Step In & Step Up

If we are not careful, we can take either faith or grace to the extreme. Paying too much attention to one without relating it to the other is harmful to us. Faith without corresponding actions is dead, but actions without faith can kill us. Faith, not our actions, is the victory that overcomes the world. Therefore, Christians must be careful not to belittle the importance of believing. If we believe strongly enough, eventually that belief will give birth to action. Without a solid understanding of the need to live in the balance between faith and grace, we can confuse the works of faith with works of the law.

  1. Faith takes what grace has made. They are both interdependent.
    1. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
      1. This verse links grace and truth together, because grace is the truth that makes people free.
      2. People who do not understand grace will always have a problem with sin. They will not believe Jesus has already forgiven them.
      3. God’s grace is His way of gifting us with something we do not deserve, simply because He wants to. It is an expression of His love for us, and the finished works of Jesus are an example of this expression.
      4. Everything we need for a life of godliness has been made available to us (2 Peter 1:3), but we must not become lazy Christians who sit back and do nothing.
      5. We do not need to work to do what Jesus already did. Works of faith are actions based on believing and receiving what is done.
    2. Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the devotees andadherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all (Romans 4:16, AMPC).
      1. Faith’s involvement with grace is significant. When Jesus was on the cross and He said, “It is finished,” all the promises made previously then became available to us.
      2. Belief is required to lay hold of what grace made available, yet believing is no small thing. We must labor to enter into that rest (Hebrews 4:11).
      3. Believing that we can use our faith to move God results in legalism. God has already moved, and the next move is up to us. Our faith should move us into a position to receive from Him.
      4. Grace taken to the extreme results in a passive Christian who ends up in lasciviousness (a lack of restraint). Grace actually teaches us to live righteously and godly (Titus 2:12).
    3. Our faith is reflected in how we pray.
      1. After the cross, our prayer life differs from before the cross because it is grace-based. We pray with the mindset that everything has already been done, so we no longer need to beg God.
      2. We can pray in tongues, in praise and thanksgiving. In this way, we build ourselves up when we pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
      3. Praying in agreement with God’s will empowers our prayers. When we encounter something that is not His will, we must speak against it.
      4. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord (Isaiah 54:17).
  1. Works of faith are a result of strong belief. Our faith connects us to grace.
    1. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).
      1. We rejoice in earnest expectation of the manifestation of God’s grace, to which we have access by faith.
      2. We must not throw away our faith just because we are under grace.
    2. For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, AMPC).
      1. The day we were saved was the day we believed.
      2. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
      3. Faith is a product of grace. Grace gives us the capacity to believe what we hear.
    3. Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9).
      1. Under the law, we would have to work for a gift. Our faith is a gift given by grace.
      2. If we want to see the manifestations of something, we must open our mouths and declare it. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… (Psalm 107:2).
      3. To see God’s glory in all areas of our lives, we must hear the Word in faith.
      4. The word preached did not profit some, because they did not receive it in faith (Hebrews 4:2).
    4. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).
      1. We must work our faith to get what grace has already made available.
      2. The just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38).
      3. As believers, our faith moves us into a position to claim authority over the devil.
      4. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke 10:19).
      5. A good fight is one that has already been won.

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Watching the news or reading the newspaper, we can’t help but notice the periodic disturbing reports of children and teens involved in some type of crime. We instinctively know this is wrong, but many people don’t know how to react or what to do. The easiest way to deal with it is punishment or jail time, but this is not a long-term solution. Like any other group, young people go wrong because there’s something important missing from their lives, and that missing element is Jesus Christ.

Over the years, as Jesus has been kicked out of school system after school system, God has been banned from the workplace, and prayerful assemblies have brought threats of lawsuits, evil has spread faster than ever before. This is no coincidence. To save our future generations, adults must abandon political correctness and not be afraid to speak His name. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20). This is not a suggestion, but a commandment!

God has tasked parents, grandparents, and caregivers with teaching children His Word. Not only does this involve studying the Bible every day, but setting the example through our behavior. It’s true that children often do what we do, rather than what we say. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Teaching them and demonstrating the Word will profoundly affect their lives.

We must not let the world, which does not know God, dictate to us how to raise our children. Growing up, they need firm guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. Contrary to some child care books on the market written by “experts” in the field, loving and godly discipline is not only okay, it’s mandatory. “Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death” (Proverbs 23:13, 14, MSG). God is our heavenly Father, and we can and should model our parenting style after His Word.

God loves us and our children more than we could ever imagine. He knows what’s best for us, so we must pay close attention to what He tells us because it is true godly wisdom. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4). Using the Bible as our child-rearing guide helps our sons and daughters grow up safe from the evil that takes over the mindset of so many young people. We all want our children to live happy, successful lives and be a blessing to others, and the power to help them do that lies within the pages of the Bible.

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