Grace, Grace, and more Grace

Scripture Reading: Romans 5: 1-11
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The following devotion was written by Dr. Edward Bolen, Sr. Pastor of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, Athens, Ga.

Linda Petracelli, a United Church of Christ minister, tells the story about growing up in a strict Catholic school. One day, Sister Mary Roberts Cecellia preached to the children at school, telling them that everybody, everyone including and especially Lutherans and Episcopalians who were not Catholics, were going to hell.
That afternoon, when Linda returned home, her mother asked her a usual question, “What are you thankful for today, dear?” Linda answered, “Today I am thankful that Sister Mary Roberts Cecellia is not God.”
I recently heard a preacher comment that the principal problem with American Christianity is that we have a Loving Father Gospel in an Elder Brother Church. I convinced that one of the greatest gifts our church community has to offer to Athens is to present an authentic witness to the grace and reconciliation that Paul tells us about in today’s text from Romans. I am also convinced that Athens and Watkinsville are full of adults who have had an “Elder Brother” theology of gloom and doom crammed down their throat and they have turned off to God. I recently passed a church, equipped with a plastic sign with movable letters, gleefully stating: “Hell Has No Thermostat.”
This world is no friend to grace.
Tony Campolo, an American Baptist evangelist and retired professor of sociology, loves to tell the story of a conversation between Peter and Paul. Over coffee one morning, Paul discovers an accounting discrepancy. Peter, who’s in charge of letting folks in the Pearly Gates, has fewer names on his list than does Paul, who’s in charge of keeping a census of heaven’s citizens. Paul, full of zeal and vigor, promises to talk with Jesus about this and figure out the inconsistency of why there are more folks in heaven than have passed through the front gates!
Weeks later, St. Peter remembers their conversation and asks St. Paul about his investigation. Hanging his head in embarrassment, St. Paul said, “It’s Jesus. He keeps slipping folks in over the back fence.”
Grace, grace, grace. Thanks be to God that His story is finally our story!

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