Thursday, October 10, 2013

Transforming Grace

by Gregory A. Johnson

Transforming Grace, by Gregory A. Johnson

Those who will receive God’s grace are forever transformed. They cease to do whatever they want to do and begin to do what Jesus Christ has for them to do. They no longer live for self; they deny self and follow Christ.

There is no better example of this transformation than the one recorded in Acts 9:1-9 of God’s word. A dramatic, definable, and undeniable change takes place in Saul, who would later be named the Apostle Paul.

Saul was living for self, believing in his interpretation of Old Testament Scripture and the prophets. Jesus did not fit Saul’s understanding of what the Scripture said of the Messiah. Saul and his religious buddies believed that the teachings and claims of Jesus were radical and threatened changes to the Law and the Temple. Saul was at the trial of Stephen where the frustrations of the religionists with the early Christ-followers came to a violent climax and ended in the stoning death of Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:60).

Saul created his own mission and purpose. He became a self-led persecutor of Christ-followers and was given all the authority needed by the religious institution of his day. He thought that he was doing God a favor.

Saul was full of pride, but Jesus, the one he persecuted, brought humility to Saul’s life, and it was all by grace. His transformation, just like the transformation of all those who choose to follow Christ, is the result of God’s grace.

Saul did not go looking for Jesus; Jesus went looking for Saul. Saul did not initiate the encounter; Jesus did. The amazing grace of God seeks out sinners like Saul, sinners like me, and sinners like you. Jesus picks us to follow him, and as we do, transformation takes place in us. It is dramatic, definable, and undeniable. It is grace, and it is amazing.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see." — John Newton (1725-1807)
Received grace will always bring needed transformation. Saul ends his travel to Damascus a different person than when he begins the trip:
  • He went to arrest Christ-followers; he was arrested by Christ.
  • He went given authority from man; he submitted to the authority of Christ.
  • He went leading other religionists in persecuting Christ-followers; he became a Christ-follower.
Only Jesus can bring about such a transformation—only Jesus, and it’s all by His grace.

Beloved, grace is being poured out in our day. Jesus still calls people to follow Him. He brings radical transformation to those who receive his grace, denying self and following him. Christ-followers have a bright future and have been given a deposit of it now through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The best is yet to come!
“When we've been there ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.” — John Newton (1725-1807)
Know that you are loved,