Tag Archives: Grace

Supplement your Faith

 

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7

The very title of this post should give even the most tenuous confessor of justification by faith alone reason to set up and take notice. Anytime we hear of anything coming alongside faith an internal red-flag goes up and all defenses say ignore what follows, lest it derail into notions of legalism. Immediately the Luther-like debate of Paul versus James comes to mind and we divorce ourselves from any responsibilities other than a one-time belief in Christ at the moment of our justification. That idea has become popular today, a sort of Lutheran revival of effortless Christian living. But that is not what James was saying and that is not what Peter is saying in the passage above. Let there be no mistake, justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but the Christian life is one of effort, not passivity.  Let us not be guilty of quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 and forgetful of verse 10 that follows, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Those twin truths need to be held together.

In 2 Peter, the Apostle begins his letter with the charge that believers (those who have obtained faith, vs. 1) ought to make their calling and election sure. The foundation for his exhortation comes in verses 3 and 4 when he states,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

In stating this, he ensures that his message to follow is grounded in the saving and justifying work of Christ who has granted divine power, via the Holy Spirit, and united believers with Himself such that they now are partakers of the divine nature and consequently have separated themselves from worldly corruption that comes by way of sinful desires. It is because of that he exhorts believers to supplement their faith with:

  • Virtue
  • Knowledge
  • Self-Control
  • Steadfastness
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly affection
  • Love

With this encouragement in mind, we should not shrink back from good works, but instead should push forward and desire high moral standards, a desire to grow in our knowledge of God, fight for self-control in battling the desires of the flesh, determined and resolute to stay the course of faithfulness, with a character defined by godliness in loving the things that God loves and hating the things that God hates, evidencing itself in love towards fellow believers and love toward others. If we make these our duty, not in the hopes to add to our salvation, but working from the basis of our salvation then Peter says, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8

Have you wondered why you may be unfruitful or ineffective in your Christian walk? Like a weightlifter with muscle atrophy it becomes all the more necessary to take the necessary supplements to ensure proper strength and growth. In doing so, we will find ourselves growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), fruitful and effective in all that He calls us to do.

Sustaining Grace

“1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

In the passage above, the Apostle Paul provides for us a glimpse of the sovereign sustaining grace of God.  In sustaining grace, I’m referring simply to grace provided by God, at the time we need it, in the amount we need, such that it sustains us through difficulty, be it trials, tragedies, or tests of faith.  In Paul’s account, he had been given a vision of heaven, one in which he was instructed to keep silent about.  In God’s omniscience, He knew that such a grand vision would create in fallen, sinful man (even one as righteous as Paul) the propensity to boast, so in order to humble Paul, we are told he received from God a thorn in the flesh.  Many commentators have speculated about what this could be, but that may be an unnecessary point of contention.  The real focus of this passage is the grace of God.  Note, Paul pleaded with God for removal of the thorn, yet God persisted in saying that His grace was sufficient and that through Paul’s weakness the Lord’s power would be made perfect.  Simply stated, Paul’s struggle, whatever it may have been, caused him to rely on God’s strength and not his own.  And that’s where sustaining grace comes in.  Paul was able to rely on God because of grace.  Certainly his own strength was emptied, such that his reliance was solely on the strength of God through the grace of God.  A powerful reminder for us indeed.

What are you struggling with believer?  Health?  You need grace.  The loss of a loved one?  You need grace.  An unwelcomed change in circumstances?  God’s grace is sufficient.  Marital, financial, employment, relationships, the strengthening of your faith.  All require the sovereign sustaining grace of God.  May that be your prayer today, that God would supply grace in your time of need, such that you can say with Paul, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Grace and Peace to you!

By All Means, Let Grace be Grace!

Hopefully you read the post from earlier this week and were challenged by the truths to turn back to God, repent of your sins, and begin living for Him.  Maybe even God has been working on you and you’ve felt Him chasing after you.  Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV says, “…My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”  It’s out of love that He pursues you and wants you back.  Don’t be discouraged, or continue to evade God, surrender to Him.  With that said, how then do we follow up on a message like backsliding, where we placed emphasis on producing fruit in our lives as evident of a true conversion and salvation in Christ?  We back that message up the same way that the Bible does by teaching that these works and “fruits” are meaningless if they are done from the flesh and not the Spirit.  No amount of works or fruit is going to get you anywhere, much less heaven, unless the Holy Spirit is working in your life to produce this fruit.  There is no such thing as “works salvation” or justification by faith + works.  There is grace and by all means, let grace be grace!

The Apostle Paul, writing about the divine sovereignty of God to bring those whom He’s called to salvation, says this in Romans 11:6 ESV regarding grace, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”  If we attempt to earn or work our way to salvation then it takes away the grace of God, resulting in grace no longer being grace.  Grace is a gift and by its definition is unmerited favor.  That means nothing you’ve done or could ever hope to do will earn you grace.  In this same manner, nothing can be done to pay back grace.  We can’t say, well God gave me grace, I’m a Christian, now I’m going to pay Him back by doing more and more.  Romans 3:23-24 ESV says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  It is a gift, through Christ Jesus, given through our faith.

What if our justification, or salvation came from works, meaning the more we did or felt we earned or deserved the more saved we are?  How would that look?  First it would be an absolute mess because who would determine the number of works that would need to be done in order to reach salvation?  What kind?  How would sin get addressed?  The more we would do the greater our sense of pride would well up inside and say, “Look at me!  I’m so great, I did all of this!  I helped all of these people, gave this amount of money, worked for this charity, I earned my salvation, I deserve to go to heaven.”  Well Paul specifically addresses this in Romans 3:27-28, “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”  There is no boasting with grace because it wasn’t yours to give and it’s not yours to get, apart from the redemptive work of Jesus.  God pours out grace on us when we believe, through faith, that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins.  One final exhortation from the Apostle, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16 ESV

Apart from grace in our lives, we are not saved.  Without it we can do nothing.  We are at the sole mercy of God, but that’s what makes grace so amazing and marvelous.  We don’t deserve it, but if we trust Christ as Savior, He gives it to us anyway, and that’s when the Holy Spirit begins working in our lives to produce the fruits of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23 ESV, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Trust Christ as Savior, let the Spirit do the work in you and through you and by all means, let Grace be Grace!

Marvelous Grace

Verse 1

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Chorus

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Verse 2

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,

Threaten the soul with infinite loss;

Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,

Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Chorus

Verse 3

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.

What can avail to wash it away?

Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,

Brighter than snow you may be today.

Chorus

Verse 4

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,

Will you this moment His grace receive?

Chorus