The Word Of God’s Grace: Part 1
By Pastor J.D. Link
I encourage you to read Acts 20:24-32 carefully. Verse 32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend (commit, entrust) you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up (edify), and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Paul would never see the Ephesians again. In his final words, he entrusted them to God, and to the word of His Grace. What is this “Word of Grace” able to do? It builds up the church and gives the saints an inheritance. The word of grace builds – legalism tears down. The word of grace gives an inheritance – legalism robs.
It is the word of God’s grace that gives us our inheritance. Faith for salvation, eternal life and forgiveness of sins comes from hearing God’s word (Rom 10:17). It also builds us up. It strengthens our faith and gives us the wisdom and knowledge we need to live victoriously.
Paul mentioned previously that after his departure, grievous wolves; false teachers; false prophets – preaching a false gospel – will come in among them and even come from among them. This is why he entrusted them to God and the word of His grace. Nothing else would preserve them from these lies and liars.
Preaching true, biblical grace is the best way to stay out of error. Andrew Wommack writes, “Paul had just prophesied that there would be wolves from within and without that would come against the church at Ephesus. Then he commends them to God and the Word of God’s grace. God’s Word, specifically the revelation of God’s grace, is the greatest antidote against error.” What was the error of that day – and still today – in the church?
On one side, there was anti-nomianism (without law, or “lawless“). It was hyper-grace that actually encouraged sinfulness (Rom 3:8). On the other side, there were the Judaizers, who taught one had to keep the law of Moses and basically become a Jew to be saved (Gal 2:4). Both are error, and both are resolved when preaching pure, biblical grace.
The word of God’s grace; the truth of the Gospel; is revealed to us in Eph 2:8-10. Indeed, our salvation is not of works, but by grace are we saved through faith in Christ alone. However, we are saved “unto” good works. Good works are not the root, but the fruit of our salvation. We also see in Titus 3:5-8, that we are not saved by works of righteousness, but justified by God’s grace. However, we are to “be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8). Therefore, while works assuredly play a part in sanctification, they play no part in justification.
We see in Galatians Paul addressing the error of the “faith + works” doctrine. He calls the Galatians foolish, bewitched and disobedient to the truth for trying to be perfected through works of the law. Their faith was near to being worthless because of this error (Gal 3:1-4).
We see James most clearly address the error of the anti-nomians (Jam 2:17-20). A so-called “faith” that has no corresponding actions is a dead faith. The idea that we can have faith but have no works that verify that faith is a false doctrine. Jesus said we shall know a tree by its fruit; and that if we’re joined in union with Him, we’ll produce much fruit (Jn 15:4-5).
We must always remember that it is the word of God’s grace – the true, biblical Gospel – that will give us an inheritance and build us up. Selah.
The Word of God’s Grace: Part 2
By Pastor J.D. Link
Acts 20:32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”
So, what is the definition of grace? A simple acronym is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense”. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says, “Good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”
Here are some quotes from various Christians on what grace is:
“Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” – B.B. Warfield.
“Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor, shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite.”- Harry Ironside.
“Grace is not a ‘thing’. It is not a substance that can be measured or a commodity to be distributed. It is the ‘grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’. In essence, it is Jesus Himself.” – Sinclair Ferguson.
“Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It is the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him. To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Jesus Christ. To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God, including my acceptance and standing with Him, on my union with Christ.” – Jerry Bridges.
Grace is God doing for us, what we could never, ever do for ourselves. The grace of Christ is the Gospel (Gal 1:6-7). The grace of God is the Gospel (Act 20:24). If we are not preaching grace, we are not preaching the Gospel. If we say there is nothing more important than the Gospel, then we are saying there is nothing more important than grace, for they are used interchangeably. An understanding of God’s grace is essential to growing in the Christian faith.
“The greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon divine grace.” – Brother Lawrence.
You see, the more a person comes to realize that without the Grace of Jesus he has nothing; he can do nothing; he is nothing – the more he will love and appreciate Jesus, the more he will grow in grace; and the more joyful, peaceful, & content he will become. A legalistic, works based relationship with God robs you of joy, of peace, and contentment. It also diminishes the blood of Jesus and His finished work.
This does not diminish the fact that good works are a byproduct of receiving God’s grace through faith; but no way, no how, not ever – will you be accepted by God based on your performance, works, or deeds. Only by receiving God’s grace through faith will you ever be accepted by God and saved.
Another element of God’s grace is that it is abundant. In Romans 5:15, 17, & 20, we see the apostle Paul describe God’s grace as abounding and abundant. The Greek Def. of abundant or abound used here is: superabundance, exceeding or excessive; more than is required; over and above measure. Through Jesus Christ, God poured out His grace in excess. We have not received just a little grace to get us by, but rather above and beyond measure. We have received fullness of grace (Jn 1:16).
This is a wonderful truth. Where our sin abounded, His grace did much more abound. His grace is more than sufficient to save and to keep; it is exceeding great to remove all of our sin. We have no “barely get-a-long”, insufficient, half-way covenant. God saves to the uttermost through Jesus’ shed blood (Heb 7:25). God’s abundant grace causes all who receive it to give God abundant thanks, and this abounds to the glory of God (2Cor 4:15). God’s grace is exceeding abundant, and it brings with it faith in Jesus and love for God and others (1Tim 1:14).
While God’s grace is available to all, only certain people can receive it. Who can receive it? The humble. James 4:6, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resists the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” See also 1Pt 5:5; Psalm 34:18, 138:6; Isa 57:15, Mt 5:4.
The prideful, arrogant, and high minded cannot receive it. They think they don’t need it, or they think they can earn it. Both are wrong. God has set forth the conditions and we must accept them or reject them – but we cannot change them. When we humble ourselves and understand that without God’s grace we are helpless and hopeless; then we are candidates to receive His abundant grace. Selah.
The Word Of God’s Grace: Part 3
By Pastor J.D. Link
The English word “grace” is found 170 times in the Bible, in 156 verses. We see it 39 times in OT and 131 times in NT. It first appears in Gen. 6:8 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” It last appears in the last verse of the Bible: Rev 22:21, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
The Greek word “Charis” is found 156 times in the NT alone. Though translated grace 130 times, it was also translated benefit, thanks, liberality, joy, gracious, gift, benefit – as well as a few others. It is defined as “goodwill, loving-kindness, favor.”
Why is this important? Because God’s grace is the Gospel! Grace is the reoccurring theme from Genesis to Revelation. If we do not understand God’s grace, we cannot truly understand God or The Bible. God’s Word will not make sense if we do not grasp His infinite grace and love. Once we understand grace, we will see its golden thread run throughout the whole of Scripture. If you see the Old Testament as only judgment, you do not yet grasp grace.
For instance, it was grace that God ran Adam and Eve out of the garden (Gen 3:22-23); That he saved Noah and his family through the flood (Gen 6:8); and that He confounded languages and scattered the nations (Gen 11:6). Of course, the history of the nation of Israel is a textbook case of God’s loving, abundant grace that He showed continually (through human eyes, ad nauseam) to a stiff-necked, rebellious people (Dt 9:6-7, 13, 24). Indeed, to the one who understands grace, the Old Testament is absolutely filled with it.
The Bible says that God rules from the throne of Heaven. It is vital we understand that throne is a throne of grace. Grace emanates, springs forth, proceeds, and has its source from the throne of God. That is why we may boldly approach His throne and find mercy and grace to help in our time of need. Don’t run from God when you have failed but run to Him and find grace (Heb 4:16).
Jesus, our Intercessor and High priest, sits on that throne at His Father’s right hand. When we are in Christ, we can confidently come in full assurance, as beloved children of God, when we have failed and fallen. We will in no wise be cast out. We will find grace, mercy and help. Certainly not because we deserve it – but because it is our inheritance in Christ. God is gracious to us on Christ’s behalf. God delights in showing us His grace now and forever (Eph 2:7).
Grace will come alive abundantly and cause us to love and praise God continually, when we stop believing we’re “basically good” – and start believing the truth. What is the truth? Without Christ, we are absolute miserable wretches (Rom 3:10-18, 23, Eph 2:1-3), worthy only of God’s justice and wrath. Our own righteousness is but filthy rags (Isa 64:6) – pathetic fig leaves that cover nothing (Gen 3:7). Only God is good, holy and righteous; and only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ do we receive the gift of true goodness, holiness and righteousness. All praise, honor and glory be to our God forever and ever, amen!
The Word of God’s grace: Part 4
By Pastor J.D. Link
John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Moses gave the Law, but Jesus brought grace and truth. Was the Law not true? Of course, it was. The Law is holy, just and good (Rom 7:7, 12). However, it was not the truth as the means of justification. That means is grace through faith – and that is through Jesus. The Law’s purpose was to drive us to Jesus; and once it has done that, Jesus is the end of it (Gal 3:24-26, Rom 10:4).
To whom is this grace available? It is available to all. However, it is only beneficial to those chosen, called and justified by God (Rom 8:29-30). Christ died for the world in a general sense (Jn 1:29, 1Tim 2:6, Heb 2:9, Titus 2:11, 1Jn 2:2); but died for His Bride in a peculiar sense (Jn 10:14-16, 11:52, 15:13-14, Act 20:28, Eph5:25, 1Pt 2:9, Rev 5:9). Like in the parable of the hidden treasure, Christ bought the land (world) – but the purpose was to get the treasure (church); the wheat among tares; the sheep from the goats (Mt. 13:44).
Rev 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Will you believe it? Will you receive it? It is a gift, and gifts can only be gratefully accepted and received. Gifts cannot be earned, nor can they be forced.
How is it received? By works? By begging? No, by faith. By belief, trust, and confidence in Jesus’ finished work (Rom 5:1-2, Eph 2:8-9, Act 15:11). Grace cannot be of works. It is not possible. Why? Rom 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” This means justification, or right standing with God, is either by works or by grace; but it cannot be a combination of the two. They are mutually exclusive. By definition, works cannot be of grace; and grace cannot be of works. It is black or white. There is no gray. There is no 50-50, 80-20, or 99-1. “It is finished”, or it is not.
If you could work for grace, God would owe it to you. It would be a debt He had to pay. God owes us nothing and never will. He gives grace as a gift, and you can either humble yourself and simply believe it and receive it; or you can persist in your pride, doubt it and do without it (Rom 4:3-5). Our own works, our righteousness, is filthy rags to God (Isa 64:6). We frustrate (reject, nullify, set aside) God’s grace when we try to attain righteousness by our works (Gal 2:21). If we try to be in right standing with God by our works, we reject the grace of God. We are saying, “Christ’s death served no purpose. It was useless. I can do this without you, Jesus.” We would probably never say this with our mouth; but by our attitude and actions concerning God’s grace, we’re still saying it!
We can fall from God’s grace by trying to attain righteousness through works (Gal 5:1-4). Are you fallen from grace? Has Christ become of no effect to you? Does Christ profit you nothing? Jesus would say, “…Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works (Rev 2:4-5). Turn around. Change your mind. Stop foolishly believing you can save yourself. You can’t. Put all your faith and hope in Christ alone.
The Word of God’s Grace: Part 5
By Pastor J.D. Link
Acts 20:32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Over the past three weeks, we have shown clearly that salvation, acceptance and righteousness are complete gifts of God; are completely given by grace; absolutely cannot be earned; and can ONLY be received by faith. When one teaches Biblical grace the way the Apostle Paul did, the natural response was, “So, can we just go live in sin?”. If you have never asked this question, then you haven’t heard the Gospel preached like Paul preached it! However, when you hear the pure Gospel, this question is quite reasonable. We will see that grace does not promote sin, but rather it delivers from sin: Rom 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Rom 6:1-2; 15 says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid… What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Does true grace teach sinfulness and lawlessness? God forbid! God’s grace and our freedom by His grace, is so we can truly love and serve each other and God (Gal 5:13, Eph 2:8-10, 1Pt 2:15-16). It delivers us from performance based, drudgery-inducing service; and gives us a love for others and God, and a heart desire to serve Him in joy, peace and acceptance. It’s the abiding life – simply being a branch and conductor of God’s love, grace and truth.
SO, if I am totally accepted by God based on what Jesus did and not what I do – why not live in sin? 1. It is not our nature any longer. Rom 6:2 …How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? A born-again Christian is dead to sin. They are no longer sinners by nature, but are now partakers of the divine nature (2Pt 1:4). The spirit of a (real) Christian is in union with God. He desires what God desires. He wants to live for Jesus. He honors God’s Word. He wants to do right. It is his nature. Though he may fail at times, and may sin in his soul and flesh, that is not who or what he is. He is righteous; his spirit is holy; and it is his nature to live righteously – though he will never live this out perfectly while contained in this mortal body.
- We don’t want to submit ourselves again to Satan (Rom 6:16-18). When redeemed, our Master is now Jesus. He is good, loving, gracious, compassionate, & kind. Satan is evil, cruel, & wicked. Why would we go back under the authority of an evil taskmaster? Jesus offers abundant life, while Satan only offers death. The wages of sin is death, while the gift of God is life eternal. We can choose life & blessing, or death & cursing.
3.Sowing & reaping is still a law of the Kingdom of God (Gal 6:7-8, Jam 1:14-15). Sin always takes us further than we want to go; keeps us longer than we want to stay; and costs us more than we want to pay. If we sow to the spirit, we reap life; if we sow to the flesh we reap death. We can’t sow corn and expect to reap wheat. Even nature shows us that we reap what we sow. Do we want the harvest of sin coming back into our life?
- Because sin hinders your faith (1Ti 1:19). As a Christian, willful sin brings a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience shipwrecks your faith. God still feels the same towards you, but you won’t feel the same towards God. You won’t have the confidence towards God that you should, if you know in your heart you are being rebellious.
- Because we love God. 1Jn 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” If we love God, we want to do what He says (Jn 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10, 14; 2Jn 1:6). Though we may fail at times, our desire is to live pleasing to Him. None of us are perfect, but we have a perfect Savior, and it does not grieve us to follow His ways. It is rather a joy to live in His truth.
- Because we look for His coming (1Jn 3:2-3). See also 2Cor 7:1, 2Pt 3:14. As an engaged bride, we keep ourselves pure and ready, knowing that our groom is preparing a place for us, and could come at any time to sweep us off our feet. It’s not, “While the cat is away, the mice will play”, but rather, “While the groom is away, the bride will stay and pray”.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these six reasons are sufficient Scriptural evidence that preaching Biblical grace is not preaching a “license to sin”. On the contrary, only in understanding God’s grace do we gain the true ability and pleasure to live the abundant Christian life – free of the legalistic, performance-based, condemning, mentality that so many of the Body of Christ live with.
The Word Of God’s Grace: Part 6
By Pastor J.D. Link
Act 20:32 “And now, brethren, I commend (commit, entrust) you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up (edify), and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Last week we talked about six reasons why a Believer should not live in sin and how Biblical grace delivers from sin. This week, we will examine how we are declared righteous by God’s grace.
Rom 3:24 – Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Titus 3:7 – That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. We see from these two verses that we are justified (declared righteous) by God’s grace. What is righteousness? The Greek word for “justified” – Dikaioo – means: to render, show, declare, pronounce, or regard one to be just, innocent, free, or righteous. By God’s grace, through faith upon Jesus, we are rendered just; declared innocent; pronounced free; and regarded righteous. This is our inheritance from God. Our righteousness is of Him (Isa 54:17). An inheritance is written into a will (covenant). You do nothing to receive it, except believe what is written.
E.W. Kenyon wrote: “Righteousness means the ability to stand in God’s presence without the sense of guilt, condemnation, or inferiority; as though sin had never happened, as Adam did before he ever transgressed.” What a wonderful truth.
Some Biblical facts about righteousness: 1. Righteousness is a gift. Rom 3:24 “Being justified freely by his grace…”. Rom 5:17 “… they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Righteousness is a free gift. It cannot be earned, but only humbly received. It causes us to reign in life!
2. Righteousness is received by faith: Philp 3:8-9 “…that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Rom 4:3 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” See also Rom 4:21-5:1.
3. Righteousness cannot be by works: Gal 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Read carefully Romans 9:30-10:4. If one tries to work for righteousness, they cannot have it. If one simply receives it by faith in Jesus Christ, it is theirs. This cannot be made clearer. Hebrews tells us we must labor to enter into our Sabbath rest and cease from our own works. That rest is Jesus Christ.
4. We must awaken to righteousness: 1Co 15:34 “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” We must wake up to God’s righteousness! Paul said it is shameful for us to not have the knowledge of God’s righteousness! We must wake up and come to a full understanding of our righteousness in Christ Jesus. This is where victory in the Christian life lies. This is where peace and acceptance with God lies. This is where joy lies. Until we awaken to this truth, that we are righteous with God’s own righteousness – we will never have the relationship with The Father that He desires and that He gave His Son to have with us. We must continually acknowledge every good thing in us in Christ Jesus (Phm 1:6).
5. Jesus has become our very righteousness: We have been made (to become, to come into existence) the righteousness of God in Christ (2Cor 5:21). It was God’s plan for Jesus to become our very righteousness; our very wisdom; our very sanctification; our very redemption (1Cor 1:30). Christians are new creations in Christ, which, according to God, are created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24). It sounds too good to be true; yet it is true. You see, God removed every barrier that hindered our perfect reconciliation and relationship with Him. This is His plan, not mans. In Christ, our sins are removed. In Christ, we are made righteous. In Christ, we have perfect relationship with The Father. This is amazing grace.
In closing: Matt 5:6 – Blessed (supremely blest, fortunate, well off, & happy) are they which do hunger (crave, famished,) and thirst after righteousness (justification): for they shall be filled (gorged, filled to abundance, satisfied). If you long for, hunger, and thirst for righteousness, you will only be filled with it by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God gives good gifts and one of those gifts is righteousness. Receive His righteousness today!
The Word Of God’s Grace: Part 7
By Pastor J.D. Link
Acts 20:32 – “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Last week we talked about the fact that by God’s grace (goodwill, loving kindness; and unmerited favor) – through faith – we are declared righteous (justified, in right standing with God). This week, we will look at three more aspects of grace: 1. We are to grow in it. 2. We are to be strong in it. 3. It is sufficient for us.
1. We are to grow in grace. 2Pe 3:18 encourages us to grow (increase, become greater) in grace, and in the knowledge (knowing) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Truly, one is the result of the other. Knowing Jesus is essential. As we grow and increase in the knowledge of Jesus, we will grow in God’s grace. Knowing Jesus is not just knowing about Him, but it is coming to know Him personally. I know (about) the Governor, but I don’t really know the Governor. They are two different things.
In one sense, we already have the fullness of God’s grace in Christ, and grace upon grace (Jn 1:16). All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus, and Jesus dwells in us. However, we must grow in our knowledge of it. The more we come to know & understand Jesus Christ, the more we will grow in the knowledge of His grace that is in us and upon us. Grace and peace are multiplied unto us through what? Through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2Pt 1:2-3). This knowledge is eternal life (Jn 17:3).
2. We are to become strong in God’s grace (2Ti 2:1). We are to act like men and be strong (1Cor 16:13). We are to be strong in faith (Rom 4:20). We are to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might (Eph 6:10). We become strong in grace, by growing in grace. We grow in grace, by growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We grow in the knowledge of Jesus, by being students of His Word and through prayer.
We have no more relationship with God, than we do to His Word. We know no more of God, than we know through His Word. His words are spirit and life (Jn 6:63). God speaks to us by His Word, and we speak to Him in prayer. It is a relationship. We must be students of God’s Word, to really know Jesus. Of course, this does not mean we should only have an intellectual knowledge of Him; but through the renewing of our minds, our lives are transformed. Through first the intellect, we can come to know Jesus intimately. This is the purpose.
If God says to be strong in grace, that means it is not a secondary issue. It is of utmost importance. If someone says, “Be strong in____”, it means focus more attention on this and really get it down. Everything in God’s Word is of value, but some things are more important than others. When He says be strong in something, we need to be strong in it and not be weak.
3. God’s grace is sufficient (2Co 12:9). What does this mean? Quite simply, God’s grace is more than enough to carry you through and give you the victory in any and every circumstance in life. When we are mentally weak; physically weak; or spiritually weak – His grace is more than strong enough to put us over. We can glorify God in every circumstance, because we know we have the victory!
When we acknowledge our complete weakness, lack, and inability in ourselves to live the Christian life, God’s strength can then be showcased in our lives. We must acknowledge our weakness, but not exalt it. We must exalt Jesus’ strength and all He is in us and through us. Eyes on us = failure. Eyes on Jesus = victory.
The Word of God’s Grace: Part 8
By Pastor J.D. Link
Acts 20:32 “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”
This week, we will look at the fact that grace should provoke in us spiritual labor. We will see that: 1. Jesus knows our labor. 2. Spiritual labor is a mark of a disciple. 3. There will be a reward for our labor.
God’s Grace should provoke Spiritual Labor (1Cor 15:10). Far from causing laziness, the grace of God provoked and enabled Paul to labor abundantly. He went on more mission trips; planted more churches; wrote more Epistles; won more souls – than they all. By what means? By the grace of God working in him.
This wasn’t a boastful statement. In fact, it was one of great humility. Paul had said he wasn’t even worthy to be called an Apostle, because he had persecuted the Church; and he called himself the “Chief of sinners”. Yet, He magnified God’s grace which worked in him, which caused him to abundantly labor in the harvest field. He gave all credit to God’s grace and not to himself. That is true humility.
In Col 1:28-29, Paul said he labored, striving according to the mighty working of God. How did he labor and strive? By the working of God within. Again, biblical grace does not cause idleness, but productivity in the kingdom of God. God within you motivates and invigorates, giving us purpose and meaning. Here are three points about God’s grace producing labor within us:
- Jesus knows our labor. He told the church at Ephesus, “(Rev 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labor….”. The Thessalonians work and labor of love was, “In the sight God” (1Th 1:3). Under the inspiration of the Holy spirit, Paul recognized and honored those who labored with him (Rom 16:6, 12; Philip 2:25). This does not just mean laboring physically, but spiritually. In fact, spiritual labor is often more taxing and exhausting than physical labor.
- There is nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty; spiritual labor is a mark of a Disciple (1Co 4:12, Eph 4:28, 1Th 2:9, 2Th 3:8). C.H. Spurgeon said, “The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.” Because we have faith in God, we labor (1Tim 4:10). We must labor to enter into God’s rest (Heb 4:11). Ministers must labor constantly in the Word and doctrine (1Tim 5:17, 1Thess 5:12, Acts 6:4). Again, Spurgeon remarks, “If any man will preach as he should preach, his work will take more out of him than any other labor under heaven.” Though at times spiritual labor can be wearisome and taxing, it is joyful and filled with the promise of great reward!
- There will be a reward for our labor (1Co 15:58). We will receive our own reward based on our own labor (1Cor 3:8). We labor to be well pleasing to Jesus (2Cor 5:9). Spiritual labor is a labor of love, and God won’t forget it (Heb 6:10). We don’t labor to get God to love us; we labor because He loves us. As Paul demonstrated, though we be sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ; we make ourselves bondservants to Jesus. This is our reasonable service (Rom 12:1).