GRACE and the Workmanship of Christ

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

 

Grace is not merely “unmerited favor” as many keep repeating to the point of Gospel inoculation and to the exclusion and overlooking of the true and much more complete meaning of the “enabling power of God” aspect of grace.

Did our Lord Jesus Christ have any need of the “unmerited favor” of God?

(Luke 2:40 [AKJV/PCE])
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

If God wanted to say, “unmerited favor”, don’t we think He could have said exactly that? He chose the word “grace” for a reason. Today’s popular Christianity has whittled grace down to a mere inoculation against the fullness of the Gospel of God by attributing such a vague and limited definition. It very significantly serves to draw the attention away from the work of Christ in the heart of the individual and does very little or nothing, depending on the student and the teacher, to remind us that we are, by the Spirit of Christ, empowered to walk in resurrection life. The “unmerited favor” definition and mantra has stripped the word grace from the very biblically prevalent truth of the enabling power of God.

Defining grace as unmerited favor is very anemic and misleading. The definition of the “giving of Grace” by God is not the definition of Grace.  The giving of God’s favor, God’s son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, even God’s grace is unmerited favor. The giving of it. We must admit, we do not deserve the favor of God. We did nothing to earn the blessing of Christ’s redemption which has opened us up to God’s favor. Essentially, unmerited favor defines itself; not necessarily and certainly not entirely does it define grace. God’s favor is unmerited by us, and that is His graciousness toward us; God’s favor comes by Christ’s merit. But not in the smallest way can Grace be thoroughly defined as unmerited favor.

Even James spoke contrarily to the idea of unmerited favor being the same as grace when he told us how to get grace by humbling ourselves as did the Apostle Peter.

(James 4:6 [AKJV])
6 But he gives more grace, [wherefore] he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

(1 Peter 5:5-6 [AKJV])
5 Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

If God requires us to humble ourselves in order to give us grace, if we must humble ourselves in order for Him to exalt us, then exactly how is that unmerited? How obvious can it be that in this case we do something and then God does something, If we do this, God does that. If we are proud, He resists us, if we humble ourselves, he gives us grace and exalts us. In this sense at least, grace is a reward. But let us be mindful that we don’t even deserve that much. God’s graciousness is bestowed upon us in this reward. Only due to the merciful heart of the Father and Christ’s sacrifice and shed blood could we ever approach God at all and only due to Christ may we have any of the favor of God. So we aren’t trying to dispel with unmerited favor by any means but rather dispel with that as a definition for grace.

We can get a clearer, more complete look at grace below;  we will start with a simple definition and then move on to what grace looks like in the life of a Spirit filled saint of God as it is written in the Scripture.

From Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary Grace is:

GRACE G5485 χάρις charis (khar’-ece) n.
1. graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act
2. (especially) the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life
3. (also) gratitude
KJV: acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy)

2. (especially) the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. Isn’t that much more than “unmerited favor”?

Say it, “Grace is the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

The whole of any thing can not be sufficiently defined by observation of merely one of it’s components or aspects. The word, “Grace” in the bible has several aspects. Herein, we will look at the aspect of the enabling power of God in the believer.  It was the Grace, (graciousness) of God to cleanse us by the blood of Christ and thereby be able to gift us with the Grace, (Enabling Power / Spiritual Power), of God so that we may walk in Grace, (His ways, divinely graceful) and be fully sanctified in the earth as we testify of Him in power, (great grace was upon them all as they gave witness Acts 4:33) and as we wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is full of Grace and Truth.

We know truth by revelation and walk it out by grace. Both Truth and Grace are in Christ who says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. The more we seek Christ Himself, the more revelation of Truth we get and the more of His Life (grace/Spirit) we are endued with. Apart from Christ, there is no Truth and there is no Life. Without Christ we become blind and dead souls who have lost their way. We seek Christ through prayer and through reading the bible for the entire bible reveals Christ.

(Psalms 40:7 [AKJV])
7 Then said I, See, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,

(John 5:39 [AKJV])
39 Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

(John 1:1&14 [AKJV])
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

(2 Timothy 3:15-17 [AKJV])
15 And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.

 

We may want to ask ourselves; “why have popular teachers and preachers weighed in so heavily on “unmerited favor” and neglected the obvious intentions and revelations of the Apostles of Jesus Christ”? It’s an important and valid question.

Let’s see what Paul was showing us:

Here, in 1 Corinthians 1:2-9, is just one of many contextual examples of what constitutes grace. Please notice the enabling Power of God that is made apparent in Paul’s salutation here.

Below the text I will also show the meaning of the word “confirm” and “testimony” in order to further solidify the meaning of that aspect of grace, which is the “enabling power of God”, at work, and its’ evident results, in one’s life”, as Paul makes clear here and in many other places.

(1Cor 1:2-9 [AKJV/PCE])
2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3 Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

What was the grace for?
“… That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Notice, “enriched by Him”, “testimony” “confirmed”, “shall confirm” and “God is faithful”. This is Grace at work in you!

Lets see the word “confirm” as used here.

CONFIRM G950 βεβαιόω bebaioo (beb-ai-oh’-o) v.
1. to make firm, steadfast
2. (figuratively) to confirm
[from G949]
KJV: confirm, (e-)stablish

God is at work in us, the grace of God is at work in us, making us firm, establishing us, making us steadfast in the faith.  Do you see how this is something not merely which ‘has happened’, but that which is presently occurring; and, as promised, will continue to occur? Because Jesus Christ, Him which is, and which was, and which is to come, has done a work, is doing a work and will continue to do a work in you until you who are willing are complete.

Lets see the word “testimony”

TESTIMONY G3142 μαρτύριον marturion (mar-too’-ree-on) n.
1. something evidential
2. (genitive case) evidence given or (specially), the Decalogue (in the sacred Tabernacle)
KJV: to be testified, testimony, witness

Simply put, in this context, testimony means the evidence of Christ and His work in the individual and the Church. Something observable by word, by deed/conduct; something perceivable to the onlooker. Something obviously of a divine nature.

Below, Paul said the same things as above, in 1 Cor 1:2-19, in slightly different words to the Thessalonians in  1Thess 5:23-24.

(1Thess 5:23-24 [AKJV/PCE])
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (entirely, completely); and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].

Grace is not spoken of as merely “unmerited favor” in these contexts.

Grace, as observed herein, is the abiding power of God working in us, sanctifying us that we may walk in the fullness of the Spirit, even to the point of being blameless and “wholly” or completely/perfectly sanctified at/unto the coming of Jesus Christ. If we are the workmanship of Christ, don’t you think He can do a perfect work in you?

“Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].”

Notice Paul said, “will do it“, “Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].” (1Thess 5:24).

Just as in 1 Corinthians 1:8 he said, “Shall also confirm“,

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Cor 1:8).

This is not merely a pointing to what Christ has done but a promise and a pointing to, a reminder, a making aware of, what Christ is doing and will continue to do!  Christ is still working in us! Bringing us along into a perfect/complete/whole sanctification.

How able do you think Christ is?

“And Jesus looking on them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27 [AKJV])

When we look at what Paul says all throughout the new testament we see that he labored tirelessly to get us beyond merely relaxing in being forgiven and accepted and into a walk of liberty and power in the Spirit. Freedom from slavery to sin. Freedom from doubt. Freedom from slavery to the flesh. Freedom to walk in the ways of God. Empowered to press on into fruitful labor and testimony, to a fullness of life in the spirit, fully sanctified in Christ.

In Galatians 4:19 Paul said it clearly:

19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,…”.

“until Christ be formed in you”

Paul also said it clearly in Romans 8:29

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

This is where we are headed now, before the resurrection! We can taste of that eternal glory now in this life. We have a foretaste as suredly as we have a deposit of the Holy Ghost abiding in us. The evidence of a transformed life now, the earnest, the promise of future glory and immortality abides in us now as born again saints of God; the Holy Spirit, the Grace of God. By the presence of the Holy Ghost, the presence of Christ in us, we may move on into all that God desires of us and intends for us as citizens of heaven and as those who overcome sin, the flesh and the world By Faith in “Him that is able” and by that “Power which works in us mightily”.

(Jude 1:24 [AKJV])
24 Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

(Colossians 1:28-29 [AKJV])
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.

Where, in times past, if we without the Spirit , were to labor and strive, we would not get nearly as far as we would with the Spirit, nor would we labor wisely as those who are led by the Spirit. The motive for such labor, while outwardly, may appear good and right, would have sprung from a rotten fountain and terminated at a dead end. All our works and righteousness would be flesh and unpresentable to God who calls us to walk worthy of Him and of our calling.

(Romans 8:7-8 [AKJV])
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

That which is born from above overcomes the world, not that which is born of the flesh.

(John 3:6 [AKJV])
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(John 1:12-13 [AKJV])
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

(1 John 5:4-5 [AKJV])
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

Nothing of the flesh is worthy before God.

There is that which is counted worthy in the eyes of Christ

(Luke 21:36 [AKJV])
Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

(Ephesians 4:1 [AKJV])
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called,

(Revelation 3:4-6 [AKJV])
4 You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.

 

Paul labored tirelessly that we may know these things.  Listen to what he said to the Philippians:

(Phil 2:15-16 [AKJV/PCE])
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Let it not be said that Paul’s labor was in vain concerning us, any more than the cross of Christ was in vain. Let us seek to know and live out the fullness of what has been purchased for and freely given to us.

 

All the Fullness of God

As the chosen Apostle of Christ to us, Paul labored tirelessly that we might come into a walk where we are filled with “all the fullness of God”! (see vs 19 below)

(Eph 3:16-21 [AKJV/PCE])
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

This will be absolutely be fulfilled on a corporate scale before Christ returns. (See the promise in Ephesians 4:11-16.)

(Eph 4:11-13 [AKJV/PCE])
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till [until] we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
If it is to be fulfilled in the entire church, then it must be fulfilled in each member. That means you and me. Don’t be sold short. If this is what the Apostle of Jesus Christ was sent to show us, then who are these who deny it? Who are these who say “No! You can’t go that far!”?  Cast off these doubters and enemies of truth and faith and stand in the word of God and be built upon the sure foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone and settle for no less.

YOU ARE THE HABITATION OF GOD!

Of which sort of habitation do you count Him worthy? The habitation of doubters and faithlessness? Or a Habitation of a humble and believing heart that presses after the precious gift of Christ to the fullest?

(Hebrews 11:6 [AKJV])
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(Hebrews 10:22-23 [AKJV])
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

 

Citizens of Heaven, who are you? You are the Habitation of God!

(Eph 2:20-22 [AKJV/PCE])
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

And you are the elegant and poetic workmanship of Christ.

(Ephesians 2:10 [AKJV])
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

Further partial reference to Grace as the enabling power of God:

Grace for Apostleship and Obedience
(Romans 1:5 [AKJV])
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Grace to Build
(1 Corinthians 3:10 [AKJV])
According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.

Grace to Labor
(1 Corinthians 15:10 [AKJV])
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Grace for Holy Conduct
(2 Corinthians 1:12 [AKJV])
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

Grace for Willingness and Giving
(2 Corinthians 8:1-6 [AKJV])
1 Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit [know] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take on us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.
6 So that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

Grace to Help in Time of Need
(Hebrews 4:16 [AKJV])
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Grace to Serve God Acceptably
(Hebrews 12:28 [AKJV])
Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Grace to Minister
(1 Peter 4:10 [AKJV])
As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

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