Grace is the fruit…
We’ve talked about faith & the benefits of well-doing. However, well-doing is no justification for Grace: it is not a reward for well-doing. You better be thankful it is that way otherwise, the pride in man’s heart will make a mockery of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Let me illustrate
President Jonathan has invited you to a magnificent banquet. It is a night to remember. On your way out, you greet the President and desire to show your appreciation.
You say “Mr. President, thank you for a lovely evening. I know this must have been a great expense, so here’s a small contribution to cover the cost.” You press a token into his palm & leave.
That is no compliment. That’s an insult. Grace requires no contribution neither will it accept any from its recipient. Be law-abiding in public & without; carry yourself humbly within the banquet/privates of your heart & favor before man & God will remain yours.
There is a riddle the Bible poses about Grace. Paul said “if it is of works, then grace is no longer grace.” But James says “faith without works is dead.”
I’m persuaded that that is the conundrum which restricts believers to common grace or denies us a closer proximity to God at the banquet.
Both are simply saying there are 2 types of people: sinners who don’t believe Jesus & the sinners who do. All have sinned: there’s none righteous.
Thus, at this banquet, humility is what breaks the protocol of proximity & guarantees entrance of Grace into our lives (James 4:6; Peter 5:5).
Though faith requires work on our path, grace demands the complete neglect of any thought of justification. ‘Justification’ implies we’ve been right all along & someone (God?) has been wrong.
The last thing you want to do is feel justified in well-doing or charity, together, they are an insult to God. So you must be humble to progressively advance through the phases of Grace.
Humility itself is such formless quality that mere thinking you have it, shows that you lack it.
here are the phases of Grace. I should add also that the ultimate goal of Grace is salvation. If you currently enjoy grace without thought for salvation, you are preparing for disgrace.
1. Common Grace: is that benevolence poured out on all men regardless of their spiritual condition. i.e He causes rain to fall on both good & evil; He causes the sun to shine on all. This grace excludes salvation and is characterized by, struggle, stagnation & disgrace.
2. Saving Grace: presents salvation as its destination. While common grace can be said to be a journey to nowhere, saving grace is a journey to somewhere. Most people are satisfied to be on this journey but are little concerned about the destination. Thus, they constantly switch lanes between grace and disgrace. Such persons believe Jesus but denounce Him in attitude.
3. Securing Grace: at this level, we are prepared to give salvation a shot. We understand that the road is rough & unsafe, so we strap on the seatbelts (make a decision) & settle in for the ride. Millions crash at our right and thousands on our left. We ourselves encounter accidents (sin) but the grace of God is sufficient; we are kept secure in spite of sin through grace not skill.
4. Sanctifying Grace: the journey has been temptous but we are now headed uphill to that city which cannot be hidden. Sanctifying grace is what works in the true believer to bring growth, maturity & all round progress. It is that Grace which smoothens the rough edges, heals the wound & pain of our journey and brings forth all the goodness/sweetness which is acceptable to God.
Friend, humbly acknowledge your deficiency to receive grace to belt-up and get going! Don’t settle, there are far better things ahead than any you leave behind.