Jesus Opens and Shuts the Way.

“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.

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