χάριτί – chariti
Grace: A gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ; favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.
It was the bottom of the ninth inning, the score is 4 – 1 in favor of the away team.
Little Johnny, of the home team, watches the next pitch cross the plate – the umpire cries, “STEEEEE-RIKE”! The count is now 3 balls, 2 strikes, with two men out and the bases are loaded.
The hefty twelve-year-old pitcher rubs the baseball with his bare hands, adjusts his cap, leans forward and eyes the catcher for a signal. The batter, eleven-year-old Johnny, takes a couple of slow, rhythmic practice swings and eyes the gap in between center field and right field. The pitcher winds up and fires a fastball dead center to the catcher’s mitt. Johnny sees the gift of a fastball and doesn’t hesitate. He throws his weight into his swing and connects with the baseball in the sweet spot of his bat – CRACK! The ball soars toward right-center field, up, up and away it sails, over the fence for a grand slam home run! The home team wins 5 – 4 and the crowd goes wild!!
Johnny is so excited he runs straight to the dugout to the congratulations of his team. A few minutes pass and the umpire reluctantly calls Johnny OUT for running out of the baselines. The crowd is stunned, moans and calls the umpire ‘unfair’. But, to no avail. The game would end in a tie.
You see, even your best efforts can go unrewarded if you don’t finish!
*I just now, read this story to my wife, Betty. She looked at me like she had bitten into a lemon! “Ewwwww. That’s awful! That’s depressing. I don’t like that at all.”
I agree with her, it is awful and depressing – and dumb!
So it can be with God’s Grace. It is not enough that God extends His Amazing Grace to us if we don’t respond to Him, the results are awful and depressing.
There is a “cheap grace” being preached in some churches now-a-days. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way,
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism, without church discipline, Communions without confess. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
“Cheap grace” costs nothing, it is easy to do and has little lasting value.
God’s Grace, on the other hand is costly but the results and permanent, eternal and AMAZING!
Now, The Rest of the Story,,,
Johnny’s coach and team plead with the umpire to change his mind. Still, to no avail. His call stood. Johnny was called out and the score is 4 – 4.
Then Johnny, with a sad expression, a tear in his eye and cap in his hand, humbled himself and admitted to the umpire that in his excitement he had forgotten the ‘baseline rule’. “I am out”, he admitted.
Johnny turned to his coach, the team and the people in the stands and said, “I messed up. Don’t blame the umpire. Blame me. I am sorry.”
The ump glanced at the away-team coach. The away-team coach looked at his players. The away-team, in unison, cried out, “Aw come on ump! Give ‘em a break! Let him run the bases!!”
The crowds in the stands stood to their feet and applauded for both teams as Johnny rounded the bases. The home team won the game 5-4 with an asterisk, because GRACE matters!
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
What should be our response to God’s Amazing Gift of Grace? The Bible says, “That we should walk in His Works”.
GOD’S GRACE is His gift to you and to me. But, there is a response found in the Bible that tells us how we get from where we are to “there”:
1. YOU MUST BELIEVE:
Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5″ For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
8 “But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness…”
2. YOU MUST CONFESS
Romans 10:10 “…and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
3. YOU MUST REPENT
Matthew 4:17. “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
4. YOU MUST RECEIVE
Hebrews 4:16 ”Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
5. YOU MUST FOLLOW
Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
6. YOU MUST OBEY
Matthew 14:23. “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
Matthew 8:51. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.”
Matthew 7:21. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
7. YOU MUST GO
Mathew 28:18. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
“Cheap grace” is like a gift that goes unopened and lies dormant beneath the Christmas tree. That would be sad, and like Betty said, “Ewwww. That’s awful. That’s depressing!”
TAKE THE GIFT AND OPEN IT! NOW, REJOICE!
Let’s all receive God’s Gift of Grace and live amazed!
Your Brother and Friend,