Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | October 29, 2014

Grace: Not Future Hope, But Present Reality

As we read the New Testament, we come across a lot about grace. In fact, it’s fair to say that the entire theme of the New Testament IS grace; namely, the grace of God that is found in Christ.

I don’t think it’s by accident that out of the 21 epistles written to the church in the New Testament, sixteen of them start out with a greeting with a focus on grace, and end with a closing comment with a focus on grace! It’s repeated, almost verbatim, over and over and over. And an additional three epistles either start OR end with a focus on grace!

Now the question is this: For the believer, is this grace something that God will grant us if we pray enough, give enough, humble ourselves enough, repent enough, or in some other way work hard enough? Yes, I realize this sounds like an almost elementary and silly question, for the very definition of grace is “undeserved, unmerited favor.” To “earn” grace no longer makes “grace” grace. Yet if we read typical renderings of these passages from most any Bible, it’s easy for confusion to set in….. and to adopt the idea that grace is something that God is “going to give you” rather than grace being something that is already possessed as present reality. Stay with me on this…..

Here are samplings of various greetings from the epistles by various Bible translations:

“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:3, KJV)

“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:2, KJV)

“To the Saints and faithful brethren in Christ; grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 1:2, AKJV)

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1, AKJV)

“… Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Peter 1:2, NIV)

What stood out to me in the above greetings was the ample use of the phrase, ” grace be unto you.” When reading this, it makes it sound like grace is not necessarily a sure thing…..that it’s something that can be mine from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ at some point (perhaps if I pray for his grace hard enough or wait long enough for an outpouring of His grace), but not necessarily mine right now in the present.

This is no small matter. Unfortunately, because of a lack of solid New Covenant teaching within many institutional churches, there are many believers who indeed have adopted the mindset that grace is something to be given rather than something that has already been lavishly given to those who’ve embraced Jesus as Lord:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us in all wisdom and insight”. (Ephesians 1:3-8, emphasis mine)

Friends in Christ, grace is not something  to be given at some future point. Grace has already been given to us through our faith in Christ; it’s present reality to be embraced and walked in…right now! Christ died and is risen, and has glorified the Body of Christ by imparting His very life into the hearts of His people.

Later on in Ephesians, Paul expounds on this truth by saying to the church:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe….” (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Notice that Paul does not speak of the riches of the glory of His inheritance TO BE given to the saints…but speaks of “the riches of the glory of His inheritance IN THE SAINTS!”

In closing, I want to touch on the many “closing comments on grace” in the epistles. It’s really eye-opening to look at these passages from typical Bible translations and then compare them to Young’s Literal Translation. Young’s Literal Translation is unusual in that, as the name implies, it is a strictly literal translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The Preface to the Second Edition states:
If a translation gives a present tense when the original gives a past, or a past when it has a present; a perfect for a future, or a future for a perfect; an a for a the, or a the for an a; an imperative for a subjunctive, or a subjunctive for an imperative; a verb for a noun, or a noun for a verb, it is clear that verbal inspiration is as much overlooked as if it had no existence. THE WORD OF GOD IS MADE VOID BY THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.”

Below are passages that are at the very end of various New Testament epistles. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use the New International Version of these passages and compare them to Young’s Literal Translation, but understand that other popular translations (even the King James Version) are no different than the NIV in how they’re worded. The staggering difference is self-evident, and the enlightenment that comes from the literal translation is obvious:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Corinthians 16:23, NIV) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you.” (YLT)

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

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” (Galatians 6:18 NIV) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with your spirit, brethren! Amen.” (YLT)

“Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:18 NIV) “The grace is with you. Amen.” (YLT)

“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.” (2 Timothy 4:22 NIV) “The Lord Jesus Christ is with thy spirit; the grace is with you! Amen.” (YLT)

Grace is not a future hope, but a present reality.

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