Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grace is good news, in spite of sin!

“And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:22-24 (NRSV)

As I continue to study God's word and write devotionals, I find myself writing "in spite of" often. The definition of this phrase, in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary is:

“: in defiance or contempt of : without being prevented by <succeeded in spite of their opposition>."

I am going to use the phrase again because this is exactly how God's grace works. In the scripture passage above, Paul is making a speech to the elders in the Ephesus church. He is bidding them farewell because he knows that he will never see them again, and he wants to encourage them to keep the faith--to "keep on keeping on." Paul is telling the elders that he knows that he is going to be persecuted, but instead of asking for prayer for his own safety, Paul testifies to "the good news of God's grace." In spite of persecutions, God's grace is good news.

The elders at Ephesus were Christians. They had received the good news that Jesus had died for their sins, and they were saved. We too have heard this good news. However, can information that we have heard repeatedly still be considered news? According to Paul, the answer is yes. Each time we sin, each time we fail, each time we suffer trials, there is the good news of God's grace that testifies to us. Grace is new each moment of our lives. Grace is always new, in spite of old sin and in spite of old trials.