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Walking in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ - Rev. Funke Ewuosho
The Apostle Paul ends his epistle to the Corinthians with the prayer - “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (That is, the “favour and spiritual blessing” of the Lord Jesus Christ- AMP). And in Revelation 22:21, “The grace (blessing and favour) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with all the saints.” (AMP)
Grace, in the Old Testament, means: Kindness, favour. In the New, Grace implies: Acceptance and acceptability, benefit, favour, gifts, grace, etc. It signifies unmerited favour, undeserved blessing, a free gift.
And according to the English Dictionary, Grace is:
i. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
ii. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favour of God.
iii. An excellence or power granted by God.
The picture of God"s grace to us is fully captured in Ephesians 1:3-14: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us...... In Him also we have obtained an inheritance....”
However, a closer study of the subject of Grace in the Bible, reveals that God"s Grace is many-sided; “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet.4:10).
Let"s have a look at three different sides or dimensions of Grace:
1. The Salvation Dimension.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men...” Titus 2:11 (NKJV). Salvation starts with the new birth (the salvation of the spirit man), but it is much more than that; or else, God would have whisked us straight to heaven, right after we got born again! The new birth is just the beginning of many other things that God has freely given us to enjoy in Christ Jesus. Jesus said except a man be born again, He cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God. Paul talks about “the things that accompany salvation.” Salvation, therefore, includes - forgiveness, rescue, deliverance, safety, liberation, release, preservation, healing, restoration, and the general word for Christian salvation. Christ"s salvation is total in scope for the total man: spirit, soul and body. Also, our Salvation is in the Past, Present and Future; we have been saved (born again), we are being saved - delivered, rescued, healed, renewed in our minds, etc. and we shall be saved!
Salvation came to us by God"s favour - we didn"t merit it. It was all about what Christ did, we only believed and received it. God"s Riches At Christ"s Expense. (G.R.A.C.E). “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can"t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NLT) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.6:23). God"s Salvation brings to us, among other things:
a. His Presence.
God promised His presence to go with the Israelites, into the promised land, after their deliverance from Egypt. Moses desired God"s presence to go with them- as a proof that they have found grace in His sight. (Ex. 33:15-16) God"s presence gives confidence and guarantees protection, provision, victory, success, etc. “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb.13:5-6)
b. Prosperity & Provision.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9) The Amplified Bible defines Grace here as, His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favour and spiritual blessing.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; and he and his entire household were preserved in the ark, when everything on earth was going to be destroyed by floodwaters. (Genesis 6:8). Because of Abraham, angels were sent to rescue Lot and his entire family out of Sodom and Gomorrah before it was destroyed. (Gen. 19:12).
d. Favour with people:
Joseph was sold as a slave, but he was a successful man. He had favour with Potiphar; and because he saw that the Lord was with Joseph and prospered all he did, Potiphar made him overseer of his house - putting all he had under his authority. (Genesis 39:1-4). Ruth had favour with Boaz, and he took notice of her, though she was a foreigner! (Ruth 2:10). David had favour with Jonathan; and he helped David escape being killed by his father, Saul. (I Sam. 20:3). Esther obtained favour in the sight of all who saw her, when her turn came to go in to the king. “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” (Esther 2:15,17).
2. The Teaching Dimension.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,” (Titus 2:11-12). The word, Soberly, literally means, “to save the mind.” It is an adverb which signifies, ACTING IN A RESPONSIBLE MANNER, SENSIBLY, PRUDENTLY, BEING IN SELF CONTROL and IN FULL POSSESSION OF INTELLECTUAL and EMOTIONAL FACULTIES.
This scripture clearly tells us that Grace not only brings us salvation, but also teaches us some things! God said He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and will put His laws in their mind and write them on their hearts. (Heb. 8:8-10). We are not under law, but under Grace; we were delivered from the law, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. (Rom. 7:6);
Grace writes God"s laws on our hearts, teaching us to know and do what God wants instinctively! “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). Jesus said the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach His disciples all things, and bring to their remembrance all things that He said to them. (Jn. 14:26).
Grace teaches us how to serve God acceptably. (Heb. 12:28). Grace must have taught Abel, even before the law came, to bring the acceptable offering to God. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. Cain was very angry, and the Lord said to him, “You will be accepted if you do what is right.” (Genesis 4:7 NLT)
Grace teaches us to do what is right. Cornelius, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always, and in a vision an angel of God said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:2-4) Preaching to Cornelius" household, Peter said, “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35 NLT).
3. The Enabling (or Empowering) Dimension.
God"s grace helps us overcome our human weaknesses and limitations. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16)
Grace helps us overcome sin. Joseph turned down Potiphar"s wife"s illicit advances; he said, to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9) We shall not continue to sin and expect Grace to abound- God forbid! Romans 6:14 says sin shall not have dominion over believers, because we are not under law but under grace. And because we have received abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, we will reign in life through Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17).
However, because the grace of God isn"t passive or work automatically; we must learn to engage the grace of God in our lives.
God"s Grace enables us handle the challenges that come our way, and to overcome them. Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, but when he pleaded with the Lord concerning it, he was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9). Paul got the message- that he had what it took to handle the situation! He said, “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ"s sufficiency].” (Php. 4:13 AMP) Paul attributed all he was and did, not to himself, but to the grace of God which was with him! (I Cor. 15:9-10).
Grace also enables us to give sometimes it isn"t just natural to give! Implying giving, the Apostle Paul talks about the Grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, and urged the Corinthians to see that they “abound in this grace also.” (II Cor. 8:1-7)
Moreover, giving with the right heart and motive, is a work of grace in our hearts! The Bible makes it clear that it is possible to give one"s body to be burnt, but without love; which doesn"t profit us anything. (1 Cor. 13:3)
Some FACTS about Grace
a. Grace is RECEIVED through faith in Jesus Christ:
First of all, by our faith in Jesus Christ, we received grace unmerited favour, with God. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17). It is also by faith in Him that we have access into God"s grace. (Rom. 5:1-2).
b. Grace is VISIBLE.
Grace has also been defined as, “The divine influence upon the heart, and it"s reflection in the life.” (The New Strong"s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible). That is, grace works from inside out! You can see it"s out-working in miracles, as well as in character. When some believers (who were scattered after the persecution) went to Antioch, preaching the Lord Jesus, a great number believed and turned to the Lord. And when Barnabas came to Antioch, he SAW the grace of God and he was glad; and encouraged them all to continue with the Lord. (Acts 11:19-23).
Grace is from the same root words translated ‘Joy" and ‘to rejoice." Grace causes rejoicing. When Philip preached Christ to the city of Samaria, the multitudes gave heed, “hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4-8)
The anointing is a manifestation of Grace; “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38).
Jesus said, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18).
c. The Word of God contains His grace.
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
When the word of God is received by people, God"s ability to make that word good is also released. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11).
The ten of the twelve spies, who went to spy out the land, said they couldn"t take it because of the giants, but Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:31) Paul pleaded with the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. (II Corinthians 6:1).
We must, therefore, learn to cooperate and participate with God"s Grace.
When Mary was told she was going to be the mother of the Lord, though she was a virgin; she said to the angel Gabriel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to Mary, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:38, 45). Because Sarah believed God"s word, she “also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age,” (Heb.11:11).
Note that people also do carry and transmit different ‘graces" in the Body of Christ, for the benefit of the Body! Jesus distributed His Grace into people- “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God"s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-12 NLT). The
Apostles received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations, through Christ for His name. (Rom.1:5). The apostle Paul told the Philippians “ye all are partakers of my grace.” (Php. 1:7 KJV). In his letter to the Romans, he said, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—” (Romans 1:11). And to Timothy, “stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (II Timothy 1:6).
d. Grace can be frustrated or ‘set aside"
The Apostle Paul said, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Gal. 2:21). Unlike the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, instead of by trusting in him; and never succeeded. (Rom. 9:31-32).
Rather than the children of Israel looking to God"s Word and ability, they looked to their own ability and they saw that they were no match for the giants. They said, “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight...” (Numbers 13:31-33). God"s promise had nothing to do with their own ability, but everything to do with HIS own ability! God had given them His word and that word was full of His grace - His divine ability. The Bible says God"s word is ABLE to build us up and give us an inheritance!
e. Grace can be perverted.
Jude wrote to Christians, exhorting them to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints; and warned them of certain men who have crept in unnoticed; “ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Amplified Bible describes them as, “persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favour) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality,” And according to the NLT, these men wormed their way into your churches, saying that God"s marvellous grace allows us to live immoral lives!
The Bible says we should look carefully not to fall short of the grace of God, but to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” (Heb.12:14). The Apostle Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (I Cor. 9:27). He also warned the Corinthians saying, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Cor. 7:1).
f. We can GROW in grace:
Peter warned the believers not to fall from their own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18).
To grow in grace, is growing in our capacity and ability to handle and respond to situations rightly; e.g. offences! We can also grow in our capacity and ability to generate more finances - the Bible says it is God who gives us “the power to get wealth.” (Deut. 8:18)
How To WALK In Grace:
We have already found grace with God. We are already in favour with God. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” (Jn. 1:16). We already have unconditional acceptance with God - we are already “accepted in the Beloved.” We have already been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; because Jesus was made sin for us. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1-2)
However, there are things that we must do to activate the different dimensions of grace; so as to walk in grace. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” (Col. 2:6). In 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul admonished Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
NOTE: Humility is demonstrated in being teachable, being open and willing to learn. It is first of all an internal attitude and disposition. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” (I Cor. 3:18)
It seems to me that humility is a major key to walking, especially in the Teaching dimension of Grace. Grace can only teach those who are humble; “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matt. 5:3 NLT).
Humility is the key to the productivity of the word in our lives. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said the good ground represented those who heard and accepted the word, with a good and noble heart, and bore fruit. (Lk. 8:15)
It is also a key to divine promotion and prosperity. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,” (I Peter 5:6). Jesus also said, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” (Matt. 5:3, 5 NLT)
ii. Walking uprightly.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11)
The king of Judah relied on Syria and not on the Lord, therefore the Syrian army escaped from his hand - God wants to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him; that is, “those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chron. 26:9 NLT).
Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.” (Jer. 17:5)
Caleb had a different spirit, to the other ten spies; he followed the Lord fully - even in the face of the contrary evidence of the giants in the promised land! (Num. 14:24). “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8).
“But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6, 7 NLT)
Walking uprightly before God is, trusting and obeying Him; and that is a major key to walking in divine enablement.
When you do what God says, you experience His power. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:17,26)
The Philippians, through their partnership with Apostle Paul, in the gospel, partook of grace. (Php.1:7). They also enjoyed grace in the area of provision. Paul wrote to them, “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Php. 4:18-19) “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” (Gal. 6:6)
Giving is the major key to walking in prosperity and abundance.
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (II Cor. 9:6-8).
God told the Israelites to prove Him by bringing their tithes and offerings into the storehouse; and He will open the windows of heaven above them, and pour out on them blessing - more than enough! He also promised to rebuke the devourer for their sake, increase and protection over their produce. (Mal. 3:10-11)
iv. The Knowledge of God.
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (II Pet. 1:2-3)
There is a connection between what we know and what we can experience. We can"t enjoy more than what we know of Him, and what He has made available to us. Since Grace came through Jesus Christ, the more we know Him, the more we can walk in His Grace. “....but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:18). Paul prayed for the Colossians, “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Col.1:9-10) God made known His ways to Moses, and His acts to the children of Israel. (Psa.103:7)
God"s thoughts and ways are different to ours; they are higher, as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isa. 55:8-9); and He wants to reveal them to us- so we can walk in them! “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.....” (Deut. 29:29).
God bless you.
*All scriptures in NKJV, except otherwise specified.