Monday, April 11, 2016

The Joy of Biblical Grace

"God loves you."  It's one of the most common phrases we hear in our culture, both in and outside of the church.  It's an amazing concept.

Yet, while many people talk about God's love and grace (unmerited favor), many disconnect that truth from the bible.  Results of a recent survey showed that nearly 40% of evangelicals don't believe that the Bible is God's inerrant, authoritative Word.  They, and many others who would identify as Christian, would make the conclusion that you can have God's grace without believing the Bible.  But how can you know that you need grace if you don't believe the Bible?

I think all of us would say, to some extent, that if God exists, we would want Him to love us.  But how can you know what that love is like if you don't know who He is?  How can you know what He's like?  How can you know why we need grace?   On one hand, we can assume those things.  But then my interpretation of who God is can vary radically from yours, and it's all based on what you and I think is right.  Not only is there severe disunity, it's based on the fact that we know God because "I know."  It actually exposes the belief that we are our own gods, because we make up the rules.

The Bible, however, not only answers all those questions, but actually can give us a far better insight into what the grace of God is.  And if we believe it, the Bible becomes a steadfast anchor for a superior grace.   Here are a few ways it does that:

1. The Bible is God's Word"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)

There are two things about this that are important.  One, all of God's Word is breathed by God, and two, Jesus is His Word made flesh.  In other words, the Bible and Jesus are one in the same.  You can't believe one without believing the other.

2.  The Bible exposes us:  Hebrews 4 states that the Word exposes us, Jeremiah 17 says our hearts are wicked, Proverbs 20 says our hearts are complex, and Jesus says (in Mark 7) that our hearts are the cause of any evil we commit. 

3.  The Bible points to Jesus' death and resurrection"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27) 

The whole story of the Bible points us to God's plan of rescue: the Son of God dying for His people.

4.  The Bible assures us of God's Grace:  "...since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus...  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19, 22)

The blood of Jesus pardons all of our sin (which we saw earlier, is extensive), and is stronger than any sin we could commit.  The grace God gives us not only forgives even the worst sins, it also allows us to draw near to God without fear!

5.  The Bible compels grace-driven change"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)

We don't just receive grace.  Once received, it compels us to imitate God, because He becomes our good, loving, heavenly Father!  This brings joy!

The Bible doesn't kill joy, it expands it.  If we are to understand what true grace is, we must find it in God's Word.  Otherwise, we will only have a vague understanding of what the love of God is, and it will not save.  It will not ultimately comfort us.  It will not give us assurance.  

So have you considered running to the scriptures?  Run to them to know God.  To know His love.  To know and believe in His Glorious Grace.  Escape to the bible, and find joy.