6 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM THE POWER OF GRACE
Lest we begin to think that we are becoming powerful in this life in God’s kingdom by applying these aspects of kingdom power, the Word reminds us of our need for God’s GRACE. We have no power in and of ourselves. We are helpless outside of our union with Jesus,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
and His grace to overcome our weakness.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
What is grace? It’s a difficult word to define. In essence, it is God’s attitude of favour shown to undeserving sinners. However, God’s grace is much more than an attitude. It is the heart and power of the gospel. God freely gives us whatever we need because of His gracious attitude.
Grace is the energy of the kingdom. We were saved, justified, redeemed, delivered from darkness, made alive, adopted, and everything else that is associated with salvation, because of God’s grace.
Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, God’s wrath against sin was replaced with grace, undeserved and unlimited favour. We exited the realm of wrath and entered the realm (government) of grace.
Paul called it “a standing in grace”. It’s as though we are standing in a sea of grace so vast that, wherever we look around us, all we see is pure divine grace.
God’s grace is ultimately the outpouring of His love in practical ways to prepare us for eternity with Him.
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:5-6 NIV
Firstly, then, how can I access this grace?
The answer is… BY FAITH. We entered into all the benefits of salvation when we believed that Jesus is the Son of God.
Salvation is purely by God’s grace, a gift we received when we believed.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8 NLT
Faith in Jesus also changed our standing before God. We are no longer called sinners but saints – those who are set apart from sin to God. “Saints” refers to our standing, not our behaviour. We have been declared righteous and have a standing in grace which allows us to tap into all the resources of the kingdom which God’s grace provides.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand….” Romans 5:1-2 NIV
“… and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 NIV
GOD’S GRACE SUPPLIES WHATEVER WE NEED TO OBEY WHATEVER HE REQUIRES.
BY FAITH WE RECEIVE THE GRACE WE NEED TO BE WHAT HE WANTS US TO BE.
Grace is a never-ending supply of God’s power to function as citizens of His kingdom and children in His family. It is God helping us in our helplessness.
Where do we find this grace?
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
Put very simply, we find grace where God is… at His throne of grace. We receive God’s help when approach Him and ask for it.
This is not an exhaustive study on God’s grace. I want us to understand grace in the context of kingdom power, how to engage God’s grace in our need so that we learn to overcome the world. There are some do’s and don’t’s that will guide us on our journey towards reigning in this life.
“For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17 NLT
- Grace is freely given but it is not cheap. Someone had to pay in order for us to receive it without cost. Jesus paid the ultimate price to give us this free grace.
“… to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:6 NIV
“What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Hebrews 2:9-10 NLT
- God’s grace is His choice, not ours.
“They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises… . So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it…. When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.” Romans 9:4, 16, 21-24 NLT
- God’s grace is freely available to us but we must take the initiative to ask for and access this grace.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT
“So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT
- God’s grace is not a licenSe to sin.
God’s grace is freely given to those who desire to live in the freedom from sin that Jesus’ death and resurrection provides. There is no grace for those who continue to live in sin and indulge in the flesh with the mistaken idea that God will always forgive.
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?… For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God…. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:1-2, 7, 10-11 NLT
- We can miss (fall short of – NIV) God’s grace by harbouring bad attitudes towards others.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:15 NLT
God’s plan, in all the ups and downs of our everyday lives, is to restore in us the likeness of Jesus. He constantly tests us, through our daily struggles, to see whether we are learning to be sons, those who protect unity with Jesus (remain on the vine) and live in submission to the Father.
He also uses our struggles to work for our good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:28-29 NIV
What is the” good” He is talking about? Learning to act and respond to life’s difficulties like Jesus did rather than out of the flesh. Jesus said, “I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Most of our difficulties come from our clashes with people. When we react from the flesh, we build up anger, resentment, and bitterness and carry in our hearts the baggage of grudges and offences. We add our own sin to the sin of the one who offended us. We miss God’s grace by refusing to let go of the offences and, in the end, our bad attitudes affect the people around us.
To have a humble and gentle attitude is to preserve the quietness of spirit that submits to God’s discipline instead of fighting against every offence.
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:6-8 NIV
How true is God’s warning to Cain,
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 NLT
- We can “receive God’s grace in vain”.
“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV
God’s grace through Jesus qualifies me to receive all the benefits of His salvation and all His resources in Jesus. The only restriction to the provision of God’s grace is my unwillingness to believe and receive.
When my flesh rules in my life and I prefer to react in the flesh rather than ruling over my flesh, God’s grace is of no value to me. It could be that I have never been born again of the Holy Spirit.
“Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.” 1 John 3:6 NLT
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV
This does not mean that we will never sin. We are still plagued by the old nature but, as children of God, we do not practice sin as a way of life.
“Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” John 3:9 NLT
However, when we sin, Jesus is God’s provision for grace to restore us to fellowship with the Father.
“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:1-2 NLT
So, to sum up, in His package of salvation, God has provided grace for us to cope with every situation that arises is the course of our daily lives. His grace comes to us in a variety of forms and ways – which we shall look at as we continue.
Our response is to believe His promises, receive His grace and use every opportunity to avoid living like the people in the world…
“Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 NLT
We must avoid the pitfalls of missing God’s grace by holding on to grudges or receiving His grace in salvation but never continuing on by applying His grace in our weakness.
All Scripture quotations in this series
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.