The Door to Grace

It was his turning point. Presented with the gospel one day, Ray responded to his friend that he had led a good life and that was good enough. So, when his friend dared him to go one day without sinning, Ray eagerly accepted the challenge. “I didn’t even last one hour,” he recalled years later, “That’s when I realized I needed a savior.” It is the most blessed grace to come to the empty end of ourselves and to entrust our all to the atoning work of Christ on the cross. For as Paul wrote, it is through our Lord Jesus Christ that “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”1 Such comfort! We need grace! But what is it about faith that God establishes it as sole access into His grace?

Coming to faith in Christ Jesus aligns us with two eternal and inescapable truths: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”2 Further, our humble submission to Jesus trumpets to all creation—seen and unseen—just who He is: “The Son is the image of the invisible God . . . All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”3 Life itself is found in Him. And perhaps above all is this: “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.”4 We have nothing to add, no compensation to offer Him, just ourselves in need of grace.

Then grace is not a matter of our goodness, but Christ’s fullness, for “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”5 For “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”6 And “through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”7 By grace we have been saved through faith8 (and faith itself a gift from God). “Through faith in [Christ] we may approach God with freedom and confidence.9By faith we . . . receive the promise of the Spirit. 10 And having “gained access by faith into this grace . . . we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”11 This is grace upon grace—grace in its various forms. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”12 For we need grace; we need the Savior.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:14

Father, we turn to You for grace. Strengthen us in faith that we would always flourish in Your favor generously poured out on us and through us in its various forms. Be glorified in us. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Romans 5:1-2
2 Romans 3:23-24
3 Colossians 1:15-17
4 John 3:35
5 John 1:16 ESV
6 Romans 3:23
7 Romans 5:1
8 Ephesians 2:8
9 Ephesians 3:12
10 Galatians 3:14
11 Romans 5:2
12 Hebrews 14:6 ESV


I’d Be Happy To Help

Volunteering as the adult education administrator at our church years ago, one of my tasks was to schedule teachers to lead the class each week. It wasn’t always easy—people are busy and preparation takes time—so to my invitations, understandably, came some “no” responses and some reluctant “yeses.” But whenever I asked Joe to teach, his answer was almost always the same, “I’d be happy to help.” Not only did he eagerly embrace the opportunity to teach from God’s Word, he graciously relieved me of my burden du jour. Over time, Joe’s enthusiasm influenced me, as twenty-some years later I often find myself responding to the entreaties of others, “I’d be happy to help.” Grace is contagious, isn’t it?

We often think of God’s grace as a needed, yet undeserved gift showered upon us in deluge proportions. Over the past two weeks, for instance, we have marveled at our right standing before God (righteousness) and our rescue from eternal separation from Him (salvation), both loving gifts of God through His servant-Son, Jesus Christ, who lives in us through faith. Yet receiving God’s grace is just the beginning for us, the starting point of a lifetime adventure, for just as God pours out His favor on us, so also He flows His favor through us as conduits to others. Saved by His grace through faith,1 we are now “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”2 Not only may we participate in meaningful acts of eternal consequence, God has had them prepared for us for a very long time. And He equips us for that to which He calls us: “God is able to bless you abundantly,” taught Paul, “so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”3

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,”4 wrote Peter. Some teach, some encourage, some help, some exhort, some intercede—maybe you major in some of these and minor in others, or perhaps your gifts are entirely different. Regardless of our individual callings, though, I think readiness looks the same: remain near to God through the Word and prayer; expect His call to action; resolve to do what He directs you to do; and trust Him for the result. For extending God’s grace to others is part of the gift of grace we receive from Him. It’s something we get to do.

Of course! “I’d be happy to help.”

Father, “may [Your favor] rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands,”5 so that the world would know and receive Your love and grace. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Ephesians 2:8-9
2 Ephesians 2:10
3 2 Corinthians 9:8
4 1 Peter 4:10
5 Psalm 90:17


People Like Us

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”1—Jesus, to a woman’s accusers

We glean from the pages of Scripture much theology on the precious gift of grace, but the story of the woman caught in adultery is grace in action. Somehow catching her in the act of adultery, the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought her before Jesus, hoping to trick Him and perhaps kill two birds with one stone. His response to them was epic, confounding even—turning back on them the law by which they accused the woman, and in the process extending grace to both. We relate to the woman, for our sin places us equally in need of grace, and we run to Jesus where it is found. Such assurance! What relief! We will learn more from this woman in next week’s post, but for now let’s gain a life lesson from her antagonists.

How many times have you heard or said this: “Some people [insert a specific sin tendency here]”? In so doing, we speak of others as though looking down on them from a higher perch on a tree of righteousness. Wouldn’t it be humbler and more accurate to say, “Sometimes we all [insert a moral shortcoming here],” acknowledging in our speech what we know in our hearts—that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”?2 After all, who among us doesn’t sin? And if we all sin, why point only to that of “some people”? Have we forgotten the grace we received when we were otherwise helpless? Or what about this pronouncement: “I blame [so and so]”? Why so proudly condemn others when we have undeservedly received pardon?

Paul wrote that God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”3 Our message is not one of accusation, but that of reconciliation through the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus. Then may I suggest that, when tempted to look down on those who are as vulnerable as we are, we remember both the power of temptation and the relief of grace? We’re in this together, so as we have received grace, let us ever extend it to people like us.

Father, thank You for precious grace. Where would we be without it? Fill us with Your Spirit, that we would extend compassion and understanding to all who journey this life with us. Bless us to be beacons of hope and proclaimers of mercy to people like us. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 John 8:7 ESV
2 Romans 6:23
3 2 Corinthians 5:18