Oklahoma Baptist University students were challenged to reconsider their ideas of both spiritual growth and God's grace during OBU's weekly chapel service Wednesday, March 4, in Raley Chapel.
"Spiritual growth is something much different than many of us have entertained in our minds," said Dale Griffin, OBU dean of spiritual life. "It's not measured by how many verses we've memorized, or how many times we've graced the doors of a church or a Bible study, it's not measured by how many GO (Global Outreach) trips we've joined, or whether a recent tattoo has an icthus or cross.
"Instead I want to submit that spiritual growth is growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," he said.
Griffin's message reflected the theme of this year's chapel series, "Lost and Found." The theme is based on "The Knowledge of the Holy," a book about God's nature written by A.W. Tozer. Griffin said Tozer lists grace as an attribute of God - not a creation of God. Therefore, it is part of God's nature and cannot be separated from Him.
"If we want to grow, then we must ask the question, 'What is grace?'" Griffin said. "It's impossible to understand grace without a good view of (God's) attributes. That's why we've been meditating on them all this year."
Griffin started his definition of grace by discussing what grace is not. He said grace is not cheap, nor is it a commodity that just falls off God when a person wants it. Grace is not a good feeling, something that can be felt over and over by conjuring up guilty feelings then asking for grace to battle them. Grace is not nostalgia expressed through songs, ministry titles or other outlets. Griffin said grace also is not an excuse to take life easy knowing God has everything under control and He will fix every mistake.
Instead, Griffin contended, grace is God's unmerited favor.
"Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving," Tozer wrote in "The Knowledge of the Holy."
While grace is not complicated, Griffin said the truth of grace is so rich, deep and full that a person could spend a lifetime studying it and still not reach the depths of what God has offered in His unmerited favor. In the New Testament, Griffin said the Apostle Paul inseparably connects grace to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ because without the death and resurrection, there is no grace. Grace cost Jesus Christ everything.
Griffin reminded students that God's grace cannot be earned - it comes in gift form only. Human sin separates people from God, but in God's mercy, He runs to each person and offers His grace.
"Unmerited favor means you can grow in your relationship with God because of Who He is," Griffin said. "You're not limited to your own devices. You're not doomed to commit the same sin over and over again. You have the favor of Almighty God on you."