Monday, November 28, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does Grace Program You to Do Good Things?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Let's consider these questions: Does grace program you to do good things? Does it control you? Where does free will come into the picture? God is Almighty, but there is something He cannot do: He cannot force us to believe and obey. But He reveals His grace to every human being.

What is grace? It is God treating every human being as though he were righteous when in fact he is not. He has done that since the world began, all because Christ became our second Adam, the new head of the human race, and just as we are all by nature "in Adam," having a common sinful nature. So now, since Christ gave Himself for us, the Father generously, graciously treats us all as His own Son, "in His name," because He adopted us "in Him," as though we had never sinned. This is His grace--totally undeserved, unmerited favor.

But this "amazing grace" does not force us to be good; we are free to reject it. We can choose to despise it as Esau chose "to despise his birthright" (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16, 17). Those who do so will discover in the Judgment Day that they have "trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which [they were] sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29). That "Spirit of grace" was given to every one of them; God is no respecter of persons. They were given, not merely offered, "the birthright." God gave them, not merely offered them, "the Spirit of grace."

That is an important point to grasp: God's grace is given to "every man," it's as real as the atmosphere that encircles the globe that "every man" has breathed. The Lord's Supper teaches that "every man" enjoys physical life because in eating his daily food he is nourished by the body and blood of the Son of God. No lost person will accuse God at the end; "You didn't give me as much as you gave the people who are saved!" Every child of Adam was equally given the "birthright" to eternal life, "in Christ." You cherish it, love it, clasp it to your heart; or you "despise" it, cast it away.

If you cherish and love it, then you "believe." And when you believe, that faith begins to work immediately. But not without your consent. You have something to do--you choose to receive the atonement (Rom. 5:8, 9). "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No!!' to ungodliness and worldly passions [all of Satan's temptations]" (Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version). No, grace does not force or program you; but it teaches you. Make a choice to learn!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 29, 1999-2.
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