Grace and Faith meet together
by Jeff Davidson
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
We can know the Holy Spirit and the gifts, and we can be so familiar with Him that we are incapable of seeing a new perspective of the Lord. And then the Body of Christ becomes really handicapped.
We are saved by grace, by means of faith, and we have all begun our spiritual life by grace; for each time faith meets grace there is an instance of salvation. Thus we enter more and more into salvation for it is immense. If we neglect such a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3), we shall not have the means of escaping life’s temptations. We need therefore to look continually for a deeper outworking of our salvation. In fact our spirit is saved, but for our soul and body, salvation is to be renewed daily, and it is the work of God alone.
Good works are the result of a coming together of grace and faith.
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11).
God has prepared good works before the foundation of the world, and the gifts are a part of our DNA, of our spiritual being: there are therefore gifts prepared since the creation of the world for each member of the Body. The gifts are related to the grace of God; it is a multi-facetted grace, for God has fashioned a facet for each one of us. And He wants us to be good stewards of this grace that belongs to Him: "Share this grace by the use of spiritual gifts!".
The fruit of sharing well is that God is glorified (1 Peter 4:11) for it is neither by our strength nor our ability. Grace is the very ability of God in us to accomplish His will; it is Christ in us the hope of glory. Something of Christ is released when we put our gifts into action. That is why we have to learn to co-operate with His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10) for it is His grace that accomplishes things for the Lord. This grace lives in us, it is therefore a part of us, and it is at the centre of who we are.
To speak about the gifts, it is necessary to think "Grace". The gifts are not limited to the lists of 1 Corinthians 12 and of Romans 12; they are examples, and the list is incomplete. Grace is going to be shared out through gifts for the Lord wants service with the Anointing. In reality, we are probably going to find the stream of His grace for the most part through members of the Body rather than from the Lord Himself.
The Body is not a metaphor but a reality for we are connected to one another to cause His grace to abound; it is a seed that we multiply. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus is angry with the one who keeps his talent through fear, for He is looking for fruit. In the same way, the fig tree planted in the vine owes its life to the intervention of the vine grower (Luke 13:6-9). The fruit is not for the tree, but for the others.
What is important is to put one’s faith into action in order that grace can produce fruit for the Lord. In exercising the gifts, the Body will be blessed and receive in return abundant grace.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10).
The apostle Paul says "I am what I am by the grace of God; I do what I do by the grace of God". In the same way there is enough grace in my life to do everything that God wants. Paul is aware of His grace (Romans 12:3), that is why he puts his gifts into action (Romans 12:6). Since we are working with God, let us not receive the grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1); it is of little importance what we are in the Body, let us fulfil our function. Whether it is in 1 Corinthians 12 or Romans 12, the exercise of the gifts is always in relation to the Body. Christ is thus one single Body (1 Corinthians 12:12) and the Body is also Christ; we are in Him and He is in us.
"[I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,…" (Ephesians 1:16-17).
We need to receive a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in order to hope that there is sufficient grace to fulfil His call. God has put everything under the feet of Jesus and has placed Him as Head of the Body; He is the beginning of the Body, and this Body is the fullness of the Head. We, His Body, we are therefore the fullness of the One who fills all things; without us His Body is handicapped.
How do we discover this grace?
"And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16).
The Word has been made flesh and has dwelt among us, full of grace (John 1:14); and we have received the grace to begin in His grace, for His grace is sufficient. There is a close relationship between grace [charis] and gift [charisma] for they have the same origin. We are called to be good dispensers and stewards because we are responsible even if we are vessels of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). We therefore carry this treasure within us: His grace and his gifts. We need grace in order not to sin, but also to do God’s will.
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10).
We are servants of God by serving others, that is to say by using our gifts in the service of others. Vertically, we are the friends of Jesus and the sons of God; horizontally we are the servants of men. His grace flows in us more for others than for ourselves. And that drives us to approach Him to receive His grace, and when His grace flows from us towards others and from others towards us, there is a process of multiplication.
He has made gifts to men
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping (perfecting) of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).
God has given… ministries for the perfecting (equipping) of the saints (to establish a correct relationship)… in order that they fulfil their own ministry. God has placed the members in the Body according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:18), and He gave the 5 ministries to put all that in place in order that there may be the unity of the faith. His Body is full of members who function. His Body is put together and well co-ordinated by what each member gives and because each one does his part in his place.
It is then that the grace comes down into the members and flows from the ones to the others through the bonds. The functioning of the gifts begins to flow by grace for there is a power that works in us in order that we may do our part. We see the effectiveness of the Jerusalem church in Acts 3:1-11 at the time of the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. In the same way Barnabas saw the grace of God in the Antioch church (Acts 11:22-26).
That is why we must stay connected to the Head (the Leader) in order to receive food from it and remain connected through the joints (Colossians 2:19), for He is the One from whom we take all our growth that comes from God. The ligaments are a covenant, that is to say a commitment; and the joints are the relationships. The unity is really there when we work together, but that starts through understanding what the Lord wants to do with us.
Concerning the gifts…