Sunday, 24 February 2013

grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace grace upon grace upon grace upon grace

Do you know the song "Amazing Grace"? That old hymn penned by John Newton, the slave-trader-turned-saint-and-servant. That grand anthem that has been sung for hundreds of years by people worldwide. It's a great song, isn't it? It's sung at weddings and funerals and reunions and church services. However, I fear that we don't live like it is true at times.

In the book Holy, Holy, Holy, R. C. Sproul tells the story of his second year in teaching. He had been assigned to teach a class on Old Testament Introduction to 250 college freshmen. As part of the coursework, Dr. Sproul required three small papers due on the 30th of September, October and November. Twenty five students missed the deadline in September, but he showed some leniency. Next month some 50 students missed the deadline, and he graciously gave them three more days to turn in their papers. By this stage Dr. Sproul was one of the most popular professors on campus. When November came around, 150 students crossed the deadline, and R.C. started handing out failing grades. One student called Fitzgerald cried foul, and protested that what the professor was doing was not fair. Sproul reminded him if it was justice he sought he could give him an “F” for his tardiness in October as well. Reflecting on the whole semester, R. C. Sproul said this: “These students had grown accustomed to my grace. In September they were amazed by grace, in October they were surprised by grace, but by November they were demanding grace. They had forgotten that grace is not an inalienable right or an entitlement you deserve.” (Philip De Courcy's Truth Matters #66)

Can't we all relate to those students in that story? My hand is raised.

I find myself like those students sometimes: ungrateful, apathetic, demanding. I forget that everything is grace in the first place. The very fact that I’m alive is God’s grace.

I forget what grace is. That it is God’s unmerited kindness to me. He doesn’t only rescue His enemies (which is marvelous mercy); He then provides a feast of fellowship with Him forever. Grace: undeserved yet unreserved goodness from God. I forget who I am. That is a puny, rebellious, needy creature. Most serious of all, I forget Who grace comes from. That is God. God! Who is eternal and holy and high and wonderful and all-powerful. God Who needs nothing and gives everything. He is Light everlasting, never slumbering, never failing, always reigning... the everlasting Rock of ages.

And so this amnesia, this human dilemma of forgetting God's grace in every place, what does it look like? It looks like apathy in my life. This forgetfulness of His grace looks like ingratitude in my life. This oblivion to His grace looks like a sense of entitlement in my life. This ignorance of His grace looks like boredom in my life. Perhaps being occasionally amused or emotionally moved by the thought of “Amazing Grace, so sweet the sound” but then going on to abuse it. 

This is a slow, slippery slope that we need to fight against, lest we fall into what Paul observes in his letter to the Christians in Rome - "Although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

So why am I sharing all of this – because we need to put the "AMAZING" back into "GRACE"! God deserves it and we need it.

So as I thought about God’s grace, a few things came to mind…

First of all – In His Word, we see Him called “the God of ALL grace.” “FULL of grace.” That means He is full in Himself. “There is no one like Him.” He is always pouring out. Pouring out "grace upon grace."

Paul’s testimony is our own - The grace of our Lord was POURED out on me ABUNDANTLY, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 1:14

Secondly, who are we? We are in constant need… of food, of sleep, of strength, of help. We are nothing and can do nothing without Him. We are but recipients of “GRACE upon GRACE.”

An image that came to mind was us standing at the bottom of Victoria Falls in Zambia with a cup in hand. “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes – His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen.” Surely, His eternal power is on great display at this African wonder of the world!

Did you know? Victoria Falls is approximately 5577 feet wide and varies in height from 262- 304 feet and when all dimensions are taken into account along with flow rate it is considered to be the biggest curtain of water in the world. Around mid-April is when peak flood waters occur. Roughly 625 million litres of water flow over the edge per minute. This huge volume of water produces a spray that rises up to 1650 feet into the air. Because of the spray of Victoria Falls the Rain Forest at Victoria Falls is the only place in the world where it rains 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Info

God’s grace is like that. Falling relentlessly! More than enough. Tons and tons. Never ceasing. Always pouring. Will we wake up to the wonder of it? Will we realize that we are soaked? Completely drenched in His grace! Will we stop living on empty and run to His falls of “grace upon grace” that He might “overflow our cup.”

Ah, I love the language of Scripture – “He overfloweth my cup!” For the Christian, the cup is neither half-full or half-empty, but overflowing. Because our God is full of grace!

It’s time to stand in awe again. Just like how we would be in amazement at the bottom of Victoria Falls. Our God is much, much greater! Even this metaphor is too weak, because our God is so, so strong! He has never, does never, and will never run out of grace for us.

He is FULL of all kinds of grace…

Saving GRACE – Ephesians 2:8-9
Strengthening GRACE – 2 Timothy 2:1
Serving GRACE - Romans 12:3-8
Singing GRACE – Colossians 3:16
Sufficient GRACE – 2 Corinthians 12:9
(Philip De Courcy's Truth Matters #66)

It's always time to sing “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound." Heaven forbid, this old song ever gets old. "I will sing a new song to You, O God!" Psalm 144:9

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