I don't know about you, but I have always been fuzzy on the meaning of grace. I have heard the pat definitions ("unmerited favor" etc.), but I have never been able to articulate what exactly GRACE is. What is this thing that is so important that Paul begins almost every epistle with "Grace and peace to you"? What does it DO for me, and how does it WORK, and why is it useful for my life?
Ohhhh, how we have forgotten what the apostles and the true believers have known all through the centuries! Eric Ludy says this in his book, The Bravehearted Gospel,
"The gospel has been reduced to a message merely about forgiveness while the idea of regeneration and transformation seems almost totally forgotten. Grace has become simply a gigantic hug from God and is no longer the muscle of God brought to earth to aid the weakness of men and to give them strength. Faith has morphed into this bizarre idea of "honest doubt" and has lost its essence of rock-solid unwavering confidence in the ability of God to perform that which He promises. Holiness has transformed into moralistic tyranny for the soul and something to be avoided at all costs. Righteousness has been redefined to mean an unreachable standard of perfection. Purity has become nothing more than a legalistic attempt to stay away from things and thoughts that God knows we won't be able to abstain from anyway. Love has become unconditional acceptance and tolerance of sin."
And here at Ellerslie, we are being taught the triumphant majesty of these truths. They're all right there in the Bible--but yet, we have redefined them to the point where no one can actually live by them any more. I shudder to think of a quote from the youth pastor at a church we formerly attended: "It's possible to be a totally apathetic Christian. You can be saved and on your way to heaven, and yet never bear any fruit." No! We have forgotten what grace is!
I love how Eric put it. Grace is "the muscle of God brought to earth to aid the weakness of men and to give them strength."
God gives me His grace so that I can actually LIVE this impossible life! For the Christian life is literally impossible to live in our human strength. The commands of Christ are too high to ever be carried out. No one can do it--but HE CAN. And by faith, we can look to him and get the strength (grace) that makes it possible for us to obey these impossible commands. "Be holy as I am holy" is impossible on the level of walking on water, yet Christ lived out the perfectly holy life, and He lives in us, and in His strength, we can actually gain the victory over sin.
This is incredible! Every day I feel like saying "Whoaaaa" out loud in our sessions, or like going up to the front to do a couple of leaps for joy that all this stuff in the Bible says is actually... true. (Whaddya know about that?) So at the risk of looking ridiculous, I'll just do a couple of leaps here on my blog, because I'm literally this psyched.
I knew God was going to do great things in my life here at Ellerslie, but I didn't realize they were going to be THIS amazing.