Bible Study Series
Contemplating the Almighty
The Divine Grace
How well do you know God’s grace?
1) Grace is
a) God freely giving us His richesely giving us His riches
b) God’s patience towards sinners
c) God blessing those who deserve it
2) Grace allows us to
a) do every good deed
b) sin and not suffer the consequences of it
c) do what we want to do no matter what
3) God is gracious
a) simply because He chooses to be
b) because we deserve it
c) only when we ask for it
4) Salvation results from
a) grace alone
b) grace along with good deeds
c) grace along with good deeds and good character
5) Becoming more like the character of God
a) requires grace and desire and effort on our part
b) is left totally to us
c) is pure grace without any effort on our own
6) When God says in James 4:6 that He “gives grace to the humble” it means that
a) humility obligates grace
b) the formula to be guaranteed grace is to start with humility
c) humility only enables us to receive what God alone chooses to give
7) If we do not live in grace then
a) we simply will not receive God’s blessing but all else will be OK
b) we will not receive God’s blessings and we allow an opening for sin to ruin us
c) we will lose our salvation and go to Hell
8) We sometimes resist grace because
a) we are prideful and want to accomplish and get things totally on our own
b) we are doing fine and do not really need it at that time
c) we do not know that it is there
9) Our response to grace should be
a) giving more money to the church
b) gratitude to God and worship
c) nothing since it is God’s choice
10) What we often substitute for grace is
The theme of grace is so glorious and magnificent that any proper contemplation of it should bow our hearts in full adoration and awe. The idea of grace most clearly reveals and manifests the unfathomable and dreadfully awesome heart of God. Grace is the influence and provision of God upon one wholly undeserving. Its very nature demands the unworthiness of the recipient. It, too, imposes no recompense. Indeed, grace motivates, strengthens, and drives the believer in obedience and eternally rewards him for such an action. It is amazing in its quality and powerful in its application. To be without it, none could be saved and to neglect it, no believer can stand. It is unlimited in its resources and free in its giving. It asks only for the humble person who is willing to receive it.
God was never extrinsically compelled to love us; however, He unconditionally chose to do so. Thus, His love depends not upon the merit of the recipient, but upon the magnificence of the Giver. Because of this irrevocable truth, God cannot be satisfied until He has done all that His omnipotence and sovereignty desires for us. It is His infinite pleasure to give us all good things for all time. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” In this, He has given His only begotten Son and upon the application of His work, He glorifies us so as to be like Him. What greater demonstration of love can anyone show than the supreme sacrifice of all that he had so t give all the more? “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” It is the superlative grace of the Most High that makes this possible.hat makes this possible.
Once the barrier of sin has been removed, God is free to deal with us as He truly pleases. Because of grace, the love of God may be poured out unhindered, unrestricted, infinitely, free to give. Grace transforms the desire of God into the blessing of man. It takes the infinite storehouses of God’s riches and opens it wide to be lavished upon His people. It is grace that takes “For God so loved the world” and gives us His “only begotten Son” and then it is grace that draws and enables us to believe on Him so that we should “not perish but have eternal life.” Grace takes all that God is and has and bestows it freely and eternally upon sinful man whom it has transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. So great is this theme that, as Ephesians 2:6-7 states, God “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages t come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Though now that He is unconditionally able to give, the only issue remaining is the willingness on our part to receive. God gives grace only because He want to, not because He has to. “I will be gracious to whom will be gracious.” He is under no obligation or debt to give. That He does is always His choice and determination. But we can be confident that to us grace will super abound in every deed and situation. Does He not say “Open your mouth wised and I will fill it”? Second Corinthians 9:8 reads, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” We have the surpassing grace of God in us.
Again, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that the very qualification for grace is unworthiness. Its very nature demands that it be unmerited. In ourselves, we are nothing less than wholly depraved and evil. Indeed, to call us merely unworthy is much too flattering. Not only did we refuse good, but we eagerly pursued and embraced evil. We devised our own idols and wholeheartedly worshipped them. While we feigned sincerity, our hearts seethed with bitterness and contempt. Deception ruled our lives and Satan had no issue because we were his. It was never that we chose good, but that God restrained us from doing uttermost evil. All our righteous deeds were as filthy rags. Our minds strain in trying to comprehend our true wretchedness. There was absolutely nothing in our lives which could be found pleasing to the Lord God.
Romans 3:10-18 describes the divine viewpoint, “’There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is non who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless, there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” These are the qualifications for saving grace.
Jesus Christ did not die for righteous men. He died for enemies. In this lies much more the glory of grace. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us.” How arrogant must our hearts be to even consider that we deserve or merit grace. The holy scriptures make the emphatic declaration that salvation cannot be on the basis of works and grace. Indeed, it is because of our works that grace is so necessary our works are evil. In every aspect, in every area of our lives, grace is essential for salvation. We are sinners through and through. Grace is not merely a complementary aid to help us in obtaining our goal; it is a vital necessity essential to every aspect of God’s program of salvation.
Grace effects the tremendous changes in a person that God’s holy attributes desire. Grace takes “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” and makes them “vessels of mercy” prepared for glory. Grace takes the prospect of “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” and changes it into one of, “And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.” Grace delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. Grace takes those who are alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds and reconciles us that we might be presented before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Grace takes the ugly and worthless and makes it beautiful and precious; from a life of shame to a life of glory; from “lawlessness resulting in further lawlessness” to “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” The influence and provision of grace is so immense that it can truly be proclaimed. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
If we only more fully comprehended the extent of our rebelliousness and gross sinfulness in our unregenerate nature and, in infinite contrast, the gloriousness and righteousness of our renewed position, our hearts would bow in adoring worship for the God who effected this change. From what we were to what we have become lies an infinite gap. This distance is commensurable to that infinite which spans gross sin and divine righteousness. Because we cannot properly comprehend either extreme, this separation even more so lies outside of our capacity of full appreciation. Man is unable to rise even out of what he is, let alone reach the transfinite heights of the Almighty. Such a transferal can be accomplished only by the insuperable power of the Almighty. It is naught by man’s ability that can bring him; it is neither within his power to return. The impotency of man is overwhelmed by the sufficiency of grace. A man cannot separate himself from his transgression as far as the east is from the west-grace can. A man cannot leave his mundane abode and seat himself in the heavenly places-grace can. A man cannot exchange his earthly tent for an eternal mansion-grace can. Grace accomplishes beyond what man dreams.
A Christian is not simply a forgiven sinner; he is much more. What the Lord God has already made the believer in Christ is far more majestic and glorious than even our most spectacular imaginings. Only an in-depth study of the scriptures will reveal the immeasurable depth of the riches grace has given to us. The Lord has given us blessings and changed us in ways that natural reason could never deduce. Indeed, these thing do not become reality upon our acknowledgment; they are already reality. Upon our salvation, they were applied to infinite completeness. Only through revelation might we realize such tremendous themes as sanctification, redemption, reconciliation, adoption, and forgiveness.
How bless is it to know that we are no longer children of the devil; how much more precious is it that we are now children of God. How reassuring is it that we are no longer slaves to sin; how much more fulfilling is it that we can now be instruments of righteousness. Great is our forgiveness; greater still is our justification. The adoring heart can find no end to its praise of our magnificent God.
Being forgiven and justified and made partakers of the divine nature does not obligate grace to us, but we are now in a position to experience that which we could not experience before, namely the full and unhindered blessings of God. Again, the very nature of grace demands that it be unmerited. Human pride strives to make us believe otherwise. James 4:6 reads, “God…. Gives grace to the humble.” It is so easy to think that grace is the reward of humility as though grace is “earned” by being humble. We have, in our minds, added James 4:6b, “for the wages of humility is grace.” Humility does not earn grace; instead it is accepting the free gift God has given. We earn death; we receive grace. Humility is an attitude of dependence on God. It is a proper recognition of our total impotence and insufficiency apart from Him. Pride would rather eat bread and water procured by its own devises than feast at the table of the king by way of unmerited invitation. Pride merely survives; humility lives abundantly.
Our desire of wanting to do good does not make us holy; grace makes us holy. Our attitude, though, must be one of humility and dependence to receive that grace. Our responsibility is t obey; God’s responsibility is to determine the results. We sow, and He provides the harvest. Fruit is of the Spirit, never of ourselves. The source of all rood is God. The direction of all praise is to the Lord also. We need grace as much to become Christ-like in practice as we did to become His children. Grace makes us experientially what we already are positionally before God.
How easy for us to think lightly of all that the Lord has done for us. Grace gives us what we need, changes us into what we could never be, and transports us to places where even the angels cannot dwell. Our response to divine grace must be one of humility. We must learn to relinquish our pride and to reject its deceitfulness. Pride is a departure from reality and finds its “pleasure” only in self. Its gain will only be that which the flesh can produce. It is evil and the source of much sin. The Lord does not delight in the soul of the one who is proud. But as we grow in understanding scripture and the ways of God, we shall develop a heart that more properly recognizes spiritual reality and, therefore, grows in humility.
By accepting the provision of grace we are open to the untold riches of God. It is in “grace in which we stand” and it is in grace in which we must remain, lest we sub come to the bitter, evil motives of our flesh. “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” To believe on Christ unto salvation and then to not live a life given wholly to Him is to neglect on of His greatest benefits, that of being directed and influenced by the grace of God. Though eternally saved and adopted as the people of God, we, nevertheless, still have an evil nature. This nature, though judged at the cross, will not be executed till we depart from this world for our heavenly home. Without the divine influence of grace, there remains nothing to prevent this evil nature from predominating. We are warned of the consequences of such negligence in the above passage and, indeed, throughout the bible. We are a people prone to sin. It is the love of Christ that controls us. To act apart from the grace of our Lord is to perform what is properly called the “deeds of the flesh.” Sin is never worth its accompanying price. Leanness of soul is a tremendous cost for self’s greedy desires. The more a person is willing to be wholly led by the Lord, the greater the experience they will have of His glorious and unimaginable riches.
We are only as joyful as we allow ourselves to be. It is evil to think that if only God would do more then we would be happy. God has done and will continue to do all that is necessary to make our lies abundant. God’s past, present, and future dealings all lead to the end that He might receive all glory and that we might have all joy. Therefore, the question lies not with God, but with ourselves. He has given us life, He has given us hope, He has given us Himself. All that God is, has been lavished upon us that we might experience the vast sum of His riches. This wealth surpasses even our greatest wishes. Though distressing circumstances will come, they are always greatly surmounted by the super abounding grace given to us. We have all that we need. With grace, no commandment is beyond our obedience, no promise is outside of our experience. But though the provision of God is abundant, we are often deceived by our disposition to self-pity. We are the only ones responsible for the condition in which we are. We already have the magnificent promises of God, we just need to believe them.
“But if it is by grace; it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” Probably the most dangerous intrusion into the principle of grace is that of law. As Christians, we are in the age of grace. We stand in grace and walk in grace, yet, like the foolish Galatians, it is all too easy for us to put ourselves under law. The principle of grace and that of the law stand opposed to each other in such a manner that their mixing produces only law; grace is nullified.
Under law, the human obligation is first presented in order to receive the consequence of the divine blessing. Under grace, the blessing has already been obtained; therefore, the human obligation follows. The one under the law does in order to become; under grace, we have already become; therefore, we should do. The motivation of the law is to obtain; the motivation of grace is because we have already obtained. The law says, “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you on high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” Grace says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Therefore…. Walk in a manner worth of the calling with which you have been called.” Under law we must do a work to be accepted; under grace we must believe the work that has made us accepted. The law promises, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God;” grace assures us that we are sons of God; therefore, we should pursue peace. The law warns, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Grace encourages, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” The fulfilling of the law was necessarily pursued by all that the natural flesh of man could produce and was doomed to ultimate failure. The heaven-high demands of grace, rather, are accomplished by the mighty enablement of the indwelling Spirit. “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but unde In Ephesians, chapter one, we read, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” The scriptures emphatically declare the glorious and superabundant excellence of divine grace. It is necessary for salvation; it is required to walk according to His will. It is given without recompense to a wholly undeserving people. Indeed, so great is this theme that the throne upon which the Almighty is seated is called “the throne of grace.” It opens wide the tremendous storehouse of God’s riches and lavishes them upon an unworthy people. Grace finds its source in the profound heart of God and its effect upon the undeserving heart of man. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God or Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace; comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” Amen.
What does God’s grace mean to us?
It heals shattered and broken lives
Proverbs 3:34 says, “He gives grace to the afflicted.” Grace takes “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” and changes them into “vessels of mercy” prepared for glory. Grace takes a life broken by sin and changes it into a life rich in righteousness. Grace takes someone who is confused and has no hope and changes it into a life that blesses others. Grace takes the ugly and the worthless and makes it beautiful and precious. Grace allows us to proclaim, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”—2 Corinthians 5:17.
Matthew 12:22 tells an interesting story, “Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.” This verse is often overlooked because it is setting up the well-known confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees where Jesus says “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?” But in this one verse was a real story involving a real person. This was not Jesus walking along a road and saying, “Oh, what a pretty stone. I think I’ll take it home,” and then plunking it into His pocket. This blind and dumb man was a real human being. When the wind whipped coarse sand into his face he had to protect himself with the ragged sleeve of his cloak. Someone that he knew heard that Jesus was in the area and so they brought him to Jesus. We do not know if he was terrified or if he came eagerly, but we do know that Jesus healed him. We read the rest of this story and marvel at Jesus’ answers to the Pharisees. But what about this healed man? Did he calmly stand on the sidelines and watch? He was probably screaming out, “I can see! I can see!” and eyes that couldn’t see the light of the sun were now flowing with tears of joy. He might have grabbed the nearest person by the shoulders and yelled, “I can see you!” and then the next person, “And I can see you, too! This old stick in my hands; this was my cane?” And he threw it to the side. And he rejoiced and danced and yelled out praises to God in the Highest for maybe the first time ever. And for the rest of his life everyone heard for the 200th time the story that went, “And then He touched me and I could see and I could speak!” That was pure grace.
We can become more like God in our character
Do we want more joy in our lives or maybe more self-control or patience? Grace allows us to acquire the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” All of these characteristics transcend circumstances.
We can always do the right thing
2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” We never lack the power to do what is right.
There are many times in all of our lives when someone said something that was insulting, offensive, or hurtful. Our immediate reaction is usually to strike back. Sometimes we want to nail him on the jaw, lean into to his half-conscious face, and yell, “That’s what you get for saying that!” Or we want to trade insult for insult or revert to name-calling. But always, always, always we are glad when we do not react that way. The right thing is to swallow that insult, be calm, and listen to what he has to say. If necessary, we might bring it up later in a less agitated manner and discuss how we thought that he was wrong, but most of the time it is better to simply let it go. We can always be gracious even in the midst of sin.ven in the midst of sin.
Avoiding sin, though, is only one side of doing right. God’s grace enables us to do every good deed. We can share the Gospel with that person who is lost. We can bend down to help the oppressed whether it is at a food kitchen or helping those who have been displaced by war. We can become involved with the children’s ministry at church. We can reconcile those who are at enmity.
Notice all of the emphatic words of completeness in this verse.
“every And, of course, this verse starts with the ultimate word for completeness—“God.”
Gives us second chances
Probably most of us are familiar with the story of Jonah. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria and the Ninevites were a wicked and cruel people. God told Jonah, who was a prophet, to go to that city and preach repentance. It says in Jonah 1:2, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah did not want that city to repent; he wanted them to suffer the full blow of God’s holy wrath. So Jonah took a ship going the opposite way of Nineveh. God sent a storm and the ship with all of the crew on board was on the verge of sinking, but Jonah confessed that he was the cause of the storm and so the sailors threw him overboard and the storm subsided. Then a giant fish swallowed Jonah, but while inside the fish Jonah repented and the fish spit him up on the shore near Nineveh. So Jonah preached, the people of Nineveh repented, and Jonah was unhappy.
So how is this a story of grace? First, God showed grace to the Ninevites by giving them a chance to repent before being punished for their sins. This is true for each one of us today. We are all sinners and as such we deserve immediate and terrible judgment. But God was gracious and merciful and provided us with the chance for salvation.e chance for salvation.
Second, God showed grace to the sailors. He could have destroyed their ship. It said that every man cried out to their own god so they were all idolaters. For obvious reasons that did not work so then they cast lots. God does not promise that He will honor something as crass as casting lots to discover the greatest sinner among us, but in this case God did honor the lot. It enabled the sailors to discover who was to blame and so allowed them to save their ship and themselves. That was grace.
Third, Jonah was in the fish but it did not digest him. That was mercy and when he repented he was put back onto the shore.
But perhaps the biggest display of grace was in Jonah 3:1-2, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’” God “came to Jonah the second time.” Jonah rebelled against God’s clear command and even tried to run away. So God disciplined him and Jonah repented. But here is what is amazing about God’s grace. When Jonah was on the ship or inside the fish or even when he was spit up on the shore all covered with fish juices God could have given up on him. Chapter 3 could easily have started out, “Now the word of the LORD came to Micah saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh…’” But it did not. God graciously gave Jonah a God tells us not to be angry; we’re angry. God tells us not to lust; we lust. God tells us to serve others; we think only about ourselves. But God is gracious and He comes to us a second time and says, “Don’t be angry,” or “Don’t lust,” or “Serve others” and then He gives us the power to do it.
It is everywhere, in the small things and in the large
In Genesis 11 a group of people got together to build a huge tower that would reach far up into the sky. It was an enormous project that required a tremendous amount of planning, coordination, and hard work. It was the Tower of Babel.
In Mark 12 a widow dropped the equivalent of one cent into the temple treasury.to the temple treasury.
Which required God’s grace–The great building project or one cent in the treasury? It is clear that it was the widow’s cent. In the big project God Himself had to stop the work on it least the people became proud. For the widow’s offering Jesus Himself used it as an ex Grace is not measured by the grandeur of the project but by its obedience to God no matter how small or how mundane.
It fills up what we are otherwise lacking
This is evidenced in two ways: 1) in overcoming our weaknesses and 2) in giving us spiritual gifts.
One of the more emphatic Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” When God is working through our weaknesses it even more obvious that it is His power and so brings more glory to Him.
You do not need grace to do nothing, but God will give you grace when you step out to do His will. The Red Sea parted only after the Israelites started to walk across. Peter was able to walk on water only after he stepped out of the boat. Moses got the Ten Commandments only after he went up into the mountain. The unnamed servant of Abraham found a wife for Isaac only after he went out.
Weakness stays weakness when you do not do anything; power can only come through action.
We read in Romans 12:6-8, “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” When someone is saved, God gives that person the Holy Spirit and one of the benefits of the Holy Spirit is that He gives to each one of us at least one spiritual gift that enables us to be a useful and necessary part of the church.
Answers to quiz
2) a1) a
You have been good friends with Eric for quite a long time. You have always admired his zeal in sharing the Gospel and being involved in church ministries. He is a great student of the Bible and always seems to have the perfect Scripture for a situation. One characteristic of his that has always caused you to bite your lip and has caused contentions between him and others in the church is that he holds to a very narrow way of how anything should be done. He has argued with the music director because he thinks that all contemporary music is not glorifying to God and so should never be sung in church. He has contended with people doing outreach because he feels that they are not doing it the one proper “Biblical” way. And on a nearly weekly basis he argues with the pastor because he feels that every sermon should contain a reference to Hell and the judgment of God. You feel that Eric is isolating himself from others. Using God’s grace as the theme what can you say to Eric that might help him understand the methods and ways of God more clearly?
1) In addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s grace means to us?uo;s grace means to us?
2) Define grace.
3) Why is it necessary for us to realize that grace is only given to the needy and the humble?
4) What does it mean to be humble?
5) What is the difference between working and works? Give some examples if that will help.
6) What are some examples of how God has been gracious to you?
7) How does grace allow us to develop the character of God or the fruit of the Spirit?
8) What are some ways that we can ignore grace?
9) Can you tell us about any experiences where God’s grace allowed you to do what was right even though you would have rather have done otherwise? How did you feel afterwards?
10) Can you tell us about any experiences where God’s grace allowed you to resist temptation? How did you feel afterwards?
11) Can you tell us about how God’s grace may have filled up some area of your life that was lacking?
12) What are some practical ways that you can demonstrate God’s grace to other people?
13) Is there a connection between grace and being gracious?
Copyright Bob La Forge 2011 email: email@example.com