Monday, July 11, 2005

Grace to help

Have you ever wished that you understood more about "grace" and why evangelical Christians make such a fuss about it?

Have you ever wondered why a Christadelphian book was published against Philip Yancey's What's so amazing about Grace? and why Yancey's book was condemned in some Christadelphian circles? Did you realise that in the latest version of The Christadelphian Hymn Book (the one with the green cover) some of the references to grace were deliberately removed? Do you wonder why?

The thing is, grace is one of the most important concepts in Paul's writings. In Acts 20:24 he said "the task the Lord Jesus has given me" was "testifying to the gospel of God's grace". It's almost impossible to understand the New Testament without understanding grace, yet the subject receives little attention in most Christadelphian ecclesias.

At best most Christadelphians understand grace as something like "forgiveness". We will be accepted at the Judgment Seat "by the grace of God" to most Christadelphians means we will be accepted if we do our best to live by the commandments of Christ and then God forgives us for our shortcomings. In fact, the only reference to grace in the BASF has exactly this meaning. However, Hebrews 4:16 makes it clear that grace is quite different to forgiveness.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

"Mercy" here includes the idea of forgiveness. When we fail God shows mercy - He forgives. But grace is something active - grace helps us in our time of need. Grace can't possibly mean forgiveness in this context. Mercy is passive but grace is active - grace helps.

So what is grace? And how does it help?

I'll post some more about this soon. In the meantime you might want to look in a concordance and start reading what the Bible says about grace.

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