Grace is a Teacher

It goes without saying that the entire Bible is wonderful.  Not all 66 letters are easy to understand but it remains on the “best-selling list” and when faith is applied in the heart of the reader, it still transforms lives. Other books inform, but only God’s book, the Bible, transforms!
In recent years, I have been intrigued by one verse that God is using to rearrange my thinking. This pivotal verse has helped me glean a broader understanding of God’s grace.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say, ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope –the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11-13).    
You have to understand, I spent many years of my Christian life trying to weave law-based information into grace teaching; and let me tell you, it doesn’t work.  It’s like mixing oil and water.  Both are important, but they have to be understood in the context of their unique chemistry. 
The Apostle John segregates the two by writing, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 2:17).  The Apostle Paul adds to this truth by reminding us, ”Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Galatians 3:23-25). 
The King James Version uses the word “schoolmaster” in place of “guardian.” The Law served as the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.   In other words, both law and grace carry significance and both were necessary to our full understanding of the gospel.  But we can’t walk under law in some areas of life and then under grace in others areas and expect to experience the “abundant life!”
We were taught in Bible school:  “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed!”  In other words, to have a complete understanding of the Cross of Jesus, we have to understand unique teachings of the Old Testament, as they reveal types and shadows of what was to come in Christ.
Law-based lifestyles run contrary to healthy relationships.  Let me give you an example from personal experience.  I was taught as a boy to take my hat off in public buildings or when I walked into a room occupied by adults.  This, in essence, was a “law.”  To not take off one’s hat in a public building was considered disrespectful.
Many builders (those born between 1924-44) and baby boomers (those born between 1944-64) had this rule pounded in their heads.  Some years ago, when pastoring another church, I saw this “law” literally cause a newcomer to leave the building in anger.  The understood rule (not mine) was “no hats on men while in church.”  A teenage guy came into the church lobby and did not remove his hat. 
A crotchety older gentleman approached him and asked him to remove it.  When the young man refused, the older gentleman became irate, took the boy by the arm and escorted him out of the building.  I could not believe what I saw and heard.
“You will not disrespect this church,” the man yelled.  Naturally, the boy left, never to return.  I can only hope and pray that this law-based offense did not drive him away from the Lord. 
I angrily said to the old man, “I hope you understand the terrible offense you just caused, and I hope you’re ready to stand before the Lord with a ready answer for your stupid attitude.”  I have no patience for confessing Christians who use their personal preferences and opinions (skewed, law-based mindsets) to hurt others.
Do you understand what happened?  A man-made rule overrode grace.  Who cares if someone does not remove his hat in church (or wherever)?  That boy should have felt love, honor and respect, not retribution.  Instead, he was made to feel guilt and shame.  I’m still bothered by the events of that morning.  And this remains a perfect example of how the “law kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
May we never hurt others and subsequently justify our words and actions by using the Bible or our personal convictions to inflict pain and cause separation from the grace of God.  May we allow His grace to teach us how to live godly.  Legislated righteousness produces anger and offends people.  Grace is a teacher and takes us from where we are to where Jesus wants us to be.  It’s God’s grace that has appeared through Jesus Christ and brought us salvation.  Have you placed your faith in His saving grace!

  

  

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