Welcome to another episode of Exploring God.
Today, we want to make a purposeful and, I believe, necessary interjection and look at two verses in Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
The goal of our current series on God’s grace is to consider almost all of the New Testament verses that have the Greek word charis in them, in order to understand what grace is all about. However, I believe that today’s episode is a necessary interjection in order to help us better understand the reality of God’s grace.
Why all this controversy about being chosen by grace and believing through grace? Why not just preach the gospel, invite people to come to Jesus, and leave this seeming nitpicking to ivory-tower theologians who apparently don’t have anything better to do?
At the core of grace alone is the cross of Christ and His glory. If you’re a Christian, I assume that His death on the cross is the most precious reality in this universe for you. Without a doubt, our admiration and reverence for His sacrificial death should be to the highest degree. That is the reason for this series on God’s grace. It’s about fully honoring Him for what He has accomplished and obtained through His sacrifice.
When Herod did not give God the glory for his oratory skills, the angel of the Lord “struck him down” (Acts 12:21-23). If God should receive the glory for our natural abilities, how much more should He receive the full glory for our spiritual abilities, including our faith? That’s what believing through grace is all about, giving honor to whom honor is due.
The author of Hebrews wrote that we cannot please God without faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). The same author attributes such pleasing faith to “the blood of the eternal covenant,” to what Jesus obtained for us through His death.
If faith is pleasing to God and if God is the one who works in us “that which is pleasing in his sight,” then our faith is based on “the blood of the eternal covenant.” Jesus obtained our faith, which is the meaning of believing through grace.
That shouldn’t surprise us because the same author also wrote that Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” or as the King James Version reads: “The author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Our faith isn’t self-produced, it’s divinely authored. It isn’t our decisive input toward our salvation; it was granted to us “through Jesus Christ.” Our faith is an essential and necessary part of His saving work.
In reference to “the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot,” Peter wrote: “Who through him are believers in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21). It is Biblically accurate to say that Jesus purchased our faith as part of the ransom.
That’s why definite atonement is the heart of the gospel because it includes that God would effectually work in us “that which is pleasing in his sight,” which includes our faith.
Once again, this has nothing to do whether or not those who hold to an election based on foreseen faith are saved—anyone who believes in Jesus is saved. Rather, it has everything to do with giving God the full glory for being saved.
No Christian denies that one must believe in order to be saved, and as such we communicate His gospel. That doesn’t negate that such faith is God’s gracious work within us and is based on “the blood the eternal covenant.” To reject that truth is to undermine a vital part of Jesus’ sacrifice.
I hope you’ll join me next time as we will consider a must-have combination. When you sign up for my blog, you will receive the transcripts of these episodes and also a free copy of my first book.
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