– Jide Lawal
A Gospel of Grace
1 Timothy 1 (KJV 2000)
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 But for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for an example to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Paul’s life was planned by God to be an example of His grace, and it actually was. We have seen in the previous posts how God’s grace was repeatedly demonstrated in Paul’s life. But Paul wasn’t just meant to experience and enjoy the grace of God, Paul was to preach and teach the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20 (KJV 2000)
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23 Except that the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Grace seems to be one of those things we talk about a lot, without seeming to believe so much in it. Virtually no Christian meeting or programme (in Nigeria at least) can end without our “sharing the grace”. This interesting-sounding ritual consists of nothing more than reciting the Apostolic Benediction by heart in unison, an activity we have repeated so many times we no longer seem to appreciate the meaning of the words.
2 Corinthians 13 (KJV 2000)
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
In spite of the fact that we are always “sharing the grace”, very few ministers teach about grace, and those that tend to teach about it consistently are quickly labelled “grace preachers”. Talk about “favour” is more common. We are more comfortable with “favour” because it is almost always preached as the result of your doing some good works that other Christians were not smart or diligent enough to do.
Romans 11 (KJV 2000)
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
If you were to ask Paul, he would identify himself as a preacher of grace, and confirm to you that the ministry he received from the Lord Jesus was “to testify the gospel of the grace of God”. The word “grace” occurs in every single one of the epistles of Paul, and he taught about it more than any other New Testament writer.
Paul taught that we are called into His grace (Galatians 1:6), we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), we stand in grace (Romans 5:2) and we are to be strong in grace (2 Timothy 2:1). He insisted that we have received abundance of grace (Romans 5:17), begs us not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1) and not to nullify the grace of God (Galatians 2:21). He thanks God for the grace which we have received (1 Corinthians 1:4) and exhorts us to continue in grace (Acts 13:43).
Not once does Paul ever suggest God’s grace towards us might be in short supply. He always speaks of abundance of grace (Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 4:15, 9:8; 1 Timothy 1:14) and exceeding grace (2 Corinthians 9:14; Ephesians 2:7).
He did not endorse grace as liberty to sin, but held that grace teaches us to refuse to sin (Titus 2:11,12). Paul taught that the way to repent towards God was to express faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Repeated attempts by sinners to change their ways and do right without expressing faith in the grace of God as demonstrated by Jesus Christ would always end in failure.
Learn from Paul. Let the gospel you preach be the gospel of grace. I have always advised pastors who want their members to stop sinning to start preaching the gospel of grace. The grace of God as presented in the Scriptures liberates from a sinful lifestyle. Righteousness is “the gift by grace” (Romans 5:15,17).
Continue in grace!