July 2, 2010

Living by Grace Gives Hope and Assurance

By D. Paul FrederickAs a minister of the gospel, by the grace of our blessed Lord, I’m here to encourage believers with the blessings that are the result of graceful living. I’m here to encourage you to prayerfully consider the ways living by grace gives us hope and assurance.

Living by grace gives hope and assurance because it places us under new management.
One of the most serious problems facing the Christian church today is legalism. It wrenches the joy of the Lord from the Christian believer. Nothing is left but cramped, somber, dull, and listless profession. Legalism is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for obtaining salvation. But when we are living by grace, we realize that everything we need in our Christian experience is a gift from God.

2010 1525 page18I recently saw a special sale offer: “Buy One, Get One Free.” I had to buy one item to get another free. Living by grace is not this way. Living by grace gives me hope and assurance that, along with repentance and obedience, the following blessings are absolutely free:

  • Justification: being set right with God is a gift from God (Rom. 5:15).
  • Sanctification: being made holy by God is a gift (1 Cor. 1:30).
  • Faith is a gift (Rom. 12:3).
  • The Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 2:38).
  • Grace is a gift (Eph. 2:8).
  • Forgiveness is a gift (Acts 5:31).
  • Victory over sin is a gift (1 Cor. 15:57).
  • A new heart is a gift (Eze. 36:26).
  • Righteousness is a gift (Rom. 5:17).
  • Eternal life is a gift (1 John 5:11, 12).

Living by grace gives hope and assurance because it guarantees sure salvation.
Consider 1 Corinthians 15:10. Paul owed it all to “the grace of God.” There are three basic facts about God’s grace as a free gift.

1. God does what He does by grace. Paul deserved the severest kind of judgment, but God gave the man His grace instead.

GC link devotionals2. This free gift enables us to say, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” In our day of high-powered self-achievement and an overemphasis on the importance of personal accomplishments and building one’s own ego-centered kingdom, this idea of giving grace the credit is a much-needed message.

3. God allows us to be what we are by His grace. Grace is not something simply to be claimed; it is meant to be demonstrated. It is to be shared, used as a basis for friendships, and drawn upon for sustained relationships.

The fact is, God helps the helpless, the undeserving, those who don’t measure up, those who fail to achieve His standard (see Rom. 5:15, 20).

Living by grace awakens, enlivens, and empowers to conquer sin because we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, is a creative masterpiece in which biblical truth is made relevant for any generation. It charts the fascinating story of a man called Christian whose pilgrimage from earth to heaven—from sin to salvation—is full of all the struggles and pitfalls life could throw at him. Christian must deal with friend and foe alike, all of whom have descriptive names, such as Evangelist, Help, and Interpreter, who encourage him in his “progress,” and Pliable, Obstinate, Hypocrisy, Apollyon, a giant named Despair, and many others who hinder him.

2010 1525 page18Shortly after encountering Legality, Christian is led by Interpreter into a large room full of dust. It had never been swept since the day it was built. After the cleansing is completed, Christian asks, “What means this?”

“The Interpreter answered, ‘This parlor is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the gospel; the dust is his original sin and inward corruptions that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the Law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. Now, whereas thou sawest that so soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did so fly about that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to show thee, that the law, instead of cleansing the heart (by its working) from sin, doth revive, put strength into, and increase it in the soul, even as it doth discover and forbid it, for it doth not give power to subdue.

“‘Again, as thou sawest the damsel sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure; this is to show thee, that when the gospel comes in the sweet and precious influences thereof to the heart, then, I say, even as thou sawest the damsel lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean through the faith of it, and consequently fit for the King of glory to inhabit.’”

It took grace to cleanse that room of all its defilements. It still does.

Those familiar with The Pilgrim’s Progress may remember Christian’s original name. It was “Graceless.” How about us? Our name is now Christian, but it has not always been so.

Right now, living by grace gives us hope and assurance that rip the heavy pack of sin off our backs. Having been graceless for many years, may we become “grace conscious,” “grace aware,” and “grace-full.”

Living by grace gives hope and assurance because it presents me a Savior who is in the business of saving souls.
The source, object, and secret of hope and assurance are given in 1 John 5:11: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (KJV). Christ died; and His subsequent resurrection from the grave was God’s final payment for sin. And John goes further, showing us the responsibility of living by grace: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13, KJV).

Grace, while totally undeserved (2 Cor. 8:9), is more than adequate for the problem of sin (Rom. 5:20). It is offered to each one of us because God wants us to be with Him forever (John 3:16).

Living by grace gives hope and assurance because it perfects our character, bringing it to completion.
Remember the story of Samuel Naik? He was an Adventist pastor who was beheaded last year in the clash by the Hindus who attacked him brutally for being a Christian. His wife, Mrs. Samuel Naik, is a delegate who is now standing in your presence. Do you need a better living epistle than her today as the whole world church watches her right now, the epitome and icon of God’s amazing grace?

His grace teaches us (see Titus 2:11, 12). God’s grace also allows us to serve Him (see Heb. 12:28). We have to crucify the flesh and live by the grace of God.

His grace allows us to grow (see 2 Peter 3:18). It gives us strength (see 2 Tim. 2:1). His grace also allows us to reach others with the gospel—and to disciple others. “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8, KJV). 

Grace is a divine gift.

Grace is a lasting gift.

Grace is a personal gift.

Grace is a certain gift.

My fellow pilgrims, is the progress more painful than you expected? Are you beginning to wonder if you are on the wrong road?

Trust me, you are not. God is at work in you. His mighty hand is above you. His love is around you. His grace stoops and bends down to reach you. Awake and claim it. You are in the robing room for royalty. The tailor’s name is Grace . . . and when you are perfectly fitted, the process will end. Until then, keep on living by grace.

D. Paul Frederick, pastor, Seventh-day Adventist English church, Hosur, Tamil Nadu, India