Main Texts: Titus 2:11-14; Luke 13:6-8
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14, NIV).
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-8, NIV).
Understanding the grace of God is fundamental to the Christian faith. We must understand that Grace is granted by God to the dying world for a divine purpose. In particular, grace is God’s response to the problem of sin and His desire to fully restore man back to Himself after the fall in the Garden of Eden. God knows that without grace, humans are unable to meet the righteous requirements of His law, hence the abundant provision of grace to the human race. This notwithstanding, grace appears as one of the most confusing and widely abused words in Christendom today. But grace is granted in abundance so that believers will grow up in the household of God into His very image and likeness. I share with you an on-going lesson the Spirit of God has been impressing on my spirit for over two (2) years now.
What is Grace
Grace is often defined as God's unmerited favour towards a sinful mankind. It is often demonstrated in the mercy, long-suffering, kindness and compassion of God towards sinful man. Grace is by far the greatest blessing that mankind has received from the Lord. The greatest problem of the world has been sin, and sin brings guilt. But when forgiveness comes, the guilt is washed away. Forgiveness together with other riches is brought by grace to mankind (Rom. 4:6-8). Grace has come so that we can be conformed to the full stature of Christ. The grace of God is in charge of the sanctification process going on in the life of the believer. The sanctification process is essentially the process of developing a lifestyle of holiness or a godly lifestyle; thus conforming to the very nature of God. Increasingly, I see grace as a Teacher in coaching and directing us in this regard.
Some Workings of Grace in the Life of the Believer
The grace of God manifests in the life of the believer in various ways. It is important to note that:
- We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).
- Grace empowers us to do what we are unable to do with our human effort (Rom. 8:1-4).
- It empowers us to serve God acceptably (1 Pet. 1:3).
- Grace is a teacher (Titus 2:11-12), teaching us to deny ungodliness and embrace godliness.
- We are justified by grace (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7).
- The grace of God leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:15).
- Grace is sanctifying us through the Word and the Spirit (Titus 3:5).
- It enables the believer to meet God’s standards of holiness (Rom. 8:4).
- Grace abounds more where sin abounds greatest (Rom. 5:20). But sinners may only enjoy the grace of God for a period; so that they may repent. If they fail while the period of grace is over, nothing more can be done to them (Psalm 92:7).
- It strengthens our heart (Heb. 13:9)
Agents of Grace
These three work in common as the “agents” of grace.
- The Lord of Grace (1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Cor. 13:14).
- The Spirit of Grace (Heb. 10:29; Zech. 12:10).
- The Word of Grace (Acts 20:32).
These agents work together in the believer to transform him into the full stature of the Most High. We must relate with these three intimately, and our progress shall be evident to all.
Expected Outcomes (Demands) of Grace
Grace expected to produce certain outcomes or places certain demands on the believer. It comes to the life of a believer in order to produce certain acts and fruits desired by God. It provides a conducive atmosphere (necessary conditions) for the believer to bear godly fruit. Some of these demands or the expected outcomes of grace in the life of the believer are:
- Self-controlled, upright and godly lives (Titus 2:12).
- The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
- Holiness (1 Peter 1: 16; Hebrews 12:14).
- Growth into maturity (2 Pet. 3:18). To grow in grace is to develop into maturity as a Christian. It is God’s grace that justifies us, sanctifies us, and will eventually glorify us in heaven. Growing in grace refers to the sanctification process championed by the Spirit of Grace.
As indicated earlier, the whole purpose of grace in our lives is to help us transformed into the very image of our Father in Heaven. Grace is helping us develop heavenly character fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven. In Heaven, there are no vices, so our preparation for Heaven starts here; and Teacher Grace is accredited by the God-head to prepare us. We must listen to Him, otherwise we are doomed eternally. We must pay careful attention to the instructions of Teacher Grace.
Warmings Accompanying the Grace of God
The Scriptures provide enough warnings to believers concerning grace. Here are a few:
- Do not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1-2). Utilise it!
- Do not use grace as a cover-up for sin (1 Pet. 2:15; Gal. 5:13). For you were called to holiness, not filthiness.
- Beware of disobedience to the Spirit of Grace (Heb. 10:26-31, 36-38; 1 Tim. 4:1-2).
- Do not grieve the Spirit of Grace (Eph. 4:30). The Holy Spirit works to reveal sin (conviction), reveal the truth (illuminating the Word), and reveal glory (Jesus Christ).
- Do not use grace as a cover-up to sin (1 Pet. 2:16; Gal. 5:13). Grace is not a licence to sin!
- Grace is given for a period, it shall not last forever (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:13-14).
- We are under grace, but no child of disobedience would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 22:15; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5).
Humans are weak in their fallen state and are unable to live up to the demands of God’s righteous requirements. God in response to this need sent grace to the earth in response. We are now in the period of grace where sins are forgiven. The overall aim of grace in our lives is to grant us underserved kindness to enable us to serve God acceptably and be conformed to His very nature. We are expected to grow in the grace of God and utilise its enabling power to conform to the full stature of God. We are not to use the grace of God as a cover-up for sin; for God still hates sin as always. Sin remains as sinful as it was since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, so that the only begotten Son of God, the lamb without sin nor blotch has to come and die for our sins. May the Lord of Grace grant us insight and help the Church come to the full knowledge of His grace and cause us all to grow and attain the full stature of Christ. Grace is a teacher, and we must pay careful attention to His instructions in order not to fall short of our calling. Grace be with all students of grace!