Going Deeper with the Message:
God’s Economy of Grace
by: Ben Biles
This last weekend, Pastor Tim took us through Abraham’s experience of God’s grace. As can be deduced from Genesis and Paul’s writings in Romans, Abraham was credited righteousness by God not based on his own good works, but simply by his faith. Yet, we live in a world that runs on a merit system. If you make good grades, you go to a good college. If you work hard, you get a promotion. If you are attractive, smart, funny, and have a good job, you can marry the person you want. Yet, God’s righteousness is given out freely through faith and it is not based on what we do.
This is great news because if we were rewarded based on what we have done, we would only earn ourselves God’s wrath. As Paul says in Romans, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The law given to Israel in the Old Testament showed the nation the incredible standard of righteousness needed to be in a relationship with God. Yet by it, we came to understand sin and were unable to live up to God’s standard. Ultimately, what the law really showed us was that we needed a sacrifice for our sins—one that could free us from sin and death.
To this end, Paul continues in Romans, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:21–22). He tells us that righteousness is not available by obeying the law since that is impossible. Instead, God made a way to make us righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. Why is righteousness so important? Because only the righteous can know God and have a relationship with God. Sinners are unable to come to God because they are not righteous. Thankfully, all we need to do is believe and God gives us forgiveness from sins, gives us His own righteousness, and gives us eternal life.
Paul makes it even more clear in Ephesians when he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). We are saved from sin and death solely by God’s grace. So then, as believers, we no longer live in slavery to sin, but we live in God’s economy of grace, owing everything to Him for what He has done for us. We are sustained through His grace on a daily basis and are promised the full richness of His grace into eternity. This should fill us with overwhelming joy as we celebrate the free gift of God.
Living out the Message:
Good God, Good Grace, God Works
By Ben Biles
Our God has provided a way for us to come to know him through His Son. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, the debt for our sins has been paid and we can be forgiven through faith in Him. Though we cannot do anything to earn God’s favor, He saves us from our sins and gives us eternal life. We have new life with Him and experience His constant goodness and grace now and into eternity.
Yet, this can cause confusion going forward in the lives of believers. Though we are not saved by good works, our actions are still important in our relationship with God. I’ve heard many people say, “Well, if God will forgive anything I do, then I can just live however I want.” Then, they continue to pursue sinful desires and patterns of life, which betray the true desire of the heart. They weren’t interested in pursuing a relationship with God. Instead, they wanted assurance that, as they pursued sinful living, they wouldn’t be doomed by it.
This is exactly the attitude Paul addresses in Romans 6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6–7, 11). We are freed from sin and its deadly effects through Jesus’ death. Desiring to go back to sin is a misunderstanding of the life that is presented to you. Avoiding sin and resisting temptation has the double effect of pleasing God and benefiting us personally with a stronger relationship with God.
We talk a lot about Ephesians 2:8-9, but the verse right away these says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). This word “workmanship” is a term used to talk about something a master crafter has made. In other words, we are God’s creation and designed to do good in the world. Not only do these good works enable us to better enjoy our relationship with God, but they also further God’s mission to spread His gospel message throughout the community. When we do this collectively as believers, we impact our communities in incredible ways. Based on God’s grace, we walk in good works, showing the world our good God.