The Grip of Grace
I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered that he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.
This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, "I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play." Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.
"the law was given through Moses" but the law did not provide the "ability" to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul's frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Paul wanted to "paint the picture" of the glories of God's precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to "sing its melodies" of praise, but he discovered he was tone deaf and could not carry its tune. He wanted to "score high" in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The "how to perform" element was missing.
He lacked a grip on the law of God.
Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth, He provided grace. In Christ, truth, or law, is complemented by grace. In Christ there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.
Max Lucado's book, In The Grip of Grace, reminds the believer of the commitment of Christ for a secure relationship with God. God's "grip" on the believer's life is its emphasis. Grace also provides believers a grip on God. Grace produces a reciprocal commitment in the believer. It is because of grace that God pursues us, waits for us, faithfully and lovingly holds onto us. It is also by grace that the believer pursues God, waits for Him, faithfully and lovingly holds onto Him.
If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip (Hebrews 2:1).
For Paul, God's grace was more than something given, idly setting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated, "by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).
It was God's grace that gave him the ability to "grip" God's calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.
Memory may slip, and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth -- the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondages of Satan's lies.
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Order Max Lucado's book, In The Grip of Grace
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Michael Cooper is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in the Regent University School of Divinity. You can send your e-mail comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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