Many a Christian has mistakenly believed grace to be a New Testament (New Covenant) concept alone; however, grace is woven throughout the entirety of Scripture’s fabric. Ironically, it’s the NT that affirms so, “...God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began...” (II Timothy 1:9; cfs. Revelation 13:8). God’s grace is in Jesus, God the Son. His sacrifice for us is the meat and drink of which the gospel message consists (John 6:41-71).
As we continue in this series, let that thought revolutionize how you study The Bible and how you let it study you.
In response to the Holy Spirit’s persuasive influence, mercy toward us is God’s second act of grace (Ephesians 2:1-9; cf. Titus 3:3-7).
- RE: this second experience, Professor Dr. Justin Holcomb (GCTS) offers what I consider an irreducible definition of grace, calling it “Mercy, not merit.”
- By this, grace is another of Christianity’s distinguishing characteristics from world religions (e.g., grace is the opposite of the Hindu concept of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve – over and over and over...)
- God’s second giving of grace is getting what we don’t deserve (eternal fellowship with God), and not getting what we warrant (eternal separation from God).
Realize: grace is entirely a word about the Godhead.
- The Psalmist justifiably asks, “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow”(Psalm 144:3-4).
- Professor Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary writes, “In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners, but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.”
- In mercy, God gives Himself to compensate for our deficit.
- There’s a heretical thought, though, permeating American Evangelical literature, music, preaching, and teaching; its focus is the spiritual danger: we receive grace and mercy because of who we are.
- Just as in Jesus’ days Hebrews thought they were justified through an earthly lineage (Matthew 3:7-12; John 8:37-47), many Christians believe we receive mercy because of something inherent about us.
- God’s love for us is unconditional so He constantly appeals to us to repent by His first act of grace: persuasive influence (see Genesis 3:9; John 6:44; I Corinthians 12:3; II Corinthians 7:10).
- Why? Because without His holiness accounted to us, we’ll never see Him (Hebrews 12:14).
- In actuality: we receive His grace and mercy because of Who He is (see Matthew 12:39; 16:4; John 2:13-21; Romans 10:9-10; I John 4:19)!
Let God’s grace (persuasive influence), then, lead you to His mercy.
- A foreshadowing of how He’d one day atone for our spiritual nakedness, God graciously covered Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness: “...the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them”(Genesis 3:21; John 1:29).
- Evil had become so pervasive God actually regretted creating our race, but there was one – though not perfect but righteous man – whose family God chose to save from destruction: “...But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD...”(Genesis 6:8).
- King David lusted, coveted his neighbor’s wife, committed adultery, lied, and conspired to have his neighbor murdered, yet, when he repented, God measured his contrite heart and showed mercy to him: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness... cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions”(Psalm 51; see v. 17!)
Like Adam and Eve; like King David; like this woman so moved by Who Jesus was she sought Him out and expressed her heartfelt trust in Him; will you do the same?