“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound!”
The popular words of that famous hymn are probably the most sung in all of Christianity. Christians rightly focus on grace when it comes to their salvation, and joyfully praise the Lord for the work He did on their behalf! (Ephesians 2:8-9) Indeed we are thankful for the grace of God in salvation; without it, no one would ever see the beautiful reality of eternal life in Christ. If not for the grace of God we would continue in our wretched state and remain lost, shackled to our sin. But after salvation grace too often gets lost in the fray of life and religion.
Christians experience grace through the gift of eternal salvation, yet forget the power of grace in their daily lives that will allow them to experience the life to which God has called them. The same saving power of God gets forgotten in our daily walk of faith. It is so easy for us to be pleased with our new eternal destination and lose sight of the place that grace has in our “growing.” When I say growing, I am speaking not of a mere understanding of biblical facts, but falling so in love with Jesus that we are motivated to grow! We love because He first loved us. We grow because He lives in us and gives us the strength, the motivation, and the guidance, to grow. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Jesus, by His grace, becomes our very lives and our motivation to live a life that pleases Him.
Jesus discusses this idea using the picture of a vine and branches in John 15. In this passage we first see grace in the idea that we CANNOT bear fruit unless we remain in Him! No branch can bear fruit by itself! (vs. 4) I pray you see this undeniable biblical truth. Even our ability to grow fruit is absolutely dependent on the work of God.
Being rooted in the vine is what gives the Christian spiritual nourishment to grow. Jesus blesses us with spiritual disciplines to grow in Him, and His grace provides the motivation and strength to do what He calls us to do. It all comes back to abiding in the vine! And the abiding isn’t seeking to impress God with our holiness and spiritual performance. It is seeing that He has made us Holy, and He will continue to work in us as we rest and live in Him. As He speaks, listen. As He leads, follow. Walk with Him and see what His grace will lead and empower you to do! Verse five of the passage is clear – “without me, you can do nothing!” When we focus on abiding in this love relationship with our Father, Christ compels us to grow! He will not lead us astray, nor lead us to passivity. His grace should be every bit as powerful in our sanctification as it is in our salvation.
We grow and serve because Christ’s love compels us to do so! (2 Corinthians 5:14) He is gracious enough to instill in us His love which motivates growth. His grace humbles us and urges us to want to study His word, to pray, to minister to others, and to make disciples. Living by grace reminds us of traps of the flesh, and gives us the power to not give in to sin. By grace we are saved, and by grace we live, serve, and grow! For I know that there is nothing good enough in me that can motivate me to serve God, and to grow in Him. With one exception – that Christ chose to graciously live in me! And as He is in me, and I am in Him – I grow in grace.
Above my young daughter’s bed, my wife and I have posted the following verse as her life verse: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18) Our prayer is that as she learns more and more about Jesus and His plan for her life, that she will grow in His grace and find life dependence in Him all her days. That would be my prayer for you as well!
For we did not choose God, He chose us. And only through His grace can we go and bear fruit. Only through His grace – We grow! Allow His grace to lead you as you grow in Christ. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” John 15:16
Ashley Mofield is the Senior Pastor at White House First Baptist Church, 2800 Highway 31 W in White House, (615) 672-3266.