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By Pastor Jim Nichols
Sidney Seventh-Day Adventist Church 

The Gospel of 'And'

 


The experience of God’s grace has been one of these controversial topics that has been debated, argued, abused, misunderstood, and caused many a rift between believers of all kinds.

Throughout centuries past, and even in today’s theological discussions, there seems to be a tremendous tension within the Christian Church about God’s gospel gift of grace as it relates to law and love, faith and works, spirit and truth, grace and obedience. I ask the thought question: Why is there so much confusion concerning God’s Salvation through a relationship with Jesus and how this relationship influences our behavior.

It’s as if we are always separating God’s grace for salvation and His grace for living the Christian life. I don’t believe it is a matter of law verses grace, but a blending of the two into a Gospel of “And.”

Let me introduce you to God’s gospel of “And.” It is not an either/or proposal, like some Christians would have you believe, but I liken it to an all-inclusive resort vacation experience.

I believe that God’s gospel gift of grace is a package deal or an all-inclusive experience of His power to save and His power to live. We need all of God’s saving grace and all of His empowering grace to experience the real Christian Life. Like the well know Christian hymn, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

To see the relationship of faith and obedience in the context of God’s last-day gospel setting, we go to the Book of Revelation Chapter 14. Here, we find the gospel of “And,” faith and works combined, in the lives of God’s believers while they are living in-between two, great last-day events:

The preaching of the everlasting gospel to all the world, symbolized by the three flying angels of Revelation 14:6-11, and

The second coming of Jesus and the spiritual harvest of the world. (Rev. 14:14-18)

Revelation 14:12 says “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, “And” the faith of Jesus. “ In every translation the word and appears and combines the statements of keeping or obeying God’s Commandments and having the Faith of Jesus. Here, we see the balancing of the two great principles of Christianity, that of law and love, faith and works, spirit and truth. To put it in one balanced principle, you might summarize the gospel of grace as Righteousness by Faith, that of law, life, and obedience, as well as, love, trust and hope in Christ.

Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) Like the pendulum of an old grand-fathers clock, God’s gift of Salvation includes both the tick and tock of His Grace, that we may fully experience God and the Christian life. The spiritual pendulum of Christianity swings side to side between faith and works, law and love, between spirit and truth. God is telling us that we need both of these aspect of His grace combined, in order to experience Him fully.

Let’s get practical. What I’m saying is that God’s grace really works, if we will let Him. “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13). Perhaps you wonder how the concept of our actions fits in with the gospel of grace, which cannot be merited or earned?

Imagine if I buy a fancy treadmill to lose some weight. Three months later, I take it back to the store and complain to the clerk that it didn’t work. I didn’t lose a pound. He asks me, “What was the problem? Did it not work properly?” I respond, “I don’t know if it works, I never ran on it. I just know I didn’t loose any weight, so I’m done with it.”

This may seem like a silly example, but change the details and suddenly it sounds pretty familiar. We pray for years for the Holy Spirit to free us from our addictions, but despite prayer and spiritually based support groups, we are still actively involved in our addictive behavior. Or, we pray for years to be able to forgive someone, but we’re still racked with anger and bitterness toward that person some thirty years down the road. I’m telling you, God’s grace works, but we have to exercise our will of cooperation and make it a real grace relationship.

I leave you with the last encouraging words of Peter, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen! (2 Peter 3:18)

Pastor Jim Nichols

Sidney Seventh-Day Adventist Church

 

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