Grace Alone Accounts for God’s Faithfulness

Only when believers act with a conscious awareness that God accepts them in their works solely a result of the work of His Son does their righteousness have the potential to glorify God. If our works or feelings were the basis of God’s faithfulness, then obedience could only be a means of buying blessings from a stingy divinity and the goal of our righteousness would be some form of selfishness — self-protection or self-promotion. But since grace alone accounts for God’s faithfulness, believers can respond to God with confidence of His abiding and unconditional love. Loving service results as our hearts fill with the desire to glorify the One whose goodness, mercy, and love never cease. Instead of trying to barter our blessings by fulfilling distasteful duties, we discover that the properties of God become our greatest pleasure. True repentance results as our hearts increasingly reject the priorities of the world, acknowledge and sorrow for the evil and emptiness our sin, and delight in glorifying our Savior with the gifts His Spirit bestows.

Bryan Chapell, Christ-centered Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 318.

The Effects of Grace

Grace does not merely aid righteous conduct; it also aids in the apprehension of the never-diminishing and nondeterred love of God that makes human righteousness possible. If obedience were merely a defensive posture that [Christians] assume to avert divine wrath or to curry divine favor, then human holiness would be but a euphemism for selfishness. When self-protection and self-promotion become the primary motivations of Christian obedience or preaching, then we have inadvertently made self-satisfaction the Lord of our faith.

Brian Chapell, Christ-centered Preaching, p. 314.

What a Marvelous Way of Speaking!

So far as justification is concerned, Christ and I must be so closely attached that He lives in me and I in Him. What a marvelous way of speaking!

Because He lives in me, whatever grace, righteousness, life, peace, and salvation there is in me is all Christ’s; nevertheless, it is mine as well, by the cementing and attachment that are through faith, by which we become as one body in the Spirit.

Since Christ lives in me, grace, righteousness, life, and eternal salvation must be present with Him; and the Law, sin, and death must be absent. Indeed, the Law must be crucified, devoured, and abolished by the Law—and sin by sin, death by death, the devil by the devil.

In this way Paul seeks to withdraw us completely from ourselves, from the Law, and from works, and to transplant us into Christ and faith in Christ, so that in the area of justification we look only at grace, and separate it far from the Law and from works, which belong far away…

But faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached to Him forever and declares: ‘I am as Christ.’

And Christ, in turn, says: ‘I am as that sinner who is attached to Me, and I to him. For by faith we are joined together into one flesh and one bone.’

Thus Eph. 5:30 says: ‘We are members of the body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones,’ in such a way that this faith couples Christ and me more intimately than a husband is coupled to his wife.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 26 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 167–168.

Loved with the Same Love

What a support to our faith is this, that God the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so well pleased with the work of redemption! And what a comfort is this, that, seeing God’s love rests on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love rests in a whole Christ… because he loves him and us with one love.

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2011), 17.