fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Boasting in God’s handiwork

Boasting in God’s handiwork by Julie McAllen

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Notice that our salvation is by grace. In other words, there is no work to be performed. As it says, it is the gift of God. And it is past tense, not “God will save me if…” but rather “you have been saved.” Why did God choose to do it this way as a free gift? The reason given is that we don’t have any cause to boast. You know, like “well God chose me because I shovel snow off that elderly woman’s porch every winter” or… “I don’t smoke, drink or cuss, that’s why God loves me.” We come up with all kinds of them. It’s all very self-directed when you think about it. Glory to self, not glory to God.

Without grace, we might have reason to boast.

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Ro 4:1-3)

God gets the glory even in the fact that someone announces they’re saved. “I am saved.” No boasting there, only in the fact that God gave it as a free gift.

Who gets upset? The people who are working hard to gain it! Isn’t that the nature of us all? Don’t we get a little jealous when someone receives for FREE what we’re working hard for?

That’s the drama of Ishmael who persecuted Isaac. It still happens today. An approach to God is either one way or the other. A person severely retards their growth in the Spirit by clinging to a religion that encourages salvation through works. God’s word clearly tells us they are at odds and one must get out of the way.

28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” (Gal 4:28-30)

So, if saved by grace, we are as Isaac was, a child of the promise born of the Spirit. We ought to expect some persecution from those who practice religion according to their flesh by following rules for their salvation. They can boast about their works, we can boast in the cross and the grace given us there. How can the two be yoked together? When a religion puts a yoke on it’s people to all do the same thing in order to gain salvation, it shuts out the voice of the Spirit in their lives. And Paul advised the Galatians to “drive out the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”

We have an inheritance. It’s not going to be realized however if we cling to a mindset of works. We are God’s handiwork, not our own. Are there works at all? Indeed. But no work is performed in order to receive God’s grace, as noted it was ALREADY poured out on us. So Ephesians 2:8-9 follows with verse 10….

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do

Once saved, we become a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) and now can rightly be called “God’s handiwork” as He molds us into the people He originally intended us to be for His glory. When He knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, He had in mind the work He wanted us to do. Would he knit someone together with a gift of music and then expect them to build houses for salvation? No, He SAVES them so they can now sing songs for Him! It glorifies God and makes us happy when we use the gift that comes most natural to us. God PREPARED each of us with something unique. He gave it to us in advance, before He even called us to salvation.

We are a delightful new creation of His, not worms groveling at the throne of the Almighty. So give Him glory by boasting in His handiwork! Accepting the gifts He bestows is not self-directed glory when you recognize them as received by grace. So go ahead, display your beauty, the boast belongs to God.

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Co 4:7)

Keep yourself in God’s love,
Julie
Advertisements

July 31, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heir to a Promise

Moses01

Galatians 3:18 – 4:31

Okay, folks – we’re getting into deep stuff, here.  I really take this lesson to heart because it calls us to examine our spiritual place as individuals. If anyone has a comment or explanation on the scripture in Galatians, please post a comment or email it to me and I’ll post it for you.

Paul had a strong argument about the promise God made to Abraham in Galatians 3:15-18 and how it relates to the Mosaic Law. The last known confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant was to Jacob just before he went to Egypt, which was 430 years before the Law was instituted. The promise made to Abraham was not invalidated when the Law came on scene; if the inheritance was based on the Law, then it wouldn’t be a promise.  18For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise (Galatians 3:18). Paul explained that the covenant between Abraham and God has never changed. He also showed that the Law brought a curse and that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.

 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–  14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13, 14)

 The Law was inferior to the promise, but it did serve a purpose; it was to reveal man’s sinfulness and inability to redeem himself. Man couldn’t perform enough works to bring himself back to a sinless state. 19Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made (Galatians 3:19). The Law and promise of the Covenant (Jesus Christ) work in harmony. At Galatians 3:23, Paul brings out how imprisoned man under the Law. The Law served as a teacher leading us to Christ – so that when the Messiah appeared, they would recognize the need for salvation and invite Him into their hearts.

 1Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,  2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.  3So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.  4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,  5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  6Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  7Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:1-7).

When Christ died for our sins, we became God’s spiritual children. Galatians 3:29 says we are all heirs in the sense that we benefit from the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, being justified by faith in Christ. Galatians 4:1-7 are such great verses because it clarifies our position with God. There is nothing worse than not knowing where you stand: whether it’s a job, a marriage, health issues and yes, even with God – we need to know our position in these matters. In His mercy, God lets us know where we stand so that we’re better equipped to fulfill His purpose for us. Paul basically explains this to the Galatians because, obviously, they’re lost. To help them understand, Paul uses an illustration of a child and a slave. God’s children are heirs who were entrusted to guardians and tutors until they became of age. These guardians and managers depicted the Law. However, when Christ died for us, God’s children were released from the “guardians and tutors”.  

 Jesus was born under the Law. This is significant because it emphasizes Jesus humanness; he had to fully be man to be able to substitute man for himself. He was also under the Law up until his death – he released us from the bondage and curse of sin (represented by the Law). As a result of Christ death, we have become God’s children by adoption (Gal 4:5). We are heirs of the covenant being “justified” by faith in Christ alone. It’s sad to see that unbelievers are still living their lives as if under the Law – trying to endlessly please God by the flesh.  23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-26).

Now that we know where we stand with God, how should this affect our lives? Rather than looking back – or even regressing back to the time we were alienated from the God of our salvation, let’s build our relationship with Him; we are His children. Prayer brings us into God’s presence. Study of God’s word allows the Holy Spirit to reveal spiritual truths to us. Through prayer and bible study we will deepen our love for God our Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

 The bottom line is that we are God’s adopted children. I could have summed it up with that statement, which is easy to accept and comprehend. But knowing how we came to being heirs to a promise adds significance to our existence as believers of Christ and worshippers of God. No one can take away our inheritance (unless we surrender it ourselves). May we never take our position in God’s sovereignty for granted – we are His children, justified by our faith in Christ. To Him be the Glory!

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: