Grace And Government
'For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of' works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9).
"And lf you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth" (1 Pet. 1: 17).
Both of these verses present important, absolute facts of truth, and yet may seem at first sight to be contradictory. Unbelief will not appreciate either of them and will protest that they cannot both be true. However, faith is deeply thankful for both of them and takes them vitally to heart.
Ephesians 2:8,9 is to be fully and without question recognized as absolute truth. The grace of God in Christ Jesus, grace shown in the willing sacrifice of the Son of Man at Calvary, is the one and only principle by which God saves men from the guilt of their sins, Human works have no place whatever in this marvelous transaction. Man does not and cannot deserve in the least the blessing of his soul's salvation. Therefore he has nothing whatever to boast of. On God's part, grace saves him. On his part, only faith apprehends this, faith that bows to God and takes Him at His Word. Lest anyone should think highly of himself for having faith, it is added, "and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Faith itself is God's gift: it is not a matter of merit on man's part. God's grace both saves and preserves every believer. This is consistent with God's election, of which we have spoken. We are chosen in Christ by God's own pure grace. Nothing is ever to dim the luster of this great fact in the eyes and heart of the child of God.
Because God has shown such grace, does this mean that He relaxes His government? Many have assumed that this must be the case, but it is not so. The Father still judges impartially according to every man's work. Though we are saved by grace for eternity, yet Scripture plainly tells us what the character of our works should be, and the Father will deal with us now, in serious discipline if our works are inconsistent with our relationship to Him as His children. No true believer will ever be lost, but "the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17). God will not tolerate a believer's acting carelessly, and thus will use disciplinary means to lead him to judge his own disobedience. Because God loves His children He will chasten and scourge them (Heb. 12:6) that they might in a practical way "be partakers of His holiness" (v. 10).
Believers should be profoundly thankful for this, just as they are thankful for God's pure grace in salvation. Both are perfect in their place, neither interfering with the full, untarnished character of the other, for they are also parallel lines of truth that bear witness to the greatness and the love of God.
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