True Grace - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
1 Peter 5:12–14

  • Dealing with the Devil | The Scrolls | June 9, 2024

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "True Grace."

Grace—it’s not just something received; it’s also something dispensed. Believers are most familiar with grace received. Paul writes about it in Ephesians 2. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (vv. 1-5). And then he caps off what he writes: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (vv. 8-9). 

The creed of the Core Competency Grace zeroes in on that other aspect of grace, grace dispensed: “I demonstrate forgiveness, mercy and generosity to others, even when they have offended me.” Sadly, believers are not as familiar with grace dispensed. Put differently, too often believers dispense ungrace rather than grace—both to those inside as well as outside the Christian community. Philip Yancey laments and chides Christians for this in his classic treatment of the subject in What’s So Amazing About Grace? In it he writes: “Christians have spent enormous energy over the years debating and decreeing truth; every church defends its particular version. But what about grace? How rare to find a church competing to ‘out-grace’ its rivals. Grace is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism, stronger than hate. Sadly, to a world desperate for this grace the church sometimes presents one more form of ungrace” (30).

The fact that he has grace dispensed in mind becomes clear in his following words: “Mark Twain used to talk about people who were ‘good in the worst sense of the word,’ a phrase that, for many, captures the reputation of Christians today. Recently I have been asking a question of strangers—for example, seatmates on an airplane—when I strike up a conversation, ‘When I say the words ‘evangelical Christian’ what comes to mind?’ In reply, mostly I hear political descriptions: of strident pro-life activists, or gay-rights opponents, or proposals for censoring the Internet. I hear references to the Moral Majority, an organization disbanded years ago. Not once—not once—have I heard a description redolent of grace. Apparently that is not the aroma Christians give off in the world” (31).

Ironically, we Christians all too often dispense ungrace to those who need grace the most—sinners, like ourselves, who need our “forgiveness, mercy and generosity,” and not our judgment. Yancey tells this story to illustrate my point. “A divorced woman recently told me of standing in the sanctuary of her church with her 15-year-old daughter when the pastor’s wife approached. ‘I hear you are divorcing. What I can’t understand is that if you love Jesus and he loves Jesus, why are you doing that?’ The pastor’s wife had never really spoken to my friend before, and her brusque rebuke in the daughter’s presence stunned my friend. ‘The pain of it was that my husband and I both did love Jesus, but the marriage was broken beyond mending. If she had just put her arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry. . .”’” (31).

The pastor’s wife could have done that without either condoning the specific behavior that might have led to the divorce or without approving of divorce in general. And yet, some seem determined to wield ungrace as a club against those perceived to sin. Still, if God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn the world, it seems unlikely that he has sent any of us to do that. Christians must remember the words of Jesus: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mt 12:36 KJV). 

Central Message of the Text: 

Stand fast in the true grace of God.

Family Talk:

Let’s pretend your kids are in sixth grade and have been part of Central Bible Church since they were born. As part of Central Kids, they have gone through nearly two full rotations of a preschool chronological Bible curriculum and since kindergarten studied the books of Romans, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Timothy, Mark, Exodus, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 Peter. Your kids have studied more of the Bible than many grown adults and they haven’t even hit their teens. I know you’re thinking, “Wow! What a fabulous children’s ministry. It’s unbelievable!” While we agree, we also fully recognize we’re only a tiny part of your child’s discipleship. Dads, your spiritual leadership over the home has far more weight in the growth and development of your child than anything they’ll ever learn in our building. When you tell Bible stories, pray with your child, marvel at God’s goodness, model repentance or dole out discipline with grace and love, you’re doing more to point your child’s heart toward Christ than any lesson we could ever teach. We celebrate you this week. We realize you have a tremendous amount of responsibility on your shoulders and want you to know how much we truly appreciate you. Thanks for making hard decisions and going to work every day and smoking brisket and telling really terrible jokes that make us shake our heads. Above all, we thank you for leading your family to grow in righteousness and godliness. God blessed us with the gift of our dads and we celebrate you! Proverbs 20:7: “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”