Monday, July 13, 2009

Saved by Grace, Then What?

Unfortunately, some Protestants have emphasized salvation by grace not works in such a way that many Christians do not have an orientation toward working with God. The result is that millions are sitting in pews deprived of a dynamic, book of Acts relationship with God. (Franklin, John. "Chapter 36: Intimacy with God through Prayer." Giving Ourselves to Prayer. Terre Haute: PrayerShop, 2008.)
Are you so in awe of God's grace that you've failed to see His purpose for creating you - his purpose for saving you?

As Franklin states in the above quote, many Christians talk about being saved by grace and may show their appreciation by doing good things "in the name of Jesus." But fewer consider the significance of working with God in his kingdom.

Is being thankful for this grace and persuading others to accept salvation by grace all there is to being a follower of Christ? No. There's work to be done. It is specific, humanly incomprehensible, and divinely beneficial.

God has work for us to do
There are plenty of scriptures that indicate we should be doing something as followers of Christ. Some are easier to apply than others.

Colossians 3:23 which says "whatever you do work at it as if working for God" is one of the easier verses to apply. In a sense, we have control. Whatever we do, whatever we choose, whatever happens to come our way, we are to do it as if working for God.

But then there is Ephesians 2:10 which says "we are created for good works." But not just whatever good works happen to come our way. The verse indicates God prepared specific work for us long before we existed.

Jesus didn't just serve the Father in whatever came his way. Jesus worked with God. He stated that he did only what he saw the Father doing. In John 14 Jesus tells us not even his words were his own.

God assigns work immediately
Franklin points out in his chapter on Intimacy with God through Prayer that God put Adam to work in the garden immediately after he breathed life into him (Gen. 2:15). In the same fashion, Jesus said "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." He didn't invite his followers to sit around listening to him preach. He invited them to work.

Jesus also promised in John 14:12 that his followers would do what he had been doing and even more. He came in the flesh to show us how to work with God.

The assigned work creates intimacy with God
Talking with someone is a nice way to learn about them. But if you really want to get to know someone intimately, you need to work beside them in areas that are important to them.

Prayer is the essential element in discovering the assigned work. And work is the essential element to building the intimacy.

Imagine pouring your heart out to someone only for them to walk away with no expression of desire to be involved in your passion. They nod in agreement but do not join you in your efforts. Do you feel a deep connection with that person?

God's heart is for his kingdom to come to earth. Revelation 21 paints a beautiful picture of the final result. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for that kingdom to come to earth now (Matt. 6:10). He also instructed followers to focus first and foremost on this kingdom (Matt. 6:33).

It is easier for us to try to manage (or worry about) things we comprehend - like clothing and food mentioned in Matthew 6. But God's ways and his thoughts are much greater than ours. That's why we can't just make our own plans and carry out the work we perceive as necessary for him.

He saves us by grace because we don't know enough about his ways to enter his kingdom by any other means.

The exciting part is that God wants to let us in on his ways. God says in Isaiah 48:6-7 "From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, 'Yes, I knew of them.'"

He wants to tell us the secrets of his kingdom. He wants us to work with him in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). We get to work with him to develop the new kingdom he is creating now.

Work. That's what's next. Work specifically designed for you as soon as you accept God's grace. Work that you cannot do on your own. And work that will make you one with the Creator. It is what makes grace a lot more exciting than sitting in a church pew.

Listen as you pray. He will give you an assignment and he won't leave you to do it on your own.

Come Holy Spirit! Let's do it!


Becky said...

Timely post for me, Lisa. Thanks. I've been wondering what good works God has planned for me during this time...

Kaleidoscope said...

What a neat little dissertation on "work." I love the part about working with God creating intimacy with Him. You've expanded my horizons. Thanks for your gift. Nancy G.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

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