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OTHER VOICES: Keith Hodges


A dear friend, Joyce (widow of one of my early teachers, Jim Massey), recently referred me to this blog by one of Jim’s students, Keith Hodges. I have only read one of his offerings, but if this is a fair sample I will want to be back for more!

Here it is, or you can see it in its native habitat at http://www.keithshodges.com/.

JESUS – THE PERSONIFICATION OF GRACE

Posted on May 24, 2010 by admin

If you are learning to truly love Jesus, it’s because you’ve come to know Him and (to some extent) understand some things about Him. Likewise, those who understand grace appreciate it deeply. But did you ever think about Jesus and the principle of grace being practically synonymous?
Somewhere along the way in my personal study of these two Biblical subjects, I made an amazing discovery. I’m sure I’m not the first one to discover this. But like all discoveries you make on your own, it has become very personal and very important to me.

Though one is a (divine) person and the other is a principle, the two enjoy an unusually symbiotic relationship, practically synonymous in many ways. In other words, Jesus is thepersonification of grace!

“From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16, 17)

This is not to say that the principle of grace did not exist or was not understood at all before Jesus lived on the earth. The word “grace” (sometimes translated “favor” or “mercy”) occurs throughout the Old Testament, reflecting the gracious nature of God. But I’m convinced that its more frequent occurrence and teaching about it, especially by the Apostle Paul, exploded onto the pages of the New Testament for one reason – the very One who embodied the grace principle became flesh and lived among us!

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2nd Corinthians 13:14)

This is one of those few places in Scripture where we see all three members of the so-called “Trinity” mentioned together and somewhat explained. Please notice that Paul assigns to each “person” (divine being, entity) within the “Godhead” what most would consider their strongest characteristic. God the Father is identified throughout Scripture, more than any other way, as the very essence of love. The Holy Spirit enjoys a unique relationship of fellowship with the church collectively, and with each obedient child of God individually. But when we look to that outstanding characteristic ascribed to Jesus … it is grace!

Here’s the famous acronym that burst upon the scene a few decades ago:

God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense

For a manmade teaching tool, this acronym is unusually accurate in the Biblical sense. Grace becomes much easier to understand when you see it in light of the life and sacrifice of Jesus. In fact, take this challenge: as you read through your New Testament, when you see the word “grace” in the text, substitute the names “Christ” or “Jesus,” and notice how many times the sentence still makes perfect sense!

The Apostle Paul told his young preacher protégé Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2nd Timothy 2:1). That has two possible meanings, both of which are good! The first is for the young preacher to draw personal strength and encouragement from God’s grace. The second is that Paul is urging Timothy to stress grace as one of the main emphases of his preaching and teaching. And what were the two main things Paul stressed in his letters to Timothy and Titus? Christ and grace!

Finally, have you considered that your own spiritual growth is inexorably tied to both (a) your personal knowledge of and relationship with Jesus, and (b) your understanding and living by grace?

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2nd Peter 3:18)

Everything you can ever know about Jesus screams “grace!” Everything you can ever know about grace screams out “Jesus!” He was, is and forever shall be the personification of grace. Amen!

Love, Keith

PS – I appreciate the loyalty of you who return to read the new articles I post each Monday. Please consider sharing this web site address with friends and family you think would be helped or encouraged by these articles and discussion.

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