Shouldn’t God’s grace make us super-Christians?

Monday Musings for August 19, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

Most Christians understand that it was God’s grace that saved us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Many also understand that that same grace sustains us (2 Corinthians 12:9). But what does it do for our walk? When we do the works God wants us to do for his kingdom, exactly what is doing the work? His grace? Or our willingness to do those things?

The latter seems like a formula for failure… but that feels like what we have. If I do not will to do something, then it does not get done. This needs some exploring. So, today we poke around to see if the same grace that saves and sustains us also does the work for us — and if not — what are the divisions of duty between God’s grace and our human will.

The timing of this question is interesting, too, because I’m working on a project about God’s election… so I was predisposed to look at this question through the lens of human will vs God’s will… and I tried to find that elusive path that runs along with God’s sovereignty, the reasons he created us and how he uses us to accomplish his will.

My conclusions are not surprising: grace is the best stuff God has to offer. It’s his love… but it’s love with spiritual feet. As for us, faith is the best stuff we have to offer — and good for us when we deploy it! But that doesn’t answer the main question. What about our feet? Shouldn’t we get them going? And if it’s up to us, under what power… and/or what aegis… and/or in what proportion… do we press on towards the mark?

The hymn He Giveth More Grace reminds us that “His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men” — and I agree. But what does it mean for his grace to have no measure? … because when we fail in holiness — or if it turns out that I’m progressing under my own steam — then grace doesn’t seem to be doing anything.

So, here’s today’s challenge: if grace is indeed about God’s power and aegis, why didn’t he set things up so grace does all the work? I ask because it seems that God would get a much better result if he were “involved” on that level… and the fact that he doesn’t tell us that he’s content to let us muddle through.

Either way, this tells us much about how our free will relates to his grace — and although I didn’t use this verse in my response — so do Paul’s instructions to Timothy.

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
(2 Timothy 2:1–2, NIV)

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