Modern Christianity has many belief systems and doctrines. We have sects of Christianity that rang from disregarding the need for music to differing opinions on water baptism. Among the fundamentals that have not only been tampered with, but completely redefined, is the doctrine of Grace.
Like most teenagers, when I was young, I made defining choices that shaped my future. By the grace of God, I and several dear friends resolved to make choices rooted in the fundamental truths of God's Word and, as a result, we were labeled as naive, old fashioned, judgmental and unrealistic. I will admit, sometimes my passion for truth made me more harsh than tender but in every crivis of my being, I longed for every choice to be glorifying to God.
I can remember during the darkest season of my life, a preacher informing me that the season of hardship was due to my lack of grace. Having a sober awareness of sin and the boldness to acknowledge it was, in his definition, a lack of grace. Real and Biblical grace was about smiling and keeping the peace in the middle of a carnage.
I wrestled with this logic, having my own faith crisis. Was this true? What is grace?
A Christian is one who has been regenerated. They have literally been spiritually and supernaturally reborn. They are no longer dead, but alive in Christ. They have been cleaned, dressed in the righteousness of Almighty God, and are indwelt by The Holy Spirit - by a God so holy, you cannot look upon Him and live. This same Spirit who takes ownership of our life cheers us in our affliction, comforts us with reminders of Jesus' love, and convicts us of even the slightest sin. Being saved requires faith on our part, but is given to us solely because of God's astounding grace.
Far too many take such a marvelous gift for granted. Far too many do ungodly things in the name of saving and sustaining grace. Many choose to affectionately welcome and justify sin and call it grace. Many view grace as the acceptance, without rebuke, of everything that is unholy. But friend, that is nothing more than a silly bunch of people worshipping a golden calf after having been delivered from slavery and walking through the Red Sea on dry ground. God did not merely look down on a pathetic, despicable, broken sinner and mercifully forgive and restore that sinner, He then clothed that sinner in the blood of His very own Son. But that is not where grace ends! Grace is what takes a fallen man and makes him a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. Grace is what makes sin taste rotten to a believer and what makes the Fruit of the Spirit taste delicious and sweet. Grace is what enables a spiritually renewed Christian to live an impossible life. Somewhere between the blood of the martyrs and today's prep Church, grace was reduced to a mere hug from the Father, not the convicting, holy strength of Heaven.
Paul had a lot to say about grace in his letters. He was honest about his own sordid past, but boldly confronted uncomfortable issues head-on. Knowing that he was also running the race with the Body of Christ did not silence him, it spurred him on because he knew about Biblical accountability. Paul was so fervent about the Gospel that he said he would give his own life to hell's fire if Israel would know Christ. That's passion! While he vehemently scolded churches on their false doctrine, their tolerance of sin, their promiscuity, their gossip, and lack of love, he also endured physical suffering and, later, death on their behalf.
All because of grace.
The testimony of modern-day Christians are being smudged with every yielding to self and every slight bow to the world. It's great when we recognize that we are forgiven from sin due to grace; but it is breathtaking when our life showcases the work of grace which saves us from living in sin. When we rationalize ungodliness, we are spitting upon God's merciful and amazing work He did at Calvary. When we choose not to kill the desires of our flesh, we are wallowing in the muck and mire with the righteous robe of Christ on. When we view every uncomfortable situation as punishment instead of sanctifying work, we are missing the power that grace extends to all who believe.
May we echo Paul every moment of every day when the tempter comes to diminish God's work. Should we sin all the more so grace can abound? God forbid! The grace that is given to those who believe is far greater than that.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.