The Unending Gift of God’s Grace

We often think of God’s grace in terms of our initial salvation.  We are saved by grace.  We are released from the penalty of our sin by God’s free gift; by Christ’s death in our place on the cross.  When we place our faith in this free gift, we are saved.

But God’s grace continues to be extended to us long after our salvation decision.  We are not saved by God’s grace and then left with a list of instructions of “how to live the Christian life”.  No, the Christian life itself is an ongoing and never-ending gift of God’s grace.  We can only live as God would have us live by the power of His grace.  God’s grace literally fuels the life we live; a life of setting aside lawless deeds and becoming zealous for good works.

Paul explains it this way.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

God’s grace has appeared to all men so that those who receive it would, in the here and now, and by His grace:

  • receive salvation.
  • be instructed in saying “no” to sin.
  • be instructed in saying “yes” to righteousness and godliness.
  • be hopeful for His return.
  • be set free from every lawless deed.
  • be made pure.
  • be Christ’s own possession.
  • be zealous for good deeds.

All of these things are made possible by God’s ongoing grace.  Remember, the Christian life itself is a gift of pure grace.  Or to put it another way, “Grace is not just a door by which we enter the Kingdom.  Grace is how we live, move, and thrive in the Kingdom.”

Too Good to Be True?

From the time we were children, we were instilled with the idea that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.  You will reach a stage in life of ownership and accomplishment only through hard work.  There may be some luck along the way, but by and large, you will work for what you get.  It is that straightforward.  It is that simple.”

Now grace comes along and turns that idea completely on its head.  Let me explain.  I am not against hard work.  We taught our children how to work, and they have carried that on into their adult lives.  I am happy about that.  The problem comes when we take our work ethic into the realm of religion.  Yes, I said religion on purpose.  Because apart from Christianity, every religion in the world taps into this “work for what you get” mentality.  You “earn” through how hard you “work”.

The Christian message, the gospel message, the good news?  You receive because you believe.  You receive because of what Christ did.  You receive because Christ did the “earning” in your place.  You receive because Christ has given life to you by His grace, completely apart from any work by you.  Simply believe!

But we aren’t so sure.  We want to be rewarded for our effort.  We want some credit.  We want to bring our work-to-earn thinking into our Christianity.  But Christ will have nothing of it.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that salvation is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph 2:8-9).  No work-to-earn here.

So why do we resist the idea of this free gift?  I think there are at least two reasons.  First, it just doesn’t sound right.  It goes against what we have been taught.  It goes against the outcome we expect.  I guess you could say that it appears too good to be true.  But it is true.  “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, and that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).  No work-to-earn here; just the good news of grace.

Second, we like to look at how we compare to those around us.  If everyone is getting this salvation gift for free, how can I compare my effort to the other guy?  He looks like he is not working as hard at this Christian life as I am.  How can he receive the same gifts; the gift of God’s presence, the gift of eternal life, the gift of a new nature and new heart, and so much more?  There needs to be some scale to the gift that is commensurate with my effort.

No, the gift of God’s salvation, the gift of God’s love, the gift of God’s approval and acceptance are completely free.  If there is a “work” to be done, Jesus explained it this way … “Then they said to Jesus, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’  Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (Jn 6:28-29).  Jesus’ answer to the “work” to be done?  Simply believe.

A New Power Over Sin

When you believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ … you received a NEW POWER OVER SIN.

One aspect of the overflowing power that we wrote about yesterday is our new power over sin.  This is sadly one of the most misunderstood provisions of the New Covenant.  And it would be bad enough if it were simply due to a lack of knowledge.  And while there certainly is a lack of teaching in the church on our new identity in Christ and all that Christ accomplished both FOR us and IN us, the sad reality is that there are volumes of teaching that deny, contradict, and distort the promise and provision of the New Covenant that is ours in Christ Jesus.  And one of the most powerful of these overlooked promises is your freedom from sin’s power.

Too many theologies emphasize a civil war inside us between a sin nature and a righteous nature that hounds us our entire life as a believer.  Your sin nature died at the cross.  There is no war between two opposing natures inside you.  You have been re-created with one nature; a holy and righteous nature (Eph 4:24).  Righteousness is your new default mode.  Righteousness flows from your new heart.  Righteousness flows from your new nature.  Righteousness flows from your new creation.

As I have written before, we no longer have a propensity toward sin.  We no longer have to be driven by “the flesh” as a somehow insurmountable force in our lives.  Do believers commit sins?  Yes, we still have a capacity to sin.  But the propensity toward sin, our helpless default mode to sin, is gone.  Big difference between propensity and capacity.  May you experience your new power over sin today!

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus … For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”   Romans 6:6-11, 14

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”   Galatians 5:24-25

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”   I Peter 2:24

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”   I Peter 4:1-2

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”   Titus 2:11-14

A New Power

When you believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ … you were filled to overflowing with a NEW POWER.

The word “power” appears over a hundred times in the New Testament.  Some of those references are to displays of Christ’s divine power while here on earth and in His future return.  A few refer to the specific power of God in raising Christ from the dead.  Some verses describe the power of the evil one.  But many of these “power” verses portray the power of God living and working in us, His children.  You indeed have been filled to overflowing with a new power.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”   Acts 1:8

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”   I Corinthians 1:18

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”   II Corinthians 12:9

“So that you may know … the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”   Ephesians 1:19

“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”   Ephesians 3:16

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”   Ephesians 3:20

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”   Philippians 3:10

“Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints.”   Colossians 1:11-12

“For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”   Colossians 1:29

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.”   II Thessalonians 1:5

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   II Timothy 1:7

“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”   II Peter 1:3

“After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.’ “   Revelation 19:1

A New Freedom

When you believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ … you gained a NEW FREEDOM.

Freedom is one of my favorite words to describe the Christian life.  Jesus was not a political liberator.  He was a spiritual liberator.  He came to pronounce freedom from the sin that enslaved us.  And His freedom removes the chains of guilt, shame, pride, fear, worry, unworthiness, and the power of sin itself.  But experiencing this freedom is not automatic.  We need to believe it, live it, and walk in it.  Christ has given you everything you need to throw off your chains.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”   Luke 4:18

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”   John 8:36

“Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”   Romans 6:6-7

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”   Romans 8:2

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”   Galatians 5:1

“For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”   Galatians 5:13