Perhaps, A Different View of God’s GRACE?

BIBLE STUDY:  2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 2:8

QUOTE:  “Worship is our invitation to God to fill wherever we are with His presence and power–His grace.  When we worship, we draw close to Him.  And the closer we get to God the more of His grace we will access.”  Barry Johnson.

In my daily Bible reading this week in 2 Corinthians 12the Apostle Paul is found pleading with God three times to handle “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan,” sent to stop him from preaching the gospel.  The Lord’s response to Paul’s plea gave me goosebumps along with encouragement regarding my own “thorns in the flesh.”

Let me share with you with what Paul shared in a different Bible translation.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Living Bible)

[9]  Each time He said, “No.  But I am with you; that’s all you need.  My power shows up best in weak people.”  Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am.  I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power instead of showing off my own power and abilities.

If God’s GRACE is all Paul needed in dealing with the devil’s assignment to stop him, perhaps then, there’s more about GRACE that we need to know and understand.

In the New Testament, TWO WORDS define and capture the essence of what it means to be a CHRISTIAN–


We generally refer to GRACE as the “precious, unmerited favor of God.”  Even my study bible uses this definition.  And FAITH is often described as “believing and trusting in God to take care of us.”

In Scripture, GRACE & FAITH are inseparable–work together, for example in Ephesians 2:8 to bring about God’s FREE GIFT,  “For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith.  And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God”  [AMP].

  1. Our FAITH accessing God’s GRACE is how we are “born again.” 
  2. Our FAITH gives us access to God’s GRACE and we need to understand more clearly what happens when our FAITH touches that GRACE!

My narrow view of GRACE– my textbook answer of GRACE was simply “God’s unmerited favor.”  God had given me something I didn’t deserve.

GRACE was also the one thing that made me different from Old Testament believers.  I didn’t have to worry if I sinned–accidentally or on purpose–because I wasn’t under the Law.  I was now living under GRACE (Romans 6:14).

YES, my view of GRACE was narrow, self-serving.  If I sinned, I was under my Heavenly Father’s unmerited favor.  I knew He’d forgive me when I sinned (not “if” I sinned).  First John 1:9 told me what I needed to do when I sinned.  I was behaving as though God applied a different standard for being under GRACE than He did under the Law.

You know what?  The STANDARD never changed.

Under the Law, God demanded HOLINESS and OBEDIENCE.  And you are probably way ahead of me, here…God demands Christians today the same!

So, could our view of GRACE be off–just a little?

When we talk “churchly talk” about GRACE, we usually associate it with God’s “FEELINGS” for sinners and for error-prone and /or needy Christians.  We also associate GRACE with His willingness to FORGIVE.

But is that all there is to GRACE? 

If God’s Grace is only about His FEELINGS, there are certain verses in Scripture difficult to understand.  Take Luke 2:40–

[40]  And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the GRACE (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.  [AMP]

Did Jesus sin? NO!

Was Jesus error-prone?  NO!

Did Jesus need God’s forgiveness?  NO!

Now look at the words in Acts 10:38–

[38]  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  [NIV]

I saw similarities in these verses.  Whatever this GRACE is, it gives us access to the same ANOINTING and POWER that Jesus had when He was here on earth.

I’m now seeing GRACE through new “glasses”.

In Acts 4, the religious leaders forbid Peter and John to preach about Jesus.  When they went back to their own people and reported all that the religious leaders had said to them, notice the response:  “they raised their voices together in prayer to God”.  You can read more about this in verses 24-30.

Now look at verse 33–

VERSE 33 connects “great power” with “abundant (great) grace”.

Could it be that GRACE is more than we’ve imagined–more than God’s “unmerited favor”?

Is it possible that GRACE is a spiritual force–A POWER–released by God into our lives to help us accomplish His will?

After much study and meditating on God’s Word for answers, I’ve come to believe the answer to both questions is “YES!”

The 20th Century New Testament renders “abundant grace” as “divine help”.

It presents an image that gives more insight into the real nature of God’s GRACE.

God’s Word found in the Scriptures, the portrayal of God’s GRACE is much broader than simply God’s “unmerited favor”.

For example:

  • Acts 11:23, Barnabas saw the grace of God in the believers at Antioch.
  • Acts 13:43, Paul and Barnabas persuaded the Jews and religious proselytes to continue in the grace of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 says God is able to make all grace abound toward us.
  • In Galatians 2:9, James, Cephas and John perceive the grace that was given to Paul.
  • Ephesians 1:7 says we are redeemed through the blood of Jesus according to the riches of His grace.
  • 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul tells Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • James 4:16 says it’s possible for God to give more grace.

God has given us His GRACE “to HELP in the time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

To limit its definition to “unmerited favor” is to limit God’s POWER in our lives.

GRACE is POWER to us and in us!

If we are to truly walk in the same POWER, the anointing and authority as Jesus, we must re-think and alter our understanding of GRACE.

GRACE contains all our Heavenly Father has to offer us.

GRACE IS A SPIRITUAL FORCE and functions like a channel from God to us.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the morning after walking our dog is to make a pot of coffee.  After putting in the right number of scoops of coffee, pouring in the right amount of water, push a button, the power comes on and the coffee-making process begins.


Our home receives electricity from a channel that connects it with the source of the power–the utility company.  The utility company provides the power; but I determine how it’s used, how much is used and whether or not it’s used.  Not only that, I can use the power for other things, like turning on the lights, using my computer to publish my blogs, etc…  And the POWER from the utility company is flowing whether I use it or not.

GOD’S GRACE is like the channel or conduit that connects our homes with the utility company.

EVERYTHING the Father has made available to us flows to us through His GRACE.  Everything!

And like using electricity, we’re responsible for accessing God’s GRACE and activating it in our lives.

Looking again at Ephesians 2 –

In verse 5, Paul says we’ve been made ALIVE along with Christ:  “Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation)”  [AMP].

“By GRACE” describes the POWER used to make us alive. 

And because of GRACE–the POWER that raised Jesus from the dead–says we sit together with Christ in heavenly places  (verse 6).

Because of GRACE–God will show us the exceeding riches (immeasurable–Amplified Bible) of His Grace in this life and in the next life (verse 7).

GRACE has “immeasurable riches” really stuck out to me.

That brings us to VERSE 8 –

The word “SAVED” is “SOZO” in the Greek language–“material, temporal, and spiritual deliverance from sin and its effects and power.” [See footnote [i].]

This is what God has done for you and me through the POWER OF GRACE!

“SOZO” is the GIFT of God’s GRACE and our FAITH putting is in the position to receive it.  We must learn to tap into God’s Grace so that we can live the fullness of our SALVATION.

Learning to “stretch” our FAITH to access more and more of God’s Grace.


One way to access more of God’s Grace in our everyday lives is through spending time in His Word–our Bibles.

In Acts 20:32,  “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (NIV Bible).

I love the words in Jeremiah 15:16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.”

Another way to tap into more of God’s Grace is through WORSHIP –

John 4:24, Jesus says “God is Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” (AMP)

WORSHIP becomes an invitation to God to fill us wherever we are with His presence and power–HIS GRACE.

When we worship, we draw closer to Him–or should draw closer.  And the closer we get to God, the more of His GRACE will become accessible.

“More is better!” as the child in the TV commercial explains.

A third way we can tap into more of God’s Grace is through our FAITH –

Romans 5:2 says we can tap into God’s GRACE through our FAITH.  

And in 1 Timothy 1:14, Paul tells the young pastor, Timothy that the Lord’s grace was “superabundantly and beyond measure with faith”.

I don’t know about you, but I want “more”, because “more is better” in my life when it comes to God’s Grace.

As our FAITH increases and accesses MORE of God’s GRACE, we increase His ability to work in our lives to BLESS not only His people but those who are lost.

Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed and consecrated Jesus [put your name in here] with the [Holy] Spirit and with the strength and ability and power; how He went from doing good and in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.”  (AMP)

Perhaps now, with a better understanding of the GRACE OF GOD, shouldn’t this be the heartbeat of our hearts?



Footnote [i]:  Strong’s #4982: “zozo” – Greek/Hebrew Definitions – Bible Tools.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); and other translations as noted in the text.

“MASQUERADE” – Removing the Masks of Religion!


[3] “[The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols.]  He who kills an ox [then] will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense [to God], as if he blessed an idol.  [Such people] have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;  [4] So I also will choose their delusions and mockings, and I will bring their fears upon them–because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey.  But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight”  (Isaiah 66:3-4 AMP).

Well, after a month and a half, and my last three posted blogs, I find myself in the last chapter of Isaiah.  You might be asking yourself, as I found myself asking,  ‘Why these particular verses of the last chapter?  The Religious Ways of Man?’



FIRST of all, the focus is NOT on HUMILITY, or even definitions of WORSHIP, but more about “the WHY’s” of our worship; why we do the things we do.

Often over the years, I have wondered why Christian denominations practice their rituals of worship without any Biblical understanding.  Christmas Advent Candles, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Church fasting, and Communion…on the first Sunday of every month, are just some examples.

Now I’m not saying that these religious events are out-of-order in the Church, but has religion and religious acts, for the sake of ‘just doing it because of tradition become hateful and distasteful to God?  There becomes a ‘honor with lips, but the heart holds up’ (Mark 7:6) that shows up in our private and corporate ways of worship.  Now that I got that off my chest…that’s where I want to begin.

Hypocrisy is Rebuked – Isaiah 66, verse 3.

The language seems specifically chosen for the purpose of offending religion in that day, even in our day.  Strange comparisons in verse 3 indicate people’s religious sacrifices and offerings were but an external ritual.


Lets start out with Stephen D. Renn’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts:  The Old Testament word for Hypocrisy, Hypocrite in the Hebrew Language is haneph [Strong, 2611]. 

The noun occurs thirteen times and refers to people who are “profane,” “godless,” or “hypocritical” (cf.  Job 8:13; 17:8; 36:13; Prov. 11:9; Isaiah 9:17; 33:14). 

In Isaiah 66, the term is used by the Amplified translators use of Brackets [  ]; contain justified clarifying words or comments not actually expressed in the immediate original text, as well as definitions of Hebrew and Greek names.  This idea was intended to achieve the greatest possible clarity and understanding in their reading of the text.  The Amplified Bible is what I choose to read and study for this Blog.  I am NOT necessarily endorsing the translation as the only accurate translation, just my personal choice.

The New Testament word is hypokrisis [Strong 5272, 5273].  In the Greek text, the term refers to the practice of dissimulation or hypocrisy, with the Pharisees being the target of Christ’s public condemnation during His earthly ministry; hypokrisis occurs seven times and is translated “hypocrisy” in all but one text, James 5:12, where it is translated as “condemnation.”  It is also found in Matt. 23:28; Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1; Gal. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 2:1.

In Mark 7:6-7, JESUS is speaking to the “religious leaders” of His day:

“[6] Excellently and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written:

These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from me.

[7]  In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines commandments and precepts of men.”

The Strange Comparisons of Isaiah 66:3–

The words Isaiah uses, indicates the peoples religious sacrifices and offerings of that day were but an external ritual; a tradition of religion.  Their proud sacrifices were but external compliance to man.  In their hearts…they still served themselves.

Since there was no change in heart [“heart condition”], their tithes and offerings had become an abomination to God, as murder was and perverted as offering unclean animals (Lev. 11:7).  In reality, they were going do it their way (Isaiah 53:6; 65:12), rather than the Lord’s way.  Frank Sinatra would have been proud!

What God Desires–The Lord’s Way.

God tells us, in Hosea 6:6, what He desires:

“For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.”

Anything, and I mean “anything” we give to God, not accompanied by a heart of mercy and obedience isn’t acceptable.  Our society that we live in and work in, urges us to be assertive; follow our urges and fulfill our desires.

Don’t let your freedom and right to choose lead you away from God’s pathway of eternal life.  God looks for a heartfelt obedience      (2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Samuel 16:7).

Why God Despises Their Worship–

“So I will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them–because when I (God) called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey.  But they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight”  (Isaiah 66:4).

Their refusal, in responding to God’s call to come and listen to Him, brought about harsh judgement in the last four lines of verse 4.  It is almost identical to Isaiah 65:12 based on people’s choices.

People in Israel (the congregation), professed to know the Lord in their doings.  But actually, their doings, their play-acting— were evil because they did not choose God’s way.  And since they have chosen their way, God will choose their punishments; they will become victims of nameless fears which haunt their subconscious minds.


Taking the Holy Spirit’s Lead–

“Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word:  Your brethren who hate you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, have said, Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!  But it is they who shall be put to shame.  [6] [Hark!]  An uproar from the city!  A voice from the temple!  The voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to His enemies!  (Isaiah 66:5-6 AMP).

The Holy Spirit will lead you in worship.

He will put aside the masks of power, position, pride from your heart in order to humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.  Resist manipulation in the temptation to use your power, position of authority and pride to manipulate people to your advantage.

The apostle Peter wrote, 

“Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you”  (1 Peter 5:6 AMP).

Ask the Lord to help you put aside your dependence on your power, position or pride; enabling you in the best of ways.



1.  The Mask of “Legalism”–

The Holy Spirit sends discouragements to those who try to hide behind the “Mask of Legalism”.  Paul wrote to the church at Colossae:

“If then you have died with Christ to material things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world?”  (Colossians 2:20).

“If then you have been raised with Christ, aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  [2] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, not on the things that are on the earth”  (Colossians 3:1, 2 AMP). 

2.  The Masks of “Super Spirituality”–

YES, the Holy Spirit takes us to task with this “chameleon” camouflage we put on at times.  JESUS said to the super-religious of His day,  “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God”  (Luke 16:15).

* Ask the Lord to teach you how to be more responsive to His correction when you lean towards Pharisaic spirituality.

3.  The Hiding Behind “Frantic Activity” Mask–

Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia addresses the congregation on this very issue, saying to them,  “know that man is not justified by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  [17] If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?  Absolutely not!”  (Galatians 2:16-17 NIV).

* Ask Holy Spirit to find your satisfaction by obeying the will of God, instead of trying to impress people with your church related activities.

4.  The Popularity Mask–

JESUS said,  “Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets”  (Luke 6:26 AMP).

* Ask the Lord to help you from hiding behind the “Mask of Popularity”, choosing instead… the of pleasing God, regardless of whether or not it pleases people.

5.  The Holy Spirit Counsels Church Leaders In Hiding Behind the Mask of “Super-Rationalism”–

Paul wrote to the Assembly of Corinth:

“And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],  So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God”  (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 AMP).

* Ask the Lord to help you rely more on the Holy Spirit’s empowering rather than human wisdom.

Josh McDowell and Don Stewart write:

“Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted

throughout history or are we acting today.  Christianity stands or falls

on the person of Jesus and Jesus was not a hypocrite. 

He lived consistently with what He taught, and at the end of His life

He challenged those who had lived with Him night and day,

for over three years, to point out any hypocrisy in Him.

His disciples were silent, because there was none.

Since Christianity depends on Jesus, it is incorrect to try

to invalidate the Christian faith by pointing to horrible things done

in the name of Christianity.”

(Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions

Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith ~ Here’s Life Publishers 1980) pg. 128.

THE CHURCH IS A WORK IN PROGRESS– (and so are its members):

Like a cathedral, it may take decades or centuries to complete.  The process is long and difficult at times but someday…it will be complete, standing as a testimony to the power of Christ that will transform lives for the better.

Until the Church and all the followers of JESUS are glorified there will be, unfortunately, hypocrites in the Church.  That doesn’t negate Christianity or the claims of Christ.

A Fitting CLIMAX to the Book of Isaiah–(Isaiah 66:6):

” [HARK!]  An uproar from the city!  A voice from the temple!  The voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to His enemies.”

The disgrace of the proud and the JOY of the faithful is announced from the Church.  The thought that God Almighty will lift up the humble and judge the wicked is a fitting climax to the Book.

The hope of God’s people, not in the externals of religion (the “masquerade”), but in repentance and faith (the removal of the “MASKS”) and the power of God to enable us to live truly righteous lives.

Faith and power comes from the listening to and obeying God’s Word (Romans 10:17-18).  Even in the climax-ending to The Phantom of The Opera, the Phantom’s mask is gone; removed to reveal all his external flaws, his ugliness.  But Faith removes the mask and unlike the Phantom, reveals the beauty of Christ Jesus in who we want to be.

The Phantom’s Mask
The Mask Removed

Note: Photos from The Phantom Of The Opera was provided by ALL MOVIE