Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Sin: Hidden or Forsaken?

Proverbs 28:13   (KJV)   13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Hiding or concealing sin has an adverse effect or consequence: it causes some kind of failure. Conversely, confessing and forsaking sins has a positive or favorable consequence: mercy—withholding of corresponding punishment or penalty.

Proverbs 28.13 - Sin - Hidden or ForsakenInstead of regarding or hiding sins in our hearts and being more concerned about effectively covering them to avoid being caught, we confess them quickly and sincerely. There may be discussions as to the extents of the meaning of “not prosper,” but regardless of anyone’s interpretation, we would like to avoid it at all cost. We sin—that alone is always heartbreaking as believers, why linger there?

For others to come to a point when they would rather cover their sins than confess them is a proof that they’re already treading a very dangerous ground in their Christian walk—it’s a clear indicator that there’s a part of their walk where they are already off-course—they’ve been derailed and need to do everything to get right back on track as quickly as possible. We don’t hold on to sin; we discard and throw away every sin from us because they weigh us down and sidelines us. We don’t want to miss out on anything that our good God has for us. We desire the prosperity He wants us to have.

The more we’re tempted to cover our sins, to sugar-coat them, the greater the need for us to get rid of them as quickly as we would a burning coal or a ticking bomb in our hands. Mercy is a better choice than failure. Some people feel like they get away with it because they’re still succeeding even as they continue secretly sinning. But they don’t know what much greater benefits the Lord would have poured out on them had they chosen to walk faithfully instead. Besides, there really is nothing hidden; men may not see everything, but God sees all things. He already declared that there’s nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and that our sins will find us out. Why risk it?

Truth be told: we don’t ever want to find ourselves with a slightest inclination of covering our sins. We’d rather live in His pleasure.

God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.

Reign

Romans 5.17 - Reign

Romans 5:17   (KJV)   17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

We look at Adam with mercy despite the fact that he ushered sin and death into the world by one wrong and sinful choice that brought devastating consequences.  I personally admit, I most probably would not have done any better.  This is a truth I can’t disregard, nor escape, although escaping it is farthest from my mind.  I humbly admit my obvious imperfections.  With that, I humbly and even more greatly praise our God for the abundance of His grace.

As in many occasions, a quick clarification is necessary.  Praising the immeasurable greatness of His grace isn’t an endorsement of irresponsible and sinful Christian living.  “Where sin abounds, grace abounds” is a true statement we as believers are immensely grateful for, but we don’t ever take those words as a rallying cheer for believers to increase sinning.  That’s a very awful, unscriptural, and ungodly understanding of a very sacred truth.

God has so generously and freely gifted us with His abundant grace and righteousness. These same wonderful gifts empower us to “reign in life.”  We live triumphantly over sin and death—all courtesy of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It’s our heavenly Father’s pleasure to see us living victoriously, to see us living freely from the shackles of sin, to see us living above its rule and authority. He is our victorious Father; He lives in us through His Spirit, He has never lost once to the power of sin and Satan, and He never will; He wants us to enjoy the same.  When we glean the victories His weapons of righteousness open up for us, it brings great joy to His heart, and we live well before others, blessing God and His creation all at the same time.

Indispensable Faith

Romans 4:20   (KJV)   20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God

We “give” glory to God when we’re strong in faith. Yes, faith matters. It’s worth is certainly upheld and emphasized when it comes to salvation.  My proposition is to keep on maintaining its value and worth in our lives as believers.  I’ve heard that there have Romans 4.20-21 - Indispensable Faithbeen extreme teachings about it from a certain group bearing something as important as faith in their name.  I’ll be quick to point out: I’m not a part of their group, nor do I identify with them.

This is also not in any way a rejection or denunciation of the group or any individuals from their group often presented as heretics and false teachers.  Personally speaking, the worst, most extreme, and most heretical teachings I’m aware of that they purportedly teach are those I’ve heard and read quoted by their “attackers.”  Truth be told, even those with audio and video clips, it’s possible to understand the logic in what they teach when taken in proper context.

Pardon me for always trying to make sense of the teachings of our brothers and sisters in Christ in areas where we may differ.  In the non-cardinal, negotiable doctrines, I firmly believe what I believe is true, but then again, they may be right, and I may be wrong. Why fight?

Going back to faith: it’s indispensably essential in our lives.  With it, we appropriate God’s grace for our salvation; we live by it instead of sight and feeling; without it, there’s no way we can please God, and as we just read from the above passage, with it, we give glory to God.  Many of our desires and prayers are answered by God according to our faith.  A quick clarification: we ought to not presume our prayers are not answered because of lack of faith.  I won’t cower from saying this though:  it’s possible that it’s also because we do lack faith.  That statement is in no way for the purpose of condemnation; it’s to encourage us, just in case we really need to step out and step up in faith and we just haven’t done so.  If we know we already have, that’s great; that part is at least already taken care of.

The Lord encourages us: “Have faith in God.”  It’s direct: it’s something we have to do; it is also suggestive: we may not have the faith we ought to have, but none of us dare call out our Lord as being condemnatory.  We understand what He’s saying; let’s extend the same gracious attitude to our brothers and sisters who encourage others to walk in faith. With love as the greatest motivation, our walk as believers is by faith—from start to finish.

 

Justified

Romans 3:24   (KJV)   24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We all have hope of forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation—this despite the truth that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard of holiness. It’s a Romans 3.24 - Justifieduniversally acceptable cliché: “No one’s perfect.”  We don’t take that truth for granted, and it’s important to see its more serious side.  We make mistakes; that’s part of our imperfection; not all mistakes are sinful.  But we’ve all sinned, and we walk away from God when we sin—we separate ourselves from Him—knowingly or not. That’s a consequence that can lead to a terrifying eternal condition. We don’t underestimate the unimaginable horrors of such existence.

Hope—that’s what we find in our precious Lord Jesus—hope that has become a reality for those of us who have placed our full dependence on Him for our salvation, us who have surrendered to His Lordship. How blessed we are really for having our offenses not counted against us, for having our sins forgiven.  Happiness—or even joy, can’t describe what we feel in our hearts.  Imagine having the Son of God paying the ransom price for our freedom.

We can stop imagining. This isn’t a wishful thinking either.  It’s more real than many people think.  We’ve sinned; we still do, but to be counted just as if we’ve never even sinned is a blessing beyond measure.  Don’t get me wrong; the Bible never teaches a time when God ever stopped being just; He won’t ever because He can’t not be Himself.  Being just is His nature. He can justify us freely despite our sins because our precious Lord Jesus paid for all of them.  Yes, our sins didn’t go unpunished.  We may have gotten “off-the-hook,” but only through the loving-kindness, mercy, and grace of Him who took the punishment (even death) in our place.

From Mourning to Dancing

Psalm 30:5   (KJV)   5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

The God of love also gets angry.  But we can still be joyful about it because His anger is but for a moment—it doesn’t last for a long time. We’re willing to be under His discipline and/or punishment, rather under man’s punishment and/or vengeance.  God is inifintely Psalm 30.5 - Mourning Into Dancingmore merciful than us.  Our God is a merciful and gracious, and His favour towards us lasts for a lifetime;  I would even say, it lasts forever.

As believers, we’re not exempt from loneliness. We can still spend days and nights of sorrow.  It isn’t sinful to be sad.  Even our precious Lord Jesus experienced extremely deep grief in the Garden of Gethsemane—hours before His death.  But we also know: sadness too is momentary.  Joy awaits and dawns upon us.  We may weep at night, but joy characterizes the life of a believer.  Instead of a face of a downtrodden, we wear smiles on our lips.

Our God can, He is willing, and He does turn our mourning into dancing; He changes our garments of sadness with garments of gladness. Praise God!!!  As we experience pain and loneliness, we do so with hope for a joyful tomorrow.