Grace Upon Grace

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‘But by the grace of God, I am what I am’ (1 Cori 15:10)

This is the testimony of a person about himself who was  caught up to the third heaven ( 2 Cori 12:2). He was a ‘Hebrew born of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee, as to righteousness under the law, blameless’ (Phil 3:5-6). It was Paul the Apostle of whom  Jesus Christ himself said; ‘ He is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my  name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel’ (Acts 9:15). This Paul confesses that he is what he is  because of God’s grace.

When we  stay under the  shadow of grace, the biggest advantage is that  sin will not have any power  over  us. ‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are  not under law but under grace’ (Rom 6:14)

Though divine grace  shelters us, we live in a world full of  sin. For us to survive this deluge of  sin and  the circumstances that  lead to it, we  need the  protective power of  grace from above. Yet very often we feel that it is becoming  more and more difficult to  lead a   true Christian life and  remain blameless in a world  corrupted by sin. Then we should stand firm  and  remember the promise of our  Lord. ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded  all the more’ ( Rom 5:20).

This  grace is  being transferred to us  from  Jesus Christ. It is  through the ‘grace of God that has been given us in Christ Jesus’ (1 Cori. 1:4) that the gospel ministry, that is to be   handled with much care  like  a ‘treasure in a clay jar’, is entrusted to us. The  source of grace is  Christ and Christ alone. While describing in depth  the role and  ministry of Jesus Christ as High Priest and exhorting us to  ‘approach  the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and  find grace to help in  time of need’ ( Heb 4:16), the letter to the Hebrews underlines the fact that the Lord is the  fountain of  all graces.

The apostles preached this   gospel of grace. Paul describes this ministry as one  that he ‘received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the  good news of God’s grace’ (Acts 20:24). Wherever the gospel  was proclaimed, the works of grace were manifest in multiple  ways. We read about the  experience of  Barnabas  who was  sent to  visit the  church in Antioch. ‘When he came and saw the grace of God he rejoiced’ (Acts 11:23). To a Church so filled with  grace, the  apostles  ‘spoke to them and  urged them to continue in the grace of God’ ( Acts 13:43), because  they knew that  grace is at the root  of  a  fruitful Christian life.

The words of   Jesus are  streams of  grace. It is  our everyday experience that  wherever the  word is preached  miracles, healings and  conversion happen. As we read in the Acts of the  Apostles, the Lord, ‘testified to the  word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them’ (Acts 14:3).

Paul advises us to gather strength from this grace. ‘You then, my child, be strong in  the  grace that is  in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim 2:1). Grace leads us to  salvation. In continuation to his assertion that ‘we are saved by grace’ (cf. Eph 2:5), Paul writes about the way grace works for our salvation. ‘ For by grace you have been saved through faith’ ( Eph 2:8).

In other words grace and faith  work  together. Where there is grace, there will be   faith also. And  faith is  accompanied by love. ‘The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and  love that are in Christ Jesus’ (1 Tim 1:14). Paul has every right to give testimony to  the  grace of Jesus who himself  told Paul: ‘ My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Cori 12:9).

Lord’s grace is  sufficient for us too. When Paul appealed three times to the Lord about the torment that  he is subjected to by a messenger of  Satan, Jesus  did not  grant that appeal but  strengthened him in grace to  withstand the  testing times. God’s grace will protect even the weakest who need it most  from falling, the reason being ‘power is made perfect in weakness’    ( 2 Cori 12:9).

As fragile ‘clay  jars’ selected by God’s mercy to   be a testimony  to His grace, let us praise and worship Him, for without grace, we will  fall down and break any time.

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