Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Grace Works" Part 5

    "There are two religions in the world, grace and works.  But only grace works!"
    Grace works in changing how we view people.  "Receive you one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God… Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Romans 15:7: Ephesians 5:2).

    We cannot rightly think of the grace we have freely received without realizing our calling to freely give the same to others.  Our sins against God are many and grievous when compared with the sins of others against us.  Our Lord's parable of the indebted servants would suggest that our debt must be viewed in the millions, while the debts of others comprise a comparative pittance (Matthew 18:21-35).  This is a hard truth of grace, perhaps the hard truth of God's freely and undeservedly given favor in Christ.  Our Heavenly Father bestows grace upon us so that it may assimilate within us, changing our hearts into His loving image, and then flowing from our hearts in beneficence to others.  "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).  

    The first martyr of the Christian church, Stephen, displayed this grace received, grace bestowed reality of salvation even as he was stoned to death.  Our brother sought the forgiveness of the Rock of ages for the very ones who cast the rocks that took his life.  "He kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60).  We rightly admire Stephen for such gracious bestowal of mercy.  However, if we could speak to him, Stephen would quickly declare that the love of Christ motivated and enabled such sacrifice.  Moreover, our brother of old would confess that his sins against God were of much greater measure and magnitude than those who stoned him to death.  "How could I not have prayed for mercy," Stephen would say, "when my Lord had died for the mercy He far more graciously bestowed upon me?"

    Grace works.  It works to change our hearts from venues of vengeance into gardens of grace.  Mercy received becomes mercy bestowed as the character of the Lord Jesus forms and reforms our attitudes, aspirations, and actions.  The Savior receives all the glory, but we experience the joy whereby we discover His heart of grace even more in the self sacrificial giving of such goodness to others than in the receiving of it for ourselves.  From His cross, the Lord Jesus prayed for His tormentors not only that they might receive forgiveness, but so that they might become like Him.  This is salvation and the grace that works in conforming us to the image of the glorious and gracious Christ of our salvation.

"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
(Ephesians 4:32)

Weekly Memory Verse
    The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
(John 10:10)

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