The Full Potential of Grace

Cleaning up and re-posting something from this day’s readings 10 years ago.


Grace. Amazing Grace. Wonderful Grace of Jesus. Grace Greater Than My Sin. Unmerited Favor. God’s Richest At Christ’s Expense.

If there’s a single word that captures the gospel it could very well be grace. And I shuddered a bit this morning as I read in 2Corinthians. In this letter written to a church, these instructions written to a body of believers, Paul says to these saints:

We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain . . .

(2Corinthians 6:1b ESV).

Some suppose that the reference here is to salvation. That it’s a warning not to reject God’s offer of free (for us not for His Son) forgiveness — for “Behold, now is the favorable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (6:2 ESV). Could be. But the sense I get as I read the chapter is that, continuing on from chapter 5, Paul makes an appeal to maximize the potential of grace and not render it void through continuance in living after the world and in the pursuit and indulgence of sin. I especially think this based on what I see as the other “bookend” for this section:

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

(2Corinthians 7:1 ESV).

Catch that? We are to cleanse ourselves so that holiness will be brought to completion in the fear of God. While we are saved by grace, and while we are to live in His all sufficient grace, we are to also seek to allow grace to complete the work begun in us. To determine, by His grace, to pursue holiness. When we do, it is then, I think, that we are not receiving the grace of God in vain.

The work of grace is intended to go way beyond our spiritual rebirth. It is the foundation for our sanctification, for the taking on of the character of Christ. But, should we determine to be “unequally yoked” with those outside of grace — with lawlessness, darkness, and idols (6:14-16) — then we are in danger of receiving the grace of God in vain.

We can take the riches of God and ignore the potential to make eternal investments and lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven. We can take the seed of the living Word implanted within us and be careless with watering it and nurturing it so that it bears fruit for His glory. We can take all the tools which God has given to us to participate in the divine nature and, instead, leave them in the toolbox and seek to build nothing upon the foundation laid by Christ. Oh, how I shudder at the thought of receiving God’s grace in vain.

“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.’ ”

(2Corinthians 6:16b-18 ESV)

Oh, the privilege of grace! To be made a place where God desires to dwell. To be called His people. To be owned as His children. “Do not!” says the heart of the apostle, “Do not receive it all in vain!”

Instead I am to pursue it, by His grace. To be a welcoming habitation for the Lord, by His grace. To own as precious beyond precious, the title, “People of God”, by His grace. To lean into the Spirit of adoption who resides within and, as a child of God, cry out, “Abba, Father!”, desiring no family above His, by His grace. To say no to the world, to the old nature, to the voices of those who walk the path of destruction, by His grace. And to embrace the call to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God. By His grace.

It is Amazing Grace. It is Wonderful Grace. It is Grace Greater Than My Sin. It is God’s Riches At Christ Expense. And, as much as lies within me, I desire that it will be grace that achieves its full potential in me.

Only by His grace. Only for His glory.

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