14 July, 2024

Where Grace Can Be Found

by | 1 March, 2023 | 2 comments

By Michael C. Mack 

One of my favorite classes in seminary was Doctrine of Grace, taught by Jack Cottrell. It was an introduction for me in my relatively newfound faith to the nature of God, the essence of salvation, and the call of the Christian life. Thirty-five years later, I’m still learning about grace. I see it everywhere, as God’s Spirit opens my eyes and heart to it.  

It’s found, for example, in Paul’s instructions to husbands on how to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Paul then described this church as “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (v. 27). Now remember that these were the same folks Paul described in Romans 3 as under the power of sin, not one of whom is righteous or seeks God or does good, all of whom have turned away . . . and all of whom have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.  

On our own, we are powerless to make ourselves holy or blameless or radiant. Paul makes it clear that Jesus alone makes us holy, and he presents us to himself as a radiant church (Ephesians 5:26-27). This is grace.  

I’ve witnessed grace in the wife who unconditionally loves her husband who is in prison for his scandalous and reprehensible acts. While he is receiving the punishment from the justice system that he deserves, his wife treats him in ways he does not deserve . . . and she asks others to extend that same grace to him.  

I’ve seen grace exemplified in several men I know who care for their wives who now live with Alzheimer’s or other forms of memory loss. They love and give and care with no expectations (or perhaps not even the possibility) of anything in return. They live out their vows and love their wives for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. This also is grace.  

The cross itself is an illustration of grace. It reaches both vertically (from God to us) and horizontally (from us to one another). Jesus’ death on the cross is the greatest act of grace ever displayed to humans. Jesus took the punishment he did not deserve, but that we do deserve, so that we would receive from God what Jesus did deserve and what we do not.  

Grace is not only a New Testament concept or development, however. Grace is and always has been at the very heart of God’s nature. On Mount Sinai, God described himself to Moses as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6, emphasis added), a description repeated by David (in Psalm 86:15), Nehemiah (9:17), and even Jonah (4:2).  

As Marty Solomon points out so well in his article, God’s grace goes all the way back to the beginning. And his grace as part of his character has been given to each of us. It is part of the Imago Dei—he created us in his own image (Genesis 1:27)—so we by nature are beings of grace . . . when we live in God and God in us.  

Yes, grace can be found in many places, but primarily it should be found in us as Christ’s followers.  

We are to reflect God’s nature of grace in every arena in which we live . . . in our marriages and families, in our workplaces and neighborhoods, in elders’ meetings, team meetings, and board meetings, with friends and with enemies. We extend grace in every situation, even in the worst of circumstances—when people hurt us and hate us, when we are deserted and discriminated against, when we are picked on and persecuted. We are people of grace, and we choose to respond with grace.   

God’s grace for us truly is amazing. And when we treat others with that same kind of grace, it should amaze them as well. The grace they see in our lives might surprise them, it may stun them, and it may make no sense to them. Living grace-filled lives sets us apart from the world around us like little else does. If all of us exhibit this kind of grace wherever we go, it will change the world.  

In 2023, we are focusing on big, broad, biblical themes that have been core principles of our movement over the past two-plus centuries: truth, grace, unity, faith, hope, and love. In this issue, you’ll read articles about the complementary themes of grace and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  

We combed through the archives of Christian Standard and The Lookout for “classics” on these themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have! But we also wanted to hear from some of today’s leaders. We continue to learn new things about God and his grace and how we are to live it out today.  

Please don’t miss the articles by Will Archer and Bobby Harrington in this issue. They provide us, I believe, with a way of extending grace as an entire movement. We also provide a tribute to Ben Merold, who died in November 2022. Ben was an example of God’s grace, and, as Doyle Roth said, Ben “believed God’s grace transforms people and gives second chances.”  

Finally, we have provided a special section of meditations, written by former editor Mark A. Taylor, for you to use the week leading up to Easter. I hope these help grow your faith and encourage you to live out the grace of Jesus.  

Michael C. Mack

Michael C. Mack is editor of Christian Standard. He has served in churches in Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, and Kentucky. He has written more than 25 books and discussion guides as well as hundreds of magazine, newspaper, and web-based articles.

2 Comments

  1. GARY ANDERSON

    Well written

  2. Loren C Roberts

    Love, mercy and grace. God extended these to us even though we don’t deserve. We are to extend these to others, deserving or not.

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