“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6, NKJV)
The first word that John writes to the seven churches is “grace.” What a beautiful way to begin this book of prophecy concerning the end! Grace is a wonderful word. The best definition I have heard is by Warren Wiersbe who writes: “Grace is love that pays the price to help the undeserving one.” There are those who speak of free grace, but grace is not free. It may be free to us, but it cost Jesus His own lifeblood. Others speak of new grace, but grace is not new. God demonstrated it in the Garden of Eden when provided animal skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. I would like to talk about true grace as demonstrated in the passage above.
First, true grace comes from the eternal Father, the sevenfold Spirit (Isa 11.2), and Jesus Christ. It is embodied in the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus demonstrated His love to undeserving ones like us by paying the price for our sins with His own blood.
Second, true grace is transformational. It takes poor sinners like us and makes us into kings and priests before our God. Not only does amazing grace save a wretch like me, but it lifts me up and seats me with Christ in heavenly places (Eph 2.6). It makes me a priest to my God (a servant who represents man to God and God to man). And in the future it will enable me to reign with Christ as a king. This is the heritage of every believer in Jesus Christ who has been saved by grace!
Third, true grace results in praise and glory to God. “To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” We have been saved by grace so that no one can boast. All we can do is to freely receive this gift and worship God for what He has done.
Isn’t grace a wonderful thing? No wonder it was the common greeting of the early church. But sadly those who are the first to claim grace for themselves are often the last to give it to others. Grace is twofold. As we have freely received it, so we must freely give it. Many times those who are quick to seek pardon for their own sins are slow to pardon others. They run to the cross for “no condemnation” for themselves, but then they turn around and condemn their brother or sister. Jesus identified this inherent problem in people. He taught us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt 6.12). Do we really take that to heart? Do we really forgive those who have sinned against us in the same way that we want God to forgive us? Receiving true grace means that we must also give it to others–especially to those who have hurt us the most. Jesus knew how much we struggle with this, for this was the only part of His prayer that He amplified.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NKJV)
Wouldn’t it be tragic if the one thing separating us from God, the one thing keeping us from receiving the fullness of His grace, peace and pardon was our unwillingness to forgive from the heart our brother or sister? Yet that is exactly what Jesus said will happen if we receive grace but do not freely give it to others by forgiving them from the heart. Remember, true grace pays the price to help the undeserving.
May God help us receive and enjoy the true grace we have in Jesus Christ! But may He also help us give it away!
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