The Essentials – Grace
The end is coming soon, and we do not know the date, so we need to be ready and prepared. What must we do? When Jesus was telling his disciples about the end time, he told them about the signs of earthquakes, wars, misleading messiah complexes. But Jesus also concludes by saying that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). In order to be ready, we need to know what Noah’s time was like, and we need to know how he lived.
Genesis 6:1-3 tells us that the whole world was wicked and turning away from God. Genesis 6:8 says “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.” This word, favour, is like grace. Noah received grace.
Because Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord, God came to him and instructed him in what he was supposed to do. We must believe in the Word given by God, just as Noah did. It was by grace that the Word came to Noah, but it was also by grace that Noah was able to believe and obey God’s Word. There was Word, and there was faith. But how could Noah have faith? Would you be able to believe that rain was going to come and flood the earth, even though you had never seen rain before? That’s faith, and that faith came from grace. Noah finished the ark as a result of grace, and God told him when the flood, the judgement, would arrive. We must not miss this favour of the Lord. This favour is God’s grace. We need to receive and find that favour.
Every letter Apostle Paul wrote had the blessing, “May the Lord’s grace and peace be with you.” He understood how important such grace was. Without grace, the churches cannot have peace and cannot stand. That’s why he always mentioned grace and peace in his letters.
Even if you lose everything, even if the whole world were to collapse today, as long as the grace of God is with you, everything will be okay.
Apostle Peter experienced a lot of grace too. Even though he promised Jesus that he would follow Jesus through trials, sufferings, and even death, he later denied Jesus three times. At the last denial, Peter looked at Jesus, and Jesus looked at him. But what did Jesus do? He told Peter after the resurrection: “Tend my flock” (John 21:15-17).
Peter describes the power of grace in 1 Peter 1:1-9. Peter is saying that you are now living in grace, and that grace preserves you until the end when you put on immortality.
Grace (charis) is a free, undeserved gift, or favour. It’s a gift that contains the giver’s heart.
Grace = God giving you something you don’t deserve.
John wrote that ‘of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace’ (John 1:16). Have you received that grace? Is it alive in your life? If we are able to gain salvation on our own, through our own works, we have no need for grace. But it is grace because we cannot go to heaven on our own. This is why the Apostle Paul said that he cannot boast of anything except Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14)
Grace we have received (Grace of salvation)
1 Peter 1:9 tells us, ‘obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’ Peter intertwines grace and salvation throughout 1 Peter 1:1-9. It is God’s grace which gives us the Word, which allows us to believe in that Word, and which ultimately gives us salvation. Peter also talks about the ‘grace that will come to you’ (1 Peter 1:10).
Grace is God’s favour. But we could even say that grace is God’s favouritism. Jacob treated Joseph with favouritism in comparison to his other sons. God is likewise showing favouritism to us that even the angels long for (1 Peter 1:12). Romans 10:17 tells us that faith does not originate from within. It’s when the Word comes to us that we can believe. When that faith is given to us through the Word, then we can have salvation through faith. And that salvation itself is grace also.
Grace we are receiving (Grace in our lives)
When we hear the Word and receive it daily, it is God’s grace. We receive grace through understanding God’s Word. God also blesses us daily.
The grace we have received, as an outcome of our faith, is our salvation. Do you believe you will be in heaven if you die today? Amen. We receive grace in so many different ways. Without grace, you will leave the sanctuary without having gained anything. Without grace, your faith is paralyzed. Grace is like engine oil. A car will not move well if there isn’t any engine oil. The car will still move if there’s fuel, but the lack of engine oil will cause the movement to be full of friction and noise. You may have the strength, the zeal, the motivation, or skills, but your life of faith will be full of friction and noise. You come to church, you do the same thing, you sing and worship, you mop the floor, but you go home and there’s darkness in your heart. When you don’t have grace, you don’t even want to come to church because of a lack of lubrication. But when there’s grace, you find joy in everything. You’ll find peace. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 says, ‘Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favourable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’ Now is the time to receive grace and to store up grace. It is the grace that allows us to understand the Word.
1 Timothy 6:7-8 says, ‘for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.’ Even if we have our basic necessities, that’s God’s grace and we should be thankful.
God’s grace and love can be thought of in three ways:
(1) Grace to understand the truth of the Word.
This is one of God’s greatest blessings for us. Colossians 1:6 says, ‘which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.’ What are the truths when we come to receive the Word? We realize that we are sinners. Apostle Paul thought he was doing the right thing by persecuting the Christians, until he met Jesus and saw the truth. Even troubles and difficulties come from grace as well. Without troubles, we wouldn’t come to Jesus.
(2) Grace is all of the blessings God gives us.
(3) Grace is God’s help.
There are many things which we cannot control or change. Parents cannot control their children anymore. When parents cannot guide their children, only God’s grace will guide them. When I can’t control my own thoughts, I need God’s grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 says, ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.’ (Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:16). Sometimes we go through difficulties, and we cannot get rid of the sadness, the fear, the darkness. When you come to the point where you cannot even pray, just kneel before God and ask for God’s grace. Some of us might need to do this today. We need God’s grace every moment of our lives. We need to seek God’s grace, and we need to preserve God’s grace.
What causes you to lose grace? What pushes out grace? When do you lose inspiration and thankfulness? I, me, and myself. It is self-centredness. When things become about me and myself, that’s when grace has no place. You may be working hard in church. If you’re full of grace, it doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning alone or with others. But if “I” becomes the centre, then you will start to ask, “Why am I the only one cleaning?” and “What about me?” The complaints come about because your focus has shifted onto yourself, and that pushes out grace.
In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul seems to be boasting and self-centred. But in fact, Paul is openly declaring that the grace of God is at the centre of all who he is. May we move away and let God’s grace take the centre throne.
Grace we will receive
1 Peter 1:5 says, ‘who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.’ Peter is speaking of salvation to be received at the end, in the future, when Jesus comes again (1 Peter 1:13, 20-21). God’s grace has been prepared for us to receive in the future. In Matthew 24:13 Jesus says, ‘But the one who endures to the end will be saved.’ What salvation is Jesus talking about? If you died today, your soul will be in heaven because of the grace you have received. But what about your body? Our bodies are not imperishable. Our bodies are ageing day by day. This salvation is the salvation of the flesh. When Jesus comes again, all our bodies will be transformed. Our bodies are not imperishable, but when we transfigure, our bodies will become immortal and imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:48-58). This time of final grace is about the Second Coming. It is the grace of being prepared, of receiving what was promised, of overcoming trials and temptations, and of being sober and sound until the end. James 1:12 says, ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’
Jesus told the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9). When the seed lands on the road, the birds, representing Satan, come and take it away. When the seed lands on rocky soil, it cannot root down because it’s shallow, and so it withers away. The seed that lands on the soil with thorns and thistles will have deep roots, but it will be pricked and suffocated by the thorns and thistles, symbolising the hardships of life. And the seed that lands on the good soil will grow and produce a hundredfold harvest. But Jesus’ disciples then asked Jesus about why He spoke in parables (Matthew 13:10). And what does Jesus say? Matthew 13:11 says, ‘And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
But there’s a fifth soil that is not mentioned in this parable. It’s the soil that does not receive the seed. Who decides to sow the seed? Jesus is talking about grace. From the receiving of the seed to its fruition, it is all by the grace of God. Regardless of your soil, you are still receiving the seed, the Word of God, by God’s grace. And it is by God’s grace that the rocks and the thorns and thistles are removed from your soil, and you can bear fruit. May we be thankful for this grace of God. May we remember that we need this grace in order to believe. We need to seek for God’s grace by responding to God’s Word.