Harold Bennett - The Definition of Grace - Walla Walla, Washington Convention - 2018

Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Grace is connection with God and Jesus (Jesus is full of grace and truth), and connection with the Spirit, the gospel of grace. Grace has some companions. We read of: grace and truth, grace and mercy, grace and supplication, grace and glory, and grace and peace. You can understand a little about someone by the company they keep!

Grace is undeserved favor. We get what we don’t deserve by grace, and by the same extension, we don’t get what we do deserve by grace. Grace is the part of God that He gives us when we give ourselves to Him. Grace is divine influence in our lives. Grace is God giving us His provision to meet our need. Grace is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. There is something beyond me in it all!

Grace is a key word in the Bible, from beginning to end. I couldn’t find where Jesus used the word grace but He manifested it. Grace is better demonstrated than defined.

I Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” God is God of all grace, and if we want it, we have to go to God to get it. It’s not found in us by nature. All the legions of darkness can’t overwhelm grace! If we don’t have grace, we won’t get very far in God’s way. I’d like to speak about 3 aspects of grace:

1) Grace of God toward us – getting saved.
2) Grace of God in us – being sustained by grace.
3) Grace of God through us – concerned with the beauty of God working in lives.
By grace God makes us what we never could be by ourselves.

1) Grace of God toward us – salvation. Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” We preach salvation by grace with conditions. Jagged rocks are worn smooth in a rapidly moving stream. Our salvation is based on the condition that we keep ourselves in the stream of God’s work. There’s part God does, and a part we do. In some poor, third world countries, children would die unless they would get medicine that no one there can afford. If someone would pay the price for the medicine, it would be their salvation. God, by grace, holds out the remedy for our sin. It’s by faith we reach out, take it, and apply it. We are His workmanship. No lump of clay has ever made itself into a china tea cup yet! If the clay will humble itself, the potter can do the workmanship. “By grace ye are saved through faith.” We aren’t saved by working but like that tea cup, we serve.

 

2) Grace of God in us – being sustained by grace, keeping saved. Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We have peace for the past, grace for the present, and hope for the future. The purpose of grace is to help us to stand. There is so much against us, and without grace we’d never be able to stand for truth. The grace of God helps us not only to stand but to withstand! There are many braces put in a building to make it stand. The grace of God is the “bracing” God puts in our lives. II Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” That’s more grace than we’ll ever need! You may wonder, “Is there grace enough for me?” Yes! The prodigal son looked at his father’s house and knew there was bread and to spare. Jesus knew there were more than 12 legions of angels but it only took 1 to help Him.

In II Corinthians 12, Paul prayed 3 times that the Lord would remove the thorn in his flesh. The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Some things are removed and we don’t have to deal with them again. After crossing the Red Sea, the Children of Israel didn’t have to deal with the Egyptians again but the Children of Israel were told they would have war with Amalek (type of flesh) from generation to generation. Paul said, “I will glory in my infirmities.” Why would he say that? He then knew there was a purpose in the thorn in his flesh. It drove him to God over and over! In the prosperous times, we tend to forget God. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Hebrews 2:9, “…that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Jesus shuddered at the thought of drinking that cup but He was able to do it because of God’s grace.

II Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” Jesus left heaven where everything was pure delight. The grace of God enabled Him to leave and come to earth homeless and poor to preach the gospel. When God’s servants went into the ministry, it is by grace they are kept. If we just don’t fight for our own way, God’s grace will be sufficient, if we avail ourselves of it. Romans 5:20, “Where sin does abound, grace will much more abound.” There is the force of sin, and there is the force of God’s grace with unlimited power.

There’s another side of grace – disgrace – grace that is misused. Hebrews 10:29 , “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hast counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” It’s to trample on it. When the Children of Israel were to put blood on their doorposts, it was not to fall on the threshold. That was to teach that we don’t trample on grace. Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” There is forgiveness for isolated sin but no forgiveness for a state of sin, until that sin is isolated. Romans 6:3, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?” It means you have put to death sin in your life.

Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

We can fail to get grace! Someone says or does something offensive and you resent it. Then it turns into bitterness. Bitterness is always wrong and brings bitterness into our soul! The tendency is to blame them that they shouldn’t have said or done it. Then, it isn’t they that failed, but you have failed to get the grace of God because of bitterness!


I Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” “In vain” means we don’t avail ourselves of it. We don’t use it in our lives. Paul said he couldn’t boast – it was the grace of God that changed him. 


A man looked at a homeless man sleeping under a bridge and said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” We want to make full use of the grace of God.

 

3) Grace of God through us – concerned with the beauty of God working in lives. We talk about someone being graceful or gracious. We say a skater is graceful moving across the ice, unbroken by sharp movements. Polish is different than grace. You can be suave on the outside but grace works on the inside! II Timothy 2:1, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Proverbs 1:9, “For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Proverbs 4:9, “She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” Luke 4:22, “And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” When we have the beauty of grace, then maybe more will want the truth of the gospel. We want our strong point to be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people are strong and punctual but then you have to work with them! Some people fluently express themselves, and then we wish they’d just get to the point!

II Corinthians 8 tells of the gift the Gentiles sent to their Jewish brethren in a time of famine. Paul called it a grace because they were so generous and loving.


Jesus lived a perfectly balanced life. Grace will never make fanatics or extremists. It brings balance. Jesus had a wonderful balance between being a King and being a servant, between being a lion and being a lamb. Jesus had balance between His personal working with individuals and speaking to the multitude. Jesus had balance between earthly and heavenly cares, and between being kind but also being firm. There’s wonderful beauty in that! He had balance between being approachable and being compromising, and between having a nice sense of humor but not being silly. Peter spoke of growing in grace. James 4:6, “But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” One way we can have more grace is just to humble ourselves!

So if there’s a problem, the person who will get the grace will be the one who humbles himself! We can have more grace if we come to the throne of grace. Hebrews 4:6, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” This is not the great throne of Judgment – it’s the throne of grace. We can come boldly - not arrogantly but not with fear. We can find mercy or the past and grace for the present. We don’t need to fear how we’ll be received when we come to the throne of grace.

 

Queen Esther went to the king’s throne and the royal scepter was extended. Nobody will die at the throne of grace. In Revelations 5, Jesus sits in the midst of the throne now. We don’t come before a lion – we come before the Lamb of God. We don’t need to fear.

We’re thankful for the abundant supply of grace available as we come to Him.