@@Grace is always one-sided.@@ We never have anything to do with it - that is, besides the sin that makes it necessary. But for some reason, we convince ourselves that are responsible for the grace we receive. We are convinced that in order to progress spiritually or to get more from God, it’s all riding on our performance.
In Galatians 3, Paul asks a series of corrective questions to this way of thinking when he writes to a church full of recovering Pharisees:
“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.”
The Apostle Paul wants to knock the Galatians off the ladder. And he does it with a series of rhetorical questions.
Did you become a Christian by God's work or yours?
“Did you receive the Spirit by works ofthe law or by hearing with faith?” Most Christian believe that grace is what makes them a Christian. This question should be easy, but despite that many Christians, after spending a few years in Christianity, start to forget this foundational truth.
Did you become a part of the family of God by God’s work or your own?
Did you become a Christian because you experienced the proper level of remorse, prayed the right prayer, or spent the right amount of time doing devotions?
Or did you become a Christian because of what was given to you?
Do you grow because of you're working hard or because God's hard at work?
“Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” If you become a Christian by the work of God, is the work of God relegated to the entry point or does He have something to do with your growth too?
@@Grace is not the mere entry into the faith.@@ It is also what grows the faith. In the moments where we find ourselves struggling to grow, the problem isn't that we've experienced too much grace. It is more likely that we've experienced too little.
Is your hope in suffering all a waste?
“Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?” In a world that thrives on independence, suffering does an incredible job of making us realize we can't do it alone. In the moments when you feel like you’re losing everything and you turn to God, Paul is asking, “Is it all a waste?” When you are at the end of your rope and put your hope in Jesus, is that really worth it or should you just be trying harder?
Grace is what empowers us to survive the worst of suffering. Grace empowers the persecuted, the abandoned, and the sick to endure the suffering that comes in the midst of loss and tragedy.
Does the miraculous happen as a reward or a gift?
From the resurrection to the feeding of the five thousand to the very simple fact that you and I have faith, the Bible is full of the miraculous. It’s in that context that Paul asks, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.” Do these miracles - however big or small - happen within a system of rewards or gifts? Is the miracle of faith or the miracle of healing a reward for good behavior? When Jesus raised the dead, was it a reward for good behavior or an undeserved gift?
All miracles testify to the miracle of all miracles - that in the death and resurrection Jesus does what we can’t do for ourselves. That’s grace. Grace always does for us what we can't do for ourselves. It gets us into the family. It grows us into the person we never thought we could be. It keeps us going when we thought we couldn't make it. And it gives us faith to trust even when it doesn't make sense.
That’s what the Christian life is all about. It's grace from start to finish.
Note: This Galatians commentary does an awesome job highlighting similar questions to these.