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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Enabling Grace

I chose this subject because I have found that most believers really do not understand what Grace is or how it applies to the Christian life. Some believe that the Grace that comes from God through Christ allows them to do any sinful act without any consequences. Some also believe that Grace is only for the well to do or the privileged in our American society. As believers in Christ, we are acquainted with what the Grace of God has provided for us without a means to explain it to an inquiring person. This is the purpose of this article, to arm ourselves with the ability to explain and convey to any what the Grace of God is. More importantly, to explain what does Grace enable a believer to do and what does it enables an unbeliever to do.

I. What is Grace?

It has been well said by many a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus, the Christ, that Grace is when we receive from God that blessing that we do not deserve. Salvation for example is not a right or a privilege but it is an expression of the Love of God for all of sinful Mankind. There was no obligation on the part of God to give us Salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, His only begotten Son, but it was an act of God's Grace. It is that Grace that enables believers to live this Christian life to the best of our ability. I looked up the definition of Grace from the following online sources and this is what I found.

Grace: a noun; defined as: The free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God; "God's grace is manifested in the salvation of sinners"; "There but for the grace of God go I" [syn: grace]
Source: Wordnet © 3.0 copyrighted in 2006 by Princeton University

Grace: defined as: Kindness; favor. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by GRACE ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his Grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. - Ephesians 2:4-9
Source: Dictionary of Words from the King James Bible. Public Domain. Copy freely

As these two definitions of Grace have disclosed to us in this article, that Grace is God's kindness and His display of favor. That kindness and display of favor by God through Christ is unmerited, that is can not be earned in any way, nor is it given on the basis of individual morality. The Grace of God is bestowed upon us through the love of God for us. As the Apostle Paul writes:

"But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the Law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also [is] the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, [which is] by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" - Romans 5:8-15 King James Version of the Bible

What does this mean? This means that even the most moral man alive is still lost in his sin, and that only the salvation provided by the Grace of God through Jesus can save him. Simply put, Grace made Salvation available to all men no matter what their status is in any society, whether they be rich or poor, slave or free. Through the Grace of God provided through faith in Christ, all men have the opportunity to be saved. Therefore it is by the Grace of God that a person is found by God in Christ. This is provided without solicitation or recompense of moral deeds performed, but by the Grace of God. However, this is only the beginning.

II. What does the Grace of God enables a believer to do?

This is the point where many people who say that they have been saved get of the train of salvation through faith by Grace. Whether they do it by purpose, or ignorance I do not know, nor can I judge (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5). All I know is that when some people get saved, no matter how many warnings we can give to those new believers, those new believers get caught up and sometimes lured back into the world by the temptation of the devil and his devices. There is a clear issue about wills here. However, we will deal that at another time. The more relative question is what does the Grace of God enables a believer in Christ to do?

The Grace of God enables a believer to do one thing and one thing only: it allows a believer in Christ to Live for God. The Grace of God was not given as a gateway for sinfulness. Sin in the flesh is what Jesus came to die for (Romans 8:3). Why? So that we, believers in Christ, may have the opportunity to live for God like we have not ever known before. Before getting saved we did not have a personal relationship with God, now that we have been saved, we do. I had relationship with God before getting saved but it was not to the level of intimacy I have now with God. My relationship with God before getting saved was that of performance. Now it is of faith through God's grace. Does this mean that I stopped trying to do good and live right? Absolutely not. Consider what the Apostle Paul writes to the Roman believers:

"What we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ....... Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." - Romans 6:1+2, 6 from the King James Version of the Bible

When we received the gift of salvation, we died to the sinfulness of the flesh so that we can live unrestricted holy lives in the Grace of God. A dead man can not sin, he is insensitive to it. So we too must become like a dead man and be insensitive to sin in our lives. If we do not, we frustrate the Grace of God upon our lives. In short the choice we each made to be saved also afforded us the opportunity to live holy and upright lives for God and God alone. Each of us who believe in Christ should be able to say with boldness "For God I live, for God I die." with the understanding that it is Grace that mad all available to us all the things that God has for us. The Apostle Paul again makes this point:

"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that it should obey it the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace."- Romans 6:11-14 King James Version of the Bible

Our problem is that we believers in Christ keep resurrecting the wrong man, the sinful flesh. We even try to revive some of our sins because to tell the truth, we still are having pleasure doing them. We can not see the overwhelming pleasure that comes from living holy for God as he has designed for us. We have been blinded by our fleshly desires and self-gratifications and we are just not ready to give them up. By our not choosing to become "dead" to the sins of our flesh we revive them. Simply ask yourself this: Would you not be more happier knowing that you have chosen to live holy for God and that pleased God more than you living in sin? It is not that God does not want you to enjoy life, He wants you to enjoy the life that He has designed for you to live. We have to have the attitude of Moses when he found his calling in God as written in the book of Hebrews:

"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."- Hebrews 11:24-26 King James Version of the Bible

Moses saw the blessing that one receives from living the holy life that God designed for him and compared it to the life of luxury he was living as the son of Pharaoh's Daughter and judged that living holy for God was so much better. For it is far better to live knowing that you are doing God's will in a holy lifestyle, than to have all the riches and pleasures of the world at your disposal. Jesus said it this way:

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" - Gospel of Mark 8:36 King James Version of the Bible

Yet it was after that the riches of the Grace of God was revealed to Moses, he became God's man to lead the Israelites out of Bondage and into all that God had promised to them. He became God's administrator of the Covenant. Moses was a faithful servant in God's will.

"For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all things [is] God. And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after" - Hebrews 3:4+5 King James Version of the Bible

For God could have chosen any man, but God in his Wisdom and Grace chose Moses. Why has God by his Grace chose to save you? Just to sit, and do nothing? Everyone who is saved by Christ is called to witness for Christ, every one who is saved by Christ is called to live a holy life for God in Christ Jesus. The Grace of God enables every believer in Christ to do this and more, if only we surrender our designs , our plans and exchange it for what God has designed and planned for us . The Grace of God enables all believers to get His will right in our lives in Christ. This leaves us with one question.

III. What does the Grace of God enables the sinner to do?

The Grace of God enables the sinner to do one thing: Repent from his sins. As defined in the beginning of this article, Grace represents God's kindness. God's kindness is also an expression of His goodness. God's kindness or goodness toward sinners is to show them how much God loves them. This expression of God's kindness and goodness is only a drop in the bucket of what God is willing to do for them if they repent. As it is written in the book of Romans:

"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forberance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? - Romans 2:4 King James Version of the Bible

The average sinner also believes that this display of kindness by God through Jesus Christ and the Church is a sign of weakness or an opportunity to take advantage of Him and the Church. They are very much mistaken. For the Bible states:

"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God;" - Romans 2:5 King James Version of the Bible

They forget that there is a Judgment Day coming, and the Church has a duty to remind them of it, when each of them will stand before God and be judged according to the deeds done and sins he has committed. They will be judged according to the Gospel and how they responded to God's invitation to Salvation through Jesus Christ. This Judgment Day is not afar off as some would suppose. It is as close as the day of death itself. For again the Bible states:

"And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment: " -Hebrews 9:27

Many of them also think that this Grace that is demonstrated through Christ's death and the Church's expression of God's kindness will stop if they stop living in sin. Hear me sinners: The Grace of God upon a soul's life that has not accepted the gift of salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ will not be available here forever. There is a day that the Church will be gone and they will be wishing they had accepted the invitation of God's Grace to be saved. As it is written:

"He, that is often reproved hardeneth [ his] neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."- Proverbs 29:1 King James Version of the Bible

I worked in a 5 and dime department store as an assistant manager. The manager of the store was an ardent unbeliever. In fact he mocked my faith in God every chance he got to do so. Another believer who was a costumer in the store said to him one day "God is going to judge you for how you are treating him" after she over heard him mocking me. He was hysterical, he continued his mocking of Christ and he made sure everyone heard it. I quietly prayed for his soul, "Lord do not kill him for mocking your anointed children". Soon thereafter the manager was hospitalized with a terminal sickness. His wife came to me and apologized in his stead for all the mocking he made of my faith in Christ, I told her that I had already forgiven him and is praying for his recovery. A few years later, after I had retired from being the assistant store manager, I met that same manager that had mocked my faith in Christ. He was a changed man, he spoke kindly to me and asked what church I belonged to. I told him and invited him to attend. That was the last time I saw him. I only could hope that he accepted Christ into his life, that my witness through my life was not in vain.

The point is that the Grace of God is even extended to sinners but for the sole purpose of getting them to repent. It is the Church's job to make sure that people know the fact of what the Grace of God has enabled them to do. If the Church fails to do so, how will they learn what they are enabled to do by the Grace of God?

"How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" -Romans 10:14 King James Version of the Bible

Every believer carries the testimony of Christ. How God saved each one of us. If we do not share our testimony. Who will hear the Gospel in the places the preacher can not be? Another translation renders the last phrase of Romans 10:14 "..And how shall they hear without a witness to tell them?" The First Church after the day of pentecost did not wait on the Apostles to share the testimony of Christ. No they all bore witness to the saving power of Christ, even under the threat and the perscution of the authorities. (Acts 2:1-11, 3, 4:1-31)

Some unbelievers have used the "hypocrite" excuse to reject the Gospel testimony from a believer. This is how I responded to that excuse: Since you know how to be better Christian, come to church and show us how it is done. Or since you know what it takes to be a Christian, why don't you just accept Jesus as your lord and Savior and show us how it is done. The point is there is no perfect people in the Church, and just waiting to get yourself together before you commit to Christ is a misperception of what the Salvation invitation is. People in church are sinners that are saved by the grace of God, not by the perfection of the performance of their lives. People in church are learning how to get God's will right in their lives, the only difference between an unbeliever of God and a believer in God is faith. So if you are an unbeliever all you need to do is repent and believe in the finished work of Christ. Accept Jesus as you lord and Savior. If you are a believer all you have to do is repent of the sinful living and live holy for God. Don't you think that God's Grace is worth living Holy for?

IV. In Closing....

What I hope to do in this article is to enlighten each believer about the enabling power of God's Grace. God already knows that we each can not live this Christian life to perfection on our own merits or efforts. So God gives us Grace, the enablement to get it right in our lives. Because of the blessing of living for God and doing His will far out weighs anything on this earth that we hold valuable. Let us not make the same mistake the rich young ruler made when Jesus told him to sell all he had and come follow him. The rich young ruler went away sorrowfully because he did not want to part with the worldly riches that he accumulated. What was Jesus really offering to the young rich ruler? A life of poverty? No. Jesus was trying to get him to experience the unfathomable riches of living holy for God. The rich young ruler only followed the Law to get rich, he did not want to live rich in God by living holy for God. The Disciples inquired about this and Jesus told them this:

"And he said unto them , Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and the world to come life everlasting"- The Gospel of Luke 18:29+30 King James Version of the Bible

What this means that Living Holy for God is not a wasted venture. That there is a payoff and better yet you don't have to die to get it. All you have to do is live holy for God and do away with your sins. You might have to leave some relationships behind, you might have to leave some investments behind, you may even have to let go some of your commitments. If those relationships or investments and commitments are not allowing you to live a holy life unto God, you are frustrating the Grace of God by not parting from them. The rich young ruler missed out on the greatest opportunity of his life, all because he valued his worldly riches that he accumulated more that living holy for God. Will you make they same type of mistake?
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