I didn’t deserve it, but I have a God who paid a price so I could live eternally with Him. He placed me in Him and gave me a new life now. This new life comes with a clean conscience. I no longer have to live with guilt or heaviness of shame for my past failures.
I didn’t deserve it, but I have a God who gives me power to speak about His power actively working in me and my life now. And, I have a God who generously lavished me with gifts to help me and others know Him in a deeper way.
This God is Jesus Christ. He provides the same for you and others: 1) eternal life with a new life now, complete with a clean conscience and no guilt or shame for your past failures, 2) a way to speak with power about His power at work in you, and 3) He lavishes you with gifts to help you and those around you know Him better.
Let’s look at what the Bible calls, God’s graces.
The first mention of grace is Genesis 6:8, Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord.
Wikipedia defines grace: “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.”
God meets us at our point of need in the person of Jesus Christ (with more than unmerited favor).
Things to know about great grace:
- You receive grace as a gift
- You cannot earn great grace, and it expects nothing in return.
- GRACE (God’s Riches at Christ’ Expense) gives eternal life with the Lord.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (–John 1:16)
For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving. (–Ephesians 2:8-9 TPT)
Since, we are studying The Acts of the Apostles, let’s take a look at the different graces mentioned in Acts: The word, grace, is mentioned eight times in The Acts of the Apostles. Grace, grace gifts, and great grace are actively working throughout the book.
With no distinctions for baptisms, the disciples preached grace, while baptizing Jews and Non-Jews. Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior qualified each to live and walk in God’s graces. The disciples persistently ministered grace from their grace gifts and with great grace. They shared Jesus to all who repented, believed, and called on His Name. They taught living in a relationship with Jesus isn’t burdensome. It is a life of grace.
- Assigns and Appoints Grace for Salvation (Eternal Life) with No Distinctions.
- Assigns Areas of Influence with Great Grace
- Appoints Christians with Spiritual Graces (Gifts).
- Activates Grace to Abstain from Burdensome Thinking and Living.
God Assigns and Appoints Grace for Salvation (Eternal Life) with No Distinctions
In Acts 11, Peter shared his vision with the Jews. The Holy Spirit had spoken in a vision to, “Make no distinctions.” He also shared the incident of preaching to Gentiles as they heard the Word. “God gave the same gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Jewish believers recognized they must accept God is the God of salvation for all people who repent and believe Jesus is the Christ. He would save the Gentiles on equal terms.
Make no distinction: We visited Israel in 2019 and celebrated Sabbath (Shabbat) with the Jewish community. Sabbath, a Jewish holy day to be still, reflect, and celebrate God, starts on Friday evenings at sundown. Young and old, children and adults, men and women, military and civilians, light to dark-skinned people celebrate at the Western Wall of the Temple ruins as a public event.
No distinctions are found in who may celebrate Sabbath. As a nation, Jews haven’t recognized Jesus as Messiah (Savior). They continue to celebrate Shabbat as they have for thousands of years. Messianic Jews are Jews who have accepted Jesus as Messiah (Savior). Christians celebrate the same God. We have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and the way to the Father.
Jesus isn’t one race’s God. Let’s come together as a nation and people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and each search our hearts daily to live in Him, while loving others.
So, God Assigns and Appoints Grace for Salvation (Eternal Life) with No Distinctions.
In Acts 13, God Appoints Grace for Eternal Life: Believers were praying, worshiping, and fasting when they heard the Holy Spirit say to separate Barnabas and Paul. They laid hands on and sent them out to minister. Paul and Barnabas went to Jewish brothers and confronted a false prophet, telling him, he was of the devil and would suffer blindness for a time. Astonished when the event happened, the Jewish leaders witnessed the Word of the Lord as truth.
Paul shared a message about Jesus and declared the Lord’s command for him to go to the Gentiles with a message of Grace:
I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth. (–Acts 13:47)
Paul went to Gentiles.
When Gentiles heard this Word, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. The Word of God spread throughout the whole region, but some didn’t receive those sent and drove them out of the city. The disciples left the city, shook the dust, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (–Acts 13:48-52)
Appointed comes from the word tasso, a military term meaning, to place in order or arrange. So, God Assigns and Appoints Salvation for all who believe in His Name: life in and with Him and He within us for Eternity!
In Antioch (Gentile church), the disciples were first called Christians. –Acts 11:26.
Christian means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or “little christs.” Christ-ians acting like Christ (little christs). Are you a Christian and act like Christ?
Christians in Antioch sent financial relief to church in Judea via Barnabas and Paul. They acted like Christ and their message became, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.”
The Early Church comprised of Hebraic Jews natives of Israel; Hellenistic Jews, Greek speaking and Greek influenced living in Gentile nations; God-fearing Gentiles who converted to Judaism, but not circumcised. They differed in language and Temple Worship, but grace was the common ground for salvation.
Jesus said in John 14:2,18: “My Father’s house has many dwelling places. If it were otherwise, I would tell you plainly, because I go to prepare a place for you to rest. 18 “I promise that I will never leave you helpless or abandon you as orphans—I will come back to you!
A rabbi in Israel teaches the concept of Beit Aviv, which means, “house of the father.” When a family took in strangers or grew in number of descendants, they added onto their AV (house). Prior to the Cross, Jesus indicated the Father’s house was constructed of one room reserved for His Son. When Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you,” He wasn’t referring to preparing a place for you in heaven constructed of wood, nails, and stone. “I go to prepare a place for you,” signified, Jesus Christ constructed rooms in the Beit AV (the Father’s house) with the nails driven into His hands and feet for new sons and daughters to dwell.
Adoption means, “placed.”
Our oldest daughter, son-in-love, and their one-year-old son, adopted three siblings. At first, the oldest of the adopted children refused to take their last name saying, “We will always have our last name.” Our daughter and son-in-love didn’t push the issue, but allowed the children to make the decision.
When adopted, the oldest one was the first to say, “Yes, I have a new name.” The judge pounded the gavel and said, “You now have new name and it is as if you were birthed by your adoptive parents.” The birth certificates read as if our daughter birthed each child on his and her birth dates.
You are now in Christ. There are no orphans in Father’s house. Jesus prepared a place for each of us in the Father where no one else can fill or live. Only you or I can fill the place Jesus prepared for us in the Father.
Once you are placed in the Father, also known as the Body of Christ, He lavishes with more gifts, called spiritual gifts. You may identify and step into the gifts the Lord graced you with for building His Church and excelling your personal growth in Christ.
When did Jesus place you in the Father?
God Assigns Areas of Influence with Great Grace
Grace is needed to live daily. Grace may show as opportunities to influence others in faith! Great Grace is needed when the Lord gives us areas of influence to edify and strengthen the church. Or, He gives us a farther reach and broader audience than expected.
Paul and Barnabas carried great grace for the areas of influence God assigned them. They traveled on their first missionary journey to the Gentiles in Antioch. And, ended with three missionary journeys.
Barnabas was sent to Antioch. Full of Holy Spirit and faith, he led great numbers of Jews to Jesus. Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch for one-year teaching. God assigns us areas of influence.
Boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us. Our hope is for our faith to increase and our area of influence and grace among you be greatly enlarged. (–2 Corinthians 10:13-15)
They had everything in common. And with great power (dunamis – energy, great force, and ability) the apostles were giving (speaking) their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace (refers to speaking with great power about the power of God at work in you) was upon them all. (–Acts 4:33)
My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (–1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
When he (Barnabas) came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them all to remain faithful with steadfast purpose. –Acts 11:23.
Grace here is great grace. So, Barnabas encouraged Believers by speaking with great power about the power of God at work in them.
A Vision of Acts
A 2020 Vision of Acts: Empowerment to Speak Things Seen and Heard by His Spirit (in These Decades of Difference). And with great power, you will speak things seen and heard by His Spirit and great grace (speak with great power about the power of God at work in you) will rest upon you.
Click below for more information about how God can speak into your life this decade!
What could you say about how God is at work in you?
God Activates Grace to Abstain from Burdensome Thinking and Living.
What have you had to re-learn or change your thinking as a Christian?
The great Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation and professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, struggled within his mind concerning sin, guilt of sin, and fear of never finding a relationship with God. One night, while alone, he read Romans 1:17, “the just shall live by faith.”
The Holy Spirit illuminated those words to the darkness of his heart and mind. The shining light of “Grace” broke through the despair of his struggles in his mind. He remained so true to the message of Grace, he marched up to the castle church in Wittenberg and nailed the words on the door of the church. This incident lit a torch and divided the Catholic and Protestant churches. He condemned one denomination for asking for payment for the forgiveness of sins. His salvation only by faith in God alone and not “good works” message shook the Church at large.
Abstain from the Burden of Thinking your Good Works form a Relationship with God.
“I’m a good person” isn’t the way to God. Jesus said He is the way to the Father. The church had to re-learn “salvation by faith alone.”
Grace is needed in times of uncertainties when circumstances or teachings say one thing and the Lord is emphasizing a different direction or understanding. Or, you may have learned something, but need to relearn or change your thinking on an issue, even a tradition or teaching where you once thought you would never change your mind.
We are set on theological doctrine, but some interpretations of scripture may change. We learn new insight and new revelation as His Spirit teaches us over time.
Related: Learn about the Book of Acts Bible study here!
Some interpretations of scripture or methods may change, but our foundational doctrines remain non-negotiable and essential to Christianity:
- The Deity of Christ.
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God (One interpretation with multiple applications).
- God is Triune: He exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- God is Our heavenly Father, who loves His people.
- Salvation is by grace and faith in Jesus Christ and He is the security for the Believer.
- Jesus Christ shed His blood, died, was buried, and rose from the grave for the sin of the world.
- The Holy Spirit unites the Spirit of Christ with the spirit of a Believer. He gives power to live as a Christian.
Some Teaching on Scripture may Differ: Methods of baptism, spiritual gifts, end times, worship styles, women and men leadership positions in the Church, clothing and attire, and church services are all our own preferences. Maturity is accepting each other’s differences in methods, and to extend grace to them.
Abstain from the Burden of Thinking your Good Works form a Relationship with God.
So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (–Ephesians 2:7-9)
Abstain from Burdensome Living: In Acts 15, men were teaching and adding laws to the Gospel of Grace. Peter (Jewish) had experienced God’s Grace. His statement, “They come to Jesus Christ the same as we do, so make no great burdens” was epic. Paul and Barnabas were sent to the church in Jerusalem to meet with apostles and elders and reach decisions about the things they attempted to add.”
Peter repeated: “They are saved just as we are. No distinction should be made as to whom the Holy Spirit loves and saves. Placing a yoke of law on people is unbearable for all. We shouldn’t make it difficult (annoy or irritate) Gentiles with the burdens of keeping the law.”
The men drafted a letter to send stating burdensome things to abstain from and are as follows. Abstain from:
- anything sacrificed to idols.
- any strangled animal.
- sexual immorality.
Paul and Barnabas delivered the letter and it encouraged the brothers. Judas and Silas, who were prophets, encouraged and strengthened brothers and were sent off in peace. Paul and Barnabas and others remained in Antioch teaching and preaching.
Have others attempted to add burdensome living to God’s grace for you?
In Acts 16, Paul took Timothy and they strengthened churches in faith as the churches grew in number daily. While traveling they landed in Philippi. Expecting to visit a prayer meeting, they led a woman named Lydia to Jesus and baptized her and family.
Paul, Timothy and Silas stayed at her house. They also delivered a slave girl from a spirit of divination (fortune-telling). The slave girl’s owners only saw hopes of money diminishing. So, they abducted Paul and Silas, beat them, put them in prison, and bound their feet. The owners were enslaved to money.
Allow Jesus to set your slavery to works mentality free. God activates grace to live without burdensome thinking and living.
Around 12 A.M. Paul and Silas prayed and sang to God, while prisoners listened. An earthquake shook the prison to open the doors and loosen chains.
A jailer called for lights to locate the prisoners. He found Paul and Silas still in the cell. He and his family believed in Jesus and were baptized.
At daylight, the magistrate attempted to quietly send Paul and Silas away, but Paul revealed their Roman citizenship demanding he apologize publicly. The magistrate did the right thing. He apologized and created peace.
Grace helps us do the right thing, even when it seems difficult, cost time, money or reputation. They left the city peacefully.
Allow Jesus to set your thinking and mulling over circumstances free. Worries are burdens that strangle the peace of God from our lives. God activates grace to think on truth, such as Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (–Philippians 4:8)
Abstain from Thinking Good Works forms a Relationship with God.
Abstain from Burdensome Thinking and Living.
I didn’t deserve it, but Jesus placed me in the Father. Jesus helps me live in a relationship with the Fathers and helps me think and live as a Christian. All by His grace. Graces Change Everything! And, God’s graces changed everything for me!
Next: The Lord graces us with more gifts. After Jesus places a Believer in the Father, He lavishes each Christian with gifts called, spiritual graces or gifts. Be ready to determine your spiritual gifts to propel your growth in Christ and propel others to live new and grow deeper in Jesus.