My apologies for those of you who now have that “about dat bass” song in your head now, but lately I’ve been perplexed about something. Is following the Messiah really a trouble free, easy grace ride? I’m not at all trying to suggest that we are rescued (saved) from the consequences of our sins by our own merit. Thank God for Grace, unmerited favor!
But is that it? Do we just receive a “get out of hell free” card and go about our merry way? It seems there are two theological extremes that are prominent today. One emphasizes grace in such a way that suggests a believer is incapable of sin – no matter what they do. The other emphasizes holiness, sanctification and repentance. Honesty, both have their points – and this post is not an attempt to argue either side.
If it were, then my stance would probably be somewhere in the middle.
My point is, what did Jesus say about the after grace life. If we are truly believers, what is expected of us. Read your bible – check. Pray every day – check. Go to church regularly – check. Pay tithes and give – check. Unfortunately, you can do all those things faithfully and still be lost as a goose. To really know what is expected of us, maybe we should listen to how the King separates the sheep from the goats…
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me
(Matthew 25:34-36 HCSB)
“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you:Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me. ’
(Matthew 25:40 HCSB)
The next few verses are the antithesis. The cursed are evaluated by the same measure and fall short. Something is missing here. Notice the King, Jesus, never says – you believed in me, you repented, you had the right theology or the right faith. In the book of Revelation, in the messages to the seven churches in Asia, Jesus says repeatedly – I know your works. And one of the last warnings He gives should make us take note:
“Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.
(Revelation 22:12 HCSB)
Let me reiterate, the point here is not that we are saved by works. But for those who would say that our works are irrelevant, many verses have to be ignored in order to absolutely defend that stance.
For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.
(2 Corinthians 5:10 HCSB)
He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self- seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness
(Romans 2:6-8 HCSB)
There are volumes written over the centuries on this topic by writers more learned and eloquent than me. There are differing opinions about when these judgments occur and if they are reward or punishment based, etc. I won’t even attempt to address all that. However, I think it’s obvious that “all about that grace” is only part of the picture.
Grace is not a resting place, but should be a launching pad. The true miracle of Grace is not just that we are unequivocally redeemed and forgiven from sin, but also that we are empowered by the very Life and Spirit of Christ to live an abundant life full of His works, and not our own. How can we cheapen His ultimate sacrifice by denying that the very power and Spirit that raised Him from the dead now empowers us to live like Him!
But it’s not about keeping rules. The Pharisees were good at that. Jesus broke their rules even by who He associated with. But Jesus told them they missed the point.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means:I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners
(Matthew 9:11-13 HCSB)
Jesus quoted from Hosea 6:6 but the theme is often repeated in the scriptures. Obedience, loyalty and love before sacrifice. It’s really very simple.
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it:Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands
(Matthew 22:36-40 HCSB)
I contend that Grace should exude evidence of these principles. We won’t stand before the King and be evaluated for rule keeping. But if we have truly received grace, then grace should abound. Perhaps we should look for that evidence around us. Jesus said it looks like this:
The hungry and thirsty are satisfied.
The stranger has a place to stay.
The poor are clothed.
The sick are cared for.
The prisoner is visited.
That list, is ALL about dat Grace!