Life in the Spirit

HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN?

 

We grow up and live in a society where very few people emerge as leaders and the vast majority as followers.
In the Christian life however, each one must learn to stand on his/her two feet firmly planted on the solid foundation which is Jesus Christ. Whatever one builds on this foundation, his/her work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (1Cor.3:12-13).
 
It is written, “But to each one of us grace was or has been given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph.4:7).
 
Grace is what brought us thus far in life, and it is grace that will bring us to our final destiny. Grace is what taught our hearts to fear, and grace relieved us of fear.
 
What is this thing called Grace?
 
Grace is God’s Unmerited Favor, which consists of:-
 
  1. His only Begotten Son whom He gave for the life of the world. He is life eternal and has been given to man as a gift, by which all humanity can come to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn.17:3, 1Jn.5: 20).
He gives to all men life and breath and everything else so that men will seek him, and perhaps reach out for him, and find him although he is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our existence.
 
By one Spirit we were all baptized or immersed into him at his death. According to the words of Jesus Christ himself, “I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (.Jn.12:24).
 
This he said referring to his body that has become the true vine and we are all the branches. The branch that does not bear fruit, the Father who is the husbandman cuts, and the one that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. In order to be fruitful one has to remain in the vine, because without him one can do nothing.
 
The question is “Have we taken this aspect of God’s grace in vain?
 
  1. Gifts, talents, and abilities: This aspect of God’s grace is to be used to the honor and glory of God, and to minister to others for the benefit and common good of all. As it is written; “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If any one speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 4:10; Rom.12:6; 1Cor. 12:4-7).
 
Have we again taken this aspect of God’s grac
e in vain?
 
  1. God’s forgiving Mercy. This aspect of God’s grace is his act of forgiveness. The medium by which sins are forgiven, diseases healed, life redeemed from destruction as alluded to in (Psalms 103: 2-5) which reads, “Praise the Lord O my soul; and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
 
If this aspect of God’s grace is not being realized one should question him/herself and ask why? It is further stated in the scriptures saying; “If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me’, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:9-16).
 
And we have been given the assurance that, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful”(1Cor.1:9).
 
Therefore, if for any reason a true believer in Christ is not reaping the benefits of this aspect of God’s grace, it is simply because he/she is not partaking of the provisions provided, maybe not as often as he/she should, or he/she is partaking of the provisions provided in an unworthy manner.
 
As it is clearly stated; “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself, that is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1Cor. 11:27-30).
 
As often or whenever one eats this bread, and drinks this cup which represents the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he/she proclaims or makes known publicly, thus fulfilling the purpose for which Christ died, until he comes.
 
Remember, the cup is the new covenant or agreement of Christ’s blood for the remission of sins, without which there is no forgiveness.
 
 
  1. The Gospel; the medium by which we can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17, 2Pet. 3:18, Col. 3:10).
 
God’s grace can be received in vain if: Like the servant who received the one talent, did not invest it, but hid it in a napkin.
By abandoning God’s grace and never invest it.
Not making maximum, effective use of it. And, by not using it properly, as alluded to in scriptures saying, “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men”. (Mk. 7:6-9).
 
No matter what portion of grace one has received, it is grace that trains and teaches us. Our teacher is the Holy Spirit whom the Father sends in the name of Jesus Christ to teach us all things, and bring to remembrance all things spoken by Jesus Christ. We have an anointing from the Holy one and know the truth (Jn.14:26; 1Jn. 2:20).
 
When we do not believe and understand the truth, we allow the wicked one to come and snatch away what is sown in our heart. According to the scriptures, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart” (Matt.13:19).
 
But the irony of truth is, “The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1Jn.2:27).
 
As the Spirit teaches, our duty is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are not to be conformed to this world, following the Status Quo, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God, and as we behold the glory of the Lord from what is learnt from the scriptures, we are to be changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.
 
Christianity is one’s personal relationship with God. It is, “To him who knows to do what is good, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).”If one says, “Surely we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? (Prov.24:12).
 
Each one will be rewarded according to his own work (Ps. 62:12; Job 34:11; Rom.2:6; 1Cor. 3:8; Matt. 16:27; 2Cor. 5:10).
 
If anyone has faith, let him has it to himself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Rom.14: 22).
 
Since Christianity is one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ, where does the church fit in this dispensation, or the stewardship that has been entrusted to it?
 
Firstly, in this new dispensation we are all sufficient or competent Ministers of the new covenant. “Not that we are sufficient or competent in ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2Cor. 3:4-6).
 
The role of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and teachers in the church is:-
 
Not to lord it over those entrusted to them, serving under compulsion, and greedy for money; but rather; serving eagerly and willingly as overseers, being an example to the flock. (1Pet. 5:2-3; Acts 20:28; Heb 13:7).
They are to equip the saints for the work of ministry; and edifying the body of Christ. (Eph.4:11-14).
They are to warn them of impending disaster (Isa.58:1 Ezek.3:17).
 
The responsibility of the members is to
Follow their examples considering the outcome of their conduct (Heb. 13:7; 1Cor. 4:16; 1Cor. 11:1; 2Thes. 3:6-11).
Be obedient and submissive to their rule (Heb.13:17, Phil. 2:29; 1Thes.5:12-13).
Share in all good things with him who teaches (Gal.6:6; 1Cor.9:11, 14; Rom.15: 27, 1Tim.5:17).
 
Let us learn how to maximize the use of God’s grace to his honor and glory, and let us not be guilty of receiving it in vain.
 
With brotherly love
Lucius Joseph





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