Not a result of works…
April 3rd, 2019
They describe grace as unmerited favor. But it goes beyond God merely granting us favor, just because he loves us. He loves us, and he grants us favor, but the grace given to us serves more of a purpose than giving us life while we were dead in our sins.
We think of grace as a singular event. That understanding feeds on the ticket punch mentality. In other words:
I’m good, let’s go on about
our lives as we choose.
We’ve got our ticket punched.
However, if grace truly is applied then there will be a change take place. We will not remain the same as we were prior to Jesus bestowing that first application of His Grace.
Note: I said first application of grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Paul frames the work of our Lord in our life. As a result of our earnest faith in Jesus for our redemption, Jesus imparts His Grace on us. This first application of grace covers all the issues where we have infringed on God’s righteousness and holiness. In an instant we are purged of our sin, we are cleansed by the blood of Christ Jesus and appear righteous before God.
Along with that first application of grace comes a transformation of our being in so many ways.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Much of this transformation takes place in our minds. The way we think is altered. It leads us to repentance from those things which were a part of in the past, taken a new direction in alignment with the path our Lord directs us to. This opposes the world and stands in direct conflict with the premises of self-worship and glorification.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Some will try to split the difference and hold on to those old practices. This is where the faux Christians take root. They say the right words and claim surrender to the Lord but all they actually desired, is to get that ticket punched. Once have their ticket, they are free to reintegrate their old lives back into the new lifestyle they have adopted.
Being a disciple of Jesus is so much more than a lifestyle. It’s a choice to be sure. It requires acknowledgement of Jesus for who he is. It requires giving up our old self for the new life inside His Grace. It requires us placing our faith and trust in His sacrifice for us and his desire to continue to thrive in his grace to sustain us until he calls us home.
It is so far removed from a one time event and so much about a fundamental change from death into life. That first application of grace is profound, and grace continues to be applied to us in order to maintain our position.
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
John 6:27 (ESV)
Grace is continually applied on our behalf throughout our physical lifespan.
We receive grace every time we mess up and give in to our sinful flesh. A battle we are ill-equipped within our own strength to fight. It is only through the infusion of strength and mercy from our Lord and Master that we can rise to the challenge and battle against the flesh.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV)
This strengthening is yet another application of grace. We are undeserving of the grace that saves us, and we are undeserving of the grace that affords us grace to carry us through the trials before us. There is nothing we earn and therefore everything that is given to us is yet more grace.
This constant application of grace in our lives is the source of the relentless joy that pervades the life of the Disciple.
There is a passage in James that may confuse a lot of us. At one time it was confusing to me.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
Count it all joy?
Lord you must be joking!
He isn’t. Our trials and struggles are the touch points to hone us into the disciples He desires us to be. They also serve as the opportunities for God to express grace to us as He supplements our inability with His superior capability.
Remember Paul stating that we can do all things through Christ Jesus?
We don’t deserve the assist, but the assist is there and provided so that the Lord is glorified through us. We can’t brag on our own accomplishments because we accomplish little to nothing in our pursuit of what God wills for us to do.
In most cases, the most we can claim for ourselves is a willing heart, and often, we must be prodded into position to receive the blessing of His Grace rather than stepping up and saying, ‘Here am I Lord, send me!’
We are “Undeserving” and often unrepentant. The Lord Jesus is always full of grace and knocking on the door of our stubborn undeserving hearts, so we might answer Him and open ourselves to the possibilities of his grace coming to fruition in us.
That grace isn’t a one time deal. It is what saves us from the fire, but even after that, although we are “Undeserving”, continues to sustain and grow us into the disciples He chooses us to be.