Saturday, April 01, 2006

Grace upon Grace

You’re standing upon the sandy beach. The sand is warm and feels good to your bare feet. Seagulls cry out to each other over your head. The breeze is filled with the smells of seaweed baking in the sun and salt water. The sound of waves lapping at your feet adds to the calmness of the afternoon. As you look out over the ocean, you see wave upon wave coming onto the shore. One being replaced by another, and yet the ocean is ever the same. Wave upon wave, upon wave, upon wave . . .
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John we find this verse, “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Only in Christ – that is to Whom the “His” is referring – can we have fullness, or satisfaction. As God’s children we do have that fullness, for we are made complete in Christ. Our fullness, our completion, our satisfaction, was brought about by God’s grace through the atonement of Christ on the cross, and when we received Him into our hearts, we were made complete. However, the moment we were saved, we were not turned into sinless people. Our flesh still wars within us. And we need God’s grace continually, just as much as we needed His grace to be saved. This is precisely what John is talking about. We need God’s “grace for grace.” This phrase could be better translated as “grace upon grace.” Just as the waves of the ocean come up onto the shore wave upon wave, so God’s grace is daily demonstrated in our lives in a constant succession of grace upon grace. There's no less water than before, rather, each wave displaces the wave that was before it and is displaced by the one that comes after it.
“And so hour by hour, and year by year, and century by century, the process holds; one stream [or ocean], other waters – living, not stagnant, because always in the great identity there is perpetual exchange. Grace takes the place of grace (and love takes the place of love); and ever new, ever old, ever the same, ever fresh and young, for hour by hour, for year by year, through Christ” (If by Amy Carmichael, pg. 86). And so, God gives us grace upon grace, day by day.

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