Archive for the ‘Understanding Grace’ Category

Understanding Grace 2

October 6, 2018

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

The text is quite clear that it is not a matter of just hearing the word of truth, the Gospel, which is all about the grace of God in truth. The text tells us that we must not only hear about grace but that we also must understand grace. There is a difference between a spiritual understanding and the understanding that the natural man has. The natural man, regardless of intellectual abilities, simply cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. Spiritual things require the Holy Spirit to reveal them. To understand spiritual things one must be regenerate which is to say that one must have a spiritual nature as opposed to being born dead regarding spiritual things.

The Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of His people to give them a taste of Christ in His Divine nature and how He is the perfect image of God. Another way to put this is to say that the Spirit works to show forth the glories of God and how He shines forth in the face or Person of Christ. In the context of our present subject, this works out in the Spirit enabling His people to behold the glories of God in the face of Christ and not just seeing this but enabling them to love and to take joy in Him. Yet another angle on this is to say that when this happens the people of God are being made partakers of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:3-5). God is sharing His love for Himself and His joy in Himself as triune with His people. Still another way of looking at this is to say that God brings His people to Himself and gives Himself to them and in partaking of Him because of who He is they are receiving and tasting of grace.

Christ Himself is grace to the people of God. It is Christ joining Himself to His people (and then living in His people) that is what we know of as true grace. It is when the people of God have Christ who is eternal life that people have the life of Christ in them and that is eternal life. This eternal life is given to them by grace alone. This eternal life is the very life of Christ in them because it is Christ who is the life of the believer. God brings His people to partake of Him because of who He is and not because of whom they are or what they have done. This is getting at the true nature of grace.

Understanding grace is to know this grace from the depths of the soul which is part of what it means to love God with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength. We do not understand grace until we have had it in the whole of our being and we love God as a result of it and know that the love we have for God is from His grace. We do not do any favors for God when we love Him, but instead it is His grace to us in working His love for Himself in us. The love that true believers have for God is in fact a sharing in God’s love for Himself as triune and as such it is only by grace that we love God. If we do not understand that we cannot love God in our own strength, we have no hope of understanding true grace. All that we do should come from love for God, which tells us that all true works are His works in us and so we never work for grace, but instead we work by the strength of grace.

Coming to the understanding of grace requires us to taste of this grace in the soul by experience. Borrowing from Jonathan Edwards, no matter how much we hear honey described and perhaps scientifically explained, a simple taste of honey helps us understand it in a way that all the descriptions of it cannot do. It is by eating solid food that the body is nourished rather than just reading or hearing about food. Mechanics become much better mechanics after they have fixed cars for a few years rather than just having read books about it. A surgeon is a far better surgeon after practicing as a surgeon for years rather than just reading a book about it. In the same way we can only understand grace when after it is revealed to the heart and mind it is lived in us and through us. In this way we practice living by grace when we actually live by grace rather than just hearing about it. A proud person cannot live by grace and as such we must seek and actually obtain true humility by Christ in order to live by true grace. True grace is only understood by those who are truly humble rather than those who just understand the words.

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Understanding Grace 1

October 4, 2018

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

How is one to understand the truth of the living God? How is one to know the truth of God and grow in the knowledge of God and in knowing God? How is one to come to grips with the nature of the holiness of God and how one is to grow in holiness? How is one to bear spiritual fruit in order to glorify God? Are these things important or simply issues that are on the peripheral of the faith? Are these things obvious to people or is this something God has to open our eyes to see?

There are many answers set out for us to consider in the modern day in the amazing number of books that pour out from printers, but the text above is not one that we hear of much. If you want to bear fruit to God, if we listen to the text, then we must understand the grace of God in truth. In other words, the grace of God is not just some words that we can attach meanings to as we like or want; we must understand the grace of God in truth.

It is not just any grace that will do, but it must be the true grace of the true God and it must be in truth. It is not just any grace that will do; it must be the grace of God. It is not a man-centered grace and it is not just something that is of some benefit to man, but it is the grace of God alone that will do. It is not the grace of a false God, but it must be a grace that comes from the true God. The false grace from a false god is nothing but what comes from an idolatrous heart. The true grace of the true God can only come with the message of the truth and that is only through and by the Lord Jesus Christ. All spiritual blessings come to us in Christ (Eph 1:3-14) and grace is assuredly a blessing.

Let us go back to the text of Scripture from above. Paul prayed for and gave thanks for the Colossians since he heard of their faith in Christ and of their love for all the saints. Without going into that point deeply, we should dwell on why Paul gave thanks to God for those in the Colossian church. It was because their faith in Christ and their love for the saints were both gifts and blessings of God and they came to those people by grace alone. They came to faith and had love when they heard about them in the word of truth. What is this word of truth? It is the Gospel. When the Gospel came to the people Paul was writing to what was it that caused the Gospel to bear fruit? What was it that caused the Gospel to bear fruit in the known world at that time? It was when they understood the grace of God in truth.

It is worth repeating the answer from the text of Scripture. What is it that causes the Gospel to bear fruit and for people to bear fruit? It is when they understand the grace of God in truth. We know that we are to bear fruit to God, but it is only true fruit when it comes from an understanding of the grace of God in truth. True fruit does not come from stringent rules regarding behavior and it is not from behavior modification. A behavior that is truly spiritual fruit comes as a result in growing in grace or growing in the understanding of grace. How are we to see the Gospel grow and bear true fruit in our day? It is not if we can get more people to agree with our creed or join the local churches in the modern way, it is only if people truly grow in their understanding of grace.

Will people bear fruit if they can have more holy huddles and grow more exclusive in their doctrine or practice? No, it will only be when they grow in understanding of the grace of God in truth. But, one may say, I attend all the conferences and I read all the books and I have a great study Bible. But again, the question is whether one is coming to and understanding of the grace of God in truth. Another may assert that s/he believes the perfect creed down to the letter. But the text of Scripture tells us that the Gospel bears fruit when we understand the grace of God in truth. Understanding is not just an intellectual issue, it is a matter of the heart and life as well. Knowledge puffs up (I Cor 8:1) and God opposes the proud/puffed up ones. But God gives grace to the humble. If we are going to understand the grace of God in truth, then we must seek the Lord for broken and humbled hearts. Do we really want to bear fruit to God?