The Gospel of Grace

The Most Transformational Word

You are always preaching some kind of gospel to yourself. Every day you preach to yourself a gospel of your loneliness, inability, and lack of resources or you faithfully preach to yourself the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel you preach to yourself will have an enormous effect on what you desire, think, say, and do in your ministry.

If your ministry is to be all that God has ordained for it to be, you must live and minister out of a sure grasp of your identity as a child of God’s freely given and personally transforming grace. That grace must stay fresh and exciting to you. It must be personally celebrated. It must never be allowed to be distant, technical, and merely academic. Grace must not only be something you consider theologically, it must also be something you live practically. In nurturing your own soul for ministry, you must considering and reconsider again and again the nature of the grace you have been given.

Unilateral and Radical

Grace is the most transformational word in Scripture. The entire Bible is a narrative of God’s grace, a story of undeserved redemption. By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like). The famous John Newton hymn uses the best word possible for that grace: amazing.

So grace is a story, and grace is a gift. It is God’s character, and it is your hope. Grace is a transforming tool and a state of relationship. Grace is a theology and an invitation. Grace is an experience and a calling. Grace will turn your life upside down while giving you a rest you have never known. Grace will convince you of your unworthiness without ever making you feel unloved.

Grace will make you acknowledge that you cannot earn God’s favor, and it will remove your fear of not measuring up to his standards. Grace will confront you with the fact that you are much less than you thought you were, even as it assures you that you can be far more than you had ever imagined. Grace will put you in your place without ever putting you down.

Grace will enable you to face truths about yourself that you have hesitated to consider, while freeing you from being self-consciously introspective. Grace will confront you with profound weaknesses, and at the same time introduce you to new-found strength. Grace will tell you what you aren’t, while welcoming you to what you can now be. Grace will make you as uncomfortable as you have ever been, while offering you more comfort than you have ever known. Grace will drive you to the end of yourself, while it invites you to fresh starts and new beginnings. Grace will dash your hopes but never leave you hopeless. Grace will decimate your kingdom as it introduces you to a better King. Grace will expose your blindness as it gives you eyes to see. Grace will make you sadder than you have ever been, while it gives you greater cause for celebration than you have ever known.

Grace enters your life in a moment and will occupy you for eternity. You simply cannot live a productive life or have a productive ministry in this broken-down world unless you have a practical grasp of the grace you have been given.

So faithfully preach the gospel of grace to the people under your care, but start by preaching it daily to yourself, for the sake of your own soul and the ministry to which God has called you.

Paul Tripp

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Your Life in Grace

Your life in grace is the life of a cripple on an escalator: as far as being able to walk upstairs is concerned, you are simply dead; there is nothing for you to do. But then you don’t need to do anything, because the divine Floorwalker has kindly put you on the eternally moving staircase of Jesus — and up you go.

What you do and think about yourself as you ascend will be delightful, or sad, or terrifying — depending. Delightful, insofar as you celebrate your free ride. Sad, insofar as you fight the escalator. Terrifying, insofar as you forget you’re on it and go back to dwelling on your inability to walk. But while all of that will matter to you, none of it will count against you. You’re on your way. All you have to do is believe it, and even the sadness and the terror become part of the ride.

Robert Farrar Capon

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Don’t Miss the Real Story of the Bible

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far away country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this story is – it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

Sally Lloyd-Jones

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Tilted Halos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tilted halo of a saved sinner is worn loosely and with easy grace. We have discovered that the cross accomplished far more than revealing the love of God. The blood of the Lamb points to the truth of grace: what we cannot do for ourselves, God has done for us. On the cross, somehow, some way, Christ bore our sins, took our place, died for us. At the cross, Jesus unmasks the sinner not only as a beggar but as a criminal before God. Jesus Christ bore our sins and bore them away. We cannot wash away the stain of our sins, but He is the Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world.

Brennan Manning

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Cart-Before-the-Horse Syndrome

One of our biggest problems we face as Christians is that we often try to put Sanctification ahead of Justification. The classic “cart-before-the-horse syndrome”. Real Sanctification can not begin until we come to terms with our Justification and what Christ has already done for us on the Cross. In fact, these very things are what powers and fuels our Sanctification. We are welcome to look at Salvation as: Sanctification, Justification, and Glorification, but we will always be working for something we already have.

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Dazzled by Grace

“The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.”

Timothy Keller

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Performance or Grace

 

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well — whatever “well” is in our opinion — then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance.

Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.”

The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience.

Jerry Bridges

 

Galatians 3:1-3

1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?

 

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