The Grace of God- Part 7 - Grace for Others
By Colleen Donahue
God’s plan to get us back on track from the life of sin we inherited from Adam and Eve is truly ingenious. It all starts with the heart of love that God has for us. He created us to do a job in His universe and we can’t do that work if we are slaves to sin and Satan. So, in this study we’ll see the process by which God restores us so that we can serve Him and then others. It’s called grace. Let’s start with a review….
IT ALL STARTS WITH OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN
- WHERE did God put every person He made?
1 Corinthians 1:30
God’s grace in putting us all IN JESUS takes out the walls of division and makes us true children of God even though we weren’t born Jewish. By being IN JESUS we also become part of Abraham’s family and therefore what do we become heirs to?
If we become heirs to all that was promised to Abraham, what will this include?
Genesis 12:2-3 / Genesis 18:18-19 / Genesis 22:17-18
In other words, because of our lives with and for God, the world around us and even after us, will be blessed in who we are and what we do for God.
- God sees us as the love of His life or the apple of His eye. Because I am IN JESUS, when God sees me, He sees His Son, who has no spots or blemishes. Therefore, what can He say about you and me?
Song of Solomon 4:7
When I first contemplated the thought (in Song of Solomon 4:7) that God saw me as all fair and without flaws it “blew my mind” as the saying goes. But that’s what happens when we are IN JESUS and then choose to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. What do we become?
2 Corinthians 5:21
- By putting us “in Christ” God started the flow of grace even before we were ever born. What does this flow of grace from the throne of God enable us to do?
- God invites us to seek Him. He wants us to meet His Son – Jesus. Who are the ones who will come to know Jesus?
John 6:44, 65
THE WORK OF GRACE THAT JESUS DOES FOR US
- God wants us to meet His Son Jesus for good reason.
1 Timothy 2:4-5
The Greek word for saved in verse 4 is “sozo” and means to deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, and make whole. That’s why God wants everyone to meet His Son. He knows we need all these things.
In verse 5 we read that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. The Greek for mediator means a go-between, a reconciler or intercessor.
So, when we start seeking God, He directs us toward Jesus. One way or another God draws us to His Son as we saw in John 6:44. The Greek word translated “draw” is helko which means “to drag”. We may go kicking and screaming but when we started seeking for God that became God’s green light to help us find Jesus.
- Drawing us to His Son is the gift of God’s grace that brings about our salvation.
- The condition of a sinner (which is all of us) is that of a captive. We become the slave to some sin and it forces us to serve the dictates of an evil heart. What is the effect of the truth of the gospel (or good news about Jesus Christ)?
It is the truth of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection that breaks the bondage to sin and sets us free. What does this result in?
- The closer we come to Jesus (the perfect Son of God) the more we see our lives the way God sees us.
God sees us as a child that He dearly loves because He created us, but also a child with an inherited sin nature that can’t do anything but sin – causing us great frustration.
Paul tells us the answer to our question in Romans 7:24 in the next verse.
- This frustration that we can’t conquer over the sin in our life is not new. It’s been man’s frustration since Adam and Eve first sinned. And like King David, it can drive us to God in prayer. Read these verses slowly and make a list of what David is asking God to do. Now make it your own list.
- When we desire cleanness in our heart then God and Jesus delight in that prayer. For cleansing us from ALL unrighteousness is part of Christ’s work on our behalf.
Titus 2:14 / Titus 3:5 / Hebrews 10:22
- Christ’s work in saving us was to pull off a rescue mission. When Adam and Eve sinned, they turned over the earthly kingdom there were to rule over to Satan and he became this world’s ruler. This means, that while this first world exists, it is under the rulership of Satan which includes our lives.
But Jesus came to ….. 1 John 3:8
…..and to rescue us from …. Galatians 1:4
- Then Jesus affected a TRANSFER for us.
The Greek word translated as “transfer” has the meaning of us being snatched or carried away from Satan’s grasp. And that was part of Christ’s work – to deliver us from the evil one and to bring us into the Kingdom of God.
- With our transfer to the Kingdom of God, it means we become full members of God’s family.
- Who are the ones that God calls His children?
Christ’s work so far has been to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, reconcile us to God, defeat our enemy, and transfer us out of Satan’s kingdom – into God’s family. And now for Christ’s most important work….
- Peter tells us bluntly what that is.
- Jesus came to bring back the Holy Spirit to earth so that man could once more have the Spirit of God as their indwelling operating system. The Holy Spirit indwelling man’s Spirit was how God originally made us to live. Sin drove the Spirit of God from Adam and Eve, and man has been born with a dead spirit ever since. This is Christ’s final important work. With the Holy Spirit indwelling us, what does this enable Jesus to do?
“Christ lives in me” – Jesus wants to continue living his life on earth through you and I and that brings us to…..
THE WORK OF GRACE THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT (Christ’s own Spirit) DOES IN US
- God thinks far more of us than we think of ourselves. He is ready to use us if we want to volunteer.
- WHO will be able to receive all they need from God?
- When we give ourselves wholly to God, then He gives us the Spirit of Jesus to change us from the inside out. This is God’s grace to us. According to these verses how does our transformation take place?
- When we offer ourselves for God’s use, we are no longer our own. What does our body become?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- With the Holy Spirit indwelling us (the same Spirit filling Jesus), our transformation begins. The longer we have lived under Satan and sin, the more transformation is needed. But ultimately, God will work in us the same character that Jesus had. Paul calls this “fruit”. What does the fruit produced by the Spirit look like?
Fruit takes time to develop. It’s a quiet ripening of what God puts within us. Our “who” is more important than our “do” and often we can get this backwards. Doing good things for God without the character of Jesus can actually drive people away from God’s family. So, the Holy Spirit concentrates on changing us from the inside out first.
- It’s only by grace (Christ’s Spirit within us) that we can ever hope to fulfill our calling to live like Jesus in this world. Paul in these verses gives us a picture of what living as Jesus in the world would look like.
Ephesians 4:1-3, 17-32 / Ephesians 5:1-5
- Living as Jesus in the world is what I call “impossible living” and why the Holy Spirit must transform us. What does He give us so we can live as Jesus lived?
2 Timothy 1:7
- The Holy Spirit comes alongside us as our advocate so that we never again go through anything alone. When we trust Him what happens?
John 14:12-14; 16-17; 23; 26
- We will be like a stumbling child at first as the Holy Spirit begins our work of transformation. But He knows how to work everything together for our good – even the stumbles.
Romans 8:28, 31
The love God has towards us manifests itself in Jesus who is able to keep us from falling so that He can present us before God without a single fault.
- God’s grace in giving us Christ’s Spirit means that “we have it all”. What will this enable us to do?
2 Corinthians 9:8
- This now brings us to God’s ultimate reason for extending grace to us.
We were created by God to do good works that only we are assigned to do. And when God calls us to do something in His kingdom, he equips and enables us to become an effective tool in his hand. His grace ultimately transforms us so we can draw others to God.
GOD HAS EXTENDED GRACE TO US SO WE CAN EXTEND IT TO OTHERS
CHOSEN AND CALLED
- We are chosen and appointed to continue the work of Jesus in this world. God backs up this commission to us by committing Himself to give us what we need to accomplish our commission. How does the Father back up His commission to us?
- It’s Jesus in us by His Spirit (grace) who calls us and sets us apart so that we can reveal Him to the world. The Apostle Paul shares his own experience.
- It was Christ’s Spirit within Paul that gave him the power to proclaim the truth of Christ to the Gentiles.
It will be this same gift of grace (Jesus within us by His Spirit) that will enable us to do our work.
- No matter what our profession or job might be on earth, our calling as a Christian is to testify about Jesus. This is part of God’s purpose for our lives and we can only fulfill that purpose because God gives us His grace (Jesus within us) to walk it out.
2 Timothy 1:8-9
- This idea of being chosen to continue the work of Jesus in the world means we have to be qualified for it. What does the world look for in qualified people?
1 Corinthians 1:26
WHO does God actually choose?
1 Corinthians 1:27-28
Why does He do that?
1 Corinthians 1:29
- Because we are united with Christ, what has God blessed us with?
This is truly good news for all of us that are ordinary in ourselves and with no particular qualifications. God Himself puts us into Jesus and then what does Jesus become for us?
1 Corinthians 1:30
- God saves us first by grace. Then, He calls us to fulfill His purpose by giving us more grace to carry it out. How long will God’s grace be given to us?
- God wants to give us a new life – with Christ’s Spirit indwelling us --- so that the wasteland of our life will now be a source of life for others.
- Don’t worry about all your inadequacies. How will God multiply His grace and peace to you?
2 Peter 1:2
How does God give us everything we need to live like Jesus here in this world?
2 Peter 1:3
“His divine power” is the Holy Spirit indwelling our lives.
- Despite the rebels we once were, when Christ’s Spirit fills us, what are we called to do?
And how will we be able to carry this out?
- And so God’s grace is poured out to us not only so we can be filled, but so that we can overflow to others with whatever is needed.
2 Corinthians 9:8-11
HOW DOES GRACE AFFECT OTHERS?
- When God fills us with His Son (grace) what happens to us that affects the lives of others?
- When “our cup overflows” and we give to others, we are most like God. He always gives in abundance and when we follow His pattern, God gives all the more. We can never out give God.
- The Spirit of Jesus within us is the source of all things such as hope, joy, and peace. WE then become a fountain to meet the needs of others.
How are we to use Christ’s gifts that manifest from within us?
1 Peter 4:10
- Grace manifests itself in forgiveness. God first forgives us through Jesus so that we can forgive others. This can only happen because Jesus fills us with His compassion and mercy towards them.
Matthew 6:14 / Colossians 3:13
- Just as Jesus frees us from sin and self that binds us, we are called to extend this same grace to others who are bound and oppressed.
How do we do this?
1 Corinthians 9:19-22
- Grace overflows from God to us and then it overflows from us to others. Often it overflows from us in prayer for others.
2 Corinthians 9:14
- Another way we pass along God’s grace is through gracious speech that builds others up.
- Since grace is God’s mercy and comfort to us in our troubles, what does this enable us to do?
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
This is God’s grace working through his people and we are refreshed by it.
Romans 15:32 / 1 Corinthians 16:18 / 2 Corinthians 7:13 / Philemon 7
- Jesus is always reaching out to others and he wants us to do the same. These verses suggest a few ways to do this.
- God’s Spirit within us teaches and counsels us so that we can do the same for others.
- Here is a situation where a fellow believer has strayed away from the truth.
God’s grace which saved us enables us to say/do something that can turn someone from going in a wrong direction. Since the person straying is a fellow believer, they still have the Holy Spirit within them and therefore when they hear the truth, they can still rise to it and respond.
- Finally, the Holy Spirit within us enables us to do the same works that Jesus did (John 14:12). One of Christ’s main works was in dealing with Satan who works behind the scenes to cause havoc in lives and inflict disease. Why are we able to help people in the same way?
Even though we are not one of the original 12 apostles, Jesus has given us the same authority to help others.
If we could paraphrase these verses it might read like this:
“All authority has already been given to me. Now YOU go and exercise, on my behalf the authority that I have already won.”
GRACE – OUR MAIN MESSAGE TO THE WORLD
- How did Paul become a “servant of the gospel?”
God had chosen Paul for a work among the Gentiles (or non-Jews). By giving Paul the gift of grace (Christ’s Spirit indwelling Him), he was able to do his work with power that produced results.
- Paul wasn’t under any illusion that he could do his work by “his own steam”. And so over and over in his letters to the churches he prayer for two things that He wanted all believers to have.
Why did he pray this for them? Both grace and peace come from God and they are what every believer needs. Grace is God’s power and provision for our work and peace is God’s rest and reassurance in the midst of our work.
You’ll find that over and over in Paul’s letters he prayed that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you”. He knew for certain that to have the Lord’s presence with us (or the Spirit of Jesus within us) was to have his power, protection and provision.
- What did Paul see as the main message he was to preach?
Paul had seen in his own life that the gracious kindness extended to him by God had led him to repentance and then to follow Jesus. He sets an example for us that evangelism should start with telling others about God’s kindness in giving us Jesus. Often, we start with man’s need to repent first and get the order mixed up. Our restoration always starts with God – extending his grace to us.
And so, the “message of His grace” became Paul’s message. What two things will this message do for every believer?
GRACE IS THE GOSPEL
If the “message of His grace” (Acts 20:24) became Paul’s main message, we do well to make telling others the good news of God’s wonderful grace our message as well. As we end this study on grace, I’d like to summarize for myself and for you what this message of grace IS -- based on all we have studied. Here is an acronym I came up with to help me remember:
G (God) giving Himself to me through Jesus (John 3:16) and then Jesus coming to indwell my life with His Spirit so I have the power to live for God. (Romans 8:9)
R (God) restoring me through Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30 / Ephesians 1:4) so that I become what God originally intended – His child walking in partnership with Himself through life.
A (God) accepting and adopting me in Jesus as His own son/daughter (Ephesians 1:5-6, 13-14) so that I now belong to the family of God with all its rights and privileges.
C (God) caring for me because I belong to Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
E (God) embracing me as His own (Ephesians 3:12) so that I can always go to Him with any big or little thing.
COMMON THREADS ABOUT GRACE
In finishing this study, I saw many common threads throughout scripture about grace that helped me see grace as more than just a nice word. Here are the common threads about grace that occur over and over.
- Grace always starts with God giving his love… his kindness… his mercy… etc.
- Grace is given for men and women whom God created and loves as His own possession.
- There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s grace. It is his undeserved favor towards us. The one who thinks they deserve God’s grace is the one who can’t have it.
- Grace is a person – Jesus – given us by God so that we could be restored to the way he originally created us to be.
- Grace is power – it’s Christ’s indwelling Spirit within us enabling us to do what God has called us to do.
- Grace is God distributing his riches through His Son Jesus.
- Grace means we can be accepted by God and invited back as a member of God’s family with full rights and privileges.
- Grace shown to us proves that God embraces us as His own and wants a relationship with us.
- Grace shows God’s care and protection for us.
- Our part in grace is to humbly accept it (knowing we are undeserving) and then share that grace with others.
THE FLOW OF GRACE
- It always starts with God
- It is distributed through His Son Jesus.
- It is given to undeserving people (the only ones qualified to receive it)
- …. So that we can extend it to
- And they can extend it to yet more people.