I am meditating this morning in my prayer notebook on Experiential Grace. The classic passage for grace is Ephesians 2:8-9: â€śFor by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.â€ť Grace by definition is receiving that which is not deserved. Many Christians freely receive that which is not deserved for their salvation and then spend the rest of their Christian life either in fear that they might lose their salvation because of works or angry that others whose works they do not deem worthy seem to think they will be saved. Experiential grace is not a one-time event received at salvation and then laid aside. As God the Holy Spirit puts it so well in Galatians 3:2-3, â€śAre you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?â€ť Salvation by Grace is only salvation by Grace if you end up in heaven by Grace. If you do not end up in heaven or if you end up in heaven because of works which qualify you for entrance, then it is not Salvation by Grace. Grace, for many, is the qualifying entrance into the race which is then run or lost in the flesh. This is not salvation by Grace. Salvation by Grace is the guarantee of salvation â€śnot by works.â€ť
Salvation by Grace is, then, by definition the Christian Life By Grace. Reflect a minute on Ephesians 2:8 & 9 in its context, which runs from Ephesians 2:4 â€“ 10.
Ephesians 2:4 â€“ 7: â€śBut God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.â€ť Being spiritually dead, we were not only made alive in Christ but our position in heaven is secured by a salvation which is eternal, not temporal, in nature.
Ephesian 2:8 & 9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Having such a salvation, we understand it is fully by grace, not by works, the outcome being that no one may boast. In other words, no one may look upon his own merits as qualifying him for heaven as opposed to those he deems unqualified by their contrasting merits.
Ephesians 2:10: â€śFor we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.â€ť We, therefore, are free to serve God for He has prepared works for us. Not works which gain us entrance into heaven but works because that entrance is secured by Christ. Hence, we are free to serve Him without fear.
As such, I call upon the Lord each morning, claiming the blood of Christ and petitioning my heavenly Father to deal with me each day, not according to my works but according to His grace. As such, I praise Him for my salvation and for blessing my effortsâ€”again, not because of my fleshly abilities and worth but because of His grace. I may, therefore, ask with confidence that Christ would bless us each day anew â€“ that our ministry of evangelism, follow-up, discipleship and more would reflect His grace and not my failed works.
As I reflect on the grace of God and the shed blood of Christ, I call upon the Lord to allow me to experience fruit in the ministry that reflects not my works but His grace. This, then, is my prayer this morning and every morningâ€¦
â€śJesus has paid the debt in full, and I have been purchased as His adopted brother--because of His Propitiatory sacrifice as payment for my debt, I receive your blessings, O Lord God.
â€śO Lord, deliver me from the consequences of my sin and folly, for the consequences due me have fallen on Jesus as my Substitutionary sacrifice. Let not my sin affect my life. May it be as if it had never occurred-- no evil ramifications, no penalty, no reaping the sin I have sown. The ripple will not reach the shore, for it will be as if the stone were never cast. Neither the physical nor the spiritual ramifications of my sin will come upon me-- for You, O Lord, have not only forgotten my sin but delivered me from the path of its consequences. No punishment, no retribution. No debt to be paid, no ill will on You, my Heavenly Fatherâ€™s part, to be undone. No favor to be curried, no love to be rekindled, no impending humiliation to be feared, no reminder of failures past awaiting, no one last poke, jab, slight or score to settle before it is all over, before I am allowed entrance into Your heavenly arms.
Satan, the world and the flesh will have no hold, no opening, no accusations. It will be as if it never occurred. The bullet is dodged, the tide has ebbed, the flow is stopped, the blow is checked. The child is plucked from the path of the rushing train. Christ has fully absorbed the judgment of God. The pain, the suffering, the humiliation, the grief, the sorrows, the judgments, the vengeance, the wrath, the pain, the anger, the retribution, all this and more has Christ suffered and paid for as my substitutionary sacrifice on the cross some 2,000 years ago. Christ and Christ alone, the perfect substitutionary sacrifice received all that was, is and will be due me, in His body, in full measure, while on the cross.
The full consequences of my sins, having been imputed and then punished in the body of Christ, leave nothing left to be paid-- God is propitiated â€“ completely, totally, completely satisfied. The only ramification in my life will be good â€“ Godâ€™s grace. That which is good, and only that which is good, will result and must be defined as such. I need never cringe in fear, thinking, 'What bad thing will God now do to me for this sin?' For all my sins were imputed to Christ while on the cross 2,000 years ago and, then, all the â€śbadâ€ť things were done to Him as He hung there in my place, as my personal substitutionary sacrifice. And God, having fully expended His infinite and terrible wrath on His beloved Sonâ€™s body, is fully and completely satisfied-- nothing is left for me except for the love, the grace and the mercy of God.â€ť
May we labor hard in the harvest fields of the world this morning, knowing that our salvation from beginning to end is assured by the grace of God and not by works. God will receive us into His kingdom as His beloved child by the grace of God and not by works. We may, therefore, labor as hard and as best we can, without fear, for we shall be rewarded by the grace of God and not by works.
By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon Grace Community Int. â€“ Tyumen, Russia (laboring for our Master in the harvest fields deep in the heart of Siberia)