Grace: God’s Non-Performance Clause
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as you read this article. May He give us understanding.”
Performance. Performance. Performance. We live in a performance oriented world. Perform well and you get approval and often you get rewarded. Perform well in school and you get a good grade. Perform well enough at school and you get to be valedictorian and possibly a full scholarship. Perform well on the job and you get a raise and possibly a promotion. Perform well on the playing field and the crowd applauds you. Perform exceptionally well and you get the big professional contract.
When we become Christians we bring our performance mentality with us. We think we gain God’s approval by our performance. If we go to church, read our Bible, pray, tithe, help our neighbor and do the Christian stuff, then God is pleased with us. We feel we have earned His love. We feel we are accepted by Him. However, God has written a Non-Performance Clause in the New Testament.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Paul amplifies non-performance in Romans and Hebrews:
- Romans 4:5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
- Hebrews 4:10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
We were saved by grace without any performance on our part. Jesus Christ did all the performing! We cannot add to what Jesus has already done. We cannot outperform Jesus. What we need to understand is the power of Christ living in us. It’s not about our performing; it is about Jesus living His life through us. This can only be done by the grace of God.
- John 1:14-17 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ….. (16) And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
What is the grace of God? Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling us to be who God created us to be. It is the power to walk the walk. Grace is liberation from performance (legalism) AND the power of Christ in us to do God’s will.
- Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- Colossians 1:27 …. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
- Galatians 2:20 …... Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The Apostle Paul begins and ends all his letters talking about grace. Paul discovered the power of the living Christ to transform his life. Paul, a Pharisee, was delivered from performance (keeping the Law of God) into the glorious liberty of God’s amazing love. It was the love of God that motivated Paul. He labored for the advancement of the Kingdom of God because of his great love for the Father, the Son and the church. Love was the driving force of his life.
- 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, ……
Paul labored because he knew how much he was loved. He did not perform to gain love. How could he gain what God has already given? All of Paul’s works were done by the power of Christ working in him.
- Colossians 1:28-29 Him (Christ) we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (29) To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
The Old Testament Law demanded performance. It demanded holy, perfect and loving. The best man could do was good, better and nice. As hard as man performed he could never meet God’s demand for perfection. Therefore, Paul said the law was a schoolmaster pointing us to Christ the only one who ever lived perfectly before the Father.
- Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Christ has fulfilled the law of God for us!
- Romans 8:3-4 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Therefore, Christ has done everything for us. And He is presently at the Father’s right hand interceding for us.
- Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
- Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
G.R.A.C.E. – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
Popular definitions of Mercy and Grace are:
Mercy – We do not get what we deserve.
Grace – We get what we do not deserve. The unmerited favor of God. The goodness of God.
However, these definitions of Grace do not do justice to Paul’s understanding of Grace. Grace is much more than us getting what we do not deserve; it is much more than the unmerited favor of God; and it is much more than the goodness of God. Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling us to be who God created us to be. Grace is liberation from performance (legalism) AND the power of Christ in us to do God’s will.
Grace is God giving us the desire and the power to live the Christian life. As we make Christ Lord of our life, He will live His life through us!
- Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Other Scriptures emphasizing the Grace we find in Christ: (By grace!) added for emphasis.
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 . thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (By grace!)
- 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work
- 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, (6) who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant (By grace!), not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (By grace!)
- 2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
- Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. – (the last verse in the Bible)
Rest your hope fully upon grace!
- 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
The Glove Illustration:
A leather glove is made for a purpose, to be worn on a hand. Without a hand it can do nothing. However, the glove can do all things the hand can do when a hand is in it. The hand in the glove is the glove’s only hope of glory and the glove’s only opportunity to become what it was created to be. By the grace of God, Christ is in us enabling us to be what God created us to be. Performance is what the glove can do without the hand. Grace is the hand in the glove.
- Colossians 1:27 ….. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
For Coaches of the Significant life: One of our objectives as a significant life coach is to help our coachees overcome the performance mentality which is, in reality, an orphan mentality. An orphan wants someone to notice them, love them and hopefully adopt them. The orphan mentality in Christianity is a person seeking to gain God’s attention and approval so God will like them. “Notice me.” “Look at me.” In reality we already have God’s approval because of Jesus Christ. We cannot get God to love us anymore that He already does. His love is perfect toward us. When we are baptized in the Father’s love we become secure in that love and that love is what compels us to walk and labor as a member of the family involved in the family business. The family business is the Kingdom of God. Pray with your coachee to receive a baptism in the Father’s love.
Because of His great love, we read our Bible not to gain God’s approval but because we want to know Him better. We go to church not to impress God but to fellowship with our Kingdom family business partners. We tithe not to get God’s attention but because we love God’s work and want to support the advancement of the Kingdom of God. We make Christ Lord of our life because it is the only way we can correctly walk this walk. We are free in Christ. I do not have to read my Bible; I want to read my Bible. I do not have to go to church; I want to go to church. I do not have to tithe; I want to tithe. I love to read my Bible. I love to go to church. I love to tithe. I love God because I have received God’s great love for me. By the grace of God I am who I am. God puts the desire in me to do what I should do and He gives me the power to do what He wants me to do. The grace of God is at work in me. I do not perform; I freely, willingly and gladly serve! Amazing Grace – His empowering presence enabling me to be who He created me to be. What an amazing God!