Administering Grace

1 Peter 4:10

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

In many cases grace is a one way street.  Grace comes directly from God and is delivered to us by Jesus.  But we are also called to play an active part in relaying God’s grace.

We have each been given different spiritual gifts.  All gifts have been given for the building of God’s church even though some are very different from others.

The reason that we have so many different gifts is that God’s grace takes so many different forms.  God gives us grace for our salvation but He gives us grace in so many other ways as well.

Those with gifts of helping will show God’s grace by helping those in need.  Those who are encouragers will encourage.  And those who are teachers will instruct those who need the Word of God.

We are not meant to keep God’s grace all to ourselves.  In fact, it increases as we pass it along.  The more we share God’s grace, the more we will see it in our lives as well.  God’s grace is meant to be shared in whatever ways that He has enabled us.

The Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Many Christians struggle with sin and even question whether God loves them because of how they continually slip up.  Christians have feelings of guilt, both over sins in their past and sins that they have committed since they’ve become a Christian.

Sin is never good.  Sins of the past may still carry consequences whether it involved breaking the law or resulted in an unplanned child.  The sins of a Christian damage our relationship with God.

But God forgives all sin.  In God’s eyes, once we have asked forgiveness, the sin is erased once and for all.  What matters is what we do from now on.

This is why the author of Hebrews tells us to approach the throne of grace with confidence.  God does not delight in breaking us or causing us to come sobbing to Him at the end of our rope.  Instead he wants us to come to Him in confidence, knowing that He loves us and will forgive us no matter what we’ve done.

This isn’t a license to sin.  There are always consequences for our sin.  But there are open arms waiting to embrace us when we come to the Lord and admit when we’ve slipped up.  God loves us and nothing can stop that.

Salvation by Grace

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Jesus told a parable that illustrates what Paul teaches in Ephesians.  A Pharisee goes to the temple, boastful with his chest puffed out because he was a good man.  Next a tax collector comes, beating his chest and broken down, crying for mercy because he realizes that he’s a sinner.

No matter how good or bad we think we are, in God’s eyes we’re all in the same boat.  We’re sinners in need of a Savior.  For those who have been saved for some time, it is easy to forget what it was like before we were saved.  For those who grew up in the church, we may have never even experienced life without Christ.

We must be careful not to expect people to come to God on our terms.  Sometimes we expect people who visit the church to act like we do or speak like we do even though they have no reason to because they are not Christians.

God wants us to come to Him and then clean up our act, not the other way around.  If we are fortunate enough that we never experienced life without Christ, we should still recognize that we could be just the same as the visitor to church.  And if we were a church outsider at some time, we need to remember back to what it felt like and reach out to people in a similar situation.

We didn’t earn our salvation and we shouldn’t expect anyone else to do anything before they are accepted by God either.  Salvation is a gift, nothing else.  Praise God!

Fallen From Grace

Galatians 5:4

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

To some, the term fallen from grace means the loss of their salvation.  Regardless whether this is possible according to other passages in scripture, it is not what Paul is writing about in Galatians.

Instead, what Paul is writing about is literally giving up the grace that God has given them.  Instead of relying on God’s grace for their salvation, they believe that their works are saving them.  Or on the flip side of this, they believe that if they sin too often or too greatly, that God will remove His grace from them – as if they had any right to it in the first place since they were sinful from the start.

We cannot earn God’s grace.  We can’t be righteous on our own.  The Pharisees believed they were righteous and stated that they followed all of God’s laws but this simply wasn’t the case.  The Pharisees made up extra laws in order to keep from accidentally disobeying one of God’s laws.

But the Pharisees obeyed the letter of the law – their own law in many cases – but ignored the spirit of God’s laws.  As Christians we too can sometimes become overzealous in our attempts to not sin.

Without a doubt, there are movies we shouldn’t watch, dances that shouldn’t be danced, and thousands of websites that shouldn’t be viewed.  But this doesn’t mean movies, dancing, or the internet is bad in itself.  We must follow the spirit of God’s law and realize that we are saved by God’s grace alone.  Obedience to the law doesn’t make us righteous because we can’t obey 100%.

No Righteousness Through the Law

Galatians 2:21

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

We are to be holy as God is holy.  We should desire to follow the law because it pleases God.  We should want to obey because obedience is a way of showing our love for the Lord.  And we should want to obey God because sin hurts our relationship with God.

We should not obey the law of God because we believe that we are better people because of it however.  This was the major problem of the Pharisees.  They believed that they were righteous because they followed the law.  They compared themselves to others and saw that they were better people.

Instead of seeing the sin in their lives – even if it truly was less sin than the average person – they were blinded by their own perceived self righteousness.  Being a better person than someone else isn’t good enough if our sin is still unforgiven.

We should obey God out of love, not because it is what we’re supposed to do.  The Pharisees obeyed because they thought it was what they were supposed to do, not because they actually wanted to do it.

If we were capable of being righteous on our own, Jesus didn’t have to die.  In claiming to have upheld the law, the Pharisees and others like them claimed that Jesus wasted His time and His life.  We need Jesus because we can’t keep the law.  But we continue to try to keep the law not out of duty but of love for God.