Radical Grace – God Helps Those Who Knows They Cannot Help Themselves

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23 Jan 2014 by Eugene Tan –


We read a, b, c, d…God reads Z, Y, X, W… 


God looks at the world differently! His ways are diametrically opposed to our ways! We look for people to praise us, He look for those who needed praise; instead of VIP’s who had fame and fortune who can favor us, He look for those who are down and out. We look for those who are beautiful, who can sing, dance, act, excel in sports, drive fast cars; He look for those who had none of the above. This is how God reaches out to us! This is Jesus, who reminded us again and again, that He came for the sinners and not the righteous, for the sick and not the healthy, for the weak and not the strong! He came for those who know they cannot help themselves.  


Jesus came for those who know they cannot help themselves.


I have heard wonderful testimonies where unbelievers drop by churches in moments of crisis and experience a peace that surpasses all understanding…which eventually lead them to Christ. I have also heard damaging testimonies where unbelievers facing crisis refuse to have anything to do with churches because they are convinced going to a church will only make them feel worse. “What, go to church?” exclaimed a young lady! “As if getting pregnant and abandoned by boyfriend is not bad enough, I don’t need further condemnation.”

What impacted me about this testimony is that women with similar problems run towards Jesus and not away from Him. He endears Himself to the weak, the disenfranchised. The worse a sinner feels about himself/herself the more they see Jesus as a way out. And, He is ever ready to help them resolve their problems. Have we as a church lost that appeal?


Have the Church lost its appeal and relevance?


Oliver Stone did a film called “Persona Non Grata” a person without grace; these are people who are not welcome in any country, for example, terrorists and felons.  Not only governments, society too had their list of outcasts. I will spare you the details but back in Jesus’ days, lepers and prostitutes belong to that category. I was just wondering, in our modern church, do we have a list? Do we have a list of folks who fall from grace who are a disgrace? I am persuaded, most of the problems we encounter in the body of Christ these days and those in times past are due to the fact that we do not know how to dispense unconditional grace and, we do not know how to receive unconditional grace!

It is hard not to be influenced either way; every which way we turn, there is ungrace. India expelled US diplomat in retaliation; possible war between China and Japan, screamed the headlines. Anger. Hate. Retaliation. Daily we are bombarded by such news from the Middle East, Russia, Tibet, Thailand, Africa…couple that with the subliminal messages of ungrace churned  out by TV, Video Games and Movies made in Hollywood, Bollywood and Hong Kong…the  popular American ABC prime time television series Revenge is into its third season and counting. The underlying theme for the majority of these movies and games is vengeance, a tit for tat, an eye for eye stuff, and life is following Art.


Jesus dispelled the notion of revenge by restoring back the ear of the advancing soldier.


Jesus dispelled that notion by rebuking the disciple who lopped off the ear of the advancing soldier and by restoring back the ear. In God’s economy, violence begets violence. Amnon raped Tamar his half sister and Absolam killed Amnon his half brother. Absolam was himself killed by Joab. Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel.  Subsequently, Joab was killed by Benaiah and the list goes on. Vengeance is basically self-help; instead of turning to God, we look to ourselves to resolve our own problems. And hence, the cycle of violence continues in the world today.

God cannot help us if we are so full of ourselves. The hand that is full cannot receive. Remember the monkey with its hands caught in a cookie jar because they are full? A society so unforgiving, so intolerant..so keen and so full of laws to incarcerate, demonize and consequently dehumanize every law breaker (minor or major, mortal or venial) has no more room left in their system to  seek God for answers. Likewise, those penalized (having not received grace and there are many) will not know how to show grace. 


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The hand that is full cannot receive.


The world’s major religions teach us to be good in order to receive God’s blessings, Judaism included. Deuteronomy 28 is a good example, do good and get blessed; do bad and get cursed. There is only one thing the world cannot do, it cannot offer grace. Saddam Hussein lured his son-in-law back from exile and had him executed, for betrayal. In some other parts of the world, where certain tradition still holds strong, children are killed if they’re disobedient or willful.

The late Nelson Mandela broke the cycle of unforgiveness by forgiving his jailers after spending 26 years incarcerated. King David showed grace to Mephibosheth the grandson of Saul. At the cross the Son of God cried, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” Grace is radical, grace is madness. It is humanly impossible to forgive those who want you dead.


Loving Grace of Christ
God’s Grace is Radical.


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Which is to say, in our totally depraved condition, we cannot help ourselves but nonetheless God’s irresistible grace actively seeks to help us. As portrayed in the parable of the prodigal son, the lost coin and the lost sheep. He reaches out to the prostitute, the unscrupulous business man, the enemy soldier, the adulterer, the leper, the sick – all who cannot help themselves, He helped!

The Chinese Lunar New Year 2014 is around the corner. I know someone who keeps track of the “ang pows” his children received (the amount) the previous year, so that he can dish out same-same reciprocally, you know, the “kia su” afraid to lose mindset. The world knows nothing about grace. Grace gives more! Everything, in fact. The receiver gives nothing. Grace is not what we had done for God but what God had done for us. It’s unmerited favor. 




The Bible declares, give and it will be given unto you. There is no need to “spiritualize” its meaning; if we don’t have we can’t give. And we can’t give, if we had not received. Only when we have received grace can we give grace. Unto whom much is forgiven, unto whom will forgive much. If we don’t feel forgiven, we cannot forgive. God cannot help those who are self-sufficient, even the Almighty cannot forgive those who chose not to be forgiven. 

The humanist declares, God helps those who help themselves. I mean, if we can help ourselves, why do we need God? Nah, I am more incline to believe “God Helps Those Who Knows They Cannot Help Themselves”. Can’t put it any better than the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, it is spot on. Romans 4:4-5 caps it! “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” That is Grace and it is Radical!


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  1. "To the praise of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6 NKJV). The word "accepted" is the verb form of grace — "Graced". In Christ, we are graced and accepted by God uncontionally. Our failures and shortcomings cannot alter an inch of God's unconditionally acceptance on us. What a good news! For "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1 NIV).

  2. Wow, unconditional grace. It is so true but it is not radical. It has been there since the dawn of mankind and Christianity. It was there when God chased Adam and Eve out of the Garden and covered them animal skins. It was there when God rained down form heaven destroying the earth and saved Noah’s and his family. It was there when God judged Egypt and delivered the children of Israel. It was there when God commanded Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in Canna when giving them the promised land. Of course it was there when Christ died on the cross and righteousness was rendered to us.

    It is assumed that when grace abound there will be no judgement no matter what. Grace is a partial expression of love. God is love and therefore He is full of grace. God is not gracious therefore He is full of love. For God is love. Grace is incomplete without love. And love does discipline and love does take issue against wrong and unrighteousness. A Christian is under grace not outside of God’s love but in God’s love. If love demands repentance when wrong is done and discipline when disobedience is found grace must follow and not rebel. If not the teaching of such radical grace is in violation of God’s love. The link between God’s grace and love is repentance. Take that away we don’t have grace at all.

  3. In response to those who call others to encourage and strenghten them through sharing in writing, hereby like others in weakness I readily testify that it is by His grace (unmerited favour — He helps/favours those in need rather than those in greed):

    I was blind and now I see. By grace He gave me twelve years advantage to prepare for this coming turbulent times (just to learn to let go many things – potential debts and trappings – in life and to align my life).

    Even now, His grace is sufficient to see my days through — I have good sleep and I know the many things I do shall not be in vain. As long as it is not in vain, it is good enough to me regardless of what others say.

    By his grace, I’m now set free.
    Free from worry and the what-ifs what others are already entangled with. In calmness: I have love, joy, peace and many more. Let it be cleansed inside me first so that the outside will be clean too.

    Grace is about Him, and all of us who are in Him shall showcase His grace.

    Let me make it short by one simple question: What does it take to be co-heirs in His heavenly kingdom?

    Yes you can add many more … they are all about Him and His glory, and they are part of His marvelous plan too. Praise the Lord!

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