Monday, June 20, 2011

Obeying the Wonderful Grace of Jesus from Ephesians 1

Haldor Lillenas in 1918 penned the choral piece, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” a song that many enjoy singing still today. The chorus is true jubilation of rolling, climbing, sparkling and decorated with lilting soprano in a descant joy, all culminating at the pinnacle, the name of Jesus. Here is an enjoyable arrangement:

The grace of God in Christ Jesus is so magnificent and so glorious, but why do we have such a difficult time expressing it? The Bible says plainly that the gospel is, “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Those who have turned from their sins to God by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus have experienced this marvelous grace—it is truly good news—yet we can’t seem to communicate it to others.

The reasons may be many, but they are not good reasons. The Christian can’t claim ignorance of the gospel—how did one come to Christ to begin with? The Christian can’t claim fear—we are to die to self and live in Christ! The Christian can’t say he has no authority to speak because Jesus gave both authority and the promise of His presence to go and teach the nations. The Christian is without excuse.

American evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman asked 80 year old General Booth if he would disclose his secret for success with the Salvation Army. "He hesitated a second," Dr. Chapman said, "and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks," and then he said, "I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that He would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life." Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing "that the greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender."

Two lessons we can learn from General Booth: obedience and intentionality. Christians are to be leaders as we are followers of Christ, and since our Lord sends us out, we must obey as those who have surrendered to Him. Additionally, we should be challenged with the principle of leadership given by Peter, who instructed our ministry must be performed, “not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.” (1 Peter 5:2) This means that we must not be at work because nobody else is around to do it; rather, we must be intentional, deliberate in our work because we are examples to His flock.

One question remains unanswered: how is grace so wonderful that God would use people like you and me to communicate it? Consider what Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:4-6: God has a method (“He chose”), an object (“us”), a time (“before the foundation of the world”) and a purpose (“that we should be holy and blameless before Him”). These are all tied up “in Him”; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what makes His grace so marvelous: all who call on the name of the Lord “He predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.” Our destiny (as it were) is sonship in Christ—we are adopted into the family of God. Too many people over think what this means: it does not mean that God chooses some for salvation and others to damnation. God’s Word plainly says that with Christ at the center, all those in Him are chosen to be sons. This is God’s plan since the foundation of the world.

Since those who have entered into new life in Christ are “sons,” why be disobedient to what Our Father has instructed?

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