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.

Praising God

Psalm 150:2   (KJV)   2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

There are more reasons to praise God than we can enumerate and describe. He is praised in the heavens; He is praised here on earth. God is incomparably great, no other being—real or imagined is greater than Him. The greatest of man’s wisdom borders only on His psalm-150-2-praising-god-2“foolishness.” He’s the creator of this vast universe, the extents of which we don’t even have the capability of illustrating. Who and what can compare with the Incomparable?

Here’s a touching song I remember: “How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain. To try to tell—these lips can only start. He’s big enough to rule this mighty universe, yet small enough to live within my heart.” That’s one of the wonders of our God and heavenly Father. He’s so great, yet He’s so near, transcendent yet immanent. We feel for those who don’t see His grandness, beauty, and love; they’re missing out on the greatest and best.

Others argue about His existence; others doubt His power; others question His love. We believe—reasonably, deeply, and steadfastly. His greatness is obviously displayed and seen all around us. The enormity, the order, the design, the complexity, the intelligence, the beauty—it’s wisdom to recognize: none of these came together accidentally. The universe isn’t; we aren’t. Everything, including us, is carefully and wonderfully designed, with wonderful purposes. It’s necessary to note: joyful and exuberant expressions of praises aren’t confined in a denominational box. Our God is praised in the mighty heavens, He’s praised here on earth; we take part in the joy and pleasure of offering our utmost praises to His Highest. For all He is and all He’s done, we find it only fitting and a delight to praise Him—with all we are, all we’ve got, anywhere we are, all ways we can, and all means we have.

Close and Clean

James 4:8   (KJV)   8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Our Lord’s gracious invitation is always extended to us. The Father tenderly draws us through His gentle Spirit, and we willingly and gratefully come. As we do, we’re wonderfully transformed into His image; we’re changed from glory to glory. Changes james-4-8-close-and-cleanhappen; we walk the straight paths of righteousness, holiness and purity. We delight in clean living—in and out. Our minds and hearts are set: we choose God over the world, over others, over ourselves, over anyone or anything else.

He is our continuous pursuit. We want to know Him ever-increasingly more. We want to be as close to Him as possible. The closer we are to Him, the clearer we see Him, the more we know Him, the more we become like Him. Our faith-our dependence on Him, our relationship with the Lord is proven genuine even through the hardest of tests, trials, and situations. It’s not a cheap claim and confession; instead, it’s clearly evidenced in our lives.

All for God, and God for all—totally and absolutely—all in, all out, all the way. The cross before us, the world behind us, though none go with us, we are committed: we follow Jesus, ever closer. Our eyes are set on Him; our path is clear. Nothing can stop us. We’re going all the way—to the upward call of our Lord. Suffer, we may; it will be way more than worth it all. Surrender to Him, we do. We walk without the unneeded weights of our sin baggage. Jesus is seen increasingly more in us; we look for and see God’s image in others. We treat everyone with love and respect. That’s why we don’t discriminate; that’s why our lives are testaments of God’s blessing; our lips are fountains of sweet blessings as well. Our minds, our hearts, our works—all them are aligned toward one end: the glory of our beloved God and Savior.

Glorying in the Cross

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Galatians 6:14   (KJV)   14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

We exalt Jesus alone—not another person, not a group, not a denomination, not even ourselves. Whatever accomplishments we have: spiritual, educational, societal, or anything else—we count all of them as trash compared to what our precious Lord Jesus has accomplished. So yes, if there’s someone and something to be proud of, it’s the Lord and His loving sacrifice on the cross for our salvation. He’s the One we adore, praise, and worship.

This doesn’t mean that we got rid of righteous and godly living. I can’t overemphasize this: there’s no conflict and competition between the Gospel—the cross—and holiness. We’re not saved by our own good works, but we’re saved unto good works. They do come together. Our positional righteousness and practical righteousness don’t have a kind of disconnect; one is in a perfect state of Christ-like righteousness; the other is in a progressive state and journey towards it.

Yes, we glory in the cross. With that, we also know that it’s through that cross—that accomplishment of our dear Lord that we’ve been transformed. The world has lost its appeal to us. Our interest in this world is now rendered dead—crucified, and we’re no longer appealing to the world either. We smell like poison to them. Through what Jesus has done, we now have the Holy Spirit leading us so that we no longer plant towards our sinful desires. We don’t engage in immorality, impurity, lusts, pride, and other sins. We’re confident in Him, we live to please His Holy Spirit. We reap eternal life and not death. His Kingdom is our inheritance.

 

Forgive

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Mark 11:25   (KJV)   25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Prayer is one of the most powerful spiritual weapon believers possess. Many of us have heard it said before—perhaps many times: “A ‘prayerless’ Christian is a powerless Christian; a prayerful Christian is a powerful Christian.” There is power in prayer because it accesses the most powerful Being in existence—the great God Almighty—our heavenly Father.  Prayer is an integral part of our lives. It is one of the most direct expressions of our faith. We pray because we believe. We pray believing that we’ve received whatever we’ve asked. This is absolutely encouraging. But all of our prayers’ significance and power has a requisite: forgiveness.

If prayer is extremely powerful, forgiveness then is. If prayer is indispensably important, forgiveness then is. Before we pray, or as we pray, we forgive; we also ask for forgiveness. We may not fully understand the full outworking and relationship of grace and works, but for us to be forgiven, there’s a need of forgiving others. Others may dismiss this simply as an Old Covenant law or principle, and there’s truth in that. But Jesus also told us to go into all the world, preach the Good News, and make disciples by teaching them everything He has commanded. This is clearly one of His commands.

Yes, with doubtless faith, we speak to mountains; we pray, and we forgive. God, our Father has graciously forgiven us of innumerably more sins and offenses compared to however much offenses we need to forgive. God is so gracious; He forgives the worst of sinners when they contritely come before Him in repentance. He never ever rejects them. His heart is so big; His arms extended so widely—always inviting, always willing. We forgive because God forgives. It’s one of the most God-like acts we do. As hurt as we may be, we forgive. It does us so much good. We don’t allow anything to strangle the empowerment God has graciously blessed us with.

Doubly Righteous

Revelation 19:8   (KJV)   8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Righteousness matters. We as people made holy by God are also made righteous by God. That’s the kind revelation-19-8-doubly-righteousof righteousness that’s all God’s work. We don’t have anything to do with it. When we grabbed hold of our Lord Jesus in full dependence on Him as our Savior and our Lord, He made us righteous. He gave us His righteousness, meaning, we are as righteous as He is. There is of course a different kind of righteousness, and that is, righteousness based on our deeds. We have a choice to do, think, say, and choose what’s right, good, and godly. We can walk righteously or unrighteously.

The fine, clean, white linen—the righteousness of saints is interpreted differently by Bible teachers. Some refer to that as positional righteousness—that imputed to us by God, void of any deed from us. Some believe it to be practical righteousness—the good deeds of God’s people. It could go either way, but it could be both. This is something that’s worthy of acceptance and balanced treatment.

Positional righteousness doesn’t prohibit practical righteousness. In fact, the opposite is true. As people made righteous by God, our walk ought to be righteous; our thoughts, words, deeds, and choices ought to flow from who God has made us to be. Our “doing” ought to naturally flow from our being. The tree bears its corresponding fruit. That’s why genuine Christians or impostors are known by the kind of fruit they bear. Our Father is righteous; there’s no right option but to live righteously. We understand that temptations abound and they will continue to come, but our minds are made up. Our beings have been reprogrammed; our spiritual DNA is that which is righteous. We trash and throw off everything evil, every fruit that doesn’t belong to a person made righteous. We have been made righteous, and we’ve got fruits—proofs to show it.

 

Of Faith and Works – 2

James 2:18   (KJV)   18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

There is no contradiction between faith and works.

We have faith; we have works too. Faith is important; so is works.

We’re saved by grace through faith—faith that’s evidenced by works.

The comparison is between faith without works and faith with works. Faith is the given.

Faith is the root, works is the fruit. A person truly saved by faith will have works to show it. And yes, by their fruits, we know them.