A Demonstration of Grace

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

As I mentioned in my last blog I have been reading a book called the Grace and Truth Paradox. There are a couple of things that really stood to me. One is that it is easy to have a misunderstanding of God’s grace. While grace costs us nothing, it cost God everything, including offering up His Son, Jesus, for our sins because there is no way we can atone for them ourselves. The other thing that stands out is that Biblical grace is not a license to sin and live our lives to ourselves. That thinking just weakens God’s grace in our lives and takes away from the Gospel. When Jesus healed the blind man, He did it first of all because he wanted to and secondly out of His grace. But he didn’t say, “there you go. Now go and live your life and be happy.” No, He said, “now go and sin no more.” We must look at both grace and truth.

I’d like to tell you a story that is a simple demonstration of grace and truth working together. I don’t know if you have ever heard Eric Liddell. You may have seen the movie that came out in the late 70’s called Chariots of Fire. It’s the story of Eric Liddell, who was a member of the British track team during the 1924 Paris Olympics. His strength race was the 100-meter run, and he was expected to win. A problem arose when the qualifying heat was to be run on a Sunday. Eric, being a Christian, was strong against doing secular things on a Sunday. He ended up withdrawing from the race, much to the displeasure of those around him. Eric ended up giving his spot in the 100-meter race to one of his teammates and Eric ran the 400-meter race which the other man was to run and was not his strong suit. But not only did Eric win that race, he broke the world record in doing so. Thus, he became a British hero!

That is pretty much where Chariots of Fire ended. Now we need to fast forward to the 1930’s. After the 24 Olympics, Eric went to China and began working with the China Inland Mission. While there, the Japanese invaded China and many missionaries and families were put in internment camps, including Eric Liddell and a young girl named Margaret. “Uncle Eric,” as he became known, was a friend to the children. The children used to like to go out and play games like basketball and soccer. Uncle Eric would act as referee. But of course, Uncle Eric refused to referee on Sundays. But it seemed like the children would get into fights on Sundays because he wasn’t around. Eric struggled over this and eventually decided that his not being available on Sundays should not hinder the children from playing as they needed the diversion.

Eric’s decision left a strong impression on Margaret. She could see, for one thing, that Uncle Eric was not a legalist. She saw that Eric could sacrifice his own principles and glory of running his race in the Olympics on a Sunday. But when it came to the good of the children in the camp, he showed grace to the children at the cost of his putting aside his own convictions. Eric Liddell remained in the camp until 1945 when he died of a brain tumor. He was 43 years old. Having sent his family to safety, he died a prisoner of the Japanese and never saw his family again on this side of Heaven.

So, here’s a few questions from the “grace and truth paradox” that we might be able to apply to our lives. In the church, can we put aside our differences and serve one another in grace and love? Can we put aside our pride and self-righteous attitudes and serve the least of the least of these (whoever that may be in our lives)? Do we take advantage of grace and excuse our sins in the name of Grace? When talking to others about salvation in Christ, do we stress grace and God’s love and not make it clear that the person is a sinner and cannot be saved by his own power?

My prayer is that we will all have a deep gratitude for the grace that God gives us. Think of the thief on the cross. He would never have a chance to fellowship with other believers at church. He would never receive communion. He would never hear the Apostles preach or have an opportunity to atone for his sins (not that he could). But he would have GRACE! “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” Friends, may our lives exude the grace of Christ to a hurting and dying world. But may we never do that to the exclusion of the truth of the Gospel! “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10. Salvation comes by GRACE through faith. TRUTH is found in the Word of God and comes to us through the conviction of the Holy Spirit! May these two always work together in our lives for the good of the church!

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