Faith and grace are two of the absolute foundations of Christianity. The church is built upon salvation that was purchased and provided for humanity by the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture clearly teaches us that our right standing with God is not based upon our deeds or works but it is through the righteousness provided to us by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
To try and sum this up (really hard to do) I will say that faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ provides us access to His grace. It is His grace that allows mercy, forgiveness, regeneration and the presence of the Holy Spirit to be manifested in our lives. Salvation is not based on our worth but upon our willingness to accept God’s gift. We do not earn salvation nor do our actions disqualify us from His mercy. All of us are unqualified and yet all of us are offered the gift of grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I wanted to preface this message by reiterating the basics of salvation by grace through faith because I want to talk about works. As I share about this I wanted it to be clear that the works I am talking about are not in relationship to earning mercy, forgiveness or salvation. The works I want to talk about are in direct relationship to the blessings promised by God to those who will obey His Word.
I believe it is important to recognize and understand the difference between our position with the Lord and our promises from the Lord and the daily practice of our faith. When we understand these I believe we can definitely live in freedom. Freedom from the pressure to perform so that God will be pleased with us, and freedom to believe and obey the Word of the Lord, knowing that we have already been given His blessing and His favor.
God is pleased with you. God accepts you. God loves you. God has placed His favor upon you. God has adopted you as His child. God has seated you with Christ in heavenly places. You are washed. You are cleansed. You are a new creature.
You hold this position before Almighty God only because the blood of Jesus Christ paid the price for it to happen. Our position is secure but it is a position that was secured for us by our Savior. We enter into this position when we repent of our sins and believe the gospel.
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6 NLT)
Here are a few things to remind ourselves of concerning our position:
- We have been given a gift that can never be earned, repaid or justified
- We have been given this standing before God and by God because we have accepted the free gift that He died so that we could have
- God wants us and every other person to be in this position because God wants every person to be saved.
- The only person that can change my position with God is me. We would have to consciously and purposefully reject the gift of grace provided by Jesus; walking away from our faith.
- Our position doesn’t require our perfection. It does however demand our pursuit of holiness and perfection in Jesus Christ. Our position was secured by grace and it is also sustained by grace.
The scripture is filled with divine if/then formulas that lead to literal blessings or curses for those who obey or disobey. Many of these promises are related to our natural lives, our human relationships, our health, our finances and even our standing in society.
The promises of God belong to believers because of Jesus Christ. They are rightfully ours to stand upon by our right to do so is provided by grace.
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NLT)
Here are a few things to remind ourselves of concerning God’s promises:
- God’s promises all have an obedience clause attached to them. Without our participation through obedience to the Word of the Lord we will not enjoy the manifestation of the promises of God.
- The Word of the Lord works for everyone, everywhere, all of the time; regardless of age, sex, nationality, education or income. His Word is Spirit and it is life.
- Our lifestyle must be biblical (i.e., holy) if God’s Word is going to work in our lives. We cannot lay hold of the benefits or blessings or God while ignoring the righteousness and holiness of God.
- Persecution and trials are a part of the promise for the believer in the Word of God. Struggle is not a sign of ill favor; He has declared that His grace is sufficient for us in every situation.
Living the Word makes it active in our lives. Studying the Word must lead to living the Word. It is as we apply the truths and principles of God’s Word to our lives that we experience the manifestation of it promises.
This is true on every level, from salvation to tithing. If we desire God to be active in our lives, leading us, communing with us, using us to build His Kingdom and blessing our lives we have to be people of His Word.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
Grace opened the door for us to be in covenant with God and have access to His promises but we must also practice the truth we believe. Our lives must line up with the Word in order for the Word to work in and through us.
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10 NLT)
Here are a few things to remind ourselves of concerning the practice of our faith:
- The door of blessing is always unlocked by our faithful obedience to God’s Word.
- Following Jesus involves the transformation of our entire life.
- The Holy Spirit is changing us continually. We are not completely like the Lord Jesus Christ but because of grace we are not the person we were before we met Jesus.
- We believe that God’s Word is true. Because we believe that God’s Word is true we trust (or have faith) in God and His promises. As a result of our faith in God and His promises we take action and practice that which we believe.
To sum this message up, I am trying to encourage each of us to trust the Lord enough to live His Word on a daily basis.
As a believer we are in right standing with God because of grace. Because we are in right standing with God all of His promises are “Yes and Amen” to us in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Because His promises are “Yes” to us we can experience the direct blessing and favor of God in our lives. It is through the promises of His Word and through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that any and every obstacle can be overcome, every trial can be endured and every temptation can be resisted.
Let each of us place Jesus at the center of our lives. Let us make His Word the rock that we have built our lives upon. Let us not only believe its promises but let us practice it in every area of our lives.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)