Do “Marvelous grace” or “Wonderful grace of Jesus” aid us in living as Christians?
Much-loved songs like the ones mentioned above celebrate one kind of grace. Being ‘saved by grace’ is often thought of as referring to a past, usually datable event (at least in my upbringing). “Marvelous grace of Jesus” jumps from the initial experience of grace to the final grace of God’s presence. As joyful as it is to sing, “Wonderful grace of Jesus” wouldn’t it be good if it had a verse celebrating grace for dealing with the issues of life? Due to the familiarity of Eph. 2:8 “By grace are you saved through faith…” grace is most associated with the initial saving event in our lives. Perhaps the importance of grace to that event cannot be overemphasized. But does grace stop there? In the songs referred to above there is a jump from that initial event to heaven. This is the common pattern in many songs and hymns. * A notable exception is the verse from “Amazing Grace” that concludes “’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” “Open the wells of grace and salvation” comes close. Without mentioning grace other gospel songs reflect the spiritual pilgrimage. But what pattern do we find in the use of grace in the Bible?
The word ‘grace’ (NIV) occurs 116 times. Some of them refer in general terms to the goodness of God or signs of the goodness of God, such as in Luke’s account of Jesus: (“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”; or the description of Stephen in Acts 6:8.) “Grace” and “saved” or “salvation” occur together frequently and are synonymous at places. Salvation, too, has a continuing aspect. While we were saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future). The middle tense of saved is ‘grace connection’ for this essay.
Grace for weakness
Paul in a very familiar passage connects this aspect of God’s goodness to a weakness in his life when he reports that God has told him:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Would it be appropriate to conclude that whenever we become aware of a weakness in our lives, God’s grace is already available to deal with that weakness?
Grace for growing
Beyond using our gifts, especially in giving, God’s grace is available to us for growing as Jesus’ disciples:
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)
An important part of that growth is seeing the pattern of attitude and behavior of those around us who are not followers of Jesus and determining to live as God created us to live.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (Titus 2:11, 12)
Avoiding error by learning more about Jesus will keep us growing.
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
Grace and generosity
Paul seems to see a special kind of grace that leads to generosity with gifts of money.
But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us —see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Cor. 8:7)
Another part of ‘grace for living’ is “grace gifts”. (The word in Greek for grace is charis, and charismata for grace gifts.) Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:1-14 give us lists of ‘grace gifts’ that all Jesus’ followers have.
In Hebrews also we are encouraged to use these gifts of grace.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (Heb. 13:10
How is God’s grace working for growth in your life? What songs and hymns have been of help to you?
*I would be glad if anyone would bring to my attention songs that include something about ‘grace for living’.