The fine is $100.00. (Not let us look a three words: justice, mercy, and grace.) Justice says that you are guilty and the judge enforces the law and thus fines you $100.00. Mercy says that the judge cuts the fine to $50.00. Now, let us suppose that the Judge receives a note from the bailiff saying that the fine is already paid in full by the court appointed defense attorney and there is also $50.00 extra to be turned over to the defendant. Grace says that the judge gives you $50.00 and tells you to take your family out to eat. ..... Which would you rather have?
Justice means that we receive what we deserve. Mercy means that we don't receive what we deserve. Grace means that we receive what we don't deserve.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Jesus has already paid the sin penalty on our behalf; therefore, God, the Judge, offers us salvation as a gift. Our salvation is also maintained by grace. In fact, we can only live the Christian life by the grace of God.
Many of the people that I counsel feel guilty, rejected and depressed. They often believe that there is little or no hope for them in their situation. They have tried everything that they know how to try, from reading self-help books to trying applying Christian disciplines (prayer, Bible reading, and going to church). A good many have even tried secular counseling or various aspects of Eastern religions. So then, why have none of these things helped them to live? Why do they continue to fail when they have a desire to live a pure, holy life?
When I was in college in 1964, I knew that God was calling me into ministry. I had been a Christian since I was nine years old. My dad was a minister. I had gone to church all my life. So why was I afraid to go into ministry? I knew that I could not face the people that I knew to tell them of God's call. As I sang in the choir on a Sunday evening, I again sensed God's call. I told God that I didn't have it in me to go forward to tell the pastor and the church. He would have to give me the ability to do it. The next thing that I knew I was walking down before the church to tell the minister.
The days that followed were filled with counsel from my dad and from other ministers. Their counsel was that I needed to go to a Christian college, major in Bible, and minor in something like Sociology. They said that I was to prepare myself, mentally, physically, and physically. These disciplines would equip me for pastoring. Therefore, I set out to do the things that I had been counseled to do.
I changed colleges and studies. I worked out on weights and became fairly strong physically. I proceeded to go to seminary and there majored in theology. I got married and had a lovely daughter. I got my M.Div. degree and became a pastor of a small church. Everything seemed to be on schedule. The little church began to grow. Some liked the growth, others did not. Then everything began to fall apart. I became sick and got to the place I could not concentrate to do the studying that I needed to do to prepare messages for the preaching. There also arose problems within the church. In desperation, I resign and we (my wife, daughter, and I) moved back to the city where I had attended seminary.
I thought that if I could just get a break from the pressure of pastoring that I would get well and get back on my feet. I could then get another pastorate. I got my old secular job back, selling men's clothing and my wife got her job back nursing. However, instead of things getting better, they got worse. I came to the place I could not work physically. My wife was having to make the living for us. That may me feel about two inches tall. I went to various doctors to no avail. Even went to specialists. I tried prayer and having people to pray for me. I tried diets and all kinds of exercise. Nothing worked! I was in physical pain, irritable, and depressed. My wife didn't seem to understand what I was experiencing. Family problems developed. Everything seemed to be falling apart around me. Nothing I tried work, not even all the Christian disciplines that I had learned.
I was no longer a pastor or breadwinner. I was not the proper husband or father for I was irritable much of the time. I could not do what I wanted to do or felt that God had called me to do. I was hurt, frustrated, and depressed. I even was strongly tempted to commit suicide. However, by the grace of God, I did not, but again struggled with all that was happening in my life and in my family. How could God call me to do what I could not do?
Then one day the struggle came to a climax. I had a towel in my hand. I cried out to God, "I give up. I am throwing in the towel." I slung the towel across the room. I told God, "I can't do anything that I know that you have called me to do. I can't be the minister, the breadwinner, the husband, and the father than I know you want me to be." Then I made one last statement, "God, if anything is going to be done in my life, YOU are going to have to do it." At that moment, I think (now) that God said, "Good."
This became a turning point for my life. It was no longer, "What Basil could do or couldn't do", but it was "What could God do?" It was no longer so much based upon my performance, but God's performance. It was no longer a life based upon my ability, but my availability and God's ability.
I have given this personal illustration to introduce the subject of GRACE. Grace is (1) a gift of God, (2) God's unmerited favor, and (3) the God-given ability both to will and to do of His good pleasure. God's Word states, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). We are not to live by our will or our power, but by His will and His power. God works His ability to will and the power to carry it out within the Christian.
God also gave us His Word. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16-17). Again note that God gave it to us that we may be complete and "thoroughly furnished unto all good works".
God demonstrated His love for us in giving us His Son. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). What greater gift could God give us. Do you have this gift of salvation?
God gave us His Son that His Son might give us eternal life. "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28). We should remember that a gift can not be earned. We can only receive it.
The Father also gives us the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). Luke recorded, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit since you have believed? I was born of the Spirit when I was nine years old, but did not receive the gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit until I was about thirty-four years old. Have you asked the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of the Spirit. "And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Corinthians 12:5-7). We should know that there are different gifts (Romans 12), different administrations (Ephesians 4), and different workings (manifestations) (I Corinthians 12). What gift or gifts do you have? How are you using them? What is the manifestation of those gifts?
Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
Malachi 3:10-12 "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts."
Acts 20:35 "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth."
Ecclesiastes 11:6 "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."
God provides for us. "(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)." (II Corinthians 9:9-10). God provides the grace for the seed to sow, the bread, more seed, and the increase of fruit.
God enriches us. "Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God" (II Corinthians 9:11). God gives us His grace for everything, to all bountifulness. This causes us to give thanks unto God.
God provides for the administration of service. "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God" (II Corinthians 9:12). God provides grace to meet our wants, and this produces abundance of thanksgiving in us.
We should put grace to the test (experiment). "Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" (II Corinthians 9:13). (1) Grace toward others demonstrates our subjection to the gospel. (2) Grace toward others is manifest by our liberal distribution to other Saints. (3) Grace toward others is manifest in our liberal distribution to all (unbelievers as well as Believer).
The world says, "Get from others all that you can so that you can have more."
GRACE says, "Give and God will give unto you so that you will never run out.
GRACE says, Give the gift of grace, and it will cause other to desire the gift of grace in their lives.
II Corinthians 9:14-15 "And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift"
2. We can walk and live in it.
3. We can allow it to transform our lives.
4. We can grow in it.
5. We give it to others.