Step Towards Transformation
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and MUCH GRACE was with them all” (Act 4:33).
“From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been COMMITTED TO THE GRACE OF GOD for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26).
Why was the grace of God so important in the experience of the early Christians? Why did the church in Antioch pray that the GRACE of God would be upon Paul and Barnabas, and later on Paul and Silas, as they set out on their missionary journeys?
A. THE MEANING OF GRACE
The most common understanding of the word “grace” is “God’s unmerited favor” – in other words, even though we were sinners, deserving of judgment, God looked upon us in love and forgave us.
This, however, is only half its meaning. It also means “God’s enabling power.”
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thess 2:16,17).
Not only does His grace make us accepted into the family of God, but it also provides the power we need to live the Christian life. Two scriptures indicate the two aspects of God’s grace in every believer.
In salvation, not only is God’s unmerited favor expressed (that we receive forgiveness and restored relationship with Him even though we don’t) deserve it), but so also is God’s enabling power – for it is only by HIS power that we can be transformed.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17).
This principle of grace continues throughout our walk with God. In every area of our Christian lives, it is God’s grace that causes us to grow and be strong – God’s enabling power given to us without any merit on our part.
“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2 Pet 3:18).
B. GRACE GIVEN TOTHE HEROES OF FAITH
This operating force of grace is revealed in the lives of men and women throughout the whole Bible. Every hero of faith began his walk with God aware of his own weakness and inability.
It was only through him allowing God’s grace – His enabling power – to work in his life that he was able to become the kind of person that God wanted him to be, and to fulfill the plan and purpose God had for his life.
C. GRACE IN THE LIFE OF MOSES
Read Exodus 3:11-13; 4:1-13. The command the Lord gave Moses was no small task. Egypt was the ruling empire of the day. It was an evil nation, and Pharaoh, its satanic leader, held authority that was claimed to be divine. Every nation in the known world lived in fear of Pharaoh.
When God told Moses to go down to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His three million people go free from slavery, Moses’ immediate response – out of his own weakness and inability – was as follows:
3:11 “Who am I?”
3:13 “Who are You?”
4:1 “They won’t believe me!”
4:10 “I’m not eloquent!”
4:13 “Lord, send someone else!”
But with God’s grace, Moses did go down to Egypt, and with signs and wonders brought the people of Israel out as God told him to.
D. GRACE IN THE LIFE OF GIDEON
Read Judges 6:1-24. The call of God came to Gideon to deliver His people from the conquering armies of Midian. Israel had known only defeat for many years. Gideon’s response to God’s word in verse 13 reveals his initial unbelief:
”‘But sir, ‘ Gideon replied, ‘If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”’
Even when the Lord encouraged him and promised to be with him, Gideon answered: “How can I save Israel? I’m the smallest member of the smallest family in our tribe!” (see verse 15).
But despite his fear and inability, with God’s grace (enabling power) Gideon saved Israel. And he did it with just a small band of men. It was GRACE that made the difference!
E. GRACE IN THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
Read Acts 15:40. Before Paul and Silas set out on their missionary journey together, the church at Antioch prayed for them and “commended [them] … to the grace of the Lord” for the work that was ahead of them.
Read Paul’s description of his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33. It is understandable that he was first commended to the grace of God!
He needed it to survive! The Lord’s answer to Paul’s confession of weakness is His promise for us too:
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness..” (2 Cor 12:9).
F. GRACE RELEASED IN OUR LIVES
In our relationship with God – as we walk with Him each day – we constantly meet situations that would try to over whelm us. Our response to God is to trust His Word. We express our trust through obedience.
This proves we believe what God’s Word says despite what the circumstances might indicate – His enabling power, which causes us to triumph in every situation.
G. TWO IMPORTANT PROMISES
Today I decide to receive God’s grace – His enabling power – into every area and problem that arises in my life, and teach others to do the same also