For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:11–13, NRSV
Last time, we looked at how God’s grace worked in our lives to enable us to cross the threshold of faith and become followers of Jesus. Now we want to see how God’s grace is necessary for our on–going growth in that relationship.
By way of analogy, we could look at how our body deals with disease processes. We could be living our lives as we always have, all the while, noticing a pain or other malady in our body. Most days we can function very well, but other days, not so much. We may see other symptoms, as well that indicate some is just not right. Think of that scenario as God’s grace drawing us to him. God is pointing out a problem and that problem causes us to seek a solution.
Eventually, we see a physician who diagnoses the problem and maps out a course of treatment for us that includes surgery and a change of lifestyle. She even gives us some directives to follow so we don’t end up causing further damage.
We now have a decision to make. Will we trust the doctor’s skill and diagnosis and go through with the surgery, or will we decide that we know better than she does and keep doing as we always have? It is a huge choice. We can’t do anything about what is wrong with us, except to stop resisting and give ourselves into the care of the professional. This is analogous to God’s grace forgiving us and granting us new birth.
We finally decide to trust our doctor, and the surgery goes off perfectly. However, the cure is only temporary if we do not make certain changes to our lifestyle. If we do not, there will be nothing else that can be done medically. So, we decide to make the necessary changes; and they are difficult. This third stage is growth or sanctification.
Now, any analogy breaks down if you push it too far, but it does illustrate the point.
God’s grace does indeed convict us and draw us to Christ. It also enables us to make a decision to give our lives to Jesus, but that is not all. In 1 Corinthians 3:1 Paul calls some of the believers “infants in Christ;” In John 3 Jesus says we must be born again. In many ways, when we begin our walk with Christ we are infants. You would never take a new born and expect her or him act as a full-grown adult. It is the same way with spiritual babies. As a new Christian, a person needs to be fed and nurtured so that they will grow; that is what God expects of us as well.
For the rest of our lives, we will be learning to respond to God’s grace in our lives, and as we do we will grow, if we respond positively that is. In this week’s sermon, we will look at the ways God’s grace enables us to grow and mature in Christ. I hope you will join us.
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.