Wave upon Wave of Grace

It's the Giver, not the gifts, that matter most.

Abounding Grace (7)

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 
John 1.16

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3.14-19

Grace is a living Person
Grace can seem like an abstract idea, and it can be easily misunderstood. We discussed this earlier in this series, when we explained what grace isn’t and what it is. Obviously, grace is much more than many of us realize, or most of us experience. There is power in grace – power to glorify God, penetrate hardened hearts, and move us beyond our comfort zones in good works and true words for the glory of God. Grace abounds in faith and love, and thus grace fits us as agents of grace to the world. And as believers fulfill their callings as agents of grace, they can turn their world upside-down for Jesus Christ.

Believers in Jesus Christ are saved by the grace of God alone. We also live only by the grace of God, and we realize more of our great salvation by the grace of God. We are sent to the world as agents of grace and ambassadors of the Kingdom of grace. The grace to love God in worship, witness, and work; and the grace to love our neighbors does not originate in us. It flows to us by the Word of God, and it issues through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And, at the end of the day, what grace is and what grace accomplishes in and through us is nothing other than the reality of Jesus Christ Himself. As John explained, when by grace we believed in Jesus, we received all of Jesus in His resurrected glory: “of His fullness we have all received”. And that fullness of Jesus is never topped-off in us; instead, by wave upon wave of grace, we are filled and refilled with Jesus, and gradually and increasingly transformed into His image. Grace is a living Person. Grace – and the love and communication and power it entails – consists in Jesus Christ, Who dwells in power in the hearts of all who believe in Him.

The more Jesus grows to fullness in our lives, the more His grace will be present in, with, and through us. We must have more of Jesus, and we must have more of Jesus every day. Christ in us is our only hope of glory (Col. 1.27). For us to live – truly, fruitfully, and eternally – is Jesus Christ (Phil. 1.21). The life that we as believers live, to the extent that it flows grace to the world and brings glory to God the Father, is nothing other than Jesus Christ living in and through us (Gal. 2.20).

As Jesus increases in us, and we in our old ideas, feelings, and ways decrease, grace floods our soul and increases into our Personal Mission Field. Thus, the world continues to be filled with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the wave upon wave of grace that moves, transforms, and empowers us day by day.

Realizing our potential?
Even a cursory consideration of the life and work of Jesus will reveal, for most of us, that we are not realizing the full potential of His presence in us. We are still too filled with ourselves. We think our own thoughts; give in to our own affections; cling to our self-interested motives and priorities; and thus generally do not bear the kind of fruit we might expect from those who have the Son of God dwelling within them. We don’t have the same compassion that we see in Jesus, or the same boldness, confidence, joy, or power. We believe in Jesus, but we’re not much like Him, at least, not as much as we could be.

What keeps us from knowing the abounding grace of Jesus, forming us increasingly into His image and deploying us as His witnesses in the world?

I suspect that the greatest obstacle to increasing in Christ and His grace is that we have never become entirely refocused in our salvation. The grace that brought us to saving faith came with such a rush of joy, such relief of guilt, and such lofty prospects for eternal wellbeing, that we became enthralled more with the benefits of knowing Jesus than with Jesus Himself. We’re grateful and long for continuous peace. We soar during those periods of joy that we know from time to time, particularly in public worship. And we rest in the hope and assurance of eternal life, of being in heaven one day. These great gifts – peace, joy, assurance, hope, and many others – have become the goal of our faith. We go to church, join this or that group, take up certain ministries, and so forth, because we believe these will maintain and augment those conditions of peace, joy, contentment, security, and so forth which we have come to love about being Christians.

Meanwhile, the Giver of all these good and perfect gifts remains in the background. We delight more in the conditions He provides than in Him as the Provider of all things. We find whatever brings us peace and contentment more desirable that the One Who is all peace and contentment. We want grace to help us in our struggles and times of need, but we want the grace, not the One Who is all grace. It’s why our prayers are always filled more with requests and supplications than with silence and praise.

It’s not that we don’t love Jesus. We do, we honestly do. But we have come to rely on and delight in the gifts of Jesus, rather than in Jesus Himself. And we will never realize the full potential of God’s abounding grace as long as this is the case.

Seek grace, seek Jesus
Here’s a simple test that will allow you to see whether this is true in your life. David said: “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire (meditate) in His temple” (Ps. 27.4). The test: Reflect on your own prayer life – what you prayed this morning, your most recent prayer, what you pray when you’re with your Christian friends, what you typically pray at night before retiring. Does this “one thing” dominate your prayers? Is your great desire in prayer to see Jesus? To meditate on the beauty of Jesus? To settle into your seat with Jesus at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 2.6)? To have Jesus formed in you more and more? To know Him increasing and you decreasing as you meditate on and seek Him?

Or are you seeking in your prayers more of what Jesus gives than of Jesus Himself?

We will never know the abounding grace of God to the extent He intends, until seeking Jesus, seeing Jesus, being filled with Jesus, and increasing in His beauty, goodness, truth, and power becomes the consuming passion of our souls. Abounding grace is concentrated in Jesus Christ. And when we concentrate our attention, affection, and devotion on Him, and not just to what He does for us, wave upon wave of grace will well up in us and overflow from us to show the reality of Jesus to the world.

For reflection
1. What is meditation? Why should we meditate on Jesus? How would you explain the importance of meditating on Jesus to a new believer?

2. Is it possible that the gifts Jesus gives us by grace could become idols, keeping us from knowing Him? Explain.

3. How can believers help one another keep more consistently focused on Jesus?

Next Steps – Transformation: What can you do to bring more focus on Jesus into your walk with Him?

This study is Part 3 of a series entitled “Grace for Your Time of Need.” You can download the seven lessons in this study by 
clicking here.

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

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.
Books by T. M. Moore