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Welcome back to our Grace Series. So far we’ve looked at the Scriptures to learn about God’s grace broadly, last time we narrowed in on God’s grace specifically in salvation, and today we’re going to look at some practical ways that we followers of Christ need to respond to the grace of God.
Of course, we’re not going to get super specific today, because when this series concludes next week, we’re going to start another series called The Gracious Life. In that study, we hope get even more specific about what a truly gracious Christian looks like.
For now, though, there are 5 very important ways you need to make sure you respond to God’s grace in your life today. To that end, check out today’s episode notes, transcript, and grace resources as you strive to mature in your submission to God.
Now, let’s look at those 5 ways you need to respond to God’s grace.
1. You Need to Submit to God’s Grace.
And there are three main ways you need to do this.
A. You need to Submit to God’s Grace in Desperation.
My friends, I can’t tell you how this one step right here would absolutely revolutionize the life of every person on this planet if they simply did it. If we would just submit to the conviction, reproof, and rebuke of God, we wouldn’t be able to recognize ourselves because of the amazing things God would do in our lives. Those who are unsaved would be born again, and believers would grow from one degree of glory to another as they confess and repent.
But we humans are so stinking prideful and arrogant. We hate to be told we’re wrong. We hate to experience shame and guilt. We hate to think that people are “thinking poorly” of us. We hate to feel like we’re failures. But the reality is that we are failures. We’re sinners incapable of glorifying God without His help. We’re wired in our sinful hearts to run from God. Why are we surprised when we find that we’re in sin? Why do we hate to be corrected?
I’ve watched so many people wallow around in the fifth of their sin for years because any time anyone tried to confront them, they blew up or melted-down at the mere suggestion they may be wrong.
But we need to remember that experiencing Desperation — recognizing our sinful state — is a wondrous grace of God designed to help us turn from that sinful state. It’s a good thing.
This is why James 5:13-18 teaches that when someone recognizes they are spiritually weak, they need to invite the elders into the situation. They need to confess their sins. They need to pray and receive prayer on their behalf because faithful are the wounds of a friend.
Born again or not, we all need to submit to conviction, rebuke, correction, and reproof, but for the unsaved in particular . . .
B. You Need to Submit to God’s Grace in Justification.
I really pray that all of my listeners are born again believers, but some of you may not be. Whether you know you’re not a Christian — or you have some doubts and questions — have you really taken the time to recognize God’s gracious gift of salvation to you?
You deserve eternal separation from God because you have rebelled against Him, but He mercifully does’t give you what you deserve. Instead, He’s graciously given you this life and the opportunity to learn about the Good News of salvation and respond accordingly.
In addition to that, not only is God gracious to give you the opportunity to respond to the Gospel, He has graciously done all of the work because you could never fix your relationship with God yourself.
Jesus Christ graciously came to this earth, became the eternal God-man, lived the perfect life we could never live, died the substitutionary death we could never die, rose again — defeating death and hell — because we never could, and ascended to the Father in our stead.
Will you submit to the grace of God that offers so sweet a salvation?
Please do, and if you’re unsure how to proceed, you can write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com, or you could seek out a local pastor whose church preaches the Gospel. You could also reach out to us if you’re unsure if there’s a trustworthy church in your area. We’d love to help you find a church that can introduce you to the Lord.
Either way, don’t wait any longer.
Now, for those of you who are children of God . . .
C. You Need to Submit to God’s Grace in Sanctification.
When a believer acknowledges her desperate need of holiness and conformity to Christ, she will agree with God about her sin, ask for forgiveness, and seek to change to the glory of God.
All believers need to submit to the grace that shows us our sin, shows us how we should live, and gives us the strength to do so.
Will you recommit today to submitting to the glorious grace of God in your progressive sanctification?
Because when you submit . . .
2. You Need to Grow in God’s Grace.
Behaviors follow beliefs. Action follows faith. Your choices reflect your trust. When we submit to God’s grace, we will be changed by the grace because we’ll make new choices in light of the truth God has shown us. Unbelievers move from death to life, and believers move from milk to meat.
It’s a lie to say that we’re submitting to the grace of God in our salvation if we’re not actually being progressively changed. That’s because — to be honest — we’re terrible judges of our own lives. I highly suggest you ask your spouse, your kids, your pastor, your teachers, and your friends if they see the spiritual growth in your life. If they waiver as they answer, if they "think so,” but can’t really identify how you’ve changed, then you need to recognize that your professed submission to God’s grace isn’t bearing noticeable fruit. And that usually means the profession is merely on the lips, not in the life.
We all do this, and I’m not suggesting that you’re unsaved because you’re not growing by leaps and bounds, but I am saying that if your life-choices don’t match your profession level of faith, then you don’t really mean what you say.
And since God expects us to grow in His grace, then that must be one of our highest priorities. “Be holy as I am holy,” proclaims God.
That is our call to grow, and as you grow . . .
3. You Need to Show God’s Grace.
Those who have received mercy and grace are those who give mercy and grace.
I Peter 4:10 commands, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Jesus told many parables about servants who had received blessings, but who did not extend those same blessings to others, and they received intense consequences for daring to hoard the grace of God.
Now, I’m not going to go into much detail on this point at this moment, because we’re going to have a whole series about what it means to live a Gracious Life, but I do want to give this one example. In II Corinthians 9:5-9 we read, “So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.”
Paul is encouraging the church in Corinth to donate money to the needs of the saints. That would obviously be a gracious thing to do, and then he continues, “6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
God says that as we sow grace into others lives, we will continue to reap grace in our own. Now, does that mean that God is promising others will donate money to me if I donate to others, is He suggesting that people will be nice to me as I’m nice to others or pray for me as I pray for others?
No. He’s not. Paul explains further in verses 8 and 9, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, ‘HE scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.’”
As we show grace to others, God abundantly provides the grace we need for every good deed in our own lives — every other gracious choice to bless another. As we sow grace into other people’s lives, God provides all the grace we need to continue being more gracious to others.
Then do you know what will naturally follow as you submit to God’s grace, grow in God’s grace, and show God’s grace?
4. You Need to Praise God for His Grace.
We have so much for which to be thankful. We have zero excuses for discontentment, complaining, murmuring, jealousy, envy, and griping.
All day long we should . . .
A. Praise God for His Common Grace.
We are most foolish when we complain about the weather. Though we deserve the eternal darkness, fire, and flesh-eating worms of hell, yet we justify complaining about rain and snow and heat and cold. Shame on us.
We should be praising God for every moment we get to experience on this earth — comfortable or not. You see, all the worst things you can possibly imagine are still infinitely better than what you deserve.
When we have our minds tuned to the truth of the Bible, we can experience joy, peace, contentment, and gratitude every moment of every day whether our bank account is empty, our health is failing, or people are persecuting us.
If we want to mature in our walk with Christ this year, let’s put more effort — by the power of the Holy Spirit — into being thankful for the sovereign providence of God in our lives.
Yes, we’ll get sick, investments will fail, accidents will happen, and loved ones will even die, but God does not cease to be His perfectly loving and sovereign Self. In fact, it’s in the fun and the suffering that God desires to mature us.
And — believe it or not — disciples of Christ tend to mature better in suffering than they do comfortable times. Of course, it doesn’t need to be that way, but because we’re so delusionally self-sufficient and self-worshipping and self-indulgent, it often takes the hard times to drive us back to the feet of our Savior where we finally remember how amazing He is.
So, praise God for every moment and experience in your life. Praise God for His grace that daily gives you what you don’t deserve.
Even if you’re being persecuted for righteousness, if people are insulting you and persecuting you and falsely saying all kinds of evil against you because you’re trying to live a life that glorifies God . . . then in Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad.”
And if you were to praise God today for all of His common grace, all of those experiences would still pale in comparison to our next point.
B. Praise God for His Saving Grace.
We’ve talked a lot about this last time and today, but will you stop for just a moment to truly allow yourself to try to fathom the wondrous, intense, absolutely indescribable grandeur of your salvation!
You and I deserved eternal death separated from Him, and yet God offered us eternal life with Him. We didn’t even deserve this earthly life because God knew we would be sinners just like our father Adam, and yet He sent Jesus to be the new Adam Who would bring righteousness in His wake.
I am sad to say that I don’t rejoice in my salvation as I should. I too often complain about the things in my life that don’t go the way I’d like, but I forget to exult in the reality of my adoption in Christ! How foolish of me!
Now, as you submit to God’s grace, grow in God’s grace, show God’s grace, and praise God for His grace, you will find yourself doing our final point more and more.
5. You Need to Anticipate God’s Grace.
A. Look forward to God’s common grace.
Instead of looking at tomorrow’s weather, financial, or national forecast with doom and gloom, look toward the grace God is pouring on you through them all.
B. Look forward to God’s justifying grace.
Now, don’t do this for yourself. You don’t have to look forward to God saving you, you can be saved right now, today!
But perhaps you have unsaved friends and family. Anticipate the fact that the Holy Spirit is still working in this world to convict them of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Anticipate the fact that God is going to continue working in their hearts to draw them to Him, and continue to participate in that work by being salt and light and sharing the Gospel.
C. Look forward to God’s sanctifying grace.
I want you to anticipate how God desires to mature you this coming week. Listen, neither of us are as holy as we should and could be . . . that means there’s room for growth. And we know that God is working in all things to mature us. Therefore, the best thing we can do is be on the lookout for those lessons and opportunities. The lessons will show us how we need to change, and the opportunities will give us chances to apply what we’ve learned.
Look forward to the fact that God wants to use His Word, His people, and the Holy Spirit in you to convince you that you’re wrong . . . or that you’re not as right as you think you are. Embrace those times. Be thankful for them.
Remember what the Lord says in Hebrews 12:8-11, “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
I hope you don’t want that!
“9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Please anticipate God’s sanctifying grace in your life this week.
And while you’re anticipating His common, justifying, and sanctifying grace . . .
D. Look forward to God’s glorifying grace.
One day in the future Christ will return, and we shall see Him as He is, and we will be cleansed of our sin — not just positionally, but practically — for all eternity!
No more temptation, no more sin, no more conviction, no more regret, no more failing, no more struggle, no more doubts, no more unrighteousness . . . just an eternity of perfect holiness enraptured by our gracious God!
Be looking forward to that this week. Be longing for it. Earnestly wait for it.
And, guess what, when you’re living in perpetual expectation of our coming glorification, it will be much easier to submit to, grow in, praise, and show God’s grace.
How does God expect you to respond to His grace?
Submit to God’s grace.
Grow in God’s grace.
Show God’s grace.
Praise God for His grace.
Anticipate God’s grace.
And please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so that your fellow disciples can learn to submit, grow, show, praise, and anticipate the grace of God as well.
If you have any questions about salvation or sanctification, please email us at Counselor@CelebrationOfGod.com.
And join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and worship God and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll be discussing how to celebrate God’s grace during the Season of Grace. I’ll see you then!
The Year Long Celebration of God is a discipleship experience designed to equip followers of Christ to better know, love, and worship Him as they help others in their lives do the same. We exalt God, teach His people how to practically worship Him every day of the year, and train them to disciple others.
Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
AMBrewster is the creator of The Year Long Celebration of God and host of its podcast.