The average person speaks about 16,000 words per day. That's 112,000 words in a week, and nearly 6 million words a year. That's a lot of talking!
If you were to scan the entire human vocabulary for the most beautiful word in the universe, what word would you choose? Some might choose love, and I won't disagree. You can make a strong biblical case for that word (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, and John 13:34).
But if you know me, you know the word I'm going to choose - GRACE.
You need it. You can’t live without it, but you can’t purchase it and you can’t earn it. It only ever comes by means of a gift, and when you receive it, you immediately realize how much you needed it all along, and you wonder how you could’ve lived so long without it.
In a fallen world, populated by selfish, lost, fearful, and rebellious people, it’s the one thing that everyone needs. And you can only give it to someone else when you have first been given it yourself, because you can't give away that which you don't have.
You see, God’s grace is the most powerful force in the universe, so I would have to argue that it's the most beautiful word in the universe. It reaches you where you are and takes you where God wants you to be. It has the power to do something that nothing else can do: transform you at the causal core of who you are as a human being - your heart.
OVERUSED & UNDER-DEFINED
Grace, however, is also one of the most overused words in the church. I'm afraid that we use all these theologically beautiful words without knowing what we're saying.
So you may be thinking “Okay, Paul, I get your definition that grace is the freely-given love, forgiveness, acceptance and help of God. I get that there's nothing I could ever do to earn it, but I’m not sure I understand what grace looks like.”
Today I want to write about 6 different types of grace. I don't believe that these are the only variations of grace, but for the sake of this Article, I'm only going to focus on these six.
First and foremost, there's the grace of forgiveness. We all do wrong - the Bible calls that sin - and that leaves us guilty. Guilty people need to be condemned and punished unless they're forgiven and declared guilt-free.
Jesus Christ went to the Cross to carry our sin and to bear our punishment so we could experience radical, comprehensive, and complete forgiveness. In Jesus Christ, we're forgiven for everything we’ve ever done in the past, everything we now do in the present, and everything we'll ever do in the future.
God not only forgives us through grace, but He welcomes us into relationship with Him. He invites us into His family. He adopts us as His children, and because of that, we now have this Father-child relationship with Him where we can come to Him.
We can sit on His lap and bring our needs, concerns, and failures to Him, and He responds as a loving and kind Father. Sin once separated us from God; by grace, we now have acceptance.
Like acceptance, the grace of God's presence means that our Father is not distant. In fact, God is present with us wherever we are, whomever we're with, and whatever we're doing.
The Bible tells us that God, in His grace, has made us the place where He dwells. It wasn’t enough for God to forgive us - He literally unzipped us and got inside us by His Holy Spirit, and so He is with us all the time.
I wrote in the beginning of the Article that grace reaches us where we are and takes us where God wants us to be. You see, God's not simply content to give us salvation and then leave us alone until eternity. Rather, He wants us to become more like His Son and work for the furtherance of His Kingdom right here, right now.
But remaining sin leaves us lame and weak and unable. God's grace intervenes to give us power and strength. It's gives us the ability to do what we're called to do but what we could never do on our own.
God’s grace also delivers. Sin turns us into addicts - we're slaves of sin, but God’s grace breaks that bondage. Grace gives us the power to say “No!” and turn in a much better direction.
Finally, God’s grace is the grace of completion. There will be a day when you and I will be fully restored to who we were meant to be. There will be no more sin; there will be no more struggle. Everything will be restored, and we will worship in the presence of this amazing God of grace.
WHERE DO I FIND GRACE?
It's helpful to know what grace looks like and what it does, but if you don't know how to access it, you'll be left feeling discouraged. So very quickly, to finish this Article, I want to give you two things to consider:
1. Your greatest problem in life exists inside you, not outside you. If you convince yourself that your problem is in your relationships, your location, or your situation, you'll quit seeking grace and you'll try to find an easy way out. But if you humbly admit that you need help, you'll become excited about the different variations of grace that God provides.
2. Stand under the common fountains of grace. By this, I mean pursue resources of grace - attend your worship service, join a Bible study or small group, make time for personal prayer and devotions, and seek counsel from older and more mature Christians. If you want to get wet with the grace of God, stand under a fountain and trust that the Lord will send the water!