayal of that moving scene. “Jean Valjean was trembling in all his limbs; he took the two candlesticks mechanically, and with wandering looks. Now,’ said the priest, ‘go in peace.’
‘And when you return, my friend, it is unnecessary to pass through the garden, for you can always enter, day or night, by the front door, which is only latched.’ Then, turning to the police, he said, ‘Gentlemen, you can retire.’ - They did so and Valjean looked as if he would faint.The priest walked up to him and said, ‘Never forget that you have promised me to employ this money in becoming an honest man.’ Valjean
who had no recollection of having promised anything stood silent.
Shown grace beyond measure, Valjean made a fresh start and eventually became a wealthy factory owner who promised a dying woman that he would provide for her young daughter. He made good on his promise. Recognizing that Valjean had served his time, the monsignor didn’t hold his past against him. John Valjean was transformed by the grace, the unmerited favor, that the monsignor bestowed upon him. That is exactly what God’s grace is supposed to accomplish
in our lives; transformation. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t always accomplish such. When it doesn’t then we are guilty of abusing God’s grace. Although we have been saved by God’s grace, that is not its only purpose. God also intends that His grace transform us.
It should change us, making us more and more like Christ.
God loves us too much to leave us as we are.
2 Corinthians 5:17 declares that “IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION, THE OLD HAS GONE, THE NEW HAS COME.” When we come to Christ and are saved by grace, this grace ultimately transforms us. Little by little we think and act differently. Speaking of those who have received Christ and experienced God’s saving grace,Romans 8:29 says that God has, “….PREDESTINED THEM TO BECOME CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS
SON.” Christ-likeness is God’s desire for each one of us. As we mature in the faith we should reflect
more and more of the character and qualities
of Christ. Referring to this transformation, Paul
says in Philippians 2:5 that we are to, “…HAVE THE MIND (OR CHARACTER) OF CHRIST” In other words, Christ’s love, humility, compassion and righteousness should be more and more evident in our lives.
Through the life of its human author, our text illustrates the transforming power of grace.Writing in the Gospel that bears his name, the apostle John said in vs. 14 of chapter 1 that Jesus was full of “GRACE AND TRUTH.” During their earthly years with the Lord the apostles noticed something remarkably different about Him. Then in vs. 16 he says, “…OF CHRIST’S FULLNESS WE HAVE ALL RECEIVED…. GRACE UPON GRACE.”
John knew firsthand what he was talking about. Christ’s grace rubbed off on him, changing him, making him a far different person as it did all of the
apostles. Christ’s ways became their ways. They adopted His values, standards and perspectives. Christ’s grace as seen in His love and compassion made them more loving and compassionate. The outpouring of God’s grace in their lives made them more desirous and willing to possess the character of Christ.
In our text John says, “….OF CHRIST’S FULNESS WE HAVE ALL RECEIVED….GRACE UPON GRACE.”The meaning of “grace upon grace” is “one blessing after another. ”The lives of John and Peter and the other apostles were transformed by the grace of God in Christ. Take John for instance. He was the man who, along with his brother James, was referred to by Jesus in Mark 3:7 as “THE SONS OF THUNDER.” He was tempestuous, brash, firey, and angry. John was the one who when angered by some Samaritans, wanted Jesus to, “….COMMAND FIRE TO COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN TO CONSUME THEM….” and their entire village. John was anything but loving,