The Heart of God’s Grace

The Heart of God’s Grace

I remember watching the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth as a teenager. Of course at the time I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the Bible or biblical things. I didn’t know that Hollywood took some liberties (for dramatic affect) with some of the biblical texts they made scenes from. Whatever liberties they took, I have discovered, were somewhat minor.

I rushed home every night to watch it. Obviously this was long before VCRs, DVRs, DVDs, etc. If you wanted to watch a show in 1977 you needed to be in front of the television when it was scheduled to come on. I was sitting right in front of the set when it came to Jesus of Nazareth. I thought (and still think) that of all the “Jesus’s” in Jesus movies that Robert Powell was the best Jesus. To me, he captured the essence of the Lord. But really, how can we ever know, right? To me the movie is still the best of them all.

In the scene below Jesus is trying to reason with the Pharisees. The discussion is about their adherence to the Law (the Torah) and why they love it so much. Jesus is trying to clue them in on the fact that God loves mankind, fallen people, and sinners far more than the dusty law. He was trying to educate them on God’s grace. Since he couldn’t convince them with his logic, he demonstrated the heart of God’s Grace in the scene.

Grace means that no matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, who you’ve been with; you matter to God. He loves YOU … period.

Some Christian people try to make the New Testament the “New Old Testament.” They get bogged down on law (rules, regulations, obedience, etc.) Of course grace does not mean that one can live in any way one wants. It does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and purposely live in a sinful way. But honestly, any person who has truly received God’s grace has no desire to live in rebellion. True believers desire to walk in faith and righteousness. They will have no need to be forced into obedience.

The Heart of God’s Grace | An Example from Matthew 11

Back in 1996 I was in a seminary class called The Work of the Pastor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The professor was Jim Shaddix. Dr. Shaddix opened the class by teaching us about how to grow in our relationship with Jesus. He noted that if we were to be effective pastors then we would need to learn from the Lord Himself. We needed to get in the yoke with Jesus and walk with Him daily. Dr. Shaddix based the lecture on Matthew 11:28-30.

If you read these verses you simply can’t help seeing the grace of God that is all over them and contained within them.

  • Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden ~ The weariness and weight came from trying to live up to the standards of a burdensome law
  • And I will give you rest ~ That’s the heart of the good news … Rest from the burdens of laws and religious standards. We are not saved through our efforts of righteousness but through God’s gift of grace once we express our faith in the Lord.
  • Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me ~ This is what Dr. Shaddix stressed for us in the lecture. Learning the love, compassion, and service of the Lord is to be our focus. Jesus loved everyone … with the heart of His Father’s grace.
  • For I am gentle and humble in heart ~ Does this sound like someone who is trying to force laws and standards on us?
  • For My yoke is easy and My burden is light ~ Jesus was sharing that living under God’s heart of grace is far easier and far less burdensome than trying to live up to religious standards. 

The Heart of God’s Grace | What People Need

It is my conviction that too often God’s people feel inadequate in their faith walk. Too many ask themselves, “Why can’t I live consistently in my walk with the Lord?” They have been told by too many pastors and teacher’s that they HAVE to live in a certain way in order to prove/demonstrate their faith. But I am convinced that faithful living is NOT demonstrated when we feel we HAVE to pray, witness, tithe, attend church, read our Bible and so on. I believe that a true believer will do those things because they want to. Their thinking is that “doing” righteous things is the least they can do. 
Heart of God's Grace
In Romans 7:13-25 Paul made it clear that he always wanted to serve the Lord faithfully; but didn’t. It is his “want” that we should focus on. Nowhere in the passage does he condemn Himself because he didn’t “do” acts of righteousness. He simply acknowledged the struggle of his desire to serve the Lord and his indwelling sin. He had a broken heart because of this struggle. He says in verse 17 that “It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” He acknowledges that even as a wretched man God still pours grace upon him. Read Romans 8:1 slowly and carefully, 

In my opinion God’s people need to remember the Heart of God’s Grace. They need to get in the yoke with Lord, learn from Him, and love all people as He did. Those that do this because they want to are in the right position. Those who try to do these things because they feel as though they have to are truly in a sad state.

Forced obedience is meaningless. Obedience out of a sense of desire is the result of God’s Heart of Grace. 

Tony Guthrie
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