In my last post I discussed verse 23, which is a much used and well known scripture. It spoke of the fact that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I spoke also of the redemption that is possible for those who subsequently come to God seeking a better life and desiring to seek and do God's will.
In these next few verses we see Paul speak of this redemptive power and how it is to be received. It is a wonderful scripture and too often overlooked because so many focus on the fact that we are all sinners.
This scripture shows that even though we all start out in sin, we do not have to stay in that terrible place. There is a solution and there is a means by which we can find redemption and once again be reconciled to God.
The secret to this redemptive power, not that it is any great secret, is contained in these few verses.
Grace – The Starting Point
Grace is the key to redemption. Grace is the overarching cover-all that God has chosen to establish so that we can be redeemed and made right in His sight.
Faith is the process by which we receive God's grace, but at all times we must remember it is the gift of grace, given by God that sets us free from sin and reconciles us to Him.
Jesus, and specifically the offering of His life in replacement for our own is the thing that reconciles us to God and baptism is the means by which we take on Jesus' death as our own to be reconciled.
But all of these things are only a beginning and all of these things would not even be possible without the grace of God.
Grace is the undeserved kindness and favour of God to those who choose to seek Him out and learn and be obedient to His ways. Grace is a blessed gift. You cannot take it, it can only be given by God. And it is given according to His rules and His parameters.
We receive grace when we do the works of God, not the works of the law.
What Are The Works Of God?
The works of God are relatively simple and Jesus saw fit to show us what they are. In John 6:28-29 Jesus explicitly told the people what the works of God are.
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
The works of God are to believe, that is to have faith in the one who God sent for us to believe in, that is Jesus.
That is the works of God. And when we do that we receive God's grace as a gift so that we may then receive all the other promises He has made to and for us.
Now I made the comment above that this grace and the faith and baptism and so on are just the beginning points. So you might be wondering what comes next?
Walking With The Lord
After the initial steps we take as Christians comes the process of growing and maturing in Jesus Christ. It is mature, stable and trustworthy people that God is seeking and so He has made allowance for us to achieve maturity and stability by walking with The Lord.
There are a number of different paths that people walk in their lives, but the only one that leads to maturity and stability is the path of a Christian, for it is only by walking with The Lord that we can grow into the image of Jesus Christ.
The following are the different walks a person may take and they are progressive and follow in the order shown. They are in summary:
- Walking in Sin – this is the path all the people of the world begin on. Those who choose to reject Jesus never get off this path
- Walking in Hope – this is the next stage a person comes to when they begin to realise they are in a bad place and are seeking a way out. It is a place of hope and seeking for a better life. Some find The Lord, but others look for other strange and diverse teachings that do not lead to life, so their hope is wasted.
- Walking in The Lord – this is the path the new Christian embarks upon when they come to know Jesus. It is the starting point of their lives as new creations after accepting Jesus as saviour, having faith in God, being baptised and beginning to seek The Lord.
- Walking in the Spirit – this is the stage after a person has received the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach, counsel, guide and protect us as we continue walking in The Lord. More importantly the work of the Holy Spirit is to work the transformation in each person so that they are transformed and renewed, so that the fleshly desires, passions, lusts and human impulses are brought under control to obey Jesus Christ. It is a time of perfecting in the individual.
- Walking in Love – this is the final walk where a person has been transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Walking in love is about how we live in relationship with God, Jesus and with one another. God is love and when we are walking in love we walk as God would walk. It is the fully mature state of the Christian. And I have no idea how long it takes to get there.
Restored By Grace
Understanding this is the progression of our walk with The Lord and the path to maturity in Jesus Christ, we also recognise that as we continue down this path there will be many obstacles.
We will trip up and fall. We will stray from the straight and narrow. We will make mistakes and bad decisions.
And God knows we will have all kinds of problems until we reach the zenith of His desire for us…to be perfect as He is perfect.
And once again that is where grace comes into play.
Grace is not a one off thing. It is an ongoing commitment by God that He will overlook all of those problems, mistakes, failings and bad decisions because He wants is to learn obedience. He wants us to want to be with Him and so we need to learn what we need to know to live in His presence.
And so even though we mess up, it is his undeserved kindness, favour, forgiveness and mercy that allows us to keep pushing forward. He has provided all we need to be able to get us there and then by His grace covered all of our failures. His compassion and mercy are infinite provided we continue to seek Him out and continue the walk with Jesus Christ.
And the blessings that await are likewise boundless and endless, as if His grace were not enough. But it is because of His grace that we even have the opportunity to receive this wonderful salvation.
Let's face it. God did not have to help us. He did not have to do anything. He could have just destroyed the whole earth and everything in it and on it and just started afresh. But praise to His name He wanted to help us and show us compassion and mercy. And it is that compassion and mercy that we receive in His grace that restores us and carries us as we walk the walk that leads to perfection in Jesus Christ.
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