Unity Forum, Lincoln Christian College/Seminary June 13-15, 1989

James Strauss Philosophy/Theology Lincoln Christian Seminary

 

Occasions of Grace in Luke/Acts

 

Introduction:

 

Unlike Paul, Luke does not write directly about his own experience or that of his readers. This fact makes it more problematic to determine what Luke thinks about occasions of grace in the Christian life.

 

Luke presents Jesus, Peter and Paul as models- for faith-existence.

A.   Secular occasions:

 

          1.     Lk 6.32,33,34; 17.9              (where charis means favor in the

          2.     Acts 24.27; 25.3,9                  sense of putting another in one’s debt)

 

B.    Theological occasions:

 

          1.     Lk 1.30 - Gabriel to Mary

          2.     Acts 7.46 - Stephen’s speech, David found charis in God’s eyes

          3.     Lk 2.40; Acts 7.10 - God bestows favor

          4.     Acts 2.47a - Church at Jerusalem “having favor with all the people”

          5.     Acts 2.47b; 7.10; 4.33 - certainly means attractiveness granted to them by God “Great

                   Grace” (compare with II Cor 8-9) enabling grace

          6.     Acts 6.8 - ‘full of grace’

 

C.    Grace and Spoken Word:

 

          1.     Lk 4.22 - ‘words of grace’

          2.     Acts 14.3 - ‘bearing witness to the word of His grace1

          3.     Acts 20.32 - “word of grace, which is able to build you up”

 

          In each of these three passages verbal expression becomes occasions for grace.’ The

occurrences of grace are always in context of growth and stimulates and sustains - Lk 24.27 Paul (Acts) characterizes his ministry as a mission “received. . .to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (20.24) Believers are saved by His grace (Acts 15.11; 18.27) Resident leaders are commended to it (14.26; 15.40; 20.32)

 

D.   Grace as God’s saving plan in action: Twin Facets

 

          1.     Missionary expansion (Acts 11.23 - ‘saw the grace of God and was glad’

          2.     Community preservation urged new converts to “continue in the grace God” (Acts 13.43).

 

 

E. Paul’s eucharistic breaking of bread - Acts 27.36

 

          1.     Paul thanks God - eucharisteinnnn

          2.     God has granted - charizesthai - Acts 27.24

          3.     Luke’s other transformative breakings of bread - Lk 9.16; 22.14-22; 24.28-35; Acts

                   2.42,46; 20.7

          4.     Related meals - Lk 6.29ff; 7.36ff; 14.Iff; 19.Iff. Acts 9.18f; 113; 16.33f; - means as

                   occasions of grace

 

Summary of Occasions of Grace: Graceful Moments in Paul/Luke

(Examples of diverse settings in which Grace is thought to be experienced)

 

1.     Visits among believers

2.     Words spoken at public gatherings

3.     Blessings written in Epistles

4.     Prayers in times of crisis

5.     Corporate worship - thanksgiving meals, etc.

6.     Reception and use of charismatic gifts as visible signs of God’s favor

7.     Exemplary acts of righteousness (eg. collection for Jerusalem)

8.     ‘Great grace’ enabled the Jerusalem congregation to share its possessions

9.     Ordination-like commissionings to special tasks

10. Grace-ful connection between worship and ethics - Romans 12.Iff

11. Grace given to save individuals

12. Grace nourishes communities - each represents occasions of grace and are results of God’s

           work in Christ to extend His reign throughout the world. Prepares churches for outreach and

           ingathering.

13. Grace and Paul’s apostolic ventures

14. Luke sees Barnabas as one who “saw the grace of God” at Antioch in the Jewish-Gentile

           congregation

15. Grace of God troubled the Church, for it disclosed itself in weakness and persecution; also

           e.g. Jesus’ ministry 16 Grace challenged barriers of class, race, religion, economic status

           Grace, i.e. God’s presence—usually proved more innovative than the Church wanted it to be.

 

Bibliography

 

Ernest Jauncey, The Doctrine of Grace. (up to the Pelagian Controversy) London: SPCK, 1925.

See articles in TDNT and DNTT.

James Moffatt, Grace in The New Testament. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1931 reprint.

Clark Pinnock (ed) Grace Unlimited. Bethany Fellowship Press, 1975.

Clark Pinnock (ed) Grace Abounding. Zondervan, 1987.

J. D. Strauss, Occasions of Grace in An Achievement Society (forthcoming)

C. R. Smith, The Biblical Doctrine of Grace. London: Epworth Press, 1956.

W. T. Whitley (ed) The Doctrine of Grace. NY: MacMillan, 1931.