Years ago I ran an afternoon children’s program for non-churched Children. I wanted them to have a lasting reference point for God in their minds so I created a Pledge which we recited each week. It was about faith in God, but it was anchored on the Grace of God.
It went like this …
“By the Grace of God I will walk before Him, confessing my sin, doing His will and making Him Lord, all the days of my life.”
What struck me at the time is our terrible human weakness. No matter how much we might want to promise the world to God, we are disabled when it comes to doing right things. The Apostle Paul testified to that when he admitted he doesn’t do the things he wants to do and the things he swears off doing end up being the things he does.
“I do not understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15
That’s why we need Christ’s sacrifice to pay for our sins and set us free from our weaknesses.
Even the great Apostle Peter shows how far our reality is from our zeal. Peter was sure he would stand up for Christ and even die for Him, but Jesus forewarned Peter he would deny Jesus. Peter rejected that warning. The other disciples joined Peter in their confidence they would stand by Jesus to the end.
History records that Peter and the disciples deserted Jesus and Peter did deny Jesus three times, as Jesus foretold. So Peter’s own experience points to human weakness, even when we are sure we will be strong.
So, to be true and humble, even when we make a promise to God we need to say, “If God enables me” I will do this or that. That’s why the Pledge started with the words “By the Grace of God I will ….”. That’s not a cop-out, or excuse to ignore the pledge, but humble admission that if we are ever going to do things right it won’t be because we are holy and noble, but because God gives us the strength to do it.
The amazing and wonderful thing is that when we cry to God for grace we find we can do things we could never achieve in our own strength. I have been aware of issues in my life at times and initially decided to change myself. I would find I had completely forgotten my decision, or that despite all my efforts I was still in the same rut. Then I would take my uselessness to God and ask Him to change me. That’s when things would happen and I would be able to change.
Even the faith we need to claim God’s grace comes to us as a gift from God, so we can’t even brag about that. See how Paul explains that.
“By grace you are saved, through faith, and even that is not from yourself, it is a gift from God. It is not from human endeavour, or people would boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
Our part is to choose to live for God, and claim His salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and became human to pay for our sins, was crucified and raised to eternal existence with God.
There is no other power in us but to use our will to choose to believe in Jesus and to cry for God’s salvation. All the rest of the power we need comes from the Love of God, the Blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Truth, God’s Word and Jesus’ victory over the enemy.
We don’t have to do anything to save ourself, and that’s wonderful, since we can’t do anything to save us anyway. We are totally reliant on the grace of God. God will see us through. God will save us, even from ourself. God will present us faultless in His presence in eternity.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished in His glorious presence, with great joy, to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, both now and forever.” Jude 1:24,25
All the promises and blessings of God do not come to you because you earn them. God doesn’t give special favours to His pets. God has promised all the blessings of eternity to you as much as to anyone else. And you can’t get them by going to Bible College, serving God diligently or looking like a better Christian than anyone else.
The blessings are not up to you. They come to you as gifts of God’s grace. You can’t earn them, otherwise it wouldn’t be grace; rather it would be payment for your performance. Since you can’t earn them or qualify for them, all you can do is receive them, by trusting God for them. That’s faith. Grace comes to you by faith. When you rely on God, trusting Him to bring you through the trials and to bless you and save you, then God can release His grace to you.
So, whoever you are and whatever your situation, there is a fountain for you to drink from. It is God’s grace. I call you to stop trying to make things happen and stop trying to save yourself or to bless yourself, but humble yourself before God and start seeing wonderful things ‘By the Grace of God’.
Great reminder Chris! But by the grace of God…