Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 47. Faith Opens the Door to Grace
Rom 5:1,2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Rom 5:1,2)
Let’s take some short cuts and try defining grace from the outset. You may have heard the Sunday School acronym, GRACE = God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense or to put it another way, all of God resources that are available to us through what Christ achieved for us on the Cross. Put even another way, it is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within us who provides us with all we need to live out the Christ-like and Christ-directed life. Put like that we can see just how important grace is in the life of the Christian.
Indeed when we examine the Scriptures we see it is all over the place. First of all, when we consider Jesus’ himself, it was even there: “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” (Lk 2:40) Now some say that grace is God’s favour, and that is true, even though I don’t think it says enough, but it was certainly true of Jesus. Indeed it would appear that in Jesus there was no limitation on this grace because, referring to his ministry, the apostle John wrote, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (Jn 1:16) i.e. blessing after blessing came from Jesus, from that unlimited grace within him, the Son of God.
But second, when it comes to our salvation, our coming to Christ, the believers were referred to as, “those who by grace had believed.” (Acts 18:27) suggesting that is only with God’s help and God’s resources that we actually come to believe. Indeed the very Gospel is referred to as “the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) because that is ultimately what it is all about, God bringing us to a position where we can receive all of His goodness that He wants to share with us. We didn’t emphasize it earlier but the truth is that God’s grace is a pure gift, there is nothing we can do to earn it. Indeed the very act of justifying us that we considered previously was an act of grace, for justification is just one part of God’s resources available to us: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23,24) As the Message version puts that, “God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Yes, it was all a work of God.
But then third, once we come to Christ there is just as much a need of His grace for daily Christian living. So often the apostle Paul would recognise this need: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 1:7) and it is grace that enables us to have faith: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.” (Rom 4:16) Receiving the fruit if all God’s promises for us, is what Christian life is all about, which brings us to our starting verse again, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Rom 5:1,2) Faith, we said, opens the doorway into the life of grace.
But, fourth, it is more than that, it is grace for service: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Rom 12:6) and “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge.” (1 Cor 1:4,5) The gifts we have, the knowledge we have, the abilities we may have to speak, are all gifts of grace, freely given by God and not earned. Indeed, says Paul, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8) i.e. whatever God gives you to do, He will also provide the resources to do it.
Now let’s draw these four threads together. What is it that unites them? Faith. All four have to be appropriated by faith. We saw in an earlier study that by faith we believe in Jesus, but here we have seen that he is THE resource provider and in him there is limitless supply. Faith flows when we accept this truth and turn to him to provide for us all we need.
Second, we spoke of grace in the coming of our salvation. To receive this free gift of God we have to accept the simple truths that we have seen previously about what Christ has done for us and what he has achieved for us, and how it now applies to us.
Third we spoke of grace being the resource we need to live out our ordinary everyday lives, revealing and exhibiting the love and goodness of God. For that to happen the grace of God has to be received on a daily basis, we need to turn to him and declare our dependence on him daily, and that is an act of faith.
Finally we spoke of grace for service and the same thing applies here. Daily we need to reiterate our complete reliance upon him to do the things he calls us to, and that is an act of faith. Everywhere faith and grace are linked together. Grace is God’s provision, and faith is the way we receive it. Hallelujah!