I have been a Christian for over forty years and a pastor for over half of that time and the single most important thing I have learned that I want to pass along to you is the shape and nature of God’s pathway of grace. Once you recognize it and join it, aligning your life to follow Jesus, it will keep you from getting sidetracked to your peril. You may from time to time accidently take an unwanted detour but you will know instantly by the power of the Spirit how to get back on the narrow track of grace.
Today’s lesson begins in Romans 8: 28 -30 as it reminds you of God’s power to orchestrate the entirety of life for your good when you love him and live according to his purpose-filled call upon your life. That call always is initiated by God as a call to repentance – a call to salvation and life as a shared experience with God in Jesus Christ. It is a call to realign our will, mind, and emotions to the purpose of God. Why are we here? What is our job? It is to live a life that makes it easy for God to do his job, to be himself, yesterday, today, and forever. Learn this: the pathway of grace always 1) Begins in repentance.
Once begun, a life of grace calls us to 2) Believe. The scripture says, “Whomever God calls, he foreknows.” The word foreknow is literally the word prognosis. Whomever God calls, he offers this simple prognosis: “Trust me”. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16: 31) Believing is the basis upon which our sin is exchanged for God’s salvation. Believing is the means through which our bias is exchanged for God’s way of looking at things. This is why God’s word is the foundation for our faith.
But now that you are on the path of grace you must move forward upon it. This is the reason God gives us his Spirit; so we might 3) Build up our most holy faith. We develop the disciplines, patterns, and habits that will mature us as a disciple of Jesus Christ. “For those God foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8: 29) The word predestined misleads many. It refers to a process of following directions not some cosmic fiat that has been fixed in place. It describes the process you follow when you order prefabricated furniture. The picture looks lovely but you have to interact with the instructions to make it functional. This is the way we build up our faith. The likeness of Jesus in us is lovely but we have to interact with the Holy Spirit to make it functional.
This leads us to the next bend in the pathway of grace, the call to 4) Bless. The first call of verse twenty-eight is a call to come to God in response to grace. This call in verse thirty is a call to go for God in response to need under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. This move forward is made with confidence as we recognize “those he called, he also justified”. We have regained our balance in life. As we hold on to God, firmly within the grip of his grace we can reach out to rescue and aid others. God has made us new creations in Christ. Freely we have received, freely we give. We 5) Bring Life to others as God brought life to us in Jesus Christ.
This leads us to the final glorious step we will take on the pathway of grace, the step of 6) Breakthrough. We will now move forward towards repentance to embrace in a deeper and more faithful way our calling as God’s people.