“For I am the least of the apostles … But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
A good friend, who I know to be theologically sound, recently shocked us with an unsettling declaration. “We are saved by works,” he confidently proclaimed in a Bible study he was leading. As jaws dropped and mouths were silenced in stunned disbelief, my friend, in a perfectly timed follow up, added, “Not our works … Jesus’ works.”
Though that statement is worthy of further explanation, the point being made was that our works play no part in our salvation. It is Jesus’ sinless life and substitutionary death, freely and sacrificially offered, that enable sinful man to be reconciled to a perfect, holy God. It is purely by grace that we are saved. However, today’s focal passage reveals to us that God’s work of grace in Paul yielded an effect. The effect of that grace was to compel Paul to work relentlessly, consecrating his life to a passionate and fearless pursuit of his calling as God’s chosen instrument to proclaim Christ to the world. The résumé of Paul’s suffering endured in the fulfillment of that calling is recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.
We also learn in these verses that God’s grace extended to us does not end with our salvation. All that we are, every good gift we enjoy, and every good work we produce, is ultimately the product of His grace. Even our desire and ability to respond to God’s grace are empowered by His grace! God gets all the glory for anything good in us, that produces anything good from us!
Question: Does our humble gratitude for God’s grace overflow into works that advance His kingdom, for His glory?
Challenge: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Prayer: Lord, enable me by your grace, to have a right response to your grace.
Arnie Knecht, League Coordinator -- American Association