We No Longer Need to Have an Understanding of Grace Today

Subject: Religion
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Most modern Christians seem to be at crossroads on whether the concept of grace is still relevant or not. There are some theological assertions that strongly deliberate that “we are no longer under the law but under the grace”. If the latter statement is not interpreted keenly, it may infer that the modern Christian does not require rules and guidelines on how to run personal life. In addition, believing in such a statement would imply that the Holy Spirit is sufficient in guiding our daily lives as Christians. However, it is worth to mention that there is a marginal difference between rules and laws since both of the two terminologies culminate into legalism. According to the proponents of the aforementioned statement, Christians should not abide by any form of legalism. They add that it is important to be quite discriminate on what we read and interpret from the holy Bible.

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While such arguments may sound convincing at some point, it should not be misconstrued with the need of comprehending the concept of grace in modern times. Sincerely speaking, it is evident from the scriptures that the main purpose of the Holy Spirit is to give life while legalism does not offer any form of life. Therefore, since grace is the unmerited favor from God, it should be understood that His favor can only be accomplished in mankind through the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There has been growing trend of autopsy within Christianity due to misinterpretation of some Biblical verses that address legalism and grace. As a matter of fact, personal experiences should not be used to sideline the importance of grace in modern Christian life since mankind still requires favor from God in order to fulfill His divine purpose. According the gospel of Saint John, it is written that “test the spirits to see whether they be of God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). This explains the reason why we may not ignore the relevance of grace in the life of a Christian since the gospel and biblical doctrines have not changed. In the book of 2 Timothy 2: 15, God has a purpose for mankind in the sense that truth must always prevail when deliberating on the word of God.

It is perhaps important to consider the entire context of grace and whether we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the law. According apostle Paul in the book of Romans 6: 14, it is only through the existence of the Law of Moses that both early and modern Christians came to the realization of sin because the Biblical laws including the Ten Commandments acted as pointers on what was not supposed to be done. In the New Testament, the concept of grace was unveiled to mankind. Nonetheless, the New Testament teachings did not come to refute the Old Testament doctrines especially in regards to Godly grace. In any case, Christians need to have a thorough understanding of grace in the contemporary world because it appears as if the existence of grace and the mosaic laws are a contradiction. It is also worth to reiterate that man became aware of his sinful nature through the laws in the Bible. In the absence of these laws, it would have been impossible to please God because man would have gone his own ways. In the book of Romans 8:2, it is clear that “the law of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from that law of sin and death”. As a result, condemnation and judgment brought about by the law will no longer be a burden upon God’s chosen people because of grace. If the understanding of grace is done away with in modern christen life, then it would imply that the teachings of the New Testament are null and void. The New Testament teachings are largely laced with God’s forgiveness, love, redemption, mercy and unmerited favor that were not present during the Old Testament times.

The New Testament is also a fulfillment of the Old Testament since Christians are living a life full of liberation from the bondage of sins. Due to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, mankind received a new lease of spiritual life adorned with grace. The same grace has also made Christians to live fearless lives because they are assured of God’s protection all the time. Therefore, if these biblical facts are anything to go by, then the discussion and thorough understanding of spiritual grace is of utmost importance in the modern life of a Christian.

The graceful transformation of Christians in the New Testament era does not imply that the law is no longer vital. Needless to say, the Holy Spirit still enables Christians to follow all the guidelines and the Old Testament teachings because they are integral in shaping and building the spiritual wellness of a Christian believer. If the understanding of grace was done away with in the modern Christian life, then it would also be cumbersome for a Christian believer to follow all the Old Testament laws. As the Bible says, “all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

According to Bertram, the justification of faith has been a subject of great debate in the contemporary world that values the concept of grace. There are some theologians who argue that faith should not be justified or counted as an important parameter in the life of a Christian. There is seemingly a growing number of ‘affirmative chorus’ that faith and the New Testament may not be parallel to each other. Some Lutheran theologians including Paul Tillich and Ernst Troeltsch have had similar arguments although they slightly differ at some point. On the same note, a theologian like Krister Stendahl argued that faith was justified during the Old Testament times when there was sharp contrast between the Jews and Gentiles. He adds that apostle Paul may not be credited with the deeper implications of faith as depicted in the New Testament.

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When discourses on the aspect of faith are correlated with God’s grace, it is found out that faith and grace are indeed integral aspects in the life of a Christian believer. It does not matter whether faith was used as a cornerstone of separating Jews from Gentiles or not. In any case, discussion on grace would be meaningless without the inclusion of faith. Indeed, faith should be fully justified as both new and old treatment concept that has shaped the entire framework of grace.

The value of faith offers yet another reason why it is important to understand grace in the modern Christian world. The Bible states that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:16). This promise has been accounted for in the New Testament era when God’s grace has also been found to be sufficient for those who love him (2 Corinthians 12:9). If Christians decide to alienate the concept of grace from the mainstream teaching of the modern church, then it would also be spiritually impossible to connect the loving and forgiving nature of God as promised in his inspired word. Besides, grace is supernaturally interlinked with the mercies of God. According to the book of Lamentations 3:22-23, it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (King James Version). The two verses say it all. To begin with, the mercies of God are enshrined in His grace. This is the reason why Christians are not consumed or overwhelmed by the burden of sins brought that were about by understanding the Mosaic Law. God’s faithfulness has been depicted to be awesome and above all other sources of human faith. It is imperative to mention that faith has been asserted as a major toolkit that defines the relationship between man and God. Therefore, downsizing the strength of grace upon mankind is not justified at all. Modern Christians will hardly appreciate God’s mercies, compassion and love if they can’t experience His unending grace.

The Augustine’s confessions are perhaps an inherent piece of theological work that was ever written as an autobiography during the early centuries. Before Augustine was transformed to Christianity, he used to live a sinful life. The autobiography offers his in-depth personal confession and how he changed his lifestyle to the service of God. Only four of the books are commentary while the remaining nine books are written in form of autobiography. However, Augustine was very articulate in all the 13 books as he compassionately called upon for the name of God as his saving grace.

Although Augustine’s confessions were written way back before the 6th century, it is evident that they still serve a very important role up to date. For instance, the element of confession has been clearly brought out in the books. Augustine admits that he was once lost in sexual sin and that he is deeply saddened by his past life. In fact, his prayerful lines in the books are typical of the Psalms of David. Moreover, the Trinitarian belief is symbolic in the works of Augustine since the books have been sub-divided in a trinity form.

When tracing back the events of the New Testament times, it is evident that confession of sins was part and parcel of every Christian’s life. Additionally, God’s grace cannot be real if His forgiveness does not exist. In the same vein, modern day Christians also fashion their lives towards God through confessions especially when they are seeking to be forgiven. As already mentioned, “all have sinned and fell short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23, New International Version). Hence, it is only through the loving grace of God that our sins can be forgiven. If confessions are made before God, Christians are guaranteed of being forgiven and ready to start a new lease of life Augustine also believed in the Trinitarian form of God namely God the father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s unending grace has been compounded in the life of Christians through His son Jesus Christ who died for the redemption of man’s sinful nature. If Jesus Christ died for the sins of this world, then He definitely extended the loving grace of God. In any case, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16, King James Version). Moreover, the death of Jesus Christ at the cross was a clear indication that God’s grace is everlasting because Christ went to prepare a mansion for those who will inherit the heavenly kingdom.

To recap it all, it is vital to reiterate that the saving grace of God is meant to last until the second coming of Jesus Christ because the sinful nature of man still needs to be redeemed through confessions and consequent forgiveness from the Almighty God. If Christians desist from understanding and appreciating the relevance of grace in their lives, then even the death and most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ will be meaningless because grace during the New Testament times has been made more significant since the time when Christ defeated death even though He deserved to die.

References

Bertram, Robert. “Recent Lutheran Theologies on Justification by Faith: A Sampling.” In Justification by Faith: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue 7, edited by H.G. Anderson, T. A. Murphy and J. Burgess, 241-255. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985.

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Dulles, Anthony. “Justification in Contemporary Catholic Theology”. In Justification by Faith: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue 7, edited by H.G. Anderson, T. A. Murphy and J. Burgess, 256-277. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985.

Klein, Terrance. Backyard Grace. Chicago Studies 41, no. 3 (2002): 302-315.

McGrath, Alister. “The Doctrines of Human Nature, Sin and Grace.” In Christian Theology: An Introduction (4th ed.), 360-390. Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Ormerod, Neil. Grace and Disgrace: A Theology of Self Esteem, Society and History. Australia: E.J. Dwyer, 1992.

Ormerod, Neil. “Grace and the Supernatural.” In Creation, Grace and Redemption, 109- 31. Maryknoll New York: Orbis, 2007.

Pusey, Edward Bouverie. Confessions of Saint Augustine. New York: Mobile Reference, 2009.

Tavard, George. Justification: An Ecumenical Study. New York: Paulist Press, 1983.

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