Sunday, 10 April 2011

Conditional Grace??

In our series on Revelation we have now concluded the letters to the 7 churches, and for the most part, they have made sober reading. Strong words indeed from Jesus demanding drastic adjustment from his followers. Look at the words that Marcus spoke on this morning, words addressed to believers at Laodicea: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. ” (Revelation 3:16). We have seen wonderful promises and woeful warnings. Lots if “ifs” and lots of “buts”.
So does that mean that God’s grace is conditional? Do we have to earn or buy (ch3v18) Jesus’ favour and blessing?

Make no mistake, both the promises and the warnings are real and we dilute them at our peril. There is no doubt that Jesus’ words to these churches and to us, deserve serious attention and response. The stakes are high and there is much to be gained or lost. But back to our question about conditional grace - surely that’s an oxymoron isn’t it? Surely grace is either a gift or it is nothing..??

Let me put it like this: God’s saving grace towards us is unconditional and cannot be earned or deserved. That is clear from many scriptures including Ephesians chapter 1. “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, ” Eph1:4–5. But look at those words: he chose us in him ...that we should be holy and blameless before him.
There’s an implication here, he chose us.. to be holy. So if there is no appetite for Christ-likeness in our lives, then one has to ask whether we have genuinely been born again, whether Christ is really in us. That appetite for Christ-likeness will show itself in a fight with sin, and it is that fight that the believers in the churches of Revelation (and you & me!) are urged to engage in, with the promise of reward to those who overcome. And here’s the key: it is our union with Jesus that makes all the difference!
We have been saved by grace alone. Period! But there are also grace gifts that our heavenly Father wishes to work in us by the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness etc and it is our responsibility to resist the world’s distractions and satan’s temptings and position our lives so as to live in the good of all that is ours - in Christ!

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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