For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.
Titus 2:11-12 NLT
Grace is not an abstraction, a loose religious word that applies to any unexpected blessing. Grace is not a quantity that is handed out by heaven when I need a little help. Grace is not something I pray for after I’ve done all I can do. Grace is not something I obtain when all else seems to fail.
Grace is Jesus. Grace is a Person. Grace lives in us by the personal presence and power of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:9). Grace is pardon, when I don’t deserve forgiveness, upon repentance, the Lord pours out his love and mercy. Grace is enabling power, grace enables you and I to refuse temptation, rebuke sin, and stand in righteousness (Titus 2:11-12). Grace is Jesus being available power to live the Christian life anywhere, anytime.
There is no such ‘thing’ as grace! Grace is not some appendage to Christ’s being. All there is is the Lord Jesus Himself. And so when Jesus speaks about us abiding in Him and He abiding in us – however mysterious it may be, mystical in that sense – it is a personal union.
Christianity is Christ because there isn’t anything else. There is no atonement that somehow can be detached from who the Lord Jesus is. There is no grace that can be attached to you transferred from Him. All there is is Christ and your soul.
Sinclair Ferguson on “John 15” at the 2007 Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference in Grantham, PA.
Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18 NLT
Grace is a person, Jesus, living his life in and through you and me. Grace empowers us to live a righteous and holy life (2 Co. 9:8, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Titus 2:11-14). Grace is God’s heart extending itself towards us as he initiates in us the ability to overcome our weaknesses, failures, and inadequacies. Jesus in us empowers us to obey scripture, love people, and serve God. Therefore, grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. The foremost characteristic of living by grace is trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. This trust frees us to enjoy God’s adequacy in the midst of our overwhelming struggles and troubling inconsistencies. Grace is a present reality for children of the burning heart, we find Christ ready and available in this moment. As a result, we are enabled to say, “no” to unrighteousness and “yes” to holiness. Everyday, we can grow in the grace of Christ as we learn to hold steady in his presence.
When the New Testament speaks about the fullness of grace which we find in Christ, it does not mean only forgiveness, pardon and justification. Christ has done much more for us. He died for us, but he also lived for us. Now he has sent his own Spirit to us so that we might draw on his strength. He grew in grace, and when we draw on his power we shall likewise grow in grace.
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Grow in Grace (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 10
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Eph. 1:5 NLT
In Roman law, the patriarch of the family (pater familias) who did not have an heir could engraft another male into his family line by adoption. The adopted son would have all the rights and privileges of a biological child. The family’s leadership, business, finances, reputation, etc., would all pass to this adult male son who had been given this new status as heir of the family.
In spiritual terms, adoption is the act whereby God makes his people his children, members of his family (Eph. 1:5). By spiritual adoption, believers are accepted in Christ and thereby receive all the riches of Christ’s work and glory. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ by being born from above (John 1:12). Our adopted status means that in and through Christ, God loves us as he loves his one and only Son. The Lord chooses to bless us now with Christ’s spiritual riches and will share with us all the glory of Christ in heaven (Rom. 8:17, 38–39).
We are adopted into God’s family through the resurrection of Christ from the dead in which he paid all our obligations to sin, the law, and the devil, in whose family we once lived. Our old status lies in his tomb. A new status is ours through his resurrection.
Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 37.
HT: Of First Importance
I Love You This Much
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit . . . .
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
How can this be? “You would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son.” Amazing! This is the Good News! This is the Gospel!
When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son! We cannot measure such love by any other standard. He is saying to us: I love you this much.
The cross is the heart of the gospel. It makes the gospel good news: Christ died for us. He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat. He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.
Sinclair Ferguson, Grow in Grace (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1989), 56, 58.