Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. -- Daniel 3: 16 (NIV)
We do not need to defend ourselves to you! God is our shield! God is our protection! Too often we find ourselves trying to defend ourselves to a world system that thinks what we believe is utter foolishness. Just let God be God and allow His shield to protect you.
While those were the two things God is for us, now the Psalmist presents two things gives to us -- grace and glory. The most amazing gift of all is the grace of God. The fact that God loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son to die on a cross so that we could be reconciled unto Him! His grace is completely unmerited. There is nothing we can ever do to earn it -- we just need to accept it. His grace covers the worst pasts you can imagine. Look at the past of Paul! His grace has no time limits. The thief on the cross received his grace moments away from death! There is nothing you can do to work your way out of His grace. The Bible says that none can be plucked from God's hands! His grace means we are no longer slaves to sin. It means that we no longer are under the penalty of the law. It means that we do not need to walk under any condemnation. It is all-encompassing and not understood enough. The power of Christ resides in the acceptance of His grace and the execution of our faith.
Grace is intricately tied to glory. In fact, glory always follows grace. The glory God gives us is His own in eternity. His grace solves our problem here in this life and His glory is found in the next life. When we accept Christ we accept His grace and it leads to the assurance of future glory:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. -- Romans 8: 17 (NIV)
What marvelous promises from God. Yet there remains one more in this verse. God will withhold no good thing from us! What a God we serve! He is not mean or tyrannical. If there is anything that is available to us that would be good for us -- He will not hold it back. Hallelujah let's move on"wait a minute. The verse didn't actually end there. When you are presented with a one facet Gospel you can likewise rest assured that the Gospel did not end there. There is more to the verse. There is more to the story. God is a great God. He makes us these promises and He is not a man that He should lie. But we have a role to play as well beloved. I know that grates against a lot of people who think that they have boiled the Gospel down to one point or another. This fantastic verse concludes with the caveat -- those who do what is right.
I know the feel good Christianity that is sweeping this country will balk at this. I understand why. There is a reason why Paul warned Timothy to guard his doctrine. There is a reason he said that people will turn aside to myths that tickle their ears. No one wants to hear about how they are a sinner but everyone loves to hear about grace. No one wants to hear about how they need to crucify their flesh, pick up their cross, and die to self daily but everyone loves to hear about the love of God. Why? Because the grace and love of God requires nothing from us except acceptance. But sin, repentance, and dying to self all require a change in what we do and who we are. The truth is when you peel away all of the fancy sermons and the slick marketing -- people want the assurances of God and hold onto their sin at the same time. They want as the opening paragraph said, to recreate God to fit their own image of what God should be. Give me all the love and the grace but don't ask me to give up the club. Don't ask me to forgive that person who wronged me. Don't ask me to marry my boyfriend if I am going to live with him.
God does not operate like that. You know why? Because the very things we so desperately try to hold onto are the very things that will end up destroying our lives. God knows it and wants to help deliver us from them. He isn't trying to take anything away. We already know that He will not withhold any good thing from us -- if we are doing what is right. Why this relationship? Because it is in the act of doing what is wrong that we bring heartache into our lives. God is saying that if you want to see all the blessings and promises manifest themselves in your life you must first do what is right. This is not about condemnation beloved it is the essence of true faith. We believe what God said so we are going to try our level best to follow it and not look for the quick and easy way out. I thank God for His love and His grace but I also thank Him for loving me enough to tell me the truth about the very things I like to do which will contribute to my undoing. Seek a balanced Gospel and you will find that all aspects of God are working for your good.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- September 19, 2012