Picture in your mind a walk you took when you enjoyed the sunshine. Maybe you were cold, and the sun’s warmth felt so good. Or perhaps you had been cooped up inside your house and finally got to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Whenever I have taken a walk like that, I basked in the bright sunshine and fresh air as I experienced freedom from my confinement. To bask means to savor it, luxuriate in it, and soak it up. That is what we can experience, too, as we bask in God’s grace for us and live luxuriously in the freedom He provides for us. Pathway #2 is “Bask in the Grace of God.” This is post #3 in our “Joyful Walk” series.
Listen to this post as a podcast from our Pathways to a Joyful Walk Bible Study:
For the first few days after having hand surgery, it was good to be able to rest inside the house on our living room sofa. Then, I caught a cold and felt too miserable to go outside. But what made it worse was that our living room skylight was covered with dark roofing material after being busted during a hail storm the month before my surgery. Our usual bright and cheery living room was now very dark. I felt like I was living in a cave. I remember how wonderful it felt to finally go outside and just stand in the sunshine—basking in its warmth and light.
I love that word “bask.” It means to savor, luxuriate in, and soak up something. On that summer day last year, I basked in the bright sunshine and fresh air as I experienced freedom from my confinement. That is what we can experience, too. Before Christ, we were confined to an ugly, wretched condition. God acted to rescue us from that ugly, wretched condition so that now we can bask in the grace of God for us and live in the freedom He provides for us.
Sadly, some choose to stay trapped in that ugly, wretched condition, trying to solve life’s problems through their own ideas and creativity. They reject the beauty of God’s grace.
Getting trapped in that ugly, wretched condition
One summer, we were in Colorado conducting summer camps for our wilderness-based camp ministry. A church youth group rented our camp facility for a week. I was in charge of providing meals. As my husband Ron was about to leave town, he said to me, “This group is not your typical church youth group.” Hmmm. What does that mean?I knew that our senior staff members were on 21-day backpacking trips in the nearby mountains. So they would not be around to assist. I sent up a quick prayer, “Lord, please help us!”
The group that came looked like typical high school kids and adult counselors but were very different from the usual youth groups that came to our camp. We welcomed and served them. During that week, I realized that we served prisoners, people who had been taken captive. They were taken captive by the philosophy that God is an impersonal energy field, an “it”—something that binds the universe together. They sought God while staring at a candle for an hour. They were taken captive by the concept that good and bad are relative. The leaders taught that each person is part of the god-force of the universe, so each one determines what is good or bad. They meditated upon the god being created in each of them. The message portrayed was this: salvation comes through uniting one’s personal spiritual energy with the other-god-energy of the universe. Though this group came from what was called a church, they had rejected Jesus Christ as their head and substituted other things for Him. Sadly, most of them were females—either as teenage girls or as adult counselors.
What takes people captive to such spiritual error? Usually, it is when they are loaded down with guilt from their sins, or when they are on the constant search for the latest new thing to satisfy the restlessness in their hearts. Various lusts feed their discontentment. And out of a so-called openness to learn, they embrace whatever flashy teachings that come along rather than going to the source of established truth—the Word of God in the Bible.
Women who never recognize and grasp biblical truth will be taken captive by flashy teachings and live unsatisfied, unstable lives. They don’t recognize the darkness that has taken them captive. Do you recognize this is your own life or in someone you love?
God acted to rescue us from our wretched condition and that state of darkness.
The Bible says that every human is born into the kingdom of darkness. And we have a spiritual enemy who keeps people in that darkness by blinding their minds so that they cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Those living in this darkness are in chains to the ways of the world, to the spiritual powers of evil, and to their own sinful nature. It is a wretched condition.
But God’s love for people and His mercy towards us led Him to take action to end our wretched condition. Because of that love, He sent His Son to earth to live as a human without sin and to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin once and for all. Never again would an animal need to die for human sin. Jesus Christ did that for us on the cross. Crucifixion was ugly. It was a place of agony and disgrace. The beautiful Son of God voluntarily experienced the ugliness of sin and took on its punishment for our sakes.
Crucifixion provided the best scenario for Jews and non-Jews alike because both groups participated in the sinful act of executing God’s Son. Peter declared this to his audience in Acts chapter 2 when he said:
This man was handed over to you [talking to the Jews] by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men [the Gentiles], put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (Acts 2:23)
It was God’s plan for His Son to die on that cross for all of humanity’s sin. No human being would ever come up with that plan. It requires faith alone, which is exactly what God wanted. Paul described it this way to his mixed audience in 1 Corinthians chapter 1,
But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)
It was God’s plan to raise His Son from the grave with a new body. Jesus’ resurrection provided the way for us to get new life that would never be taken away again because of our sin. The Jews believed in a future resurrection. The non-Jews thought it was nonsense. To them, no one would ever want to have another body once you got rid of yours. Belief in Jesus’ physical, bodily resurrection from the dead requires faith alone, which is exactly what God wanted.
By God’s grace, you are saved through your faith.
Three words associated with God’s plan are more powerful than any of the forces holding anyone in darkness, skepticism, and unbelief.
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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Those three powerful words are grace, saved, and faith. They explain the basis of your salvation and why you can be confident in it.
God gives His GRACE.
Grace is undeserved favor. It is God giving favor to someone not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so. God’s grace springs from God’s love. Grace provides this relationship with God. You cannot earn it by doing good works. Rather, it is a free gift from God that you accepted when you received Christ through faith.
Our faith begins with receiving the love of God and understanding it in the Gospel.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Many Christians don’t know about God’s love. That is why theology is important because a goofed-up theology is going to keep you from ever loving God. You need to know truth. If you think you have to earn your way to heaven, you might be trying really hard. But you are never going to really love God. We start with how much God loves us. Then, we see His love in His grace to us.
By God’s grace, you are SAVED.
To be saved means “to be rescued, to be spared from disaster.” God saves us from the darkness of sin and also from His own judgment against sin (physical death and spiritual separation from Him). That is what salvation means. We are rescued by our faith in Jesus Christ. And we are made alive, so we are no longer dead. That happens the moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ.
You are saved through FAITH in Jesus Christ.
What is faith? Faith is not a blind belief or mindless gullibility like that group I described at the beginning of this podcast. It is not being passive and doing nothing. Faith is also not a religious feeling like a tingle or a good feeling from performing some ritual.
So if faith is not that, what is it? The word “faith” means “a belief, trust, and commitment of mind and heart to something or someone.”
- Faith is intelligent. That means first you need to know about that something or someone. It is based on information about the object of your faith.
- Faith is also decisive. It involves the element of assent or agreement that the information about that someone or something is true.
- Faith requires an act of the will. Any conscious choice that involves trust, reliance, or dependence on someone or something requires a deliberate action to choose to trust the information.
Simply put, faith is placing your trust in God and His Word. It is a full commitment to Christ. When you received Christ, you put your trust in Christ and His death for your sin. You also trust that He was resurrected from the dead to give you His life. Instead of believing in your own ability to earn God’s favor, you now trust that you have been reconciled to God through what Christ has done for you.
By God’s grace, you are saved through your faith. It is by your faith in Christ alone that you are rescued from your blindness, darkness, and deadness. God rescues you from the destruction caused by sin. He offers you this salvation by His grace that is given to you. It is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast of their efforts. Your response to God’s gift of rescue is to say, “Yes. I accept.” That is a response of faith. You can know that you are saved by God’s grace through your faith in His Son Jesus Christ.” No doubts about it!
God makes ugly beautiful.
We cannot think ourselves out of the ugliness of our sin. Every bit of our sin is so ugly to God. It is as ugly as the most heinous crime that comes to your mind and as ugly as the crucifixion. But our redemption is absolutely beautiful. God is in the business of making ugly beautiful. He does that in many ways for you.
- Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, you are cleansed of all sin and made a new creation of life when God planted His Spirit within you. You are made alive as Christ is alive. That is beautiful.
- Because of His resurrection from the dead, God gives you eternal spiritual life from the moment you believed. And you have complete acceptance before a holy God by faith alone. That which stood against you, the ugliness of your sin, is gone. Christ’s life is given to you. He is living in you. That is beautiful.
- When you die, you now have hope of eternal life in the presence of God so physical death is no longer to be feared. Jesus frees you from the fear of death.
No one reading this blog is from a rougher background than those who lived in New Testament times. Did you grow up being deceived? Were you mistreated? Do you still struggle with relying on your own power to make your way in the world? Jesus Christ came to rescue you from that condition.
But God’s grace is not just for salvation. It is for everyday living. The Bible describes God’s grace as being abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him and respond to Him by faith. That is an ongoing action on God’s part. Hooray for that. I am one who desperately needs Him. So are you.
Bask in the beauty of God’s grace.
Remember that to bask means to savor it, luxuriate in it, and soak it up. It is like the warm and bright sunshine you experienced during the walk described at the beginning of this lesson. Or imagine standing beneath a cool waterfall on a hot summer’s day. God’s grace is like that unending flow. And with that grace comes so many blessings and benefits.
Pathway #2 is Bask in God’s grace for you and Christ’s life in you. Why is that so important? The answer to that question leads us to Pathway #3: Grasp Who You Are. We will cover this in the next blog.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with joy so that your daily walk with Him will be a joyful one.
Learn more about having a rewarding spiritual life through our Pathways to a Joyful Walk Bible Study (6 lessons).
- Pathways to a Joyful Walk Bible Study (6 lessons)
- Satisfied Series 15 Podcasts (Joyful Walk series)
- The Promise of a Joyful Walk: 6 pathways to joy
- Pathway #1: Start with Knowing Jesus Christ
- Pathway #2: Bask in the Grace of God
- Pathway #3: Grasp Who You Are
- Pathway #4: Choose Whom You Will Serve
- Pathway #5: Claim Your Freedom in Christ
- Pathway #6: Keep Moving Forward
- Graceful Living Today Daily Devotional
- Graceful Living Bible Study on Amazon
- God Makes Ugly Beautiful
- The Gospel: God’s Cure for Our Fatal Sin Disease
Image credit: photo by John Newton, accessed at flickr.com (8162179887_0c6797557b_o.jpg).