Now that’s grace

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YOU’D think God would care most for those who acknowledge him and follow the rules. You’d expect him to give the greatest sinners a swift clip over the ears every now and then.
But what does God do? He blesses even those who break the rules, as well as the uncouth, people who don’t bother to attend church and those who don’t seem very nice at all.
It seems so unfair. But God has always acted that way. He makes friends with some odd people.
The movie Amadeus makes the point pretty well.
It tells of a pious and righteous 17th century composer, Antonio Salieri, who desperately prays God will give him the gift to create immortal music.
Instead, the gift is given to Salieri’s contemporary — the brattish, arrogant and ungrateful Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
God blessed Moses, a murderer, who led his people to freedom. And King David, an adulterer, whose liaison with another man’s wife resulted in the birth of the wise Solomon.
It’s because God’s grace is a gift that falls on all who will accept it. No one can earn God’s love or blessings. We don’t get to heaven by being good.
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve.
Philip Yancey, in What’s So Amazing About Grace, says grace contains the essence of the gospel as a drop of water can contain the image of the sun.
“It is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism and stronger than hate,” he said.
Grace, when it happens, usually takes us by surprise.
Yancey said we lived in an atmosphere chocked with the fumes of ungrace.
Yet grace is everywhere, like the lenses that go unnoticed because you are looking through them.
He tells the tale of a young and innocent teenage girl who leaves home on a whim and ends up as a prostitute and drug addict.
After a year, the child decides to go home, but worries her parents will reject her.
She leaves a message on their answering machine and jumps a bus to home.
On the way she prepares a little speech to her father: “Dad, can you forgive me. I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. It’s mine.”
Finally the bus arrives and she gets off, wondering whether anyone will be there to greet her.
And there stand 40 people aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, grandparents, friends; all wearing goofy hats and blowing noise makers.
Out of the crowd comes her father. Through the tears, she begins her speech: “Dad, I’m sorry . . .”
He interrupts her as he takes her in his arms.
“Hush child,” he says, “We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”
Now that’s grace.

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21 thoughts on “Now that’s grace

  1. “It is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism and stronger than hate,” he said.
    Grace, when it happens, usually takes us by surprise.
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Somewhere I said that a major advantage of Christianity is the concept of Grace, that In some religions, if you think you don’t deserve to go to Heaven you may seek to solve that by martyrdom, which may be very bad news for some others!

    My definition of grace was the free over-ruling of the universal law – ‘As ye give so shall ye receive,’ phrased in various ways.

    But at http://www.loveandfaith.org/images/pdfs/031914-Spiritual_Principle_of_Grace.pdf there is this list .
    (1) Defining Grace
    (2) We Have Been Saved By Grace
    (3) The Doorway to Grace is Humility
    (4) Use Grace or Loose It

    And Wikipedia- “What is the definition of grace?
    ” Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.”

    So Christianity does not have a total monopoly on the concept. Some other religions, however, class devotion and surrender to God’s will as prerequisites.

    “God can be known only through His grace.”
    ” In actual fact, grace is always present; through surrender we enable our capacity to receive and experience it.”
    “God cannot be understood through study, debating, intellectual application or mere listening. When a soul surrenders to God wholeheartedly, he receives God’s grace, and with God’s grace, he reaches God.”
    “So, at the base of the necessity for God’s grace is our great incapacity: As material beings we simply cannot produce an unlimited and perfect effort in any area of spiritual practice to receive an unlimited attainment.”

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  2. “But what does God do? He blesses even those who break the rules, as well as the uncouth, people who don’t bother to attend church and those who don’t seem very nice at all.
    It seems so unfair. But God has always acted that way. He makes friends with some odd people.”

    The last shall be first and first shall be last.

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  3. “It is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism and stronger than hate,”

    We saw some of this occurring during The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa)
    Although it had its criticism it did lead to healing of a nation although individuals can debate that.
    It was not perfect but the notion of Grace was put into reality at a national level.

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  4. This is a true story. I am not a main character but was part of the unfolding of God’s Grace and Love.

    Years ago there was a young boy and girl who went out for a time. The boy stabbed the girlfriend over fifty times. The boy served well over ten years in jail. The mother of the young girl was devastated. She took to alcohol and drugs. Depression became her daily routine, hate her emotion and isolation her defence. Ten years after the horrid death of her daughter she had had enough and was seeking freedom. She found it in Jesus and was able to stop drinking and other addictions. As part of a team visiting prisons she relayed a message to us to pass on to her daughters killer. That she had forgiven him and was praying for him. Eventually we were at the right prison, at the right time and the right place within the prison. We were able to relay the message, with the knowledge of the Prison authorities, and he was able to relay back how sorry he was and that he too had become a follower of Christ. Grace has a power beyond our rational thinking, beyond time and space. It makes no sense at one level but one cannot hide from its effects.

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  5. WHAT IS GRACE and what are some ways people have defined grace?

    “Grace” is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ.

    Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God.

    “Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.”(B.B. Warfield)

    “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”(John Stott)

    “[Grace] is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.”(Jerry Bridges)

    “Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.” (Paul Zahl)

    Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world of earning, deserving, and merit, and these result in judgment. That is why everyone wants and needs grace. Judgment kills. Only grace makes alive.

    A shorthand for what grace is – “mercy, not merit.” Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve. Christianity teaches that what we deserve is death with no hope of resurrection.

    While everyone desperately needs it, grace is not about us. Grace is fundamentally a word about God: his un-coerced initiative and pervasive, extravagant demonstrations of care and favor. Michael Horton writes, “In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners, but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.”

    Christians live every day by the grace of God. We receive forgiveness according to the riches of God’s grace, and grace drives our sanctification. Paul tells us, “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (Titus 2:11). Spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight; we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:18). Grace transforms our desires, motivations, and behavior.

    In fact, God’s grace grounds and empowers everything in the Christian life.

    The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:3).

    The gospel of the grace of God is the message everyone needs. The word of grace is proclaimed from every page of the Bible and ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ. The last verse of the Bible summarizes the message from Genesis to Revelation: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all” (Revelation 22:21). Through Jesus “we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16)—the gratuitous and undomesticated grace of God.

    http://www.christianity.com/theology/what-is-grace.html?p=0

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  6. In Islam we believe that a person cannot get into paradise through deeds alone. Deeds is never enough. We need the grace of God.

    The Prophet (pbuh) said: “No one of you will enter Paradise by his deeds alone.” They asked, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Not even me, unless Allah covers me with His Grace and Mercy” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 18; Muslim, Munafiq, 71-73).

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    • I didn’t know that, Dom. Thank you. I hope the suicide bombers heed this. Incidentally I do know that suicide bombing is not confined to Muslims. Wikipedia has a list of countries –

      2 History, pre-1980

      2.1 India
      2.2 Dutch
      2.3 Aceh
      2.4 Moro Juramentado
      2.5 Russia
      2.6 Chinese suicide squads
      2.7 Japanese Kamikaze
      2.8 Germans
      2.9 Korean War

      3 Post-1980 attacks

      3.1 History
      3.1.1 9/11 and after
      3.2 Weapons and methods
      3.3 Strategy and advantages
      3.4 Attacker profiles and motivations
      3.4.1 Nationalist resistance and religion
      3.4.2 Islam
      3.4.3 Gender
      3.4.4 Specific groups

      According to author Sadakat Kadri, “the very idea that Muslims might blow themselves up for God was unheard of before 1983, and it was not until the early 1990s that anyone anywhere had tried to justify killing innocent Muslims who were not on a battlefield.” After 1983 the process was limited among Muslims to Hezbollah and other Lebanese Shi’a factions for more than a decade.[218]

      Since then, the “vocabulary of martyrdom and sacrifice”, videotaped pre-confession of faith by attackers have become part of “Islamic cultural consciousness”, “instantly recognizable” to Muslims (according to Noah Feldman),[132] while the tactic has spread through the Muslim world “with astonishing speed and on a surprising course”.[132]

      But Zionists were using suicide bombing before ever Muslims did.

      http://just-another-inside-job.blogspot.com.au/2007/04/female-jewish-suicide-bomber.html

      http://www.deliberation.info/the-jewish-suicide-bomber-you-never-heard-of/

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  7. I feel I should step in concerning David pbuh being an adulterer. The Judeo-Christian and Islamic views of David differ in some aspects. We generally do not accept the sins of adultery and murder attributed to David in the Bible, as we feel that prophets that the utmost chosen and elect of God – would never commit such a grave sin.

    Moses pbuh was protecting an Israelite from an attack. The death of the Egyptian was in self defense and at worse man slaughter.

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    • Many of the Old Testament characters who were blessed by God committed sins. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons. (See Genesis 12:10–20, 20, 26:1–11, 27:1–40, 37:12–36.)
      I was taught that their actions didn’t bring blessings, their faith did. Whatever their failings, they had faith, and so received God’s grace.

      No one was perfect then, anymore than we are now, but could receive grace through their faith.

      But that doesn’t give licence to sin. God isn’t stupid.

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    • I believe actions speaks louder than words, especially from kings. God wants his message to be clean when sent out.

      Having a role model that is lived in a time better than today but behaved worse than many criminals today does not make sense to me. It would mean future generations would just dismiss what was said because of the type of person who said it.

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  8. Out of the crowd comes her father. Through the tears, she begins her speech: “Dad, I’m sorry . . .”
    He interrupts her as he takes her in his arms.
    “Hush child,” he says, “We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”
    Now that’s grace

    No time for that ? Repentance is the most important thing.

    Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

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    • “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

      This thought is often neglected. I have seen Christianity, often of the most basic sort, work miracles in the lives of some people who were on a very nasty path. A sinner has truly repented.

      Christianity is meant for sinners, and of course we are all sinners in the sense that none of us are perfect. Also we cannot judge who more than another, is more of a sinner. Only God knows.

      Yet Jesus seems to have considered some healthy ‘enough’ to not need him. And I think of the poem ‘Abou Ben Adhem’. By their fruits you will know them.

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      • Another thought. Those who broke the temple laws were considered ‘sinners’, even though these laws were often only traditional. For instance, one could borrow something as long as they did not ask to borrow it (for that would constitute a transaction, and hence work); one could put out a lamp to save one’s life, but not merely to turn it off to save oil; a man could not put vinegar on his tooth for a toothache, but he could put vinegar on his food — and if he happened to get relief from that, it was OK.

        I have heard that Jesus was saying he came to save those who did not adhere to traditional law, the ‘sinners’, rather than the ‘righteous’, those who strictly obeyed traditional law.

        We shouldn’t presume to interpret God’s message to others. When we read scripture, the important thing is, how it speaks to us.

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      • All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
        The law saves no one. There are no “healthy” people as you stated. Those who do not need Him are those who believed on Him.

        The righteous are those who believed in Jesus (messiah) to come. Now we believe in the Messiah (Jesus) who died on the cross.

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      • Mark 2:17 (AMP) When Jesus heard this, He said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but [only] those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners [who recognize their sin and humbly seek forgiveness].”

        “Jesus found out what the Pharisees were asking and answered the question himself. He told them that healthy people have no need of a physician, but rather those who have illness. It is interesting that the word Mark used here, which is translated “illness” in the NIV, and “sick” in most other translations, is kakos, which means “bad” or “evil.”

        Jesus continued, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

        The Pharisees made a foolish assumption. Of course, they did not know it was foolish. They assumed that they were “healthy people,” and that they had no need of a physician. They assumed that they were righteous, and that Jesus’ call to sinners did not apply to them. They had found righteousness in their diligent faithfulness to do everything they believed God had required of his people in the law.”…….Grace Communion Int.)

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      • “Go to the Law,” said Jesus; “what is written there? how does it read to you?” Luke 10:26

        People’s interpretation of what was ‘sin’ and what was ‘righteousness’ varied in those times. I expect Jesus knew this, and I guess it doesn’t do to think too much. All he asked for was a simple faith.

        “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

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  9. I was taught that though we are saved by grace, we then need to be justified by deeds. Not the other way around. Grace is of the first importance, but having received grace, the follow up is that one will automatically do, or continue to do, good works. If we don’t, then we must have rejected the grace freely offered, and are back to square one.

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