INCARNATE – THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF GRACE

Our only hope for redemption is grace: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The subject of grace is quite the important topic in the Bible; unfortunately, it is one that many in the religious world misunderstand. Therefore, if we keep these nine things in mind, we will know what the Bible says about grace.

First, grace saves (Eph. 2:8), but it does so through faith. In other words, saving grace cooperates with works of faith (Rom. 4:16; James 2:17-18). We should never confuse works of faith with meritorious works (Eph. 2:9), because these place merit in the works themselves rather than in the source of these works, which is Jesus Christ! Because of what Jesus did, culminating with His death, burial and resurrection, I am able to access His saving grace through the obedience of faith (cf. Rom. 1:5; 16:26), which recognizes the merit where it ought to be—in Christ! This is how grace is able to save!

Second, grace separates (Rom. 6:1-4). Through my faith, whenever I trust in the work of Christ and turn to God through repentance and obedience, because of the goodness of God (Rom. 2:4), I then become separated from the past, just as Abraham left behind Ur of the Chaldees. We leave behind the world—its aims, aspirations and values. We no longer live as we used to live. We change. In addition, we separate from ourselves (Matt. 16:24). We must crucify self (Gal. 2:20). We separate ourselves from anything that stands between God and us, or that competes with God, because God now comes first (Matt. 6:33). In this way, grace separates.

Third, grace forbids sensual living: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). Here were some who were “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” which underscores those who want access to grace, but refuse to live godly lives. In other words, grace takes care of those who believe and teach, “We can access the grace of God while living any way we want to live!” No, the Bible does not teach this! Grace forbids sensual living.

Fourth, grace serves (Heb. 12:28). Grace does not bring us into the kingdom of God for us to just sit down. In gratitude to God, even as the apostle Paul said, we say, “I am debtor to all men!” (cf. Rom. 1:14). Out of the joy and gladness of heart that God has redeemed us by His grace at a time when we were so unworthy, we are now ready, willing and anxious to serve God every day and in every way! I am not only going to assemble for worship services, but I am going to serve Him daily! Grace serves.

Fifth, grace submits and suffers (Heb. 2:7-9). By the grace of God, Christ suffered and submitted to the will of God (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). Therefore, the grace of God calls for submission and suffering. If we are going to access the saving grace of God, we must be willing to submit to the will of God, and we must be willing to suffer for the will of God. Think about what Jesus did for us on the cruel tree of Calvary! Yet, the nature of humanity is to avoid suffering. Not so, the Bible teaches. Grace is ready to submit and suffer.

Sixth, grace sings (Col. 3:15-17; Eph. 5:19-20). We often leave out one of the key elements of what Paul teaches about singing—we are to sing because we are thankful! Read the psalms and note how there were songs of joy in their heart! The first recorded song in the Bible is in Exodus 15, when God redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage. Whenever the grace of God lays hold of our hearts, melodies of songs of praise and gratitude will flood our hearts! In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in prison with bleeding, beaten backs. Yet, the grace of God put a song in their heart as they were praying and singing! The reason why so many Christians struggle with singing is because they fail to appreciate what the grace of God has done in their hearts. Every time we worship God in song, we ought to think about what God has done for us as unworthy recipients of His grace! For the congregation that thinks about such, they will raise the rafters! Grace sings!

Seventh, grace gives us a standing place (Rom. 5:2). God is holy, but humanity is sinful. Thus, God cannot fellowship with sin. The only standing ground that I have is “in Christ,” which I access by grace. By the grace of God, I am able to stand in Christ, wherein I am able to have fellowship with God, in spite of my frailties and weaknesses. The one who is not in Christ has no place to stand! Grace gives us a standing place!
Eighth, grace sacrifices (2 Cor. 8:1-4). The Macedonians begged the apostle Paul to have the opportunity to give, even out of their deep poverty. As such, grace sacrifices.

Finally, grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). The grace of God is sufficient for every situation and every need in life (cf. Eph. 2:7).

If we keep these nine things in mind about grace, we will understand exactly what the Bible teaches about that which saves us. BY SAM WILLCUT

“GOD LOVES YOU AND I LOVE YOU AND THAT’S THE WAY IT’S GONNA BE!” – MIKE

INCARNATE – WE ARE FAMILY

“Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, And rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families” (Psa. 68:4-6). Such an amazing thought! God’s plan is for those He loves and protects to find a place within a family.

It has always been His nature and desire. When He created Adam and saw that it was not good for man to be alone, He put the first man and woman in a family. Cain and Abel were part of that family. God knew that mankind needed families.

The words from the psalmist give us such insight into how He fulfills the needs we have. David specifically mentioned the fatherless and widows and became so much more inclusive when he added the solitary. God puts those who have no family into other families.

So it should not surprise us that when His master plan for mankind is revealed in the New Testament that the church is described as a FAMILY. Men in that first testament did not begin their prayers saying, “Our Father,” but we can! If He is our Father, then all those in the FAMILY are brothers and sisters! We are FAMILY!

That disciple whom Jesus loved said, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). We are FAMILY! Paul adds that because we are children of God, we are joint heirs with Jesus (Rom. 8:17). He is our brother, and we are FAMILY. Solomon described that there could be in our lives someone closer to us than our physical brother. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). It is in the church, the body of Jesus, the FAMILY of God, where this concept finds its ultimate fulfillment. We are FAMILY.

The spiritual growth of the body of Christ shows that we should add Christian character to our faith. Peter said that to our faith we should add brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1:5-7), and Hebrews 13:1 urges, “Let brotherly love continue.” We are to “…Love the brotherhood” (1 Pet. 2:17). We are brothers; we are FAMILY.

Like earthly families sometimes have problems, so does His spiritual FAMILY. But God’s FAMILY is different in that it seeks to work through these differences. Brothers and sisters in Christ long to be at one with every other brother and sister. We try to go beyond expectation of onlooker to become one in the Lord. We do this because we are FAMILY.

God has a plan for each of us to have those in our lives who are closer than our physical family. Let’s work together to be one because we are FAMILY. BY DAN JENKINS

“GOD LOVES YOU AND I LOVE YOU AND THAT’S THE WAY IT’S GONNA BE!” – MIKE