Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sheer Grace

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism

21 Q. What is true faith?

A. True faith is
not only a knowledge and conviction
that everything God reveals in his Word is true;
it is also a deep-rooted assurance,
created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel,
that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,
not only others, but I too,
have had my sins forgiven,
have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.

2) Scripture

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Comment:

In Q&A 21, the catechism teaches us two important things about God’s grace or favor:

First, grace is free. Grace is God’s favor given to us freely. It is “sheer” grace. God’s favor and goodwill are not something we can earn or merit. As the passage from Ephesians teaches us, grace is not our doing or something we earn by our good works. Grace is God’s gift to us.

If someone gives you a gift, do you thank your hands for receiving the present into your hands? No! You thank the giver. The only thing you do to receive a gift is to passively receive it into your hands. This is what faith does. Faith passively receives the gift of God’s grace or blessing.

Favor is the main meaning of the word grace. Grace is not, first of all, a substance God pours into our hearts. Rather, grace is an attitude---God’s favorable attitude toward those who are united to Jesus Christ by faith.

Second, although grace comes to us freely as a gift, it is also expensive. Jesus Christ had to earn God’s grace for us. Jesus had to live a perfect life of obedience to God’s law, including the obedience of the cross, where he endured the punishment we deserved because of our sins. This wonderful, favorable attitude of God comes to us at the high price of the death of God’s beloved Son!

Consider the high cost the triune God was willing to pay to bring his “sheer grace” to you! Let the wonder of his sheer grace affect your heart.

Discussion: What is grace? What does it mean when we say that grace is free? Why is grace
also expensive? What should be our attitude toward God’s attitude of grace to us?

Prayer Starter: Give thanks to the Lord for his marvelous grace to you. Thank the Father for his love in sending his dearly loved Son, who bore our sin on the cross so that we might return to God’s favor.

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