Continue in the Grace of God

cycling uphillIn the New Testament we are exhorted to continue in God’s kindness (Romans 11:22), continue in the faith (Colossians 1:23), continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 1:9), and continue in what we have learned and been convinced of (2 Tim 3:14). In short, we are to continue in the grace of God:

When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. (Act 13:43)

In the mind of the secure believer, these are healthy exhortations that lead us in the path of life. But to the insecure, they are scary threats that can make us susceptible to the peddlers of works-based religion.

“You’ve got to continue in God’s kindness or you’ll be cut off from Christ,” says the preacher of works. “You’ve got to continue in the faith or you’ll be rejected. You’ve got to work at being holy, produce fruit, depart from sin, or you’ll get the chop!”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The exhortation to continue in God’s kindness does not mean God will reject you if you don’t. And the exhortation to continue in the faith does not mean your salvation is conditional on what you do. We stand on his work not ours.

Saved and kept by grace

It’s important that you get this. You are saved by grace and kept by grace. Jesus is the author and the finisher. He who began a good work in you will complete it. (If this is news to you, check out my series on eternal security.)

So why did Paul and Barnabas urge the new believers in Pisidian Antioch to continue in the grace of God? Because there was a danger that they wouldn’t, that they would fall from grace like the Galatians.

“But this proves the importance of continuing, for the Galatians fell from grace and lost their salvation.” No they didn’t.

Paul said the Galatians cut themselves off from Christ (Gal. 5:4); he never says Christ cut them off. Paul said the Galatians were destroying themselves in vicious arguments (Gal 5:15); he never said God would destroy them. There are certainly bad consequences to falling from grace, but God unchilding his children is not one of them.

In Pisidian Antioch Paul and Barnabas preached the grace of God to “Jews and devout converts to Judaism.” You need to see the picture: They were preaching grace to law-lovers in a synagogue on a Sabbath. Talk about a challenge! Yet wonder of wonders, these law-lovers responded to the message of grace. They invited Paul and Barnabas to speak further and a church was planted.

But as often happens when grace and religion collide there was strife. Some religious Jews became jealous and abusive and stirred up trouble. Much like the modern church the town became split along grace-law lines. It got so bad that Paul and Barnabas were kicked out, but their exhortation to continue in the grace of God was received by some and the church they left behind thrived. As a result “the word of the Lord spread through the whole region” (Acts 13:49).

What does it mean to continue in the grace of God?

Every Christian knows what it means to begin with the grace of God but not every Christian continues in the grace of God. The temptation to take out a little works insurance is strong in a culture where performance is idolized. Resist that temptation! Don’t buy into any message that says you must do A, B, and C to please the Lord or earn his blessings or prove your worth. Anytime you are tempted to indulge the flesh with dead works, look to Jesus who did it all on your behalf.

To continue in the grace of God is to continue in Jesus. It’s trusting him from start to finish. Does this mean you will be a lazy, passive Christian? Far from it! Those who know their Lord will do great exploits – just look at Paul and Barnabas.

Instead of filling your life with works, fill it with praise and thanksgiving for your Father in heaven. Instead of occupying yourself with activity, occupy yourself with him. Then stand back and marvel at what he reveals to you and does through you.

___________

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23 Comments on Continue in the Grace of God

  1. Terry Benischek // March 25, 2015 at 3:06 am // Reply

    Once again Paul, thank you and bless you for the truth revealed in the Word! Your statement “a culture where performance is idolized” helps one answer the question as to why more will not shed the law and fall back in Love with Jesus and rest in His Grace. When I (and my family) was regenerated with the Grace message, we were excited to share this with others. Something similar to how one feels after receiving Salvation. Disappointment is a mild word for what we experienced. Most were complacent and said yes, they knew about Grace but there is more, etc. Your article will be a great link to share with these folks. Thank you.

  2. Keep on for keping on brother

  3. Agreed, stand in response to, what is done for you, me and all the world here today back when Christ went to the cross for us all. Then ask Father to see the new life Christ came to give us to live by. This is in the risen Christ, after one gets passed the dead life, seeing that Christ’s death is our death to self in the flesh, and Father takes us and make us alive as Paul told us in Gal 2:20, where he no longer lived, but Christ through him in Spirit and truth of Father. Even the Disciples said this in Acts 17:28

    Thank you for this exhortation here Brother, Paul

  4. If the system or culture being promoted by the church continually provokes and compells it’s members by ambition, guilt, fear, shame, competition or honor- to step ahead of what the Spirit is doing in the individual members then that culture and system is evil and must be resisted and rejected outright . If every time the people gather they are provoked to step out in either self effort or selfish ambition that is an abusive and toxic religious culture that is opposed to the gospel and the work of the Spirit.
    If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-26‬ NASB)

  5. Barry,i agree.I dont have the answers but i cant help but feel that our present-day idea of “church” is way off. Just look at church history and all the wrong thinking and teaching that prevailed,yet was accepted for years. Then,men such as Luther challenged things.To me,one of the problems is occupational ministry. The overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that by far,someone making their living from ministry should be the exception,rather than the rule….yet that is not the case in our day.Because of that,much of our “church” life is burdened with all sorts of things that are completely unnecessary.The bulk of our life evolves around a building,paying for that building,salaries for staff,ministry expenses,etc. Because of this, members are provoked and compelled negatively as you pointed out and if we dont “buy” into the accepted thinking,we are viewed as unspiritual,rebellious,uncaring. I dont want to sound like i’m bashing preachers…there are so many great ones ,incredibly gracious men,yet even they help perpetuate a condition that’s not good. I guess I kind of got off the topic,and I do want to continue in the grace of God.I will take Pauls advice of praise and thanksgiving and occupying myself with Him.Be blessed.

  6. What a word in due season. Even a minor few respected grace teachers are uncomfortable with the whole “the Law is fulfilled” and we aren’t under any part of it. We must continue in the grace of God. We must not continue in works, or performance. I sense in my heart that much of the Church is reward minded thus performance minded.
    Great word Paul Ellis.

  7. So true so true, not easy to do all the time, which is why we must fight the good fight of faith and labor to enter his rest. The only fight and labor worth it’s weight in pure A class gold.

    God bless

  8. Well said again Paul,

    Having two kids at school makes me realize just how performance orientated our society is … and yes to the extent of idolization … but we continue by what we receive – perfect liberty Grace (Jesus)!

    u r blessed!

  9. Drew Whitaker // March 26, 2015 at 2:58 am // Reply

    Paul I absolutely love reading your email posts. Your such an encouragement. God is using you mightily! Thank you!

  10. There were apostles of circumcision and apostles to the gentiles, there was a need for this then, but now we have 99% of apostles preaching as if to Jews and 1% as to the uncircumcised. Where are all these Jews comment from, or are the just saying they are jews, and are these preachers encouraging this.I think so.

  11. Alfred Zephaniah // March 26, 2015 at 6:24 pm // Reply

    Thank you for the efforts you have applied through the help of the Holy Spirit.My quastion is;are we still under the control of the ten commandments and why do other christians worship on sunday&others saturday or when is the true sabbath?

    • No, we are not under the control of the Ten Commandments. “You are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14). Jesus is the true Sabbath – our day of rest – and you can worship him any day you like and every day if you wish.

  12. Wow, happened on your blog and have to say, keep praying Grace and the need to allow His work to be completed in us, every day. Too good, brother, Paul, too good!

  13. Thank you bro Paul, you are a blessing. I look forward to reading your posts. Every blessing.

  14. I have been so blessed by your posts Paul… Please can you shed more light on what Paul was saying in 2 Corinthian 5:9 about striving to please God in view of the coming judgement?

  15. Can we abuse Gods grace? should I be worried that people will just abuse Gods grace and keep living a lawless life?

    recently I found out that people took the grace of God differently. (I should not be surprised)

    When God loves you unconditionally. The usual response is…

    1. Thank you Jesus!
    2. Oh yeah now I can break the law besides, God still loves me right?
    3. Thats not easy!
    4. Impossible
    5. great now what i must do to love him back?
    6. many more.

    but the one that has most impact is…

    7. do not abuse Gods love.

    usually my flesh kicks in when responded with “or what?”

    how I wished everyone will just choose 1.😀

    • Me too. I’m tired of hearing daft questions like, “So you’re saying Paul that I can come and kill you and your family but God loves me and I’ll still go to heaven.” Religion makes people insane.

  16. Doing good things does not earn us justification before God (Rom 5:20). However, there are things that we can do, through His strength, that please the Lord. e.g. in Heb 11:6; 1Thes 4:1; 1John 3:22; 1Thes 2:4; Col 3:20; Col 1:10; Heb 13:20-21; 1King 3:10 and 1Cor 7:32.

  17. The judgement mentioned in 2 cor 5:10 is not for condemning believers to hell fire. It is for rewards and loss of rewards depending on whether we manifested works of the flesh or spirit. The works done through the spirit have rewards attached to them where as those done in the flesh will attract no rewards and will be burnt.

  18. Great article I am going to read your section on eternal security.

  19. Hey, I want to ask someone’s opinion on Messianic Judaism, I have a friend who joined this, leaving the new covenant beliefs, and has said that her will is to follow the 613 commandments to please God, for her own good. I understand wanting to participate in Jewish holidays and traditions to kind of experience God more, but to it sounds like she is pursuing an old covenant lifestyle. If there’s flaws in my understanding, please someone help me understand. I just want the knowledge.

    • Let each person be as to choose freely as you have this same right to, for God behind the scenes, sees and knows what to do in bringing his sheep home to be free in him through Son, and many times one has to go through the garbage to see personally

      Like a seed that will be a flower, has to first fall into the ground and die before life will be seen in the flower here today and gone tomaorrow

    • They have great passion to want to do everything right because they love God so much. Sadly that method ends up giving the Law much more importance and focus than it does to Jesus. It boils down to the Law is what keeps you right for God and Jesus just helped do away with the temple sacrifices. One bible verse spoke out very strongly for me when I was looking into this Philippians 3:9. I also find it interesting that they strongly explain away Galatians as to not really be talking about the Law but about human additions to the Law. Galatians says that the Laws it is speaking against came from Mt Sinai. Just study up in the New Testament what it says about the law and believers

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