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Grace

Grace 
Grace means ‘Favour' - Lord’s favour 

Romans 5:1-11 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is a great passage on grace - Paul starts this passage by saying since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean by saying that we have peace with God?
Most important peace that God talks about in the Bible is peace between God and us - so what is it?

This peace was necessary because as Vs.10 says For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  

We were God’s enemies - so there was no peace between God and us. 
Enemies have to be reconciled to have peace! This is what was done through the sacrifice of Jesus. That is why the word reconciliation is repeatedly mentioned in this passage.

First of all we must understand why we were considered as enemies of God!
Because we joined the arch enemy of God - the Devil and day by day we were doing the will of the devil and becoming more and more like the Devil.  Bible describes it as “Ever increasing wickedness” (Rom 6:19). This was completely opposite to God’s plan - his divine plan was that he created us in His image and with his glory and he wanted us to continue to grow into his image and do his will and glorify his name.

If we were enemies of God what is that we deserved? Vs.9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

We deserved the wrath of God - wrath is fierce anger - Think of the situations mentioned in the Bible when God poured out his wrath on men - 
In Noah’s time - all the enemies of God in this world was destroyed by the flood.
Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by fire from heaven.
Korah, Dathan & Abiram were swallowed up by the earth with their families.
Their 250 minions were consumed by the fire on the same day.
God sent plagues; snakes ……many more!!

So what was our state - enemies of God and so we deserved wrath of God.
Destruction on earth as well as everlasting tormentation in Hell.

If God had done that for us we could only call it JUSTICE.
What would we do for our enemies?
But see what God has done - he sent his only son Jesus to die on the cross to save his enemies. He has done it to make peace with us so that he will not pour out his wrath on us.

THIS IS GRACE - TRUE FAVOUR FROM GOD - SACRIFICING EVERYTHING THAT HE HELD DEAR TO HIM TO SAVE HIS ENEMIES.

The most amazing story doesn't end here! See what John says:

1 John 3:1-3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
Feel the excitement in the way John expresses - he goes on to say "And that is what we are!”

John who was a great Jew found it amazing and unbelievable when he was made a child of God! How much more we the pagan sinners must be amazed at this act of love!
This is the full measure of grace - Enemies of God who deserved the wrath of God were purchased by the precious blood of the only son of God and adopted his enemies as sons and pours out the same love he showers on Jesus the son who has only done the will of God for ever and ever.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Heir  - one who inherits father’s estate - we the enemies of God are adopted as sons and so we are made co-heirs with Christ - so we get everything that Christ gets - sufferings as well as his glory!

It is not over - 

2 Cor 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

As we the enemies are made sons by grace - we are also being transformed int the image of God or likeness of Jesus with ever-increasing glory! Isn't it amazing! Amazing grace!
No wonder Paul said in Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Grace works through the purification of our souls by the blood of the Son, sanctification and transformation done by the Holy Spirit. So we are experiencing grace not once but 24/7 throughout out lives. This is why as Paul says in Phil 4:4 we can rejoice in the Lord always.

Imagine if there is one thing that is enough for our entire life - to make our life complete and fulfilling and most exciting - what will that one thing be?

2 Cor 12:7b-10 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When Paul was writhing in pain from the ‘thorn in the flesh’ - some sickness that gave him terrible pain - he prayed for healing 3 times - finally he heard the voice of Jesus - “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

What an answer - there is amazing truth in it - Grace of God is sufficient for us - it elevates us from enemy of God to son of God as equal as Jesus with ever increasing glory - no success, no wealth & health of the world; no power in this world, no fame & fortune in this world has the power to elevate us to this level!

Jesus says - his grace is sufficient for you - do you consider the same? Is grace sufficient for you? If we are not satisfied by grace - we will be never satisfied by anything else. Then we will be running after all things that makes us empty and worthless and unsatisfied.

GRACE TEST - ARE YOU CONTENT? Content by Grace? If there is any discontent - you haven’t understood Grace - you have rejected Grace!

Probably this was one of the most important revelations for Paul - so let us see his response to this amazing revelation: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Grace makes us delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
Eg. Apostles who were flogged, left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (of Jesus). (Acts 5:41)

Lack of focus on grace - make us disgust  weaknesses,  insults,  hardships,  persecutions, difficulties.

Now you consider which attitude will make our life enjoyable? Weaknesses,  insults,  hardships,  persecutions, difficulties are bound to come always in life!
Grace makes all the difference - that is why GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!
Finally:Paul says :Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

How do we try to present ourselves before others? Perfect; strong; righteous……
What makes us fearful of confession? How will others treat me? Will they look down on me? Will they reject me? Will they de promote me? Will they slander about me?

This makes us not to confess or even if we do confess - we try to minimise our sins and paint bright picture of our sins! Then we are hypocrites - God hates hypocrisy! No grace for hypocrites - but abundant grace for those who are honest and real!

Grace is the solution for all that ! 
Let us see the confession of Paul:

1 Timothy 1:12-14 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

After years of his repentance and after decades of achievements - see how Paul addresses himself - he is not minimising his sins - rather magnifies them - Jews considered that blasphemy is the most unforgivable sin - Paul confesses he was a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent man!
Then he says - 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Even after decades from the time he was saved, He was very much aware of what kind of wrath of God he deserved - because of this he is also so grateful of the grace that was poured out on him abundantly!

SO WHAT SHOULD BE OUR RESPONSE TO THIS GRACE
Titus 2:11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who 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.

Grace is a teacher - it teaches us 2 things - 
To say no to ungodliness and worldly passions - flee from evil
To say yes to self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age - pursue righteousness

So how did Paul respond to that grace: 
1 Cor 15:9,10 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

This grace was not without effect - he worked harder than all others - expressing his gratitude for the unbelievable grace that was poured out on him.

SO WHAT DOES GRACE DO?
GRACE MAKES US MORE SECURE THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THIS WORLD.
GRACE MAKES US HUMBLE - IT REMINDS US ALL WHAT WE HAVE IS NOT OURS BUT THE GIFT OF GOD. 
GRACE MAKES US GRATEFUL
GRACE MAKES US JOYFUL - WE HAVE ALL THE REASON TO REJOICE AT ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
GRACE MAKES YOU FLEE FROM EVIL AND PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS
GRACE MAKES YOU DELIGHT IN SUFFERINGS
GRACE MAKES YOU TO BE SECURE ENOUGH TO CONFESS EVERY SIN HONESTLY
GRACE MAKES YOU WORK HARDER THAN ANYONE ELSE FOR JESUS AND HIS KINGDOM.

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