Greetings! Below is another guest article penned by Henry (Rick) Frueh. Thank you again, Rick!
Jn.1:16 – And of His fulness have all we received grace for grace.
The common and general definition that has been used to satisfy and sometimes placate the masses is that grace is â€œunmerited favorâ€. Although in a surface and most shallow sense that description does touch the absolute fringe of the gift of grace but in so many ways it misleads and falls painfully short of even challenging the heart to allow the Spirit to bring us deeper than just a toe testing understanding of Godâ€™s amazing grace. Let us dissect these two words and see if they pass the Biblical smell test when gazing at grace, while embracing a desire to honor God with our description because in the final analysis only the revelation of the Spirit can even give us a glimpse, everything else is nothing more than cerebral gymnastics usually designed to bring convenient closure so we can add it to our theological dictionary.
Unmerited. That seems so humble and yet it abandons the core of who we really are. It appears so antiseptic as the word attempts to remove all our good works as the reason for Godâ€™s gift of grace, but again this word fails to filet our inner man and lay wide open for public inspection and, yes, humiliation about the depravity and absolute rebellious nature of every single cell of our being. We not only refused to make any attempt to gain Godâ€™s favor but we made every single possible attempt to discredit Him and our very driving purpose was to blaspheme His Lordship and His Holiness openly and finally and daily declare ourselves as â€œgodâ€ of our own existence. We were His declared enemy and our lives were a magnificent expression of our hate and disgust toward our Loving Creator. So the word â€œunmeritedâ€ is a comfortable effort that only tells half of the story, the more pleasant side that we can more easily embrace and teach.
Let me share a disturbing illustration that I hope will rearrange the theological furniture of our hearts and force us to re-examine the very nature of Godâ€™s grace. In the country of Uganda there is a civil war, we donâ€™t hear much about it in America because they donâ€™t have oil and they also are not white (sorry but letâ€™s be honest). One of the uniquenesses of this war is that the rebels capture and kidnap children and teach them to maim and kill their enemies. They equip some with razors and the children, some as young as 6, are trained and forced to cut off ears, lips, and other parts of peopleâ€™s bodies or else they themselves will be killed. Now this forces millions of children in Uganda to hide and constantly move in groups to avoid being captured. It is common for a group of one thousand children from age 3 to age 16 to huddle overnight in an abandoned building only to rise before daylight and move again in a relentless effort to escape the ruthless rebels. Not a story but a reality.
Let say you wanted to help the children and so you organized a group to go over to Uganda. You collected food and clothing and you took money with which to build strong buildings to protect these children. So you went and helped feed and clothe and protect these children and with that you felt good. Now these children did not deserve your help based upon anything they had done before but due to your sense of compassion you desired to help them. They had received unmerited favor from your hand.
Now as you got off the plane you immediately saw what these rebels had done. People all over were horribly maimed and there were mass graveyards marking their victims, and they presently were still engaged in enslaving children to carry out their violent acts. So you unloaded the cargo with all the materials that you had brought to help and minister, and instead of the helpless children you took them to the rebels and gave them to those killers and child abusers. All the Africans watched in confounded horror and unbelief as they saw these rebels being showered with these wonderful gifts. No one could explain it. Why? Because, brothers and sisters, they were witnessing an earthly representation of the grace of God. And the spiritual reality of the grace of God is impossible to fully understand in the natural and when it is reflected in such an illustration as this, we finally are awakened to the fact that we have been fooled into believing a shallow and self serving understanding of the glory of Godâ€™s grace.
Favor. Let us examine what that word means when it comes from God Himself. We sometimes get this idea that Godâ€™s favor is something akin to letting someone butt in line ahead of you or waving a car to pull out in front of you. Or we think it correlates to giving someone a promotion who really doesnâ€™t deserve it. It is those carnal understandings that rob us of the glorious and eternal nature of Godâ€™s favor of which there are an infinite number of components. Just a dust particle of Godâ€™s favor would be beyond what anyone could fully absorb or comprehend, but God has not given us a dust particle of His favor. Open the ears of your understanding, you will not be able to completely fathom the truth of this, but God has given us His complete and perfect favor that contains no limits and holds no restraints either in blessing or time. One more step, please, because God has actually bestowed upon us all of His available favor which of course is eternally infinite. Now you must remove your shoes for this final step crosses the threshold of unimaginable glory. God has granted unto usâ€¦.the same favorâ€¦.that He has shownâ€¦.His own Son.
You can breathe now. My poor mind and my poorer pen can never do justice to that revelation, but as a theological woodpecker I can only peck and peck at it attempting to go further into Godâ€™s heart all the while realizing that this side of heaven I will only see small chips that in themselves leave me broken and spilled out before Him Who is the Author and Finisher of all of it. And one day I will know even as I am known which is a colossal act of favor in itself, and on that day I will see Him from Whose face the heavens have fled away. And as I, in my new favored body, fall to my knees in immobilized worship, I will then fully realize what grace actually was.
What will we do, what can we do, when we come to terms with the fullness of the truths we now believe in part but then fully face to face? How will we feel and act when the grace that we so lightly defined on earth now reverberates throughout heaven and to the glory of God and we alone, we alone, have been the recipients? As I write this I am beginning to weep as I am overwhelmed at the prospect of seeing the Author of this grace and being granted the eternal privilege of glorifying Him who purchased it all for me. I am at the end of words, if you are a believing follower of the Risen Incarnation of Grace then you will understand.
In Revelation 7:17
the Word describes the Lamb in the midst of the throne and wiping away all our tears as He leads us to the living fountains of water. In the very next verse, after our tears have been wiped away, the Word says there was silence in heaven for one half hour.
I have wondered if that silence represents the first time we see clearly the Lamb of Grace and we are rendered speechless. All of heaven glorifies the Risen Christ with the silence of a holy and speechless worship.
Unbelievable, Jesus in Whom is all of Godâ€™s amazing grace.