Today we want to try to see us as God sees us. Notice that the word
"try" was used. We cannot see us as God does but we can, to
some extent, see ourselves in light of what He did for us on the Cross.
We want to discover what it is that caused Christ to die for us. We want
to find out what there is about us that continuously keeps God at our
sides during our faith journey.
Romans 11:5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by
grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace
would no longer be grace.(NIV)
God chooses you by grace. Grace is the love, care, compassion, and/or
mercy of God. When God chooses you, it is not a thing to celebrate, for
His choosing you could result in your dying for Him. Instead of
celebration this event is an event to treasure humbly. For with God's
choosing you, it is as if you have been drafted. If you follow God's
leading, His leading could lead you to give up your life for His work
and His cause here on earth. Being part of His remnant is like being
salt or seasoning. When you put salt on your food the salt disappears.
The salt becomes invisible. Likewise, when we are added into the world
as Christ' seasoning we too become invisible though humility yet we must
add to the flavor of life in our part of the world which He has given
1 Cor. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me
was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I,
but the grace of God that was with me.
Grace cannot produce anything within you without humility. The idea
of grace, in some ways, turns our ideas about God upside down. Grace
must be received into our inner beings. It is important to understand
that each of us has a choice about whether the grace of God is going to
produce some kind of result within us. Our choice is to receive the
grace or reject it, ignore it or embrace it, run away from it or
continuously seek it, or attack it or welcome it into our hearts. To
receive grace we must do inner spiritual work or heart work.
In the discussion of grace, we must look at Christ on the Cross. We
must ask, "Did Christ go to the Cross because we are worthless
scum? Did He go to the Cross because we are garbage? Many people who do
not go to church and many people who do will answer "Yes" to
these questions. Maybe you think that in some way, when God is looking
at you, he does see worthless scum and garbage.
We must be clear and emphatic about the following point. We are
fallen but we are not worthless. We are fallen creatures but we are
still redeemable. We are not garbage that must be thrown out, but
creatures who God wants to restore, redeem, and make new again. We are
each like an old table covered with several layers of paint, varnish,
dirt, dents, and scratches. For some people, this old table appears
worthless and would be classified as garbage. However, to the eye of a
trained antique collector this old table has value and worth. To someone
who collects antiques and who refinishes them, the varnish, paint, dirt,
dents, and scratches are ignored. The collector uses a kind of x-ray
vision to see through the service layers into the wood. The wood and its
shape is what ultimately give the table its value.
When Christ went to the Cross, He could see past our surface layer of
sin. Christ could see the worth, value, and potential of every person.
It is because we have a worth, value, and potential that God pours out
his love, grace, kindness, mercy, and Holy Spirit on us. It is because
we can become so much more than what we are as sinners that God has a
compassion, tolerance, and charity towards us. It is because we can
share in the substance of the Holy Spirit that God forgives us
repeatedly. God sees us fall down countless times. It is His grace or
generosity towards us, the grace that is so great and so strong, that
causes Him to reach down to help us up after we have fallen.
God grieves with us when we are grieved at our mistakes. God feels
our pangs of guilt when we realize we have done wrong. He calls us to
turn away from doing wrong and reach up to Him. Our spiritual water
glass may seem empty to some, but God envisions a glass overflowing with
love, kindness, generosity, and humility. For each of us to see much
value our soul possesses in the eyes of God, we must pull ourselves up
by our soul bootstraps and be honest. When we are honest we will see
that it was only by God's grace, or Christ' suffering on the Cross, that
the wall can come down. If we could envision the wall and the occurrence
of its being removed from our lives, what we would see is a meltdown or
disintegration of the steel. When grace or the Light and Love of God and
Christ come into the heart, the cold, steel wall of sin melts like steel
under a laser beam.
It is not any work on our part that can melt the icy steel wall
between God and us. Only grace can add the heat that results in our soul
being saved. It is the kindness of Christ' nail-scarred hands that reach
through the steel wall. His hands melt away the steel barrier between
Him and us as He touches our hearts. The continual mercy of Christ
enables Him to overlook our human weaknesses. His grace or mercy
understands our temptations, and our times of falling away. Grace or the
holiness of His Spirit keeps us within His hand when we are tempted and
besieged on every side during our journey here on earth. It is God's
grace or His forgiveness that understands we want always to do the right
thing yet we are weak and sometimes end up doing the wrong thing. God's
grace or tolerance continuously puts up with us repeatedly making the
In looking at the matter of grace, when we begin to understand all
that grace is, then we begin to understand what we can become. We also
begin to understand what we must strive to be as a child of God who has
accepted His grace. When we accept His grace, we must also strive to
become all He wants us to be. For if, we accept God's wonderful gift of
continuous mercy we are then under a spiritual obligation to respond to
that gift. To receive a gift without gratitude or thanksgiving is
incredibly childish and selfish. As the steel wall between God and us
melts away, we ought to then be eternally grateful for His continuous
mercy. Continuous mercy accepted with humility brings with it an
attitude of continuous gratitude and praise.
With God's grace, it is always humility that makes for the impact.
Some years ago, a Scottish minister told his congregation about dreaming
that he had died. When he came to the pearly gates, to his dismay, he
would be denied entrance until he presented his credentials. Proudly the
Pastor articulated the number of sermons preached and the prominent
pulpits occupied. But Saint Peter said no one had heard them in heaven.
The discouraged servant enumerated his community involvement. He was
told they were not recorded. Sorrowfully, the pastor turned to leave,
when Peter said, "Stay a moment, and tell me, are you the man who
fed the sparrows?" "Yes," the Scotsman replied, "but
what does that have to do with it?" "Come in," said Saint
Peter, "the Master of the sparrows wants to thank you."
Here is the pertinent, though often overlooked, point: great and
prominent positions show skill and capacity, but it is humility that
determines the depth of one's spiritual life. Humility determines if
grace will influence you and all the ones you love.
Let us look at two more verses related to grace:
Romans 3:22.There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Effusions 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-9 not by
works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are God's workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us
to do. (NIV)
Yes, we are saved by grace. However, although we are saved by grace,
we are still required to do a lot of heart work to open our heart and
souls to receive the grace offered to us. We must all remember the grace
and cleansing love of Christ is placed before us and not poured down our
throats. Grace does not come into our lives without our consent or will.
Receiving grace through faith is no easy road. We cannot build our own
life raft if we are drowning in the ocean. Christ has placed God's
eternal life raft of grace in front of us. Each of us must reach out and
grasp the raft of grace and then climb onto it to be saved. Reaching out
and climbing onto the eternal life-saving raft requires much of us.
Reaching out and climbing on requires we realize we are sinners and have
fallen short of the mark. In other words, we must realize we are
drowning. Reaching out and climbing on requires we fully accept Christ
into our hearts and minds. We must also, in humility, accept His grace
if we are to grow from our spiritual infancy into spiritual adults. Once
aboard the raft we must hold on and hang on. The seas are rough. On the
sea, there are storms of temptation, disappointment, pain, suffering,
and persecution. There is, on the seas, disillusionment with the acts of
others, and there are obstacles the size of mountain ranges that are
ready to topple us overboard. We are saved by grace but it takes work to
climb aboard and to stay aboard the eternal life raft of grace. Grace
does not itself guarantee safe passage to any port or to any shore.
Grace does not guarantee we will not be persecuted, victimized, or
unjustly accused and thrown into prison.
Not only does it take work to stay aboard our respective rafts of
grace, but we are also commanded to do work for others which should come
before all other activities and thoughts. While we are on the rough
seas, those who are drowning surround us. We are under a moral and
spiritual obligation to reach out to them.
Yes, we are saved by grace and called to do good works beginning at
the instant grace is received. The good works we are supposed do were
set up, ordered, put in place, and set apart by God. The trouble is,
many people do not meet their destination or destiny of doing the works
established by God for them to do. Why? It is too difficult. We would
rather have the easy way, not the difficult way.
In our modern world, if things are not going smoothly on the seas of
your faith journey you will be told there is something wrong. You will
be told there is something wrong with you, your faith, your belief, your
use of the gifts God has given you, etc. This kind of thinking is in
error. The fact is, our church history clearly shows, if things are
going smoothly for us something is probably wrong in our service to God.
If you are in a sailboat and there was a dead calm, you are not sailing.
The trick to sailing is to take the wind provided and use it to fill the
sail. With a full sail and knowledge about how to use the rudder you can
get to your destination of good work for Christ. With a calm sea and no
wind, there is no sailing, no advancement, and no progress.