“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” [i]
As Christians, our hope is in the grace of God. We understand grace to mean the undeserved favor of God. It is the favor of God that gives us faith so that we can approach Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. Through the gift of faith, we are also healed and transformed by His Spirit that lives within us. As this transformation occurs, we can live righteously as the Father would have His children to do. This is the work of Jesus in us.
All things that a Christian receives are hinged on the grace of God, and it is by grace alone that we stand. God does not choose us to salvation and entrance into His kingdom because we are good people. Rather, we are made good because we are saved. Our salvation brings glory to God in that He shows mercy to sinners, and by His patience and the work of His Spirit we can turn away from a life of sin and destruction.
It is also true that not all receive the same grace from God. For some, they receive the grace of living this life only. For those who are being raised as sons of God, life eternal. God can do whatever He wants with what belongs to Him—and everything belongs to Him. Not all have faith because not all were given faith, and not all have the same measure of faith. God opens and shuts. He gives mercy at His discretion, and He withholds mercy at His discretion so that His purposes are fulfilled. Below are some scriptures about the sovereign grace of God:
- For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Romans 9:15-16).
- Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:18-21).
- But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).
- Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last (Luke 13:23-30).
[i] Ephesians 2:8-10
The sovereign grace of God is a reassuring thing, but also humbling and a bit fearful for someone like me who struggles to show proper patience with my fellow servants and with mankind in general. Through the scriptures, we see that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Impatience and proper levels of humility and gratitude for the grace of God do not coexist.
It would be fitting if those who I lack patience towards are raised while I am made lower than they. This is a fearful thing in some ways, but I would actually love to see the faith and faithfulness of those who I struggle to show patience with grow to a degree that exceeds my own.
Those who are first shall be last and those who are last shall be first. This is a good thing. It is good to keep ourselves in a lowly estate, not just in this world, but in spirit also.
According to my understanding, lack of patience and love harkens back to Ephesus, which contain the troubles I most identify with personally. The church of Philadelphia, which I am slowly working on, seems to be directly opposed in spirit to Ephesus, which could be the reason why I so struggle with getting through this chapter. It is higher than I am, so it’s hard to see. It’s easy to see the churches that are rebuked because I am like they are.
6 thoughts on “Jesus Opens and Shuts the Way.”
What does Revelation 2:4 mean ?
But I have against you that you left your first love ( KJ3)
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I apologize. I have been away. Consequently, as one who was near doing as you question. To me, leaving your first love means placing things ahead of Jesus Himself. He should be first, and when He is, all things follow suit. We can apply this in many ways. As for Ephesus, it seems that their heart’s loyalty is to their denomination more so than with Christ. As a result, they also fail to love their brethren as they aught, viewing secondary doctrines of such high importance that they cause divisions, accusations, and otherwise cause many to stumble in the faith. For myself, cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches overshadowed my love of the Lord, and had I not repented, I would surely have found my “candlestick removed out of its place.” There are many such perils in this life, but the grace of God keeps us.
No worries, I was trying to think about a possible way of interpreting “first love”while waiting
1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Question: what would be “the first works” that they should do that they fell from?
“ thou hast left your first love”
I’m just thinking; there isn’t much to go on in the account at Ephesus; but what is written it appears they are good at Exposing evil and falsehood; but what about preaching the Gospel of Christ that He saves by His work and person alone; those whomever the father gives to Him. Their first work is to believe the Gospel and preach the Gospel. Exposing evil doesn’t have any Gospel in it and doesn’t save anyone.
We love Him because He “first loved” us
How did He first love us? While we were yet sinners, Christ died for His people. The same people the Father gave Him that will not be lost. All of whom will come to the knowledge of the truth that only in YHWH do they have righteousness through Jesus Christ and that salvation is by Christs work and person alone without any help from those He represented. That is our first love The love of the Gospel of Christ which saves. We don’t save anyone and surely cannot do it by exposing evil.
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Thank you for continuing our conversation after the long pause, and I appreciate your thoughts. I like that you quote the scripture, “we loved Him because He first loved us.” It does seem highly relevant. I can see how becoming overly focused on exposing evil can cause one to neglect to teach what matters most, which is the gospel. We cannot save anyone by exposing evil, but there does seem to be a place for it. Paul the apostle said that we should mark those that walk contrary to the gospel, for example. Also, pointing out evil might turn one to Christ. Do you think the problem would be a matter of focus or priority? In putting much effort into exposing evil, they have no more time left for preaching the truth. What do you think?
Priority is definitely an issue; but is it possible to have a lapse in who and what actually saves. He told them to change their minds and get back to their first love. I have to believe that is Christ and him crucified.
I think that is a very good possibility. I think human nature is prone to that very thing, like looking to the law or legalistic practices in general, for example. This reminds me of another scripture. I’m paraphrasing, but you know the one: “We are saved by grace through faith, and this not of yourself, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Perhaps what you say hits the nail right on the head.