Wednesday, October 31, 2012

does grace hardly work?

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,13 while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.

The grace of God is often used by some to excuse any and every thing they can think to do. The grace of God can and does cover all of our sin. But the one who through faith accepts this grace walks in the good works God has provided for them. In another one of Paul’s letters, he said it this way:

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
See what Paul did there?
He reinforced emphatically that it is the grace of God alone through faith in Christ alone that saves. It is a gift. It cannot be earned. It is freely given by God to those who by His grace in faith call upon Him. No one can boast about what they did before God because no one appears safely before God because of what they have done.
Paul also said we “should” walk in the good works God has prepared for us. We “ought” to do this. Whenever there is an ought, there is an implication of duty or demand. Paul did not say you “could” walk in them if you wanted or that you “would” if certain circumstances were in place. He said you "should.”
Back to Titus 2.
The motivation for all of this is what has already been done for us. The Gospel is always the motivator of our behavior as Christians following after Jesus. We do not revert to attempting to keep the Law to keep Jesus. We do, however, honor the Law and recognize that it displays the full glory and holiness of God. We respect the Law. We desire to uphold it inasmuch as any is able in response to Christ.  We are free only in Christ.  We are not free to do whatever we want.  We are freed from doing whatever we want and inspired to do what He commands  More than being free to be me, we are freed to be meek. We can imperfectly love our God and our neighbor knowing that in Jesus we are seen as having done so perfectly. This is not an excuse to “get out of jail free,” but a motivation to eagerly serve our gracious God.
Our two biggest problems are solved sufficiently in Christ.
(1) Our sin deserves perfect punishment: Jesus died. for us.
(2) Our God deserves perfect obedience: Jesus lived and now lives for us.
If these declarations are yours by grace and through faith, you will find yourself surprised to be responding in kind to that which you have so kindly had extended to you. 
God does not need your good works. But your neighbors do.

1 comment:

  1. i love that a true explanation of grace and works puts to shame people who rely only on "grace" (which is really just lawlessness) AND those who rely primarily on works. god's grace provides a prominent place for works, but only as an outpouring of gratitude for what god has already accomplished, not as a way to earn our way to righteousness.