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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grasping Grace

I wonder if the songs we sing really express what we know or if they are just good tunes that we like to sing. We sing about amazing grace but I wonder how well we truly grasp what we are singing.

Grace means nothing without understanding sin. Sin is falling short of God's glory.  Sin has separated us from God. It is so odious that God will not and cannot allow it into His presence. The estrangement we know would be permanent without God's action to remove that sin.

A singer in church sings a particularly moving song. The singer and many of the congregants are moved to tears. They claim that they have felt the presence of God. However, there is no sense of holiness. There is no sense of conviction. The sins which have been committed are continuing to be committed. This cannot be the true presence of God for God's presence brings us to our knees as it reveals sin. This brings conviction and changes us. We will never grasp grace as long as we think it comes from a moving song rather than the presence of God. We must be able to distinguish between the two.

Grace will never be grasped as long as sin is seen as inconsequential. Our society has justified sin with feelings. Thus, a man can shoot fellow workers with impunity because he is feeling bullied. A young woman can shoplift because she is feeling ostracized for her lack of fashionable clothing. Therefore, sin requires no payment for justification. The justification lies within the sin. No grace is necessary.

I have seen very few people weep over their sins who have not also been caught in their sins. The adulterer gives me crocodile tears because he has been caught. Those in jail have wailed behind the visitation glass. Those, who have never been caught, keep their sins silently tucked away without repentance or sorrow.

Grace is God's action to redeem a person and a people who cannot do anything to pay for their sins. Grasping grace is realizing that you cannot undo anything that you have done. It is knowing that you were permanently condemned by what you have done without regard to why it was done.  It is realizing God's great gift of love through the blood of Jesus which covers our sins. It is realizing the depth of sin and the hopelessness of living without God's grace.

Truly grasping grace means that you share that grace with others. You forgive everyone because you know your own forgiveness. God has implanted His forgiveness in you. You love the unlovely because He has loved you even though your sin is so odious that He will not and cannot allow it into His presence. Grasping grace reveals our calling to follow Him. It compels us to do so.

The Apostle Paul grasped grace.  Grace humbles us forever.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (ESV)
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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