Wednesday, May 15

GRACE defined like no other!

I sent this out to both our church family as well as to our Western New York ministerium. I thought it'd be good to put it "out there" on the internet as well. 
Dear Church Family as well as my Fellow WNYCB Ministers:
I'm going to take a chance. As Phyllis' Dad used to say, "Columbus took a chance." But how often have we asked the definition of "grace," and we received an answer like the acrostic, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense," or, God giving us what we do not deserve. These are fine such as they are. But if given out too often, they may become old hat, even trite, and therefore they tend to lose depth of meaning.

Now, read the following from the English Congregational pastor, John Henry Jowett (1864-1923). Warning, you'll have to read it more than once. But you'll WANT to do so. . . . I hope.

God bless you all,
Pastor Dave
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
—Ephesians 1:7–8

  I walked alone by the incoming sea. I read the words of my text to the accompaniment of the roar and advance of the incoming tide. The onrush of the ocean seemed to get into the words. The grace of the Eternal was rolling toward the human race in a wealthy and glorious flood.
  I am grateful for this comment of the ocean tide. I am grateful for its suggestion of energy in the ministry of grace. Grace is too commonly regarded as a pleasing sentiment, a soft disposition, a welcome feeling of favor entertained toward us by our God. [That] interpretation is ineffective. Grace is not the shimmering face of an illumined lake; it is the sunlit majesty of an advancing sea. It is a transcendent and ineffable force, the outgoing energies of the redeeming God washing against the polluted shores of human need.
  Grace includes thought and purpose and good will and love. We do it wrong and therefore maim ourselves if we esteem it only as a perfumed sentiment, a favorable inclination, and not as a glorious energy moving toward the race with the fullness and majesty of the ocean tide. Wherever I turn in the Sacred Book I find the mystic energy at work. In every instance it works and energizes as an unspeakable force.
  Let me cull a little handful of examples. “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart.… And God is able to make all grace abound to you” (2 Cor. 9:7–8 NASB). Do you catch the connection? Let each one do, for God will make grace abound. Grace is the dynamic of endeavor! “God our Father by his grace gave us good hope.” We have good hope! The lamp is kept burning. The light does not die out. All the rooms are lit up. Grace is the nourisher of optimism. “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace” (Heb. 13:9). Grace is the secret energy of a fortified will.
  Grace does not flow from a half-reluctant and partially reconciled God, like the scanty and uncertain movements of a brook in time of drought. It comes in oceanic fullness. It comes in “his kindness, tolerance and patience” (Rom. 2:4), “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

Wallis, D. (2001). Take Heart: Daily devotions with the church's great preachers (146). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.