The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Acceptance With God: Achieved Or Received?"
Part 5 - Grace Works
Perhaps you have heard the adage...
"There are only two religions in the world, grace and works. But only grace works."
Biblical Christianity stands in stark contrast to all other proposed means of rightly relating to God. We either come by God's freely given forgiveness and favor through the Lord Jesus Christ, or we attempt to seek Him by our own works. The latter dooms us to frustration and failure. The former redeems us to freely given pardon and to life both now and forevermore.
"By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God and not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight" (Galatians 2:6).
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
Even the "holy and just and good" law of Moses, the only perfect code of morality and ethics to ever exist (given by God), could not redeem sinful humanity (Romans 7:12). It rather revealed the need for God's salvation of grace, our only hope of redemption. The law was given for that very purpose -"to bring us unto Christ" - revealing humanity's problem with sin as first and foremost a matter of the heart (Galatians 3:24). The law could not change who and what we are in our innermost being, nor can any religion of self reform and improvement. Grace alone in the Lord Jesus deals with the heart issue by granting a "newness of life... a new heart... a new creature" and "a new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Romans 6:4; Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24). Yes, grace works in providing a changed innermost being in all who believe, leading to a changed life. Christ Himself supplies the inner transfomation through the presence of His indwelling Spirit. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).
Grace also motivates and empowers a life that reflects our newness in Christ. Human beings are no more inherently capable of living as Christians than we were of spiritually birthing ourselves as God's children. "Without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). In our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus, we are forever the dependent vessel purposed to contain and express the holy Content of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Never does any righteous thought, attitude, act, or deed originate in and of ourselves. The grace that provided justification also provides the power of God as the engine of all faith and faithfulness. This is why the Apostle Peter mandated believers to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Peter, of all people, well knew that our own dedication, discipline, and determination will only result in denial of our Lord. He also knew that God's gracious gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit would result in Christ's dedication, discipline, and devotion being revealed in us as we seek to walk by grace no less than we were born again by grace. "Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
In this series of messages this week, we have frequently quoted the writer of Hebrews' call to grace regarding a life of consistent faith and obedience: "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28). Yes, grace works, the grace of God's freely given favor and indwelling presence in our hearts whereby "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Nothing else accomplishes this holy purpose of our Heavenly Father in conforming us to the image of Christ. Let us then "have grace." Let us realize and affirm that the free gift that began our relationship with God provides the power to live accordingly as we trust and submit to the Lord Jesus and to God's promise in Him...
"And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Part 6: Grace Attacked
Weekly Memory Verse
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.