Ephesians 4:7—Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.
Ephesians gives us a powerful apologetic for the true meaning and application of grace. Too often we hear preached today the message “God loves you and allyou have to do is tell Him you are sorry for your sins, place your faith in His Son, Jesus and you will be saved.” This incomplete statement pales in weight to the message that follows—“Don’t worry about your sin, God has taken care of it. You just do the best you can. God wants to bless you. You don’t need to suffer anymore. Just claim your blessing and live your dreams.” Both messages are well-received and both carry with them an implied assurance that so long as we believe in Jesus we can live our lives in pursuit of whatever pleases us. But watch the progression of truth about grace the Apostle Paul teaches the Ephesians and see if it differs profoundly from what we often hear taught today.
2:8—“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.” To properly understand grace we must understand faith. Nowhere in the gospels (with the obvious exception of the thief on the cross) is it implied that saving faith constitutes a one-time statement of trust in Jesus. Faith is an ongoing process whose authenticity is established by our willingness to believe in Jesus as our Savior andLord. A single declaration followed by a lifetime of ignoring Him is an impotent Savior-formula and does not demonstrate faith or lordship. That this is so is demonstrated by His words to those who on their own terms considered themselves His followers—“Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” (Mat. 7:23) Grace is God’s gift applied to sincere (persevering) faith. Never presume God will give grace to one who initially trusts Him only to go on to a life of willful disobedience and wanton disregard for His authority.
3:8—“This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah.” Paul understood God’s grace was extended to him and that he had a life-long obligation to share His grace with the Gentiles.
4:1—“I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received. . .” Notice that no one walks with one step. Walking is evidenced by continuous directional progress. The point of grace is a life walked in worthiness to God’s extended calling.
4:17-19—“Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. . .” Paul makes it clear that to be a follower of Christ, we must not live impure, immoral lives. Grace never excuses or sanctions sin. Grace insists that we walk in a manner that is God-honoring. This does not mean that we will never sin. It means that we will not consciously justify sin and continue to err in defiance of God’s commands.
4:22-24—“you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” To put on the new man, is to identify and live like Jesus, the New Man. One receives grace from sin to put off sin. One receives grace to walk as Jesus walked.
6:24—“Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.” The evidence of grace at work in a person’s life is “undying love” for Jesus. Notice the whole purpose and point of a person clothed in grace is to love and obey the object of love—Jesus Christ!
Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church . . . Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner . . . Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
If you hear taught from any platform, that you can sin without worry because grace is without limit; that you can live as you please, because grace covers your life; that you should never suffer as a child of God, RUN or stand up and rebuke the false teacher! This is not the message that Jesus taught His disciples to teach the world. This is the heretical teaching of those who have made a mockery of the spilt blood of Christ to justify the application of their will for their pleasure under the guise of heavenly blessing.
True grace is costly. We embrace faith and we renounce identification with the world and our right to live as we please so as to identify with Christ and obey Him! This grace does not justify sin, it justifies the sinner. “The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
©2012 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship. New York: The Macmillan Company ©1963