Grace Leaks Out

* The following is an excerpt from my new book “Vital Grace: Getting Everything for Nothing” due out October 2020.

Why do we need another book on “grace” you might ask? If you Google “Gospel of Grace” there are over 117 million sites listed. They reported that world-wide, there are over 10,000 searches a month with the question “What is the Gospel?” and over 121 million search results of the question “What is the Gospel of Grace?” Amazon Books has over 20,000 titles listed by search for “Grace Life.”
     There are many best-selling books on grace that shaped and reshaped many lives over the last two decades. “When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough”, “Born Free”, “Three Free Sins” are three books by Steve Brown. Jerry Bridges writes “Transforming Grace” and “Disciplines of Grace”. J.I Packer is the author of “Knowing God”.

      I guess I could ask “Why are there so many Christian songs about Christ, God, salvation, faith, love, hope, grace, or being his son or daughter?” They keep writing new ones every day because, quite frankly, we don't sing the songs we sang even 3 or 4 years ago in church any more.  We constantly have new ways of expressing God’s deep love and grace because His love and grace is a never-ending fountain of life to those who experience it. I need Vital Grace again, and again and again.

      New books on grace, the gospel, grace living, gospel community, grace-centered discipleship, gospel coaching, and gospel-centered church planting should be welcomed to our conversations because our culture and church culture are constantly shifting and changing. There are many reasons we should constantly find new expressions of grace for life, but one key reason is that grace leaks out.
Grace Leaks Out of Us

No matter how many times you have heard the good news of God’s gracious love freely given to us through Jesus Christ, it leaks out. We forget and default into trying to find life on our own. We wrongly seek to find our own ways to make life work. Then we hear a song, a sermon, a talk, read the Bible or have a tragedy in life and are “graced again” with the vitality of God’s grace. No I don't mean we get saved all over again, but “it is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace” (Hebrews 13:9), not by working to get it right through our hustle or ambivalence or giving up because of our despair of shame.

      In June of 2000, I started sending out a reminder of God’s grace every Monday morning by quoting ancient and current gospel writers to a few friends of mine. The subject line was “Graced Again.” I thought it would be fun to encourage a couple dozen guys by being graced with a good word. I asked if anyone didn't want them to email me back and I would stop sending them. Guys emailed back, “Oh man this is so good don't stop”, “Keep me on the list, I need all the grace I can get”, and “Thanks, I needed that today.” Only one friend asked to be removed. He said he had too much junk mail already.

      Those couple of dozen guys started forwarding them to friends and those people would email me and ask to be included. The list grew and grew and grew. One day my friend and grace mentor, Steve Brown, mentioned it on his Key Life radio show and my “Graced Again” list grew by the thousands. I had to hire an IT service to put a web service together to send out a free email.

      I work with pastors and churches all over the world. In addition to coaching leaders, one of the ministries CMM has done is working with pastors and churches who are in need of renewal. Often, there is a personal issue, unresolved conflict, or moral issue that is creating great tension and angst for the pastor. What surprises me, and it shouldn't, is how quickly “Gospel-centered” churches or leaders who claim to “live by grace” forget the gospel of grace and resort to the flesh —“hatred, discord, dissensions, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, factions…(Gal. 5:20-21)” — in dealing with their conflicts.

     Remember, the apostle Peter and missionary statesmen Barnabas forgot grace and returned to their moralistic, works-oriented approach to being right with God and man, and were being racists and bigoted toward others. Paul said that out of fear they were not “acting in line with the truth of the gospel (Gal.2:11-14).” If the Apostle Peter and a great leader like Barnabas can forget the gospel of grace and live out of their flesh, I certainly can and so can you.

     A British pastor during the late 1800’s once encouraged his students that though it may seem redundant to preach for years the same grace message week in and week out to the same people, and though the students may feel the need to find something new to say, the British pastor counseled them, “It will greatly help such to remember that the one grand theme of the preacher is Christ….Furthermore, it is well for the preacher to bear in mind, on every fresh occasion in rising to preach, that those to whom he preaches are really ignorant of the gospel, and hence he should preach as though it were the very first time his audience had ever heard the message, and the first time he had ever delivered it” (CHM Notes, 1869).

      Grace leaks out. Or to change the metaphor, we drift away from grace, to non-grace, and it is why we need to be reminded of Vital Grace again.  We need a daily refresher in the good news of God’s grace.  Here are three grace realities to make you smile today:

1. We are completely forgiven, we have nothing to hide. There is no shame.
2. We are perfectly righteous in Jesus, we have nothing to prove. There is no guilt.
3. We are eternally loved, we have nothing to fear. There is no longer a need to be afraid.

If you are ready to have grace preached into your life and ministry on a regular basis, click here to learn more about how a Gospel Coach can support you through your journey today!

*The following is an excerpt from Tom’s new book Vital Grace: Getting Everything for Nothing, due out October 2020. It is from the introduction.

1 Comment

Carolyn Roman - August 26th, 2020 at 1:10pm

I can’t wait for that book! That will be a personal favorite.