How You Get Grace According To Religion

In the previous post I shared about religion’s definition of grace – unmerited favor, getting what you don’t deserve, and religion’s acronym “God’ Riches At Christ’s Expense”.

If grace is unmerited favor, if grace is something you don’t deserve – then that implies God is not real happy with you.

Have you ever considered that heathen religions were continually dealing with unhappy gods? Over the centuries they appeased their gods through sacrifices. Hmm, looks like there is a common thread with heathen religions and religious Christianity!

Thus, ‘do’ things/sacrifices to get on God’s good side and receive His favor.

Religion's Grace Has Strings_Nancy Teague_GrowingInFullness.com


Traditional Religious steps (strings) on getting grace

• Acknowledge you are a sinner – that is who you are and  who you will always be
• Repent of your sins – i.e. be sorry for them, really sorry
• Let the tears flow – they add more sincerity and genuineness to your repentance – they especially mean that to those helping you and watching you ‘get grace’
• Ask God to forgive you – that is the only way to be reconciled with Him and for Him to welcome you into His presence
• Ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord

Am I saying if you did these things above then they didn’t count for your ‘salvation’? Nope. But those things have nothing to do with your salvation. When I get to describing true grace, you will see that.

To continue receiving and enjoying His grace/favor religion says you should

• Continue to repent of any sins
• Obey His commandments
• Guard your heart and keep it clean
• Give grace to others if you expect to get any more favor from God
• Read the Bible, memorize scripture, pray, go to church, worship, be in fellowship

THE KICKER

What these traditional religious steps imply about God and You

• A conditional God
• A God of expectations and demands
• A God who is never satisfied with you
• His grace is never secure since it has requirements
• You will never be worthy since you always have to do something for God in order to get something from God
• Anytime you think you are experiencing His grace there will always be the conscious or subconscious understanding that you are not worthy of such favor
• There is really no rest in God because there is always something you have to do since you are just a sinner and always in need of forgiveness
• Hence be on your guard – He is watching you

My goodness, how could you ever draw close to God, let alone stay there?!!!

Religion preaches that grace is a gift and uses the scripture “we are saved by grace, and not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8 ) But, reflecting upon how you get grace according to religious teaching and considering their implications about God – grace is not a gift at all – there are strings attached.

Dig In
• Man’s grace has strings attached. God’s true grace has no strings attached. e.g. Were there strings attached to the prodigal son’s big shindig? Were there strings attached to the elder son’s invitation to join in on his brother’s ‘undeserved’ party? (Lk 15:22-24, 28)
• Religion is such a ‘downer’. Jesus came to show us how ‘up’ we really are. He made the ‘up’ all possible before time began (2Tim 1:9,10 Rev 13:8) and has freely given it to us all. (Lk 12:32 2Cor 5:19)
• Have you ever noticed that none of Paul’s letters tell you to ask for God’s forgiveness? Have you noticed that Paul never did repent of His sins, ask God to forgive Him, and ask Jesus to be His Savior? Remember, Paul got free from all the religious requirements he was taught and lived by because he received a revelation of true grace. (Gal 1:12)

P.S. Next post will discuss when/where do you get grace and why do you need grace – according to religion.

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14 responses to “How You Get Grace According To Religion

  1. A virtual friend has been asking to write a post on how amazing is grace. I have been reading the scriptures a lot since then, what shocked me is how much I did not know. Reading this I realize there was even more I did not know. Grace is much more amazing than I thought.

    • Thanks for your comments. You will stir many by them.
      I agree – it is shocking to realize how little we understand true grace! The secret to discovering its beauty is only found in Jesus. But religion gets stuck with Jesus on the cross. With that shortsightedness religion is left with guilt, fear, and works. Of which grace has nothing to do! So excited for you and the grace-filled journey the Lord has you on. You will be free indeed as you grow true grace. Bliss

  2. Since the definition of grace being “unmerited favor” is NOT from Scripture, then that might mean that I do deserve God’s favor. And that He is happy with me…that will bear some explaining!

    • Janet – right on, right on! Indeed “unmerited favor” is not in the Bible. It’s those little rascally man-made religious phrases that have messed us up in really knowing God and ourselves. You got it right – you do deserve God’s favor because you are made in His image. He doesn’t make junk to reflect Himself. God is happy with Himself and He is happy with you and all of mankind. Of course, that bears some pondering for all religious folk. 😉

  3. I like what Graham Cooke said one time, “If grace is unmerited favor, then Jesus never had any.” Yet, Jesus came full of grace and truth.

    • Thanks Mel, for commenting. Need some help though. I am having trouble connecting your statement with Graham’s. Seems to me Graham is saying that grace is actually not unmerited favor. Thus I could do the inverse of his quote and say “if grace is NOT unmerited favor, then Jesus had lots of grace”. This would then confirm the scripture you shared that ‘Jesus was full of grace and truth’. But my confusion comes from your “Yet”. Would love for you to elaborate and clarify! Thanks so much!

      • What is meant by the quote is that Jesus’ favor was uniquely merited, for He lived a perfect life and was sinless. And here’s the “yet.” Even though He lived in this merited favor of God, He was full of grace and truth. So grace must primarily be about something else. To quote Graham Cooke again, “Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you to become the person that He sees when He looks at you.” So, it’s about who God made us to be in Christ instead of getting what we don’t deserve. I know this is a different take, but only because we live in a sin-obsessed Christian culture. And I do agree what everything we receive from God is unmerited, but this misses the main reason for grace. It also makes it so Jesus cannot be our example of what it looks like to walk in grace. I hope that made sense. 🙂

      • Thanks for adding to explain. Stirs up more questions though!

        First off, I think a lot of Graham Cooke and have valued many of his teachings and insights. But on this topic of grace/favor – if Graham means that Jesus’ favor was “uniquely merited” what does one do with the passage that Jesus grew in favor with God and men. (Lk 2:52)? I am also reminded of, “And of His fullness , we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:16) If we have all received (whether everyone personally knows it or not), does that negate or lessen the fullness He poured out on mankind? How do we grasp that this loving God wants us to have everything He has?!

        I agree that grace is about something else. Sure not about what “the sin-obsessed Christian culture” (love your phrase!) preaches! Isn’t it interesting that His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son is described as being full of grace and truth? (Jn 1:14) Then add Paul’s words for us to know the “glory of the riches of His inheritance in the saints”. (Eph 1:18) These verses on ‘glory’ seem to be saying that His grace towards us is merited, it is deserving. Not that we had anything to do with the making of ourselves, but that He delighted in our making which flowed out His grace. Of course our making had everything to do with relationship – the heart of the Godhead!

        Indeed, sin-obsessed Christianity cannot see Jesus as our example of grace. Their focus is on “what would Jesus do?” God’s focus is on who Jesus is – that He came to show us who we really are. Jesus – the perfect representation of being fully man reflecting the beauty of God in physical form. What a high calling we were made to be! And only possible through His life in us. What a union!

        So much to ponder about His grace. Thank you for taking time to add to the wrestling and grasping of it.

      • Btw, I will be posting more about this point on my blog tomorrow. 🙂

      • I look forward to reading that post!

  4. Jesus grew in favor but it wasn’t unmerited. He earned it all for us. And we certainly can’t follow that example. But, as you said, He lives the perfect life, and we’ve been placed in HIS fullness, whether we realize it or not.
    A better definition of grace might be that we have been placed in Jesus’ merited favor. All we can do is walk in His life.
    So, Jesus is our example of walking in grace by our living in the God-incarnated life as He did, not just in our being forgiven.
    This is why unmerited favor doesn’t really explain the purpose of grace. It doesn’t explain how Jesus walked in grace, and He is our only standard of a normal Christian.
    In other words, if we are going to actually follow Jesus, then we do what He did…live inside our Father’s love as He lived inside His Father’s love. This was the whole point of Jesus’ last discourse in John 14-17. We see that His life is our life, not just our payment for sin.

    • Gosh Mel, you stir up questions for me!

      Did Jesus ‘earn’ grace/favor for us? If He was full of grace was it more that He exemplified the grace to be ours. ‘Earn’ is now synonymous with works and legalism to me.

      Did Jesus walk in grace? Have not heard that before nor seen it in scripture. Maybe it’s implied? I do find references to walk in the spirit, walk in love, walk in newness of life, walking in the truth, walk as children of light.

      However, Peter tells us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (2Pet 3:18) Perhaps this ‘grow’ tells us that grace is something bigger than we think. Especially when Paul tells us that in the ages to come He will prove/show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Sounds like we will be wowed by grace even more!

      You mention the ‘purpose’ of grace? Is there really such a thing? Paul speaks of God’s purpose and grace. (2Tim 1:9) They are two separate things. Just seems to me there is something bigger and better about grace we have yet to tap into. What an adventure to discover true grace.

      I agree – His love, His life – freely given to us to enjoy and be empowered by. So much fuller than the sin focus of religion! Thanks Mel.

      • Haha…yes, I’m probably not explaining myself very well. Hopefully, I can clarify here without creating more questions. 🙂

        My only point in all of this is that “unmerited favor” is an inadequate definition of grace. Jesus did not walk in unmerited favor, yet He was full of grace. He lived a perfect life and wouldn’t have needed it, if that’s what grace was. Maybe divine favor or divine empowerment is a better definition of grace. Jesus certainly had that!

        Jesus came for two reasons, The first, to fulfill all the requirements of the Law. In that way, you could say He merited (which means, earned) everything for us. But that’s not my point. Jesus was also our prototype of a God-inhabited man on the earth. And this second reason is where grace comes in for us. To try to follow the first reason would be legalism. But living by this second reason is walking in His grace (divine empowerment/favor with God). We live in Him, which means we live in His grace.

        Yes, we are to “grow in grace” which doesn’t make sense if we defined it as growing in “unmerited favor.” But we do grow experientially in this divine empowerment. In other words, we grow in what we already possess in Christ (Col.2:10). This is how Jesus grew in it. He grew strong in what He already had in the Father.

        When I say the purpose of grace, I meant why it is given to us. It’s given so that we can walk as Jesus walked, abiding in His Father in the power of God’s life.

      • Mel, thank you so much for taking the time to clarify more! I know you are a busy guy. So appreciate it.

        Love your point – “…we do grow experientially in this divine empowerment. In other words, we grow in what we already possess in Christ (Col.2:10). This is how Jesus grew in it. He grew strong in what He already had in the Father.”

        Oh for us to get the “It is finished.” and enjoy Him, ourselves, and each other in His fullness!

        Thanks again for clarifying.

        Sure appreciate your ministry to many. Keep it up! Bliss

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