10 Nov 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
On Oct 30, Eugene Tan was invited as a speaker at Menara TA One fellowship, where he talked about how Jesus is grace and truth personified (v 14, 17).
Who can receive this grace from God? Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ name, God gives the right to become his children (v 12). And only through Jesus who is God’s one and only son, has God made himself known (v 18), where we can experience grace and truth (v 17).
Yet, the message of grace may be seen as a watered-down and all-inclusive gospel. However, has not Christ died for the sins of everyone who believed (John 1:12; Eph 2:8-9)?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Grace is radical but that does not mean that the message of grace is wrong, shared Eugene. Grace challenges the idea of religiosity and good works to justify us to Heaven, whereby Eph 2:8-9 clearly says that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own good works.
Although we are sinners through Adam (Romans 5:12), accepting Christ and putting on His righteousness make us righteous before God’s eyes. Eph 1:7 says that, “in Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches on His grace.” And Acts 13:38 says, “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
How many of us truly believed that we are truly saved by the Lord, whereby our names are written in the book of life? Eugene shared that if we believed that, we will not be afraid of anything, even death itself. Apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil 1:21).” Paul was not afraid of death because he would meet Jesus in Heaven, where all suffering would end.
But sometimes, we feel condemned and guilty as believers. We believe that nothing we do would make us good enough in the eyes of God, and you are right! That is why Jesus Christ, who has no sins (2 Cor 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22) came to die for our sins on the cross because our good works can never bring us to Heaven. But that should cause us to feel grateful and thankful, not guilty or condemned because Jesus has freed us from sins on the cross.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God’s first question was “Where are you?” instead of an accusatory remark. When we sin, we may become afraid to come to God due to guilt and condemnation. But God is always seeking for us like how He seek Adam; His question for us will also be, “Where are you, my child?” And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28).”
How many of us are truly living a happy Christian life, asked Eugene. We can never be happy if we constantly feel that we are not good enough in the eyes of God. Imagine a wife who constantly believes that she is not beautiful enough, tall enough, and cook well enough, can she be happy? Also, we cannot expect ourselves to shed all of our bad habits immediately after we accepted Christ.
“The minute we accept Christ, sometimes, there are habits that disappear instantly but some habits would prolong after ten years, twenty years, and thirty years. How much changed life or good works would make you acceptable? Three months? Three years?” said Eugene.
Grace nullifies guilt, removes shame, takes away condemnation, and liberates us to become who we are in Christ. Grace paints the picture of our God the Father as a seeker, like how the father of the prodigal son waited and ran toward his returned son.
To illustrate the loyalty of our Abba Father, Eugene shared the story of a dog named Hachiko who waited faithfully for his owner at Shibuya station in Japan everyday. For one year, Hachiko would wait for his owner until one day the owner died of heart attack. But unknowing to Hachiko, he would wait everyday for his owner to return at the train station for the next nine years till he died in 1935. Because of his loyalty, a bronze statue was erected at the station. And that is the picture of God’s faithfulness to us, a Father who is always waiting for us to return to Him.
“Grace is not a stress-free life but it reminds us that in every of our life struggle, God in his timing must have an expiry for our struggles and a plan for us. Grace is not a license to sin but there are laws that we must respect like laws of the society, gravity, and the law of nature,” said Eugene.
Although grace removes the guilt and condemnation that comes from sinning, we are not freed from the earthly consequences of our sin. For example, if we commit murder, we do not escape the justice in this world for imprisonment or capital punishment. However, receiving grace should empower us not to sin. If we know that we are righteous before God’s eyes, why do we want to keep on sinning to displease Him?
“Grace is not intolerant of people who are down and out (of their faith),” said Eugene. Sometimes, high performers and achievers have low tolerance for those who lack performance and achievements, which is not right.
“As the final word, you don’t pray to get there, you are already there. Grace says that you do not pray for victory, you are already victorious (in Christ). God is not a retailer; He doesn’t dispense packets of power, Holy Spirit, and victory, because everything is already in us in Jesus Christ. In Him, we are more than conquerors!
“It (Knowing grace) empowers us of who we are in Christ. We do not need to constantly perform to feel God’s love. God loves us anyhow, whether we perform or not,” said Eugene.
Such is the beauty of grace given freely by our Heavenly Father for all who believe in His son, Jesus Christ. May you be freed in His Grace today!