WHATEVER HAPPENED TO GRACE? MY WIFE SAYS SHE MOVED TO MINNESOTA.

Really?!

My point is that often we evangelical types forget the magnitude, the outrageousness and the wideness of God’s Amazing Grace. I would love to explore this with any of you who would like to respond. I begin with a passage from Ephesians chapter 2.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

In the Voice Version this is how it reads:

But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.

Words like unfathomable, indescribable, and even incomprehensible are not too extreme to describe God’s grace.

And this passage goes further to say that we have been saved by grace through faith and none of it is our doing, none of it. (Not even the faith part)

So where in any of the above passage do we see anything of our own doing in this salvation grace of God? Salvation is God’s work from beginning to end.

The only ‘work’ that we might be able to do is to leave, walk out of that relationship with God. Let’s put it this way: we are in until we opt out. This is one of the premises of Christian universalism. Now don’t stop reading. This universalism idea has much to offer in the conversation about Grace.

Let’s consider this analogy. We are all in the river together being carried along in God’s love. Some choose to make the leap out of that flowing water. I had a tropical fish that once jumped out of the tank. It’s not long before it realizes the need for water. And so it is with us. After a season God will place the wandering fish back where it belongs. Some fish will see the error of their ways and struggle to get back home by themselves. Kind of like the prodigal son. Ok, maybe it’s not the best analogy but I like it.

But here’s the thing. God’s salvation is through the faithfulness of Christ to show the incomparable riches of his grace. (Verse 7)

How can those riches be displayed, and how can the glory of God be known when we take credit for somehow making salvation possible by our belief? Remember that in the Bible we are looking at a microcosm of salvation encounters over a period of say 100 years in the New Testament narratives. But God’s incredible grace is at work through all eternity and everywhere in all God’s creation.

When we talk about belief, faith or trust we are simply recognizing that there are people who do acknowledge that Christ is the author of our salvation.It is Christ’s faithfulness and his alone that brings salvation to the world. Recognition of Christ and obedience to Christ are essential to the Christian walk but God is up to something quite astounding in bringing the whole creation back to God.

I realize that we can ‘find’ other scriptures to ‘prove’ other than what I have written but let’s do this; let’s consider them all and see what kind of picture they present of the incredible riches of God’s kindness.

 

 

 

 

WAS BEN FRANKLIN RIGHT IN WRITING THAT GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES?

I think so. First of all it is a great doctrine of the Reformed Faith that our salvation, meaning a relationship with God, is by GRACE ALONE through CHRIST ALONE. We cannot earn grace. But we can make the effort to cooperate with grace to make progress in our Christian life.

I think it’s what Paul meant when he wrote to the church in Philippi for the folks there to work hard on their salvation because God was at work in them to live for God’s will and pleasure. (See Philippians 2)

Make no mistake. God acts first in our lives while we are absolutely helpless to do anything for ourselves in the way of a relationship with God. This is all affected through the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

If we though want to learn the scriptures to draw inspiration and direction in our lives from God we make the EFFORT to open the Bible and carefully read. These words will not come by placing the Bible under our pillow and waiting for the scriptures to somehow radiate into our minds.

If we need and want to forgive someone we first depend upon God’s grace that has forgiven us and then we make a determined effort to forgive the other perhaps in some small first steps moving to cooperate with God in God’s desire to pardon and free us and the other. And while we do so we will experience GRACE at work.

Like in sports, grace is the invitation to be on the team. Grace is making the cut. Effort is like practicing, sharpening the God-given skills and sometimes you discover just how great grace can be through efforts that you make.

Effort is the opening of the door for the Holy Spirit to affect God’s will in our lives.

Effort is making the decision to decline so much of the world’s invitation to conform and thus work towards allowing God to transform our minds through disciplines such as prayer, reading, fellowship in order that we can better know the will of God. (See Romans 12)

I think of Abraham called by God (grace) and then leaving his homeland (effort) to find out what God had willed for him. Sometimes we won’t know the full measure of God’s grace until we step into the abyss and abandon ourselves to our Lord. And if we find that we cannot make that effort, no worry. God’s grace is full of patience, understanding and another door WILL open.

By the way, I read that Ben didn’t originate that phrase but as a deist he perhaps did not understand the full effect of God’s saving grace in his life.