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Turning Up Grace And Obedience

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By: Megan Evans

I’ve often struggled with reconciling the relationship of grace and obedience.

I look at a particular sin in my life and flippantly think, “Oh, God’s grace covers that!” Or I look at what I have been sacrificing and think, “I bet God is proud of this!”

Within minutes of those exact thoughts, though, I look at that specific sin and think, “There is not enough grace in the world to cover this.” I look at what I have been sacrificing and think, “This can never be enough.”

When does this dissonance end? The better question to ask is, “In whom does this dissonance end?” Jesus Christ.

In Union with Christ, Wilbourne explains that we need to hear both grace and demand at full volume.

We need to hear Ephesians 2:8-9, that we have been saved by grace and not works. We need to remind ourselves of this daily. Hourly.

No sin can take us too far gone for God to love us. And there is nothing on earth we can do that could ever take away our need for dependence on him. Wilbourne says,

“Therefore, the remedy to our deepest wound and the antidote to Satan’s most venomous lie is a sure and certain confidence in the goodness of God toward us. Only those who believe in his grace will have the power to obey him.”

Where does this obedience part fit? “Only those who believe in his grace will have the power to obey him.” But I thought it was just grace alone that gave me faith? Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Wilbourne contends,

“…because we are prone to excuse ourselves with the consolations of grace, and because we are awash in a sea of consumerism that leads us to define the gospel mainly in terms of the practical benefits it brings us, and because we can be given to sloth – we need to hear these voices that turn the call to follow Christ all the way up to full volume. Undiluted. The only way to know God is to follow him.”

Receiving grace and the benefits of sins washed clean requires faith. I have to believe that I am a sinner saved by grace. But because I believe in Christ, I believe that he is still making me new and that I still need him to turn from sin.

I can’t do this without obedience. I can’t worship a God because I am thankful for what he did for me in the past. No, I worship him by obeying because I am grateful for what he is continuing to do in my life.  

We can’t do both on our own, though. We can’t live up to the standards of obedience God calls us to. We can’t give ourselves enough grace to cover our sins.

The joining of 100% grace and 100% obedience is met in the person of Jesus Christ. And because of Christ living, dying, resurrecting for us, and sending his Spirit, we now are in union with him.

Union with Christ means “the work of Christ for us cannot be separated from the person of Christ in us (Wilbourne). He didn’t die an arbitrary death; he died so that he could be working in us with us.

Because of our union with Christ, obedience no longer feels like something we can’t reach. Grace no longer feels like something we can’t obtain. We can turn toward him, run to him, and be a part of what he has done and is doing.

Our sins are fully paid for by grace. We have all the power we need in Christ to continue to turn from sins toward Godliness: obedience. We have Christ dwelling in us.

“Our union with Christ is real but invisible. We must use “the eyes of [our] hearts” (Eph 1:18) to look not at what is seen, but what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18). When temptation comes, you can say, “That’s not who I am anymore. I’m in Christ and Christ is in me. Christ, help me to be the person I am in you – by grace” (Wilbourne).

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The Importance of Scripture Memory and How to Do It

By Megan Evans

It’s 7:00am. You’re supposed to be in your car leaving for work, but so far all you have done is hit the snooze button 12 times, broken a coffee mug, and struggled to get your kids on the bus.

Meanwhile, in the same neighborhood at 7:00am, a husband is comforting a wife that just found out her mother has cancer. These are very different situations, but both represent something that we all aren’t immune to: the unpredictability of life.

In the small frustrations of a rough morning or the anger and hurt that can come with a sick family member, we can choose to respond in a way that is God-glorifying. One way we can do this is to bring to mind the living, active Word of God, what Ephesians 6:17 calls “the sword of the Spirit.” When we bring to mind Scripture, we are battling our thoughts and combating lies with the true words that the Lord has given us.

Donald S. Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life uses this analogy, “A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.” To use these weapons, it is imperative to engage in the spiritual discipline of memorizing Scripture.

Memorizing Scripture for Godliness

Psalm 119 is a picture of how important it was for David to have Scripture at the forefront of his mind.

In verses 9-11 he says:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

It’s very easy for us to rush through our time in the Word and forget what we read right when the cover closes over our Bibles. But when we do this, we are doing ourselves a great injustice.

David says that one of the ways that he might not sin against the Lord is by treasuring his word in his heart. This doesn’t sound like language that implies that David closed his scroll and forgot what he read! Having Scripture in our hearts is a way that we pursue godliness, to purify our minds and thoughts, just as David says. It’s much harder to continue in a pattern of sin when we allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind a verse or a passage that speaks truth into exactly what we need to hear, allowing room for confession and faith.

Just this week as I was struggling with a slew of health issues, 2 Corinthians 1:5 came to mind in such a timely manner. The Holy Spirit graciously reminded me of the purpose of affliction and the comfort that we have in Christ. When my initial thoughts were fear, frustration, and worry, the Lord “gave me life according to his Word” (Psalm 119:25), calming my spirit. While this helped me defeat my sinful thoughts, it also helped me to commune with the Lord.

Having God’s Word in my thoughts is like having a one-on-one conversation with him, allowing the Spirit to put to mind what he wants there and giving me a chance to respond in obedience and faith. 

Memorizing Scripture for Others

We are about Gospel Change. For Broken People. On Purpose.

One of the ways that we can do this “On Purpose” is by having Scripture ready and prepared for the broken. Imagine sitting across from someone listening to them talk about loneliness and all you can think to say is, “It’s okay, Jesus is with you!”

Yes, this is a beautiful truth, and yes Jesus is with us. But if you can look at someone in the eyes and say, “Can I share something that the Lord promises us in Isaiah 41? ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”’

We cannot comfort our brothers and sisters on our own; our words do not have the power to do so. But, God’s words hold the power to change. His Word contains the story of a Father, a brother, and a friend. A Savior that we can cling to and that will sustain us. A fully God, fully human Savior that took on all of our guilt and shame on the cross, whose blood poured out for us, so that we can one day be with him restored. I want to share this story with people, not anything I can come up with on my own. Scripture memory helps with that.

How Do We Do It?

It’s best to develop a plan for memorizing Scripture so that it can become a daily or weekly routine. If you normally spend 30 minutes in the Word in the morning, take the last five of those minutes to memorize a verse in the passage that you read, this way you already know the verse in its context in Scripture.

Donald S. Whitney suggests writing the verse out on an index card and keeping it with you throughout the day. When you have a coffee break at work or while you’re feeding your children lunch, pull out the card and review it. It’s also helpful for those that are more creative to draw a picture describing the verse or put the verse to a tune like a popular children’s song or one of those furniture jingles you just can’t seem to get out of your head (so the verse won’t leave your head either!).

If you were to memorize just one verse a week, that is 52 verses that you have armed and ready for the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts, minister to a brother or sister, and bring you that much closer to a Father who wants to have a conversation with his children.

Want to see what our church is memorizing? Here is a link to our Fighter Verses which we memorize every month.

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