Robert has graciously agreed to write an article to post on Assembly Quest: "Grace, Faith and Glory". This is Part 1.
John 1:16 ‘for of his fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace’.
Romans 1:17 ‘for righteousness of God is revealed therein, on the principle of faith, to faith: according as it is written, but the just shall live by faith’.
2 Corinthians 3:18 ‘But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit’.
Each year Hannah visited her son Samuel at the time of sacrifice and she brought with her a new coat. She automatically assumed that as another year had run its course he would have outgrown last year’s coat. This leads us to the question; what spiritual coat are we wearing? Do we have on something from the 2017 collection or do people see us wearing the same old thing each year? In other words, have we made any progress from year to year?
The verses quoted above remind us that great progress is available to each of us — progress in grace, faith and glory.
When we read the statement, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, we feel encouraged. How different was the manifestation of grace and truth in a Person from that of the law given on tables of stone. However, in most Christian circles, that encouragement has been taken far beyond the original intention of the verse. For in the mind of many believers, grace modifies the truth; grace reduces the truth; grace blunts the edge of the truth. As an old friend of mine used to say, ‘the saints think a gracious man is one who knows the truth but will not hold them to it’.
As we read through John’s gospel we clearly see that the truth was never modified or reduced by Christ. He made demands upon men and women that were impossible for the sinful nature to meet. ‘Marvel not that I say unto thee, ye must be born again’; ‘rise take up thy bed and walk’; ‘he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him’.
When faced with such Divine demands, we might well be tempted to wish for the days of the law. ‘Thou shalt’: ‘thou shalt not’ presents a much simpler way of life. I believe that’s why there is so much desire for law keeping in our day. The question pages of a well-known Christian magazine is filled up every year with questions beginning with the phrase, what should the Christian do about...? It makes life so much easier when we are told what to do!
I suggest however that the true relationship between law and grace is that grace supports us to receive and practice the truth. So Nicodemus was born again; the man lame for 38 years stood up and walked; the disciples ate and drank of the blood of Christ and found themselves dwelling in Him!
But to receive grace we need to feel our need of it. Paul prayed the prayer that you and I would pray when confronted with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ — Lord take it away! He prayed three times and then discovered that the Lord had a better proposal — ‘my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’. So from time to time he would arrive to speak in a city and he must often have looked weak and pathetic. But when the weak man began to speak, the power of God became very evident. So he settled into a way of life where he gloried in his weakness so that the power of God could be seen.
And should we feel overwhelmed by what the truth is currently demanding from us, John assures us that His grace is without limit. For each of us in 2017 there is ‘grace upon grace’.