Quarter One Lesson Seven

11 Aug Quarter One Lesson Seven

What is grace?
 

 
Greetings friend,
 
Today we get to talk about one of the most wonderful topics there is in all the Bible. It is the subject of “grace.” It truly is an amazing topic, and even more amazing to experience firsthand.
 
Grace is somewhat difficult to define. People have tried to define it as “undeserved favor”, or by saying grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. In other words, since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) we deserve death, but God does not give us what we deserve. Instead, He gives us eternal life by believing in Jesus; something we don’t deserve.
 
Others have put grace in an acronym and have written it like this:
 
God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense
 
These are all good ways of describing grace; but, in reality, grace really has to be experienced in order to be defined. Let us look at what the Scripture says about grace, and then let us see an illustration of it:
 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
 

Question 1. According to Ephesians 2:8-10, how are we saved?


 
The Bad News: Salvation is not from ourselves, and it is not by our works. Because we are born with a sinful nature we are unable to accomplish our own salvation. It could never come from us.
 
And our salvation is not of works. We remember that Adam and Eve tried to work to cover themselves, but in effect God said their works were not sufficient, by clothing them with the skins of an animal. If we could somehow work off our sin by being good, or doing good works for the rest of our lives then we would be able to boast about it. But salvation is “not by works, so that no one can boast”.
 
The Good News: Salvation is by grace, and it is the gift of God. What we are unable to do God has done, and He gives it to us as a gift. He gives it freely—no strings attached. This is grace. To provide salvation as a free gift to us who are unable to earn it by our own efforts.
 
Grace is totally divine; that is, it is of God and not of man. It is entirely different than man’s ways of understanding and living and treating others. This is how we know grace is of divine origin and not of man. Let’s look at one more passage of Scripture that shows us how divine grace really is:
 
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 (NIV)
 

Question 2. According to Romans 5:20 what happened “where sin increased”?


 
In our world, where sin increases, judgment and penalties and justice increase all the more. This is right for man’s world of dealing with wrongs committed. But not so with God. God does something spectacular and something completely different. God deals with sin inversely now that Jesus has come and paid the penalty for our sin. Now, where sin increased, grace increased all the more. This shows that grace is truly divine—of God, not of man.
 
The reality is that God can give grace for sin because previously, at the cross, He gave judgment for righteousness. By that we mean that God has already punished our sin at the cross, judging and punishing Jesus the righteous One instead of us, so therefore He can be just to us by giving us grace (Romans 3:26).
 
Notice Romans 5:20 in light of the grace God has given us at the cross: “Where sin increased” was at the cross. There sinners rebelled against their Creator, they killed the One Who had given them life. At the cross sin increased to its maximum.
 
And yet it was there, at the cross, that “grace increased all the more.” For the very ones who were crucifying Jesus He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Where sinners heaped up their sins, Jesus covered them all with His blood. As man plotted and planned to put Jesus to death, Jesus prayed and pleaded to forgive their sin. This is grace!
 
Let us now look at an illustration of grace that we might see it in action. Please read the following story from the Bible. See if you can see where grace is given in this story:
 
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2  Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “Your servant,” he replied. 3  The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” 4  “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” 5  So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. 6  When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “Your servant,” he replied. 7  “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” 8  Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 9  Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) 11  Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet. 2 Samuel 9:1-13 (NIV)
 

Question 3. Where is grace shown in this story? Please write your answer here:


 
In the above story we see that King David wanted to show kindness to anyone related to Jonathan. David and Jonathan had been best friends but then Jonathan was killed in battle. Since David could no longer show his love to Jonathan, he wanted to show kindness to Jonathan’s descendants.

 

David was made aware of one of Jonathan’s sons named Mephibosheth. But, sadly, Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet. This injury occurred when Mephibosheth was very young. His nurse dropped him while she was trying to save him from an enemy attack on his home and as a result of the fall he ended up crippled in both feet (2 Samuel 4:4).

 

To see the significance of Mephibosheth’s infirmity, we must understand that back in those days people who were crippled were considered useless and unwanted. Cripples were unable to go out to battle, unable to protect the people, unable to do physical labor and so were essentially considered to be of no value. From the above story we can see that Mephibosheth had come to accept his condition, had come to believe he was useless, for he called himself a “dead dog.” Dead dogs are useless.

 

Imagine Mephibosheth’s shock when the news came that the king wanted to see him. Clearly he felt threatened because we read that Mephibosheth was afraid. Now can you just imagine what the following words must have sounded like in Mephibosheth’s ears?

 

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

 

That is truly amazing isn’t it? That David would restore to Mephibosheth all the land that belonged to his grandfather, and even more, that Mephibosheth would now be invited to eat at the king’s table, to fellowship (eat, drink, talk and laugh together) with the king for the rest of his life. Restoration and fellowship, given to a “dead dog.” This is grace.

 

Imagine Mephibosheth who considered himself a “dead dog” sitting right there with the king, eating with him, talking with him, enjoying his presence— Mephibosheth’s crippled feet hidden beneath the king’s table. What an honor that would have been for him.

 

But did you know that this story was written for you (see Romans 15:4)? For the truth is that you and I were likewise “crippled” because of a fall. That is, we have been unable to walk uprightly, unable to live in righteousness and holiness, because of “the fall” of Adam and Eve. As discussed in previous lessons, we were born with their sin nature.

 

So here we are in our spiritually crippled condition, which makes us worthless—useless to God (Romans 3:12). We are unable to live a holy life, unable to “walk” properly, and are simply disabled in our sin.

 

Then we hear the good news from the King! We are now wanted by God! At the cross Jesus restored to us all that sin stole from us. He restored our righteousness, He restored our standing before God, He restored our usefulness to God, and even more. “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12 (NIV)
 
This is grace.
 
But even more than all this, through the work Jesus did on the cross God invites us to fellowship with Him: “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV)
 
Just think of how amazing this really is. Sin had done worse to us than the fall had done to Mephibosheth: sin made us enemies of God (see Colossians 1:21). But through grace, God invites us to sit at His table of fellowship forever (see Luke 13:29). And there we are, sitting at the King’s table, experiencing wonderful fellowship, and the table of grace covering our brokenness.
 
So far grace is amazing, is it not? But there is more for Mephibosheth and for us! Notice in 2 Samuel 9:10, David gave the following command to Jonathan’s servant who is named Ziba:
 
You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)” 2 Samuel 9:10 (NIV)
 

Question 4. In 2 Samuel 9:10 what did King David do for Mephibosheth? How does that translate over to what God has done for us today? Please share your thoughts:


 
This is grace upon grace. David lavished Mephibosheth with grace by inviting him to eat at the king’s table, restoring all the land to him, but now he has made provision for Mephibosheth’s daily bread. And this is exactly the picture of what God does for all who believe.
 
God has not only restored all that sin stole from us, He has not only invited us to sit at His table, enjoying fellowship with Him forever, but He has also provided for us for the rest of our lives, giving us “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). This is grace upon grace, God giving us all He had and providing for us all our days.For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.John 1:16 (ESV)
 
Now please read 2 Samuel 9:8 to see Mephibosheth’s response:
 
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Samuel 9:8 (NIV)
 

Question 5. How did King David’s grace, lavished on Mephibosheth, cause Mephibosheth to respond?


 
Restoration and fellowship and provision must have caused the heart of Mephibosheth to overflow with gratitude to the king. He “bowed down” in humility and gratitude. His question to David “what is your servant that you should notice a dead dog like me?” must have come out of astonishment.
 
This is what receiving God’s grace does for you and me. We wonder with the writer to the Psalms, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4)? We bow down in worship to the God Who loved us and forgave all our sins, and Who invites us to sit at His table of fellowship throughout all eternity.
 
Pat Sczebel of “Sovereign Grace Music” has written a song that beautifully describes this experience of grace. Please notice these words:
 

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

CHORUS
Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

 

Question 6. Have you received God’s grace? That is, have you believed in Jesus and therefore are now saved? Please share:


 

Question 7. If you answered yes to the above question, what does the receiving of God’s grace in your heart prompt you to say in response? Feel free to write out your response to God’s grace here:


 
Finally, let us close this lesson on grace by reviewing the passage with which we started:
 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
 

Question 8. Ephesians 2:10 tells us why we have become Christians, what is that reason?


 

Question 9. When did God prepare these good works for us?


 
Yes, we were created in Christ Jesus, meaning we have been forgiven of our sins and included in God’s family when we believed the gospel, so that we would do good works. God prepared “in advance” for us to do them. Remember: we do not do good works in order to receive grace; we receive grace freely from God so that we might do the good work that God has designed us to do.
 
Good works might mean us giving grace to other people, just like God has given us grace. Maybe you need to show grace to your spouse, your parents, or your children, your friends or neighbors. Pray about it. God will guide you.
 

Question 10. What are your final thoughts about God’s grace today? Do you have an understanding of what grace is now? Please share:


 

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Lesson: Quarter One Lesson Seven

URL: http://gospelgrowthministries.org/quarter-one-lesson-seven/

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