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The Grace of God in Our Lives

By Pastor William R. Cunningham
For August 7, 2005

 

Introduction

Life does not always bring happiness and pleasure. Sometimes we suffer greatly and other times we have a wonderful time. We are easy to say that someone didn’t deserve the misfortune that befell them. However, we could also say that we do not deserve the fortune that befalls us. As a matter of fact, I would dare say that we more deserve the “bad” things than we do the “good” things.

We would find that we deserve nothing from God and the only thing that we ultimately deserve is death. This is because all humans are sinners by nature. Our first disposition is against the way of God. Yet we still feel that we deserve to have a good life. Some have come up with many schemes to guarantee that good life for you. Even preachers preach the good life that you should have as the “King’s kids.” If only it were so simple.

The fact is we deserve nothing and yet we do find pleasure in life. We have earned nothing and yet many find favor and many things. We don’t deserve happiness. There is no cosmic law that suggests that we should have a good life. There is nothing that indicates that humans should have a “blessed life.”

So why are we able to make money? Why do we find pleasure sometimes in a life filled with challenges and pain? Why do Christians have a promise of eternal life with God for all eternity with no pain? Why do Christians have the life of God, which transcends any “good times” we may have on earth? The answer is God’s grace.

We all experience the grace of God in one way or another. Living by God’s grace does not mean that all will go smoothly. There are more forces, if you will, operating on earth than God’s grace. That is a topic of another study. However, we are all affected by the grace of God one way or another. We are going to discuss the grace of God and how it affects our lives.

What is Grace?

Let’s first define grace so that we are sure to be talking about the same thing. The Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines grace as follows.

“Favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what the person deserves.”

Grace therefore could be thought of as unmerited or unearned favor. Grace in the Old Testament is translated from a Hebrew word that means “favor.”

The important thing to remember about grace is that it manifests in activity that is not deserved or earned.

Grace is an attribute of God. Consider the following scripture.

Exodus 34:6 (NKJV) -- {6}And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,

  1. God is merciful
  2. God is gracious
  3. God is longsuffering
  4. God is abounding in goodness and truth

Illustrations of Grace

Let’s now look at some illustrations of grace from the scriptures.

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 (NKJV) -- {6}“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. {7}The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; {8}but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. {9}“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

  1. Holy people (they were chosen)
  2. A special treasure (because they were chosen)
  3. Their state was not due to their numbers, but to God’s love

It is true that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. However, it was nothing that they did to establish this. They did not earn God’s love. They did nothing to be a treasure to God. It was purely because of God that they were chosen and became special.

We shouldn’t think that we did anything to earn or deserve the blessings of God that come to us. We should not begin to have a puffed up head and think that we are so great because we are blessed. We are nothing without the Lord. All that we have is because of the grace and mercy of God. We should never think that we are so good or so faithful that we have received this or that. It is all because of God’s grace that we have anything.

What about those people that suffer or experience a great catastrophe? Why have they not received God’s grace?

  1. If they are still alive then they have experienced God’s grace through sparing their life and hope.
  2. I mentioned earlier that there are more forces operating in the earth. We cannot equate experiencing a catastrophe with the absence of God’s grace. I believe all that happens on the earth is not God’s will. I cannot believe that it’s God’s will for someone to lose all of their possessions in a hurricane or some other natural disaster. It is hard for me to believe that it is God’s will that multitudes are killed in an earthquake or the like. However, our own sin (collectively) brings about many misfortunes that we have. This indeed is a topic for another discussion and I will refrain from commenting further. Suffice it for me to say that the presence of misfortune is not necessarily the absence of God’s grace.

 

Let’s look at another illustration of grace in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (NKJV) -- {4}“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. {5} It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. {6}Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

The Hebrews were not to think that their fortune was somehow due to merit. The fact that their enemies were driven from them did not mean that they were so righteous. Their enemies were driven from them because of the wickedness of their enemies and not because of their own righteousness.

We should realize that sometimes we may indeed be the benefactor of the misfortune of someone else according to the will of God. If God displaces someone and we move in then we should not think that we moved in because we were so good. We were simply the benefactor of God’s judgment on someone else.

Another illustration of God’s grace is the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. We should consider that they did nothing to deserve that deliverance and yet they received it. The only thing that they did was to cry out to God (Exodus 3:7-8). They weren’t very righteous and therefore deserved to be saved. They did nothing to receive God’s salvation. It was through God’s grace that they were saved.

Jesus Christ

The greatest illustration of all of God’s grace is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came and died for our sins. We did not deserve this salvation. We did not earn the deliverance from our sins and yet God provided it. Consider this scripture.

Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV) -- {6}For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {7}For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. {8}But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We were wallowing in the mud and yet someone came to pull us out and clean us off. We didn’t deserve it. We were too busy “enjoying” life. We weren’t concerned about God. However, God loved us and provided salvation for us.

We cannot boast because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Above all that happens to us in life we have the confidence and hope of salvation, which we have not earned and that we were freely given. We have access to the grace of God (salvation) through faith. Therefore all we have to do is believe and we will experience the grace of God, which is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Practical Grace

The grace of God is manifested in many ways and we should not take it for granted. The grace of God is manifested in the fact that you have a job, is receiving income, needs being met, acquired funding for school or a project, growth of your business, prosperity of your home, etc. God’s grace is evident in all aspects of our lives.

We should not think that we could afford anything. It is the grace of God that provides us with the means to afford anything and therefore it is the grace of God that we have anything.

Obtaining Grace

How can we obtain the grace of God if it is not earned? We simply pray to God. This doesn’t mean that God will give us everything that we pray for. However, we can trust in his mercy (Ps. 52:8). There are many gimmicks as to how we can receive this and that. There are many teachings on how we might receive favor from God. However, I have come to learn that the only thing we can do is ask God for what we want and expect it to happen. Note that expecting favor does not mean that it will be there. That is just a way to have confidence in God. However, we should always be aware of God moving in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I tend to go into a store to purchase something and expect favor. I expect things to go well so that I could get what I want. Well sometimes things don’t go well and I have to abandon my desire to have such and such. However, sometimes things go very well and I am blessed with what I asked for. Sometimes God brings about a gift by surprise. In any case, the best we can do is to ask God for what we want. He works out the details and orchestrates events. We can only pray and obey.

I like that! Pray and obey. That is the best we could ever do. I recall David praying for his dying son only to say that he didn’t know what God would do so he continued to pray until something happened (See 2 Samuel 12:19-23). Ask God that he might grant you favor.

Favor does not Preclude Righteous Living

We should still pursue righteous living even though we do not earn the grace of God. As a matter of fact, those who truly have a heart for God do not need this instruction. They are always trying to please God even after falling sometimes. In any case, we should still pursue the Kingdom of God even though we have the grace of God operating in our lives. Grace does not negate the fact that we should live a righteous life.

We also should not allow guilt to diminish the grace of God operating in our lives. We don’t deserve God’s favor so we shouldn’t think that our actions could cause him not to extend it. If our heart is indeed right with God then we can ask forgiveness and move on with out life as we strive to live according to his way.

Activities and Favor

Things that happen to us are not always an indication of God’s favor or lack of it. We can’t say that this or that happens because of God’s favor in the strictest sense. We can say such a thing with certain degrees of confidence once we recognize God moving in our lives. This of course implies experience with God and therefore a godly walk.

Just because something good happens does not mean that it was God’s favor. Just because something bad happens doesn’t meant that it was God’s judgment. Things happen to all people on the earth both good and bad. We have to weigh everything to God’s word and more precisely to the path that God has directed for us.

It could be very dangerous to equate activities with God’s favor. Preachers tell you that you are blessed or that you walk in favor if you get a new car, a new house, or more money. What about those people in poor countries or families? Can they therefore ever experience the favor or grace of God? Of course they can, but it won’t necessarily be measured in dollars and cents the way we westerners have come to think. The grace of God could manifest itself in any number of ways in a person’s life according to the will of God.

This fact will help protect us from two things. It will help protect us from pride and justification of sins. On the one hand we could come to believe that we are more blessed than someone else and therefore better than someone else because we have received great blessings such as a new car, a raise, etc. We get the “holier than thou” attitude, which is nothing but pride based on self. However, if we realize that we deserve nothing and that activities do not necessarily show God’s approval or disapproval, then we will realize that we are better than no one else. Consider that there are many criminals who have great things, which we would at first glance say they are blessed. Things happen on planet earth. We should always remember that. The fact that someone has a lot of money doesn’t mean that he is blessed of God as he could have acquired that money by deceit.

Conclusion

Grace is unmerited favor from God and it is manifested in many ways including the death of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn God’s grace and we do not deserve what He does for us. However, God’s love for us manifests itself by grace towards us. We can experience this grace by simply praying to God for things in our lives. We should always expect God’s grace as you never know when it will actually be extended in terms of daily living.

Live according to God’s way and strive to please him. Don’t go on a guilt trip when you sin because you didn’t earn God’s love anyway. We haven’t even earned forgiveness and yet God freely expends it to us through the blood of Christ.

 

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