Biblical grace is not static or lethargic. It is a game changer. It’s not idle, indolent, negligent or lackadaisical. It’s a mover, a shaker and anything but laid back. It is the enemy of anything indifferent, passive or relaxed. It struggles, strives and makes every effort. It’s not lukewarm, apathetic, detached or unenthusiastic. It cares, shares and lays the soul bare. It’s not independent, aloof or unconcerned. It is discerning, focused and determined. It doesn’t give up, shut up or put up with sin. How could it? The cost of grace was the sacrifice of God’s son.

There is a troubling distortion of grace that can effect believers. That is, after coming to Christ and accepting his grace we can kick back, relax and bask in the glow of God’s saving love. All God’s work is done, we only need enjoy it and coast to glory. We can be at ease in Zion and sit still while God does his sanctifying work in us. Unfortunately, this flies in the face of clear biblical teaching. God’s word paints a picture of grace that is always surrounded by action, power and change. It is a grace that will not leave us alone and will not leave us unchanged.

It is crucial that we never forget that the gospel of John tells us that “grace and truth” came through Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 17). It is essential then, that we preach grace with truth rather than grace alone. When grace no longer motivates, empowers, sacrifices, suffers and strives, it is not biblical grace. Even a cursory overview of New Testament grace paints a picture of the dynamic nature of grace. Here are a few:

Grace and Evangelism

A nimble walk through the book of Acts demonstrates the motivating power of grace to reach a lost world. A life saturated with grace will empower the disciple to be active and yes, even bold in sharing their faith. In fact, in Acts, the coupling of grace and evangelism jump off the page. Acts 4:33 says, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” Do you seethe association? They testified (preached, shared) about Jesus and God’s grace was working powerfully in them.

Acts 11:23 is especially telling. Earlier, a persecution of the Jerusalem church had scattered the disciples. A number of those disciples went to Antioch and shared the good news and made disciples. The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch to see what happened. It says, “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” The grace of God caused people to share the good news and brought about a great harvest. The dynamic duo continues. Acts 14:3 tells us that Paul and Barnabas spent a considerable amount of time in Iconium “speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.”

Chapter fourteen ends with Paul and Barnabas returning to Antioch to report to the church the results of their mission journeys. It says they sailed back to Antioch, “where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.” The early church makes it clear. The correct understanding of grace will embolden the true disciple to tell the good news of Christ far and wide. Not only will grace make us share, it will ensure that it is the forefront of all we do as disciples, which is the intended message of Jesus in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). When evangelism is not the hallmark of our lives and our church, biblical grace is not being taught.

Grace and Action

Grace can sometimes be used as a simple tonic to alleviate our guilt in failing to embrace a call to daily discipleship. The call of Jesus is “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In a nut shell, this is call to action in the life of a disciple. It’s a battle, we are having to crucify our personal desires, take up the cross and follow the example of Jesus. But what does this look like in the life of a disciple? We can look to the life of Paul to see what it means. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them— yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Paul makes it clear, we don’t work to receive grace, we work as the result of grace. It empowers, motivates and invigorates our lives.

Later, Paul shared with the Corinthians that the grace of God had enabled him to endure “in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed ” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).

What a convicting description of the power of God’s grace. But it’s not just for Paul’s life. It’s for every Christian who wants to please God. Paul makes this clear as he closes out 1 Corinthians 15 and challenges the believers: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” That is what biblical grace produces. Grace properly applied, results in a people who are full of action and deeds in advancing the cause of Christ.

Grace and Sin

Sin cost the life of God’s son. It was the only price that could be paid to redeem us from any empty way of life. But someone with an improper view of grace, might think that God is not as serious about sin. They think, “Christ has already paid the price, no need to be alarmed, urgent or overly concerned in dealing with sin. It’s a natural part of who we are and God understands our weaknesses.” But is that the correct view of God’s attitude toward sin in our Christian lives?

As Paul adamantly proclaims, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1). The letter of Romans reveals that as Christians, our sensibilities towards sin, is not diminished, but acutely heightened. For now we are fully aware of the destructive nature of sin and the devastation it causes. This then helps us to put in context the call to deal radically with sin. Paul says, “Count yourselves dead to sin”, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body”; “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin”; “the wages of sin is death”; and these were just words to the Christians in Rome.

No letter from Paul leaves out the admonition to quickly deal with sin: To the Corinthians, “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning…” To the Galatians, “If someone is caught in a sin, you would live by the Spirit should restore that person…” Paul powerfully ties together the concept of grace and sin together as he instructs Titus: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11-12). This is what true grace does. It is ever vigilant, guarding the soul, so that sin does not get a foothold in our lives.

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