Serving God by grace – Part 1
Like Paul the Apostle, all Christians are expected to have an unwavering consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ. Regrettably, many churchgoers have been sold the idea that they can follow God on their own terms – and that God doesn’t bother about such matters. As a heaven-bound pilgrim, Paul was not “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” From the moment of his conversion, his mind was fixed on heaven. Therefore, he surrendered his heart, soul, mind, body, life, time and treasure to the lordship of Christ without any reservation.
God’s grace in his life produced a dramatic change and made him a new creature in Christ. The transformation in his life was visible for everyone to see. His old associates witnessed the unarguable change of heart, spirit, soul, character, life and pursuit. The believers in the church also saw the definite, undeniable evidence of genuine conversion and glorified God.
Later in his life and ministry, Paul was “caught up into paradise,” where he saw the glory of heaven. More than anything else, this made it imperative for him to constantly desire and prepare for heaven. Having been saved and transformed, he laboured to achieve the purpose of his calling. The Apostle desired the same spiritual state, standing and commitment for Timothy and, by extension, contemporary believers. His experiences, pursuit, dedication and perseverance are exactly what he wants for us. As heaven-bound pilgrims, we should not be ashamed of following and suffering for Christ. Rather, we should preach the gospel with unwavering commitment.
Our salvation and calling is by God’s “purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus”, not according to our works, merit, self-righteousness or keeping of the ceremonial law. Paul the Apostle always rejoiced in the grace of God. Judging from his past life, he saw himself as unqualified for the grace he received. If the Apostle was shown mercy, any sinner who is willing to repent will also obtain forgiveness, cleansing and transformation because “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
However, grace is not a licence to live in sin. No one can claim to have God’s grace without transformation. Therefore, those who think they can live the way they wish and continue with their licentious, promiscuous and fraudulent lifestyles on the unfounded belief that grace abounds, deceive themselves. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”.
Grace rescues, cleanses, transforms and turns the life of a sinner around. As believers, we must understand that the salvation, new life, change of heart, transformation of character, victory over temptation, sanctification and faithfulness we receive are all by grace. True believers receive grace, love, mercy and power to live righteously. Therefore, we should always prove to the world that we have not received “the grace of God in vain.”
In the family, school, office or marketplace, we must ensure that we do not “frustrate the grace of God” in our lives. In order not to “fail of the grace of God”, we must diligently watch over our lives and not allow any form of sin. Besides, we must display humility in our character, behaviour, disposition, attitude and interaction with others, because “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”. With the grace of God in our lives, we will be able to influence other people to serve the Lord.
Further Reading (King James Version): 2 Timothy 1:6-12; John 3:8; Acts 22:6-10; Galatians 1:21-24; 2 Corinthians 12:1-6,9; Philippians 1:21-25; 2 Timothy 1:9,10; 1 Timothy 1:14-16; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 2:21,20; Hebrews 12:15; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 5:5-9; Ephesians 4:29-32.