It’s Monday Grace!
I remember the teacher telling us about Noah and why Noah found grace (favor) with God. The teacher said that it was because Noah was “a good and perfect man.” And Genesis 6:9 says something very much like that:
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9
The verse just prior to this says that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
So, there it is, said the teacher. Noah found grace because he was already good and perfect. God gives favor (grace) to those who are good enough.
And, of course, we were all supposed to dedicate ourselves to becoming good enough to gain favor with God.
This idea of favor with God became an escape clause for those who wanted to teach performance spirituality. They knew that salvation came to those who called out to Jesus and trusted in Him. They knew that no one could be saved by works. So they said, Yes, that person is saved, but won’t find God’s favor. If you want God to like you, you had better act right.
Now, this had many extensions. How could you tell if someone had the favor of God? If good things came to them, of course. The wealthy, the healthy, the successful in business and life, must be in god’s favor. Never mind that many unbelievers had money and good health and even good families. Christians who wanted these things had to manage their behavior, and Christians who had these things were obviously doing things right.
The formula was therefore simple: doing good things made God like you.
But I studied the story of Noah for myself. What I found told a different story. There was no “because” between verses 8 and 9 in genesis 6. The truth was that Noah found favor and was a good man. Not because.
In fact, if you look at the previous chapter, you find that Noah was a promised deliverer for his people before he was born. How did Noah find favor before he even had a chance to do enough good things? No, God chose Noah by His grace, and, by God’s grace, Noah was a good man. The cause was God’s choice, the favor (grace) that God gave freely. The result was Noah’s good life.
God grants favor to His people freely. He calls us to Himself and anyone who comes to Him finds favor. This is grace. This is God initiating and choosing and calling and saving and blessing. To suggest that a believer could be out of God’s favor is nonsense and manipulation.
If God’s favor comes by works (or good behavior) then it is not a gift at all, but a wage for a work. That’s what Paul teaches.
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Romans 11:6
The whole point of grace (favor) is that the Giver gives and the receiver receives. If the receiver gives in order to receive and the Giver receives in order to give, that is no longer grace, according to Paul. Those who teach otherwise do not understand grace.
So, are you in God’s favor? Of course you are! He loves you. He loves you the same: yesterday, today, and forever. God may not like the things you do to yourself and others. He may not want you to do the things you do. But He has given you His grace in Jesus. He has already shown you His favor.