I've been thinking a lot lately about the subject of grace... again.
It seems to me that as Christians we have very different understanding about God's Grace; how it works, who it is for, the types of grace, etc.
I've asked a lot of people questions, (people I know and trust, who have a good knowledge of the word of God, and an understanding of God's undying love for His creation), and had some deep conversations with them about this subject. Having said all that, I do not count myself as an authority on the subject, just a student with a desire to know and understand what is the depth our heavenly Father's grace.
FOUNDATIONS OF GRACE
First of all, I want to make it clear that the Bible teaches that it is not the Father's will that any man should perish. John 3:16 says that "God so loved the World..." This is an all encompassing statement.
2Peter3:9 says that "the Lord is ...not willing that any should perish..." Here God extends to us His saving grace. He holds out His arms and says: Come! "Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" and again "To as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God." and: "...that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"
See, we need God, but we are so far separated from Him and His goodness, that we could never of ourselves attain or earn salvation. Romans 3:10 says no one is righteous, and vs 23 says " all have sinned and fall short of God's Glory" This is clear indication that it is God's saving Grace that brings us into His family. When we receive Him, we by the saving Grace of Jesus Christ are empowered to become God's children. We are saved, by grace. Amen!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARE SAVED?
Well, that's it then, you say. If I receive Jesus Christ and believe in Him, I am saved forever because God loves me and wants me to be His child.
Well, I agree with almost all of that last statement. God does love me, and He does want me to be His child. However, there are conditions.
Put off the Old, Put on the New
In John 1:12 we read the following:"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name".
Believing in Jesus and His power to save is pivotal and foundational to our relationship with God. However, faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, requires of us obedience to Him and separation from the former life.
Paul instructs us to put off the old man and put on the new man. Ephesians 4:22-24:
"...that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."
Please understand here that putting off the old and putting on the new is not a 2-minute process, this is something we do organically (as we grow,)and continuously. There will always be things in our lives that require "putting off". This too is the grace of God, that He allows us to change as we grow; He doesn't demand instant perfection.
To the Romans Paul writes: " ...to be carnally minded is enmity against God (8:7) and in the next verse: "Those who are in the flesh can not please God"
Galatians 5:24:"And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
Galatians 6:8:"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
You can plainly see the instructions given throughout the New Testament on Christian Living, and the changes in our lives that God requires of us in our call to Holiness. Note again though that we are not doing this of and by ourselves; Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, our helper. And where we fail, grace makes up the shortfall!
GRACE AND THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL
When I purchase a new car, it comes with lots of options and features. The salesman does his best to give these to me in a 2-minute nutshell, but then he opens the glove compartment and pulls out the vehicle instruction book. This details all of the car's features and benefits and a detailed list of do's and don'ts and maintenance instructions, which, if carefully followed will give me a vehicle which will run to its optimum specifications with the maximum performance and problem free running.
One thing many people seem to forget is that the Bible is written for and to Christians (especially the New Testament). It is our instruction manual for life. When we follow life to the manufacturer's specifications according to the manual, the reader will get the optimum out of the Life as given to him/ her by the designer and manufacturer (author and finisher : Heb 12:2)
Now here is where the key difference to all other religions comes in: God knows that we are incapable of following His commands to the letter. We are a sinful being, living in a sinful world, who continue to get it wrong. We are in need of God's grace to make up the shortfall. Thank God for Jesus! Thank God for His Grace!
I’m going to break this blog in parts as it’s too long to post in one hit.
Please let me know your thoughts so far, and I will continue this next week.
Have a great week!