By Brad Hicks
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. … Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. — John 1:14, 16 (NIV)
What I would like to propose for us to ponder today is the idea that God’s posture toward all mankind, His predominant dealing with human beings, has always been a posture of grace. Here is my working definition of the word grace, because I think the word has become quite vague in the understanding of most Christians. Grace is much more than simply God’s unmerited favor extended to man, as most of us commonly and, often, lazily define it. Grace, as it’s used in Scripture, is an attribute of God that he lavishes on men and women and demonstrates it by permitting us to share in His glory and joy.
God’s full reason for why He created man is not completely known. We can surmise by putting bits and pieces of scripture together, but there is much about this age-old question that has been left unwritten and unrevealed. All we know for certain is that God did form a man from the earth itself, he formed woman from the man, and He required only that they trust and obey Him, in other words, he required that they put their faith in Him. And we all know how that turned out!
God’s grace was and has been before the world was created. Ever since the first Edenic transgression, the earth has remained on its foundation, and men and women have been sustained in it by the grace of God, or, as my working definition of grace goes: All of us have been permitted to share in God’s glory and joy in this world that He has created. Even the permission God has provided for man to live and breathe on the face of His magnificent earth and the perfect environment for us in which we can eat, breathe, and warm ourselves is all evidence of God extending and lavishing His grace on all mankind.
The only right and appropriate response and posture that men and women of all times and in all places should have toward our Maker and Heavenly Father is faith. And when faith is real and authentic in us — men and women, God’s creative masterpieces — grace upon grace is lavishly given. It is especially to the faithful that God appoints and trusts with carrying out and accomplishing His will, His good pleasure, and with participating with Him in His glory and joy. (I say “especially to the faithful” because God can bend any situation or person, good or evil, toward His will and good pleasure.) However, the N.T. epistle Hebrews reveals that “without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
There’s a throughline of God’s grace demonstrated in every biblical story, from the first accounts of God’s grace in Genesis to the later more glorious realities of God’s grace in Christ in the New Testament. The first man, Adam, had God’s breath of life breathed into his being. He and Eve were the only creatures in the universe created in the very image and likeness of God himself, and they were trusted by God to have dominion over all of his good creation. They were shown the full grace of God and squandered it by their faithlessness.
We don’t have time today to recount all the stories of God’s grace extended to Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Joshua, Rahab, Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Hannah, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Jeremiah, and many more B.C. sinners and saints. These women and men were all, by the grace of God, moving His glory and joy forward in the earth. All of these Old Testament stories were laying the foundation for the greatest demonstration of divine grace in human redemptive history.
At just the right moment in history, the Messiah, the Son of God, foretold and promised centuries before — Jesus of Nazareth — came from God to this dusty old planet, full of grace and truth. He would leave it in unspeakable glory and joy! Every promise made to Abraham, every law that Moses handed down to Israel, every covenant and oath made by God, and every prophecy uttered by the holy oracles of God are and will be all fulfilled in this Jesus.
By God’s unfathomable grace, you and I who have been chosen and who have agreed to be buried with Christ in His death and raised with Him in His life — yes, we who have responded to the call of God by faith — are the beneficiaries of the gifts, blessings, inheritance, and grace of God.
I will leave you this morning with great encouragement from a New Testament passage that might best explain how the grace of God works in and through the faith of God’s people.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. — Ephesians 2:4-8
May we take this Word to heart on this Lord’s day. May it work its way deep into our spirits to produce gratefulness for the eternal grace of God, may it grow our faith, increase our joy, and cause our love for one another to abound more and more. To the glory and praise of God. Amen.