Grace Is More Than a Name
Grace is the name we have given to our church. We believe in grace. We preach grace. Around our property are signs declaring “Welcome to Grace.”
When believers think about grace, the thoughts that usually come to mind first are thoughts of our salvation provided to us through the finished work of Christ. We often define that grace as “unmerited favor,” as expressed in Ephesians:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But there is another aspect to grace that we may not think about as frequently, for grace not only saved us but it is to be the quality of character that animates us. Grace is not just what God did for us but also what He desires from us. That character trait was fully demonstrated in Jesus himself, as the Apostle John explains:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Not only was grace shown to us by Jesus, but it was also modeled for us as John continues to explain:
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
It was grace that animated the ministry of the Apostles:
And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
It was grace that the Apostles prayed would fill the lives of the early Christians:
…to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace was the source of the spiritual gifts by which the early Christians served the body of Christ:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…
Grace was the trait that produced a heart of cheerful generosity and good deeds:
2 Corinthians 9:7,8
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
Paul instructed the Ephesians to be graceful in their communication:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Paul attributed the love the Colossians had for fellow believers to their understanding of the grace of God in their lives:
We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the Word of truth, the Gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.
Here we also see that they had learned grace through the ministry of a gracious man named Epaphras.
The Apostle James describes the heart of the one whose life is graced by God:
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
According to the Apostle Peter, serving one another make us wise investors of the grace that God has shown to us:
1 Peter 4:9–11
Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Peter also admonished the early Church to “grow in grace,” to continue to develop this all-important mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:17,18
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
And what was true of that 1st Century Church is to also be the hallmark of the 21st Century Church!
That’s the deeper meaning behind “Welcome to Grace.” You see, grace isn’t just a name or a doctrine, but it’s to be a people, a character trait, and an environment in which people are surrounded by love and care that flows naturally from a relationship of love for God and love for others.
God’s will for us is that we should “become conformed to the image of His Son.” What was that image? “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
As we dwell among others, are we a graceful people?
See you at Grace!
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Dan Hammers has been serving in pastoral care for over nine years at Grace. He and his wife, Sherry, have been a part of Grace Polaris Church since the late ’70s after serving as missionaries in France for six years. Dan taught Bible courses at Worthington Christian Schools for 38 years while directing theater and teaching photography. Pastor Dan and Sherry have three grown children and five grandchildren.