by Don Dilmore
Many years ago I worked with an Orthodox Jewish man. I dropped by his home one Friday afternoon and noticed he had an alarm clock and a coat hanger connected to his television set. I asked about its purpose. He told me he wanted to watch a football game the next day. Because it was the Jewish Sabbath, he was not allowed to turn on the TV as that was considered work.
I said, “How are you going to turn it off when the game is over?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Our law doesn’t say it is work to turn it off.”
Cy was attempting to live under the Jewish law which, when given to Moses, had been comparatively simple. Over time, Jewish leaders added more customs and precepts. By the time Jesus came, the law had become a nightmare of rules and regulations.
In the seventh chapter of his Gospel, Mark tells how the Pharisees noticed that Jesus’ disciples ate without observing the ritual cleansing of hands their tradition required. There was a certain way you were to wash your hands, and it was the only acceptable way.
Where did such rules come from? The Scribes and Pharisees were responsible. They took the Ten Commandments and added hundreds of laws and traditions. Orthodox Jews today still try to keep many of them.
Thank God for His Grace
When Jesus came, God’s grace exempted us from the impossible situation of trying to keep such rigid laws. John 1:17 tells us, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
God expects us to keep his commandments, but he knows we are not perfect, that we are all sinners. Therefore, in his grace, he sent Jesus to die for our sins. That doesn’t give us carte blanche to do whatever we want, but when we do err, God’s grace covers our sin.
Grace may be defined as “The unmerited love and favor of God in Christ, hence a free gift to regenerate, sanctify, and provide a state of reconciliation to God through Christ.”
Jesus has been with God from the beginning. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is that Word. He gave up his life in Heaven and came to earth as a baby, lived a sin-free life as a man, died on the cross, and rose from the grave so that our sins could be forgiven. That is what grace is all about.
Philippians 2:6-8 spells it out.
[Christ Jesus] who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made inhuman likeness.. . . . he humbled himself, and became obedient to death—even the death of the cross!
Grace in the Birth, Death, and Resurrection
How do the birth of Christ, his death on the cross, and his resurrection demonstrate God’s grace?
No other religion has a living God like our God. No other religion makes provision for sins by the subsitutional sacrifice of God.
Many Old Testament prophets pointed to a coming Messiah. Isaiah 53:4, 5 tell of Jesus’ coming:
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows . . . he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years before Christ was born that he would endure suffering and torture so our sins could be forgiven.
In Ephesians 2 Paul devotes an entire chapter to what God’s grace through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection means to those who believe. In verses 4-6 he explains,
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.
Heirs With Jesus
Romans 8:16, 17 states, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ . . . that we may also share in his glory.”
God’s grace in sending Christ to earth has made us joint heirs in Heaven with Christ. Jesus Christ willingly gave up his life in Heaven to come to earth, suffer rejection, ridicule, torture, suffering, humiliation, and finally death. Then God raised him from the dead to give believers an inheritance with Christ in Heaven.
When this life is over, God’s people are going to a better place, and it will not be because of anything we have done or earned; it will be solely because of God’s grace.
Belief and Change
In response to God’s grace, we must trust in him, and change should take place in our lives. Our aim should be to thank God for his grace by living lives that please him in every way.
Hebrews 4:14, 16 says it well.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens . . . . let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Don Dilmore is a freelance writer in Montgomery, Texas.
Thank God for Grace
• How do you view good deeds? Do you do them out of gratitude for the grace God has already provided you? Or do you find yourself doing good things in order to feel like you are earning the blessings God has given you?
• Take time today and dwell upon how amazing it is that God, the creator and almighty powerful King, came to earth through Jesus for us. Consider his sacrifice and resurrection. Praise him!
• You are an heir with Jesus! Do you truly grasp this concept? How should this truth change the way you live each day?
• In the light of all God has done for you, how can you find ways to thank him daily for such love?