What Grace Can Do

FillingupBy Dr Steve Danso – Self-condemnation, resulting from unresolved guilt, poor self-image or unrealistic expectations is tearing so many people down.  They look at their past, their seemingly current uninspiring conditions and deem any sort of reprieve very, very far away.  This canker is very troubling especially with believers, who have so much to fall on when it comes to such hopeless feelings.

The Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 43:18: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old; Behold, I will do a new thing.  Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  And the Apostle Paul reminded the Romans in 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.”

Both Isaiah and Paul make it clear that believers don’t need to go through that trajectory of hopelessness so long as they put their trust in God because He can turn a life of shame into glory in one shining moment of redemption.   When Paul admitted that he was the least of the Apostles to enjoy God’s grace, he knew what he was talking about.  He persecuted and humiliated Christians and never dreamt of becoming one, but if we are talking about discipleship in the church today, Paul stands out as a catalyst of that renaissance.  His dramatic turn around, was all about grace.

In his letter to Titus, Paul wrote: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).

The interesting point is, while we may have our own ideas about our situations, God has His own ideas.  The ‘game changer’ is how you place your trust in Him and believe that He can change your destiny in an instant!  How true this is, Rahab, the prostitute, proved it (Joshua: 2). Look at the stigma she was carrying as a prostitute.  She was very low on the societal order, somebody I would easily refer to as a “persona non grata.”  But when the Israelites were planning to attack Jericho, which happened to be their only obstacle to Canaan and needed help, Rahab, a gentile, prostitute, became the resource person they needed.

She was the one the two spies sent by Joshua to survey the terrain before the epic battle, sought out for help on their ‘reconnaissance mission’ and she did open her doors to them despite the risks involved.  For harboring those spies, she risked been seen as a traitor, a treasonable offence that carries the death sentence, but that did not deter her.

Rahab heard stories about God’s mighty profile; helping the Israelites to cross the Red Sea when the Egyptian Army was pursuing and also helping the Israelites to defeat the Amorite Kings, a coalition of 5 tribes on their way to Canaan and took those stories to heart.  She knew the consequences, but believed that a God, who had done incredible things, including parting a huge sea for people to cross, is capable of doing anything!

Scriptures tell us that on just the blowing of trumpets, the walls of Jericho fell and its inhabitants, including animals, were slaughtered.  Only Rahab and her family were saved that day.  Rahab believed in God, put her faith in Him and saved herself and her family.  For that singular act of faith, Rahab is listed in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith along Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses.  The story does not end there.  She got married to a man named Salmon and gave birth to Boaz, who married Ruth and they gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David.

Several years later, when Matthew compiles the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Rahab’s name pops up.  Can you believe that?  Rahab, the prostitute, made the list! (Matthew 1:5-6).  Did she ever fathom that she would become a ‘hero of faith’ and even be listed on the family tree of Jesus Christ?  Absolutely no!  But that was how she ends up.  The reason: She heard stories about the might of God, believed it and put her faith into action.

God knew her past and it didn’t matter because she believed in Him.  If God can save Rahab, He can save anyone.  There is no stain on your soul so unwashable that Jesus cannot wash away.  There is no sin so terrible that Jesus cannot forgive.  Never let your past keep you away.  Never worry about your failures in life.  Never consider yourself hopeless because Jesus, the merciful and gracious one, can change your destiny in an instant if you put your faith in Him.  That’s what grace can do!

Dr. Danso is a contributing opinion writer and the elder of Immaculate Church of Christ International at Baychester in the Bronx, New York.

 

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