Grace: What It Isn’t, What It Is (6)
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart. Psalm 104.14, 15
He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His judgments, they have not known them. Psalm 147.19, 20
God’s grace, we have seen, is a disposition which arises solely from within God Himself – unprompted and undeserved – whereby He looks upon His creatures with favor, determining to treat them kindly, do good to them, and care for them continuously. God is love, and the love He knows within Himself, among the Persons of the Trinity, overflows in love for all that He has made. His love is unbounded; nothing can stop it (Lk. 6.26).
But grace would be of little value to us, as the objects of God’s favoring disposition, if God did not somehow let us know of this wondrous and unfathomable attitude. Thus, the grace which begins as a disposition within God, issues in communication from God, designed to inform us of His loving kindness and move us to seek and respond to Him in worship.
Grace thus includes the various means whereby God communicates His favor to us. Just as a love letter is precious because it communicates the attitude of the sender, so the means whereby God communicates His grace are themselves aspects of grace to inform us of His love. If we would know and enjoy the grace of God as fully as possible, we must open and read and treasure all the love letters He sends us every day, and which are more numerous and varied and magnificent and beautiful than we could ever entirely comprehend or adequately respond to.
The means of God’s communicating His grace to us are three: creation, the Word of God, and Jesus Christ our Lord.
All aspects of divine creation communicate the grace of God. Contrary to the teaching of modern science, the creation is not a self-perpetuating machine. It has no inherent power, either to continue or to operate on its own, but depends on the upholding power of the Word of God for all its operations (Heb. 1.3).
The creation abounds with things beautiful, nutritious, useful, and beneficial to the creatures of the earth, especially to human beings. These daily blessings are more than we could ever tally, and every one of them is a love letter of grace from God. The psalmist mentions God’s ruling the plants so as to allow men to provide food for themselves (cf. Acts 14.17). We would have no benefit whatsoever from plants or other creatures, if God did notmake and arrange and sustain them so that we could make good use of them. Jonathan Edwards explained it this way: “It is by the immediate influence of God upon things according to those constant methods which we call the laws of nature, that they are ever obedient to man’s will, or that he can use them at all.” (An Humble Attempt)
Thus, all of creation – the air we breathe, light from the sun, the many and varied flora and fauna, topographies and ecosystems, and even the weather – all these are love letters of divine grace whereby the Lord invites us to seek, know, and worship Him, and thus find our fullest happiness and purpose in life (Rom. 1.18-21).
By His Word
For those who know the Lord, who have responded to His grace and seek Him earnestly, God further reveals His love in the Scriptures. There He unfolds the story of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration in cycles, stages, and narratives that declare His lovingkindness in every generation and unto the end of the world.
What person who was really in love would allow unopened letters from the beloved to accumulate in the mail box, aware of their being there, but too distracted or uninterested to read, study, and pore over them? Would we not question the protestations of love made by such a person, who doesn’t care to hear what the beloved desires to communicate?
And yet how many of those who claim to be descendants by faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who fancy themselves believers in Jesus Christ and lovers of God – how many of us leave our Bibles unread, unstudied, and only consulted under the tutelage of one who, very likely, is guilty of similar neglect?
God’s Word is a bottomless fountain of His grace, communicated in a wide variety of genre and styles, to convey His love for every area of our lives. They who know that love will read those letters over and over, always discovering in them something new and exciting and comforting about the grace of God.
By our Lord Jesus Christ
The creation – which exists by, and entirely consists and holds together in Jesus Christ (Col. 1.16, 17) – and the Scriptures – which are in their entirety about Jesus Christ (Jn. 5.39) – point us to the quintessential means whereby God communicates His grace to the world: Jesus Christ. Jesus embodies the love of God. Consider Jesus, and you will see grace at work, grace exceedingly abundant for even our deepest needs, grace that gives and sustains and transforms, even as we behold and receive it.
God has not left us to figure out for ourselves what His grace is or is for. He communicates His grace to us at every moment, by an infinite variety of means and prompts, revealing His grace in creation, and explaining Himself and declaring Himself and love in His Word and by His Son.
Grace communicates. And in communicating, grace conveys not merely a divine disposition, but divine power.
1. What are some ways that you can see the grace of God reaching to you through the things God has made? What do you learn about His love for you from these?
2. Why is it shameful to neglect reading, meditating in, and studying the Word of God in Scripture? How can believers help one another, so that we don’t fall into the shameful neglect of these divine love letters?
3. God’s grace is most clearly, most pointedly, and most convincingly communicated in Jesus Christ. Explain.
Next Steps – Transformation: Make a point of jotting down every awareness or experience of God’s grace that comes to you today. Take a few moments to meditate on what this “love letter” says to you about God’s grace. At the end of the day, pray these encounters with God’s grace back to the Father, Who loves you.
The Fall Term at The Ailbe Seminary is now open for registrations. Visit our website and watch this brief video, then choose one of three available courses to study from September to December. All courses are free of charge, and we’ll provide a Reader to work with you through your studies.
Grace flows from our relationship with Jesus Christ. The better we know Him, the more His grace will do its work in us. Our book, To Know Him, can help you in drawing closer to Jesus and increasing in Him. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- August 30, 2019
God does not keep His favor to Himself.
Grace: What It Isn’t, What It Is (6)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.