Abiding In The Powerful Grace Of God
Abiding in the Powerful Grace of God
How grace enables us to keep Christ’s commands of love
A Missionary Priest struggled with the same feelings that many Christians wrestle with today. While on the missionary field, he experienced bouts of anger, frustration, and discouragement. He wondered how he could possibly be a leader of others when he himself was not a “victorious” Christian.
One day, a Godly friend sent him a letter, and the Holy Spirit illuminated the Priests heart and mind to understand what it really meant to abide in Christ. He suddenly realized that it was not his job to struggle and strive in order to be a good Christian but rather to simply abide in the vine, and the life-giving energy from the vine would produce the fruit in his life. This life-giving energy is the power of God’s grace, which is accessed through our faith, as Paul explains: “Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.” (Romans 5:1–2).
“If ye keep my commandments…”
The concept of the vine and the branches is also significant because it relates to the commands of Christ. Jesus said: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.…. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and do abide in his love.” (John 15:7, 10). The teaching of Jesus centers around the commands that He received from His heavenly Father and taught to His disciples. (See John 15:15.)
The Greek word translated keep in these verses means “to keep the eye upon.” Those who sail the seas have an expression: “keeping the stars.” They keep their eyes on the stars and use them to navigate a course to their destination. This is the same concept that Jesus used when He told His disciples to “keep” His commands, which are fixed “lights” that can be trusted to guide us through the storms of life.
Christ’s commands are not suggestions or man-made rules but the means by which God reveals Himself to us and works powerfully in our lives. As Jesus states, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21).
Our relationship with Christ must be one of love and fellowship. The Lord accepts us as we are, but He teaches us practical ways to love Him and others through His commandments. As He said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).
Additional verses about His commands include these:
“And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (I John 2:3–4).
“And whatsoever we shall ask, we shall receive of him: because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight.” (I John 3:22).
“In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments.” (I John 5:2).
- “For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.” (I John 5:3).
The Definition of Grace
Does the grace of God contain the power that we need to live the Christian life? It is significant to note that in the Old Testament, they were continually told to “keep [which means to carefully watch] and do [which means to obey]” the commandments. However, in the New Testament we are instructed to simply “keep” the commandments because the Holy Spirit will give us the power to do them. Scripture states, “For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17).
It is for this reason John states that “his commandments are not heavy” (I John 5:3). Additional verses that affirm the power of grace include these:
- “For if by one man's offence death reigned through one; much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ.…. That as sin hath reigned to death; so also grace might reign by justice unto life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord.…. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under [the reign of grace.” (Romans 5:17, 21 and 6:14).
- “For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men; Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world,” (Titus 2:11–12).
- “But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void, but I have laboured more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”(I Corinthians 15:10).
- God’s grace is freely given but can be resisted: “Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15).
Grace is certainly God’s unmerited favor. However, is this all that grace is? God gives us grace to keep us from sinning, and He gives us mercy when we do sin. Grace and mercy have different functions and are listed separately in Scripture. “Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.” (Hebrews 4:16; see also I Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4).
Links to Catholic Catechism Lessons Concerning Grace