Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So that no one may boast...

Yesterday, we finished up our post reflecting on the fact that it is through the church that God has chosen to put the immeasurable riches of his grace on display, and the fact that all of this is completely a work of God. You can read that post here

Today we will explore why it is that everything in the life of the Christian is a result of God's grace, and why it is that we can take zero credit for the things God has done, and the things that God is doing in and through us as Christians.

So let's start by looking at Ephesians 2:8-9:

 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast…”

Everything we will receive, everything we have received, is simply a gift of God. Everything is a result of grace, even our faith. Why?" So that no one may boast." The Apostle Paul makes clear, our salvation…our life in Christ…is completely a gift of God.

“…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Isn’t Romans 6:23 pretty clear?

We can’t take credit for anything. We can’t boast about anything. Well, we can certainly boast on Christ, but individually we have nothing to boast about. Everything we receive is a complete act of grace on the part of God.

As I've said many times, everything is ultimately about the glory of God. Everything is to point to God’s glory. God is about God’s glory. If there were anything in our Christian lives that we could take credit for, then it wouldn’t all be about God’s glory would it? If there were some part of our faith that we could point to and say, "Look, see what I did there", then God would cease to get all of the glory. This isn’t how God operates.

God does not share his glory...

We can partake of the glory of God, we can radiate the glory of God, we can breathe in the glory of God, but we cannot receive the glory that only God is deserving of. Understanding this is essential to the living out of our faith, and even in us analyzing our faith, and seeing where we are in our lives of faith.

Look with me if you would to Luke 18:9-14

"He(Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

If we could take credit for any part of our faith, or of our standing with God, or of our righteousness(and we have been made righteous in Christ), or of whatever Godliness we may have, or display in our lives…We would.  And many people do. But, this is completely contrary to the truths of Scripture, and how we are told faith works in the Bible.

But even here, in Luke, you see plainly, Jesus is telling us that our righteousness is not in ourselves, or in anything that we can do or will do. Our righteousness comes when we realize that we have no righteousness in ourselves. The one who was justified by God was the man who humbled himself and simply cried out, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”…This is a prayer we should all pray often by the way…

I think we see the same thing in the Beatitudes…

In Matthew 5:3 Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”

We receive the kingdom of heaven, when we realize that we are poor in spirit. When we realize that we have nothing within ourselves that warrants salvation, or nothing we can offer God to make ourselves worthy of salvation...That’s when we cry out to God, and then, thanks to his immeasurable grace…he saves us.

And then, we become the grace of God on display that I talked about yesterday. By the grace of God, we become something new.

Friday we'll look at Ephesians 2:10 and see what it is that we've become, and what the implications of this beautiful truth are. 

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