God’s Gift of Unmerited Favor, Divine Influence Upon The Heart and Its Reflection In The Life, and Our Free Will
title of this lesson expresses three aspects of the grace of God,
and all three aspects are instrumental in our ultimate salvation,
which incorporates our justification, sanctification, and
glorification in Christ Jesus. To neglect or ignore any one of
these three aspects of God’s grace will cause us to live far
beneath our privileges in Christ and could bring our ultimate
salvation into question. Therefore, they must all work together in
tandem for our conscience to remain clear from the fear of eternal
judgment and for our blessed assurance of salvation in Christ to be
just that, a blessed assurance!
Paul said, “We are saved by grace through faith, not of works [of law] lest any man should boast for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works [of faith] that God ordained beforehand that we should walk in them.” James said, “Faith without works [of faith] is dead.” He went on to ask a rather pointed question, “Can faith without works [of faith] save you?”
Christian believers are justified (made innocent of our past transgressions) by grace through faith, and this is because of God’s unmerited favor extended to us through Christ’s passion, which incorporates His sinless life, brutal beating, death on the cross, burial, resurrection, ascension, and eternal intercession.
We can do no “works of law” to earn our salvation, thus our justification in Christ is based on a childlike faith in God’s “unmerited favor” found in Jesus Christ’s accomplished work on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in our hearts. If we could have earned our salvation through “works of law,” there would have been no reason for Christ to fulfill His passion, and there would be plenty of reason for us to boast in our arrogant satanically inspired religious pride.
Unmerited favor, found only through faith in Jesus Christ, is God’s free gift offered to a world of helpless sinners in need of salvation. The only thing unbelieving sinners need do to experience justification, is repent of their sins and unbelief, believe in, and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (It should be noted that, scripturally speaking, our full initiation into Christ incorporates repentance from works that lead to death and faith towards God, baptism in water in the name of Jesus and baptism in the Holy Spirit. The other two rudimentary doctrines of the church are “the laying on of hands” [for ordination and healing] and eternal judgment.)
Secondly, we are being sanctified by grace through faith in God’s divine influence upon our hearts and it’s reflection in our lives as we allow ourselves to be influenced to the point of resolute obedience to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s directives. It will be greatly beneficial to our cause if we will make daily choices to yield ourselves to the disciplined practice of meditating in God’s holy scriptures, so that we might receive “correction, reproof, and instructions in righteousness in order to be a mature people of God, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
The Christian believers’ responsibility concerning sanctification is to continue and remain in a posture of faith and faithfulness to the divine influence of God, so that His grace will be reflected in our lives to His glory and good pleasure. A good word for this state of being is consecration, which is a condition brought about by our choosing to know and do God’s will instead of our own will. Again, this will require daily discipline on our part around God’s Word and in His Spirit. Discipline is the root word for disciple. Jesus said to the Jews who believed on Him, “If you continue in My words, then you are my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free [from sin.]”
In other words, to be free from sin we must choose to discipline ourselves to continue in His Word and allow ourselves to be influenced by His Holy Spirit. If we choose to do so, we will be vessels of honor, sanctified, set apart, and prepared for the Master’s use. If we choose not to, we will be vessels of dishonor. If we choose to be consecrated unto God appropriating His sanctification by faith and faithfulness, we will be sons of God led by, and walking in the Spirit of God, and we will not fulfill the works of the flesh. If we choose not to be consecrated unto God, we will be sons of disobedience. It would do us well to remember, “the wrath of God abides on the sons of disobedience.” This is true because they are in the business of fulfilling the desires of the sin nature inherited through Adam’s transgression. Paul warned that those who practice the works of the flesh will in no way enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus also told his disciples that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Scribes and Pharisees, they would not enter the kingdom of Heaven. The sin of the Scribes and Pharisees was hypocrisy, being hearers and teachers of the scriptures but not doers of the word. James also warned Christian believers against such behavior. It is important that we think long and hard about these warnings, and if necessary, repent and return to our first love and do the first works again!
We have been created in the image and likeness of God. We have been given a free will. We are not puppets on a string. Our responsibility is to use that free will to conform ourselves (through the power of the Holy Spirit) to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection by being transformed through the renewing of our minds in order to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. His will for us is our sanctification now and our glorification at His second coming and the rapture of the church. Both of these are available and possible for the Christian believer who has been justified by grace through faith.
My brothers and sisters, be encouraged in the Lord, and remember: “Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.” “Christ in you the hope of glory.” “He will perfect that which concerns you.” “Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.” “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day.” Amen.