Monday, December 26, 2016

Grace Alone

December 27, 2016

In addition to the Daily Light devotional, lately I've been reading lengthy Scripture texts; sometimes two or three of St. Paul's letters. Yesterday and today, I worked through Hebrews. Reading an entire book of the Bible in a single setting is invaluable for obtaining a sense of overarching Biblical themes that remain unseen when reading single verses or chapters.

Standing out in today's reading was the centrality of faith in the work God has done in Jesus Christ for our life and salvation. This is a double-edged reality. On the one hand, God has done it all; there is nothing left for us to do except to cast ourselves upon his grace and mercy. This is nothing new; I've known this for years, but seeing it over and over as I read through the Scriptures, I'm struck at how often I've believed in grace in my head, and concurrently, how often I've acted as if everything depended on my abilities and faithfulness, which invariably turn out to be lacking. Everything depends on God's ability and faithfulness; if it were otherwise, Christ would have died in vain.

With God, nothing is impossible. He can take the worst of us, clean us up and transform us into shining demonstrations of his love. He works through our repeated failures, our rebellious resistance, our frailty and weaknesses, to demonstrate to the principalities and powers of this world we can see and the spiritual world behind it all his wisdom, power, and love.

All this was reinforced by tonight's Daily Light readings. "He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him." "My sheep hear my voice, and I  know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." "Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with great joy; to the only wise God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, now and forevermore. Amen." (Hebrews 7:25, John 10:27-28, Philippians 1:6, Jude 24-25).

I am thankful tonight for the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who promises never to leave us or forsake us, and who is sure to complete the work he began in us, whether at any given moment we feel it or not. Our salvation depends on his ability, not ours, and he is faithful now, and always. The only question is, will we believe it and therefore reap the blessings promised to us, or will we have an unbelieving heart that locks us outside, looking in, but not experiencing them?

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