Clinging to Grace

Grace to you and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ…

With this refreshing greeting Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia and in effect, to me!  Grace and Peace are two things I often feel a little short on.  Peace with God is contingent on experiencing grace.  Grace is pure gift for the sin-weary.  But there’s this part of me that is bent on deserving it, doing my conscientious best, making the most of my time, meeting goals, over-thinking choices, avoiding blame…It’s rather exhausting and ultimately disappointing and definitely not restful.  So a greeting like ‘grace to you and peace’ is like a breath of fresh air to stop and inhale.

I come often to Galatians to be reminded of the essence of this Gospel by which I am being saved from my wrong perceptions of God and my stubborn endeavors at self-righteousness.  This time around I’m reading along with Martin Luther whose 1538 commentary shows me I’m in good company.  His commentary on Galatians was to him some of his most important writing.  Grace and peace, he says, constitute the Christian faith.  For it’s grace that takes care of the problem of sin and it’s peace that calms our consciences. God has provided for both through our Lord Jesus Christ ‘who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age.’ (Gal.1:3-4)

Speaking from personal experience Luther declares sin and conscience to be torturers that are overcome only in Christ.  He boldly reiterates the truths that brought about the Great Reformation:  ‘sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law.  The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair.  Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors.  The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt.  Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.’ *

But he too obviously struggled with living from these truths: “In actual living, however, it is not so easy to persuade oneself that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God….[But] we find no rest for our weary bones unless we cling to the word of grace.”*

And so I keep circling back to the Gospel with its tantalizing freedom in Christ–a freedom from the law’s condemnation, from sin’s dominion, and from my own compulsions to achieve in order to be accepted.  And I keep meditating on truths that counteract old thought patterns: “Therefore since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Rom. 5:1

And I wait in eager expectation for life-long habits of the heart to be vanquished by the hope of the Gospel once and for all.  “For through the Spirit by faith we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness…what matters is faith working through love.” Gal.5:5,6

For “this is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.”  I John 5:4

Have you struggled to let go of self-righteous inclinations and to embrace grace? What has helped you?  I’d love to know your thoughts.


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace.  By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Heb.12:28,29 HCSB

*Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians–Martin Luther, 1558

The Sweet Reality of the Gospel


Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.  To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!

“Repent”, Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation.”

But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.–How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!  How joyful is the man the Lord will never charge with sin!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…We have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ the Righteous one!

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead… He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.  This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immorality to light through the gospel!

Gal.1:1; Acts 2:38-40; Rom.4:5-8; I Jn.1:9;2:1; II Tim.2:8; 1:9,10

In light of the profound reality of these verses and of this Easter season in which we celebrate their good news I’ve been feeling woefully underwhelmed.  Have I become as a fish in the wide ocean who takes for granted the water in which he lives and breathes and has his being?  Perhaps.  Or maybe I’m just needing to get my bearings again after three weeks spent with kids and grands! I have missed my quiet mornings with the Word, having had to snatch it in rushed increments instead.  But the theme of forgiveness keeps finding its way into my thoughts.  It’s at the heart of the gospel that I so much want my little grands to grow up knowing.  And I tend to carry the burden of this in an unhealthy way, feeling guilty for failing to give them Jesus in the bustle of all the Lego play and puzzle building, the  puddle-jumping walks and  cinnamon bun collaboration. How can I have neglected to share Jesus somehow?  Upon our return home I found myself journaling my dismay, words that finally became a prayer…

Give them ears to hear, minds to know the sweet light of the gospel, that though they are naughty, you forgive. Though they fail to please, there is Jesus who did everything perfectly on their account so that they may stand unashamed before their good good Father who is intimately acquainted with all their ways and always attentive to them when parents fall short, as we all ultimately do…

And it struck me!  This is the very same sweet gospel that I need to glory in myself!  This same forgiveness when I’ve done badly.  This perfection of Jesus in exchange for my failure.  This intimate love of a good good Father who’s aware of my weakness,  and has given me Jesus as my strong Saviour.

Indeed the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe–for grandkids, their parents, AND their grandparents! For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, for all of us. Thank-you God for the reality of this Good News. Bring it to life in our souls this Easter season!