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Tag: Grace

Grace to the Thief

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Someone asked me recently to clarify exactly what grace means. We use the word regularly here at First Trinity, as well as in the greater Lutheran and Christian Church. I told this person that it simply means “undeserved favor”, but it’s helpful to consider GRACE as an acronym for God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. We hold Ephesians 2:8-9 especially dear here. It reads:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

By grace you have been saved. It means that there’s nothing you did to deserve salvation, but rather, it is “undeserved favor”. It means that we are saved not because we do something, but simply because we believe and accept the free gift of God in Jesus (His riches at Christ’s expense).

We hear an excellent example of that grace today. Crucified with Jesus were two criminals on that ultimate Red Letter Day. One had a conversation with Jesus:

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43

It was a simple statement of faith: remember me. This man was at the end of his life. In just a few short hours, like Jesus, he would be hanging dead on that cross. He had no hope of surviving this day. He had no way of “fixing” what he had done to deserve death. Facing the end of his earthly life, he called out to this man that others were mocking: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus heard that cry of faith and responded with grace: Today you will be with me in Paradise. There would be no waiting period in purgatory to pay for his crimes. He didn’t release the man so he would have opportunity to pay for his crimes. Jesus simply demonstrated grace—undeserved favor—to a broken, desperate man who believed.

Grace Upon Grace

I was stressed out the other night while away on my trip to New Orleans for the Gathering planning meeting.  Our theme for the Gathering is “We Believe”, and draws on the book of John for it’s primary material.  Not knowing what exactly to read, I decided to start at the beginning of John and see what I found.  I was struck by John 1:16 in particular:

16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Not only have we received grace, but grace upon grace.  It’s hard enough to understand the concept of grace, but grace upon grace?  It’s kind of mind-blowing.  As John unfolds, we see so many characters receiving this grace upon grace.

There was the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana in John 2, who’d run out of wine, only to receive grace upon grace in the form of new and better wine.

There was Nicodemus, who didn’t understand how he could be born again in John 3, but received grace upon grace when Jesus talked with him and explained how to be born again.

There was the thirsty woman of Samaria who received living water and the official whose son was healed in John 4. The 38-year invalid in John 5, healed by Jesus.  The 5,000 who were fed.  Lazarus who died and was raised. 

All received grace upon grace.  The same grace upon grace that we ourselves receive.  Amazing.

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