Grace In Vain

Saturday, July 13, 2013, 5:33 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song:

Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013

Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8

Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.

May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”

“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”

Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; 7:2-10 (NIV):;

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul was concerned for the Corinthian church that they may be led away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ by false teachers of the gospel, and thus receive God’s grace in vain. God’s grace is his kindness, favor and mercy toward us. His grace was provided for us via Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and his resurrection to life in conquering death, hell, Satan and sin. He freed us both from the penalty of sin and from bondage to and the control of sin over our lives - so that we could have new lives in Christ Jesus, walking daily in his truth and in his righteousness. Jesus paid far too high a price for our sins to have us return to slavery to sin and to living for ourselves and for worldly pleasure.

To receive something means to hear and to grasp something, to welcome it, and/or it means to obtain and accept it. To accept something means that we consent and agree with it. Yet, if we receive something in vain, it means it is ineffective, unsuccessful, useless, unproductive and/or pointless. It appears, thus, to receive something in vain is to not truly receive it at all, i.e. it appears to me that this receiving of God’s grace must have been on a very surface level and the seed must have never really taken root for it to be in vain. Or, it could be that they did receive God’s grace in truth, but then they were deceived by a clever lie which then led them astray, or it had the potential of leading them astray.

James 2:17 says: In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

And, Luke 9:23-25 says this: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”

So, if the receiving of God’s grace, i.e. if our faith does not result in changed lives, it is dead and we have “believed” in vain, which is really no belief at all. We need to understand this because there are so many preachers and teachers who are saying just the opposite. Many are claiming that Jesus does everything and nothing is required of us – no dying to sin and self daily, and no obedience to Christ is required for genuine saving faith. Some even take it so far as to not even require faith, which would mean that everyone would be saved. Yet, scripture teaches us that narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Paul contrasted a life that is truly changed by the gospel message with one that is still hanging on to the world and to worldly influences. In vv. 3-13 Paul gave a vivid description of a life that has truly been changed (altered and transformed) by the gospel message. It is a life that will endure hardships, trouble, beatings, imprisonments and sleepless nights, etc. for the sake of the gospel and the salvation of human lives. It will do so “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God… through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors… sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” It will give its life, in life or in death, for the salvation of human lives. Yet, it may not do so with absolute perfection, for we won’t reach perfection until we get to heaven.

Yet, it was essential to Paul’s relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as to the productivity of his ministry in other people’s lives, that he lived an exemplary life so that his ministry was not discredited. In other words, Paul and his fellow apostles knew that, if they were going to be effective ministers for Jesus Christ in all that they said and did, that their walk needed to match their talk. I am certain they were not entirely perfect, yet they made it their goal to please the Lord Jesus in every way. And, we should make this our goal, as well.

Yet, in contrast to a life completely sold out to Jesus Christ in every way, though not in absolute sinless perfection, is a life that is still mixing with the world and its influences. So, the call here is, since we have God’s grace and his promises of salvation and eternal life in heaven, that we should “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” At the very least, if we do not repent, we will live ineffective lives for Christ and for the gospel, and will have little to show for our faith. The greatest risk, nonetheless, is that one day we will hear, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” Jesus said we have to die to sin and self if we want to live forever with him.

We should come to God with godly sorrow over our sins and our selfishness - sorrow which then leads to repentance – a radical change of heart and mind away from a life given over to sin and pleasure to a life sold out to Jesus Christ, committed to following him in obedience wherever he leads us. Worldly sorrow feels bad for the sin, or it feels bad for the consequences of the sin (that it was caught), but it does not produce change. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, leads to a changed life in Christ Jesus, which then leads to salvation. So, if you have not done so, be reconciled to God today by grieving over your sin in genuine repentance that turns away from sin and that turns to walk in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ - in surrender to his will for your life.

My Heart’s Desire / An Original Work / June 29, 2013

Based off Rm. 10; Lu. 9:23-26; Ep. 4:20-24

Loved Ones, Oh, my heart’s desire
Is that you might come to Jesus.
Many appear zealous for God,
But they do not trust in Him.
They have not submitted to the One
Who saved them from their sins;
Not forsaken their sins,
Nor have they obeyed their King.

The word of the Lord is near you:
The word of faith we’re proclaiming:
That you must confess your faith
In Jesus as your Lord and King:
Believe in Him as your Lord,
And follow Him where’er He leads.
Share the gospel; be a witness,
And meet others’ needs.

Beautiful are the feet of those
Who bring the good news of Jesus:
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself today;
Die to sin and self, and
Let the Spirit transform you in heart;
Put on your new self in Jesus,
Yielding to the cross.