The Grace we’re talking about is the same kind of Grace that was/is in Jesus Himself. The Grace that is in Jesus was not the “unmerited favor” kind of grace, but Grace that meant the “empowering presence of God.” That kind of Grace need not be feared as inadequate or unable to deal with sin. Jesus’ Grace not only saved us (all who believed) but also gave us the power to be righteous, and power to do the works of Jesus. Brilliant news indeed!
[A point to note: As a convention in this website I have chosen to use the capitalized or proper version of the word “Grace”, meaning God’s empowering presence, to distinguish it from “grace” and the Old Covenant meaning of mercy or “unmerited favor”.]
- Grace needs to be presented with ‘no strings attached’. It’s 100% pure undiluted Grace. If we add anything (eg. Law) to Grace it is no longer Grace. A gift cannot be a gift if we decide we need to ‘do something’ to earn it. Grace is given as a total gift from God. Adding our efforts to Grace neutralizes Grace with unbelief. Does that mean we remain passive and unresponsive? Of course not. We respond to Grace because we have responded to the indwelling Holy Spirit in complete co-operation and loving obedience.
- Grace is better defined as the ’empowering presence of God’. We have the Grace that is in Jesus. He did not have ‘unmerited favor’. The Cross, Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit changed everything. We are no longer separated from God. He lives in us. This is the New Covenant era and Grace takes on new meaning and power.
- The constitution of the government of God has changed since Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. We are now under the Administration of Grace (Eph 3) governed by the Holy Spirit. God still wants His people and His promises made to Abraham are still current. However, we are now ruled by the Holy Spirit and not by Mosaic Law.
- It is God’s goodness and kindness that leads people to repentance and to Jesus. It is an issue of faith and trust in Jesus only (Rom 2:4). I don’t know why folk get nervous when it is stated that God is kind and ‘in a good mood’. It was His love that sent Jesus to save us. (John 3:16) He hasn’t changed.
- The Law was a temporary insertion into the governance timeline (added at Sinai and remained in power until Faith/Jesus came). Now that Faith has come we are no longer under the supervision or authority of the Law. Galatians is quite clear that the Law was added to sustain the people of Israel until Jesus came. Now that faith (Jesus) has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law.
- The promises made to Abraham still stand and are still available to people of faith in Jesus. Abraham was credited for his faith before Law came. A child of Abraham is righteous through faith without Law. Romans 4 and Galatians 3-4 speaks to Paul’s major point that we are Abraham’s children if we exercise the faith of Abraham. Law does not make us Abraham’s children. Only faith (in Jesus) allows us to benefit from the promise made to Abraham.
- God still wants a people and wants a righteous people. That righteousness, imputed and imparted, comes only through Grace. The expectation that God has of having a righteous people who belong to Him still stands. The only way that God can achieve that is through Grace alone. Offensive though it is to folk who feel they must contribute to their righteousness, only God through His Grace can make that happen. Our good efforts are a response to His good Grace.
- The Empowering Presence of God (Grace through the Holy Spirit) is fully able to bring about righteousness without the need of the Torah. This is the radical and undiluted truth. God has made salvation and righteousness possible through faith alone in Jesus. Only Grace (God’s empowering presence) can declare and make us righteous.
- The New Covenant is a new and fresh authority of God, introduced during and after Jesus. It does not require the authority of Law to back it up. Paul, in Ephesians 3, speaks of a brand new revelation not made known previously. That revelation is about the new ‘administration of grace’. Grace is now the empowered ‘government’ of the Holy Spirit. God works through the Holy Spirit and not through Moses. Religious people (those needing Law) become extremely nervous or even angry about a Grace-only Gospel. Paul’s Gospel is Grace-only, and it is a Gospel that empowers believers to be righteous. The problem with Law is that it only brings condemnation. People who think they need Law to ‘balance’ Grace operate with the same condemnation. We are saved by faith only and respond as saved and empowered people to follow after righteousness (Jesus). The Law is not based on faith, and we are not under its supervision or guidance.
“Grace plus anything cancels Grace“ – Dr. Gordon Fee
The Good News is still brilliant news!
The Grace of Jesus really offends religious controllers because He offers Eternal Life on the basis of His own ability to give it to all who believe. No strings attached. Wonderful news! The Apostle Paul states that we now live in the New Covenant and under a new “administration of grace” (Eph 3), and have the living presence of the Holy Spirit. We are now empowered and governed by the Holy Spirit. Grace, therefore, must be redefined in the context of that New Covenant.
Jesus was filled with grace and truth. He was not in need of “unmerited favor”. He was sinless and yet was full of grace. so grace needs to be defined with much more power. I am not the first to suggest this definition but it’s a good one. Grace is God’s empowering presence upon and within us because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit present within us makes a huge difference in how we relate to God and His grace. If I hear the apostle Paul correctly, Grace is much more powerful and represents the energizing and transforming power of God so much more than “unmerited favor” definition appropriate to the Old Covenant.
Do we need another Grace Revolution?
The first “Grace revolution” came with Jesus, the second Grace revolution was a continuation of the first with the Apostle Paul.
The next major revolution (the third) came with Martin Luther and Protestant Reformation. Grace expressed and defined at this time was a reclaiming of what the church had lost over the centuries. We are saved by faith and faith alone in Jesus. There were still aspects of New Testament truth that were missed. Martin Luther and the reformers were not strong on the subject of the Holy Spirit being an enabler of both salvation and righteousness. Luther was somewhat negative about the role of the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament church, at least according to Paul, the Holy Spirit is the key to righteous living and living in Grace. Without having the Holy Spirit as the most significant context for Grace we will miss seeing Grace as being the empowering presence of God in our lives.
I want to be unabashed in presenting Grace in as rich a context of the Holy Spirit as is possible. Grace really is the empowering presence of God in our lives and in the life of the church enabling us to live fruitful and faith-filled lives.
Do we need another “Grace” Reformation? I think we do!
This website is devoted to exploring the many facets of grace and living in the empowering freedom of the Holy Spirit.
There is much to cover, but here are a few key points I want to present, and there will be more…
All these following points are presented in strength in the New Testament and I believe they represent (not exhaustively) a Kingdom belief system. I will spend time writing about what I see as very clear New Testament teaching about the complete end of the Old Covenant, the end of the Law because of Jesus, and what living as empowered believers in the New Covenant might be like.
Much Grace to you!