This is the last and final post for my series “Grace Under Pressure.” My hope is that you have been encouraged by what you have read and been reading over the past two months. I would also like to end this series with a post from Zack Anderson as he shares what God has shown him through his life about grace.
”We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”– 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
This last year I was sicker than I am right now. A simple statement that many could say if they had had the flu or maybe ear infection that occurred in 2016. So, I am healthier now than I was then. Not so unique. But when I explain further as I am about to do, that God lead me through a time where my large intestine was in the worst shape than my surgeon had ever seen. In fact, they asked if they could study it in hopes of helping anyone else who might have a colon in this kind of severe shape. I was losing blood every time food went through my body. I was extremely dehydrated and in need of IVs and hospitalization throughout various times of the year.
My 2016 health problems are not actually the point of the post. God is. Specifically God’s amazing grace. That phrase and idea of God’s “amazing grace” may be unfortunately underestimated and perhaps unappreciated by many. One reason could be because we only contemplate it only when singing the beautiful and truthful hymn by John Newton. Or we might just think of it as simply a theological fact and don’t fully realize the gravity of what it means to us personally. To my shame, there are times where I don’t truly appreciate what it really means that the Creator God of the cosmos, would look down on a world full of sinners, and instead of immediately obliterating mankind (which we all deserve by the way). He by His own choice decided instead to show His merciful grace to us. So what is grace?
Sometimes we unintentionally use words without defining them and then assume that we are all on the same page in meaning. So let’s see if we are! Let’s go ahead and define the word “grace” or rather let’s allow this google search do so for us (this is not always the best method for getting accurate definitions. But the results were great in this case!). The first result from the search engine says, Grace is defined* as “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”
I think that is a Biblical and direct way of explaining how God is Grace and how He acts in that grace towards objects of His affection, namely us humans. We see this grace displayed in a variety of ways in Scripture and we often experience them in each of our lives. His mighty works and majestic ways of blessing is a beautiful truth but it is also a practical interaction from God to us. People often want to see miracles. Well here is one: that God would extend grace to his enemies.
“Enemies!? Enemies of God you say? I am not an enemy of God. Satan is, and then maybe the ‘really bad people’ like Kim Jong Un, the current leader of North Korea, might be, but I am not! God loves me and I love Him back.” This is the understandable response at least at first glance to a seemingly shocking statement.But bear with me for a moment as we look at what the Bible says concerning grace. I want to show you just how incredible grace from God actually is.
I think that specifically for those of us raised in the church, who learn about the existence of God, and what Jesus did on the Cross, it is hard to grasp that we are at odds with this loving God. After all the Bible declares boldly and rightfully so that “God is love”. I sympathize with any surprised reactions to the difficult truth that God sees sinners as His enemies. It was a massively intense shock when I first realized this truth too. How did this fact about God come to my attention? Studying the Bible showed clearly the relationship between God and man. The Word of God is the source a Believer goes to with our questions about, who God is and what God does relating to all Creation, including, in this case, ourselves.
First the facts about who mankind is in relation to God.
- We are enemies of God. Romans 5:10; James 4:4
- Children of wrath. We have sinned against a holy God. Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:3
- We are blind to the Truth of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
- We are in desperate need of a Savior because we all deserve Hell. Romans 3:11-12; 2nd Peter 2:3-4; Matt.8:12; Revelation 21:8
We have seen from the very Words of God that we are not born in favor in the sight of God. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Study and contemplate the verses above and ask God to show you your need of Jesus. We stand guilty of breaking God’s commands as sinners, it is because of our sin and His holiness that we are criminals. It is a humbling thing to realize that we are the bad guys in the story of our relationship with the fair and good Judge. And now to show you the unprecedented and undeserved amazing Grace part. In Scripture, we now turn to look at God’s grace in Salvation first, and then the continually daily grace he gives all born-again Christians in this life. Take time to truly examne the absolute unmerited miracles God does by His gracious deeds.
- God provided a way to grace and His name is Jesus. Jesus took the wrath of God on Himself while on the Cross in the place of sinners John 14:6; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8-10
- God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud. Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6-8
- He Calls, Convicts, and Converts sinners and the sinners repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Luke 5:32 ;Mark 1:15; John 3:16-17; Romans 5:9, 8:3; Romans 11:5-6; 2nd Timothy 1:9
- God’s Grace is continually being poured out on the Christians during all circumstances they face in this life. John 1:16; 2nd Corinthians 4:8-11; James 1:1-5; 1st Peter 4:12-19
As we have seen as we have briefly looked into the truth that we are objects of God’s wrath yet God is a merciful Savior. The grace God shows during situations is clear from the Scripture in point 4 above as well. The well-known verse in 1 John 4:8 that tells us “God is love” does not contradict the fact that He is also just in His judgment of sinners and allowance of suffering of His saints.
So going back to my particular story, I had drastic surgery done in February of this year, 2017. It has been extremely hard physically, and even though I may not always like to admit it, it has been extremely hard on me emotionally as well. I have had pain. Life is hard and there are days when I sit on my bed and cry, but I have not lost my joy. Why? Because my Joy is God Himself. I may not always be happy. There will become severely disheartened over life’s great trials and tribulations. However, my joy in the Lord is more than enough to keep me making disciples for the Glory of God in all nations. I have experienced 2nd Corinthians 4:8-11 personally, and while I believe it to be true simply because the Bible says it is. I now have been there and can attest to God’s real, saving, and yes, amazing Grace!
Soli Deo Gloria.
Bio: Zack Anderson is a wretched sinner apart from Jesus. Zack was saved by God’s grace at the age of twelve and while he is still a man who sins daily, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he is continually repentant and has dedicated his feeble and fleeting life to making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16-20; Eph 6:19-20). He has a passion to see the local churches of the world to trust God and the Bible in all manors, which includes preaching the Gospel and caring for physical needs. In addition, he has a zeal for equipping and encouraging Christians through the preaching and obedience of the Bible. Zack’s prayer is the proclamation of Jesus’ Name and the genuine worship of God would be correctly viewed as the Church’s primary purpose and goal among all the nations for the glory of God. You can read more from Zack Anderson by reading and subscribing by email to his blog: https://jehovahhasremembered.blogspot.com