Some Christians think I’m sure, that if you preach grace, you are preaching some sort of benevolent, weak and irresponsible Father: a God who has forgiven us all our sins and so therefore no longer cares what we do. In other words, we can do what we like and continue to live a life of sin without consequences.
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Grace is now our schoolmaster and teaches us to live holy lives.
“[Titus 2:11-12 KJV] 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”
Therefore, if you are born again, you have no choice: you have graduated from law school and enrolled in the school of grace, faith and of the Holy Spirit. Is this some kindergarten or some playschool? No, it is more of a boot camp and it can get pretty tough at times!
You are now a soldier of Jesus Christ.
“[2Ti 2:3 KJV] 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
In a similar way, Paul compares the Christian life to that of the athlete preparing for a race and as every athlete knows – winning takes dedication, discipline and courage.
“[1Cr 9:24-27 KJV] 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. and every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (adokimos – not standing the test)”
This school of grace and of the spirit is therefore certainly not some pushover where results don’t matter. This is training for reigning –a school you don’t get to leave if you fail. No, you get to take the test again and again. Failure is not option!
So what is God’s purpose in all of this? Why does he need to discipline or train us? Is it because he angry with us, punishing us for our sins? No, the training is an evidence of his love and Fatherhood:
Hebrews 12:6 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
This is training with a purpose. God knows that with Christ in us we have entered the arena of spiritual warfare and he wants us able to fight and defeat the enemy with spiritual weapons. That is, he wants to strengthen us to be tough enough to be able to withstand temptation and anything the enemy may throw at us.
He wants us to be holy and separated to him. In other words different!
“Hebrews 12: 10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Even Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t escape this training and we can see how he endured temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. Therefore, this gives us a clue that the purpose of the training is not to do with punishment. In fact, its because we are part of his family and are his sons and daughters that we are chastened.
“ [Hbr 5:8-9 KJV] 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
I mean, how do we treat our own children? Would we be good parents if we never sent them to school or trained them at home? No, we send them to school because we want them equipped to face the challenges of life on their own one day. To be able to stand on their own two feet.
I remember when I was teaching a class once, there was a boy who physically couldn’t sit still on a chair. This was because his parents believed, that a child should never be disciplined or be restrained. They even told him that he didn’t have to go to school if he didn’t feel like it. I found this really sad, because even though he was intelligent and gifted, he could never get anything together because of his lack of self-control.
Therefore, Gods discipline and training is for our good not for the shear fun of it – that would be cruel! In fact to be accurate he doesn’t manufacture the trials either. No, even the unbelievers face the same trials of life that we do. The difference however, is how the believer responds to those trials.
Ultimately though, God is testing something that the unbeliever does not have: FAITH.
God is not interested in an intellectual acknowledgement of truth he wants a practical and robust faith tried and tested by the storms and trials of life. A faith in God that produces patience: a tenacity to hold on to God’s promises and an ability to receive what he’s promised.
So, if your sick learn to receive healing and then go and heal someone else. If your struggling with temptation learn how to flee and resist it. If your feeling discouraged and weary, learn how to draw upon the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures and then go and encourage someone else.
[Jam 1:2-4 KJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
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