August at Ealing: Growing in grace and love

Over the next four weeks at Ealing, we’re going to look at different aspects of growing in grace and love.

Firstly, we need to look at the great example of God’s grace, a blessing we don’t deserve. We have this amazing gift of grace that justifies us, sanctifies us, and eventually, we can look forward to being glorified in God’s Kingdom. The more we know about God’s grace and love, the more we can change and grow into graceful people for God.

“After you suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

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So, once we recognise and understand about the amazing grace and love God has given us, we can then start to make the right actions of grace and reflect the attitude of Jesus in order to grow. But these actions are a decision we each take individually. We may turn up to church every Sunday and read God’s Word, but are we acting in grace and love too? Either we wither away with worldly desires and wrong attitudes, or we nourish our minds with God’s Word, act in love and reflect the attitude of Christ.

God gives His Word to help us grow in grace (1 Peter 2:2). We need to grow continually. This can happen everyday through our experiences, good and bad. We can also learn from each other, through friendships and fellowship with like-minded people.

God’s grace never increases; it is infinite. He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him should be saved (John 3:16). How much more grace could there possibly be than that?

“The grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14)

Saved by Faith

In Galatians ch2 Paul is trying to explain the basics of how we are saved. There are some beautiful statements in this chapter:

“we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law” v16

The “law” Paul is talking about here was the laws of Moses, but a more general notion of rituals also applies. Fundamentally it’s not anything we “do” that saves us, but what our attitude is.

“we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ” v16

Having accepted that laws can’t save us, we live our lives trying to be like Jesus, and trusting that he can help us:

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” v20

How much more?

A recurring phrase in Luke ch12:

2 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Devil tempting Jesus (or God?)

Who is the devil tempting in Luke ch4?

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Answer: It seems that Jesus is being tempted to show himself to be the son of God. But in doing what the devil suggests, Jesus would, in turn be tempting God. The fact that both Jesus and God can be independently tempted suggests to me that they really are two distinct personalities.

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