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Youth Messenger Online Edition

Staying in Grace
Lesley Johnson

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Fifty years ago, high school life was—compared to today—simple and innocent. Students were disciplined for such things as talking or whispering in class, chewing gum, pushing in line, or perhaps saying an occasional vulgar word. One beautiful spring day, three friends committed the ultimate crime—skipping school. Never having done this before and thinking they would be caught, for them the day ended up lacking the enjoyment they had expected. Meanwhile, the school office, being concerned about the missing students, checked with their parents to see if maybe they were sick. Having been assured of their good health, both the principal and the parents prepared to welcome them on their return. That day these youth learned what it means to “fall from grace.” They also learned that grace is desirable but only maintained through obedience.

This was earthly grace; heavenly grace is so much more desirable and is, finally, the only kind that counts; it is the assurance of a continuing relationship with God.

Questions on grace

What is grace; from where does it come? How can a person obtain grace? Who is eligible to receive it? Are there conditions necessary to obtain grace? These are important questions that deserve answers.

There are two kinds of grace. One is the favor shown to us by God’s mercy when we, totally underserving, come to Him, for justication. This grace, however, is to be maintained by a continual walk with Christ. Such grace reflects God’s influence in our heart. It is real, it is heaven-sent, it is not tangible; it reaches into the very thoughts and feelings, and causes changes. Knowing this, how important it becomes to correct wrong thoughts!

“If the thoughts are wrong the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 310.

Grace, therefore, changes one’s character, which is the only thing that one can take with him or her to heaven. So, from where does grace come?

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Christ was “full of grace” (John 1: 14). In fact, there are many texts referring to grace as being “of God,” Hebrews 2:9; Acts 15: 11 for example. There is no other source mentioned as the originator of grace.

Obtaining grace

How does one go about obtaining this grace of God? The Bible tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Can one find grace? No. Grace has never disappeared; it cannot be found in the sense of finding lost eyeglasses, money, and so on.

There is a verse that gives the key to obtaining grace: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). In The Ministry of Healing, p. 122, we learn that “it is in these promises that Christ communicates to us His grace and power.” The thought is continued, “To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is His character” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 271). This is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and although grace is available to all, it is given only to those who claim God’s promises. Christ is the Word (John 1:1). When He speaks, it is done (Psalm 33:9). This type of grace then becomes a creative act performed within those who read and assimilate His word, the Bible.

The life of God in this gift of grace is available to “every human soul that will yield itself to the ministry of His grace. . . . It is the word of God that creates the flowers, and the same word will produce in you the graces of His Spirit” (Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 97).

Even since man first fell from grace, it has always been the same. “The conditions of eternal life, under grace, are just what they were in Eden—perfect righteousness, harmony with God, perfect conformity to the principles of His law. The standard of character presented in the Old Testament is the same that is presented in the New Testament. This standard is not one to which we cannot attain. In every command or injunction that God gives there is a promise, the most positive, underlying the command. God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace” (Ibid., p.76).

Consider these conditions—yielding, perfect righteousness, harmony with God, perfect conformity to the principles of His law. Here is where faith is shown to be absolutely essential as “we have access by faith into this grace” (Romans 5:2). And He will complete a “good work” begun in each of us (Philippians 1:6).

Only sinful human beings need grace

“God loves the sinless angels, who do His service and are obedient to all His commands; but He does not give them grace; they have never needed it, for they have never sinned” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 519). Grace is given when it is needed. “Our only claim to His mercy is our great need” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 161).

If we were to read the following statement every morning, we could avoid a lot of problems. (Actually, it would be good to read the entire chapter some Sabbath afternoon, since the chapter refers especially to the struggles of young people.) “I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10). Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacoblike, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus, in the garden, sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 158).

It is not a vague, nebulous goal; it is sure. This grace, of which we all are in dire need, is in the saving hands of God. He is the Author of grace and is eager to bestow it upon His obedient children—and abundantly. Without it, there is no salvation. See Acts 15:11 and Ephesians 2:8, 5.

Summary

1. Sanctifying grace is God’s influence in our heart and produces changes in our character, resulting in Christlikeness. True grace originates with God. See Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 310 and John 1:17.

2. All grace is obtained through the promises of God (The Ministry of Healing, p. 122) through the Word (Acts 14:3) and is a gift (Ephesians 3:7; 2:8).

3. Anyone is eligible to receive grace, but only those who do not frustrate His grace will receive it. (Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 76.)

4. One has access to grace by faith (Romans 5:2) and it will be given when needed (The Desire of Ages, p. 354). One must actively plead in prayer, in secret, wrestling with God. His grace will manifest itself in each person who does this.

As sin has come upon everyone, so grace is given to everyone who will choose for Christ. Do not be afraid to totally commit your life to Him. He will take the dross of our life which is all that we have to offer, and turn it into purest gold. Make a covenant with God now, that through personal character changes, glory and honor may be returned to Him.