Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts on grace

There are few subjects more misunderstood among people as grace. Most people here in the south have heard the saying "we are saved by grace" about as much as we hear someone say "roll tide" or "war eagle".

Yet what does it mean to be saved by grace? Unfortunately, there are common heretical understandings of what it means . One of the more popular heresies is that grace allows us to do whatever we want, regardless of whether it is contrary to God's law because Jesus' death allows us to do as we please without fear of consequence. As if grace is somewhat of a divine cover up. Those who espouse such ideas might even twist scriptures out of context as proof of their teaching. It's almost as if they picture God telling people He loves them just as they are and to please never change whatsoever.

Friends this is not so. God does love us and has done so from eternity, but so much so that He doesn't allow those who belong to Him to remain in their fallen state. So what idea does the bible give us on grace?

Titus 2:11-14New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

You see the New Testament teaching of the grace of God gives us the truth that grace isn't a system of thought that allows lawlessness. Rather it is an active energy at work in us through the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox Study Bible's footnote on Titus 2:11-15 states "grace is the uncreated energy of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, through which He gives His gifts to man in tender mercy and good will. It is a formative power, the rule of life of the age to come, requiring our determined participation." This is the same idea on grace that 1 Peter 1:2-4 gives us. It is grace that allows us to be partakers of the divine nature. 

In the New Testament times, there were teachers who infiltrated the churches known as Gnostics. The people known as Gnostics claimed to know God without becoming godly. Sound familiar? 

I want to be clear.  We are definitely saved by grace through faith. However, the grace given by God teaches us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. God's grace empowers us to live godly, self controlled, and righteous lives in this present age. 

May we all have God's grace multiplied in our hearts and minds. 

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