The Balance of God’s Grace – Part 2Feb 07, 2022
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with pastor, biblical counselor, and professor Jeff Christianson to record two sessions of his podcast, The Biblical Counseling Podcast. In this podcast, Kevin and Jeff discuss a series of blogs that appeared on KevinCarson.com recently from Romans 8.
From the podcast:
The blog (and ebook) explored the comfort of God’s grace, the call of God’s grace, the identity of the flesh, and how to put to death the flesh. Today, we consider the balance of God’s grace. Understanding the balance of God’s grace helps the follower of Christ both move forward in personal sanctification as well as when helping others in personal ministry as well.
GRACE HAS A DIRECTION
As Paul has described the work of God in Romans 8, he included a two-sided sense of grace. The comfort of God’s grace means that the adopted child of God no longer faces condemnation, enjoys the personal work of the Holy Spirit, and can call God “Daddy.” As those who still sin, this comfort reverberates deep in the soul. Each person understands the incredible toll that personal sin can have. Moving throughout a particular day or season, personal sin weighs heavy. The comfort of God’s grace can easily slip out of one’s thinking and consideration. When this happens, the Christ-follower becomes further alienated from Christ and the Gospel. Therefore, the comfort of God’s grace helps provide buoyancy for daily living. We are accepted in Christ without condemnation. Praise the Lord.
However grace also has a direction. We are not simply accepted in Christ to do whatever we wish as those who are not condemned. Instead, since we walk in the Spirit as those in Christ, we now are to put to death the deeds of the flesh. In other words, grace has a call toward increasing Christlikeness, which we refer to as personal sanctification. Therefore, we would summarize by emphasizing that grace has a direction.
Justification → Adoption → Sanctification → Glorification
As those who have been declared innocent of our sins because of the work of God in Christ (justification), we enjoy adoption as children (joint heirs with Christ) of God. As children, we strive to look more like our Savior / Brother Jesus. We diligently work to put off deeds of the flesh and walk in the Spirit (sanctification). As we do, we are encouraged in our faith, assured of eternal life, and anticipate the future day of complete redemption in heaven (glorification).
GRACE IS GRACE UNTO CHANGE
Often we simply define grace as unmerited favor from God to us. Further unpacking grace emphasizes both the mercy and grace of God. In mercy God chooses to not give us what we deserve. Our sins and rebellion demand a payment. Paul described it so simply, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23). However, in mercy, God allowed Jesus to be our vicarious substitute. Jesus suffered death so that we did not have to do so – mercy (Rom 5:8-9). Furthermore, God did not simply keep us from suffering under the just damnation of our sin, He also provided eternal life, a forever familial relationship with Him, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and hope. In other words, we were not simply spared from God’s wrath which we deserved, we also enjoy the richness of God’s grace (Rom 5:15-19; Eph 2:4-7). We receive grace upon grace, the abundance of God’s kindness. God does more than withhold punishment (mercy), God provides for us so much more – grace.
This kind of grace is grace unto change. By grace unto change, we refer to two different aspects of grace. We are accepted just as we are at salvation; then, we grow to become more like Christ as a result. I love how David Powlison described it as the From – To agenda of grace. From what we were – To what God makes us. Paul Tripp helped me initially understand this back in the late 1990s. His help has since provided me both a new outlook on daily living as well as the sanctification process.
THE BALANCE OF GOD’S GRACE – IN RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER
We desire to understand God’s grace in balance. If we only think of the comfort of God’s grace, we miss that grace has a direction and agenda. If we only consider the call of God’s grace, we end up being legalistic, list-oriented, and evaluating our relationship with God almost exclusively by our spiritual resume of service. Yet, both are necessary. In our struggle to live every day as a Christ-exalting, God-honoring, Spirit-enabled adopted child of God, we need the comfort of God’s grace when we face temptation and sin. Further, as we rejoice in the comfort of God’s grace, we need the call of grace to keep us on agenda, moving in our sanctification, and using our spiritual energy to walk in the Spirit and by love serve others.
As we live together as brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy all the benefits of relationship in the body of Christ, there is work for us to do personally and corporately. As recipients of God’s grace, we become stewards of that grace. Thus, we need to offer others the same grace we have received. Let me suggest four cautions when we offer others the same grace we have received from God.
EXPLAINING GOD’S GRACE AS COMFORT WITHOUT INCLUDING THE CALL OF GOD’S GRACE.
As we serve others, we do them a disservice where and when we fail to include the call of God’s grace with the comfort of it. God did not accept us without an agenda. We and those we serve must embrace the forward call of grace while rejoicing in the comfort of grace.
EMPHASIZING THE CALL OF GOD’S GRACE WITHOUT THE FOUNDATION OF THE COMFORT OF GOD’S GRACE.
We likewise want to be careful here as well. We do a disservice to others when we explain grace as a call to change without resting that call on the rich foundation of the comfort of God’s grace. While we seek to change, we do so as adopted children of God who are no longer condemned.
CONSIDERING GOD’S GRACE WITH ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT OFFERING THEM HELP TO EMBRACE THE COMFORT OF IT AND MOVE FORWARD IN THE CALL OF GOD’S GRACE.
As we seek to help others understand grace, we are not simply “explainers” or “teachers” of grace. We must also roll up our shirt sleeves and help them embrace it in life-lived. We walk with the other person along the pathway of sanctification.
From: Kevin Carson's Blog