In a previous blog, we discussed how grace is not just something that happened once on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9) but is still present for us today to live the Christian life. Therefore, we’re to trust in faith that God is always faithful to give us this grace to help us overcome temptations and give us the perseverance to be faithful even in the most trying of circumstances (Hebrews 4:16). We’re encouraged to live in grace, which gives God glory (2 Timothy 2:1).
Many of us will say amen to living in grace, but frequently we don’t draw on God’s grace whenever we serve him. We often say things like, “I want to do something for God”, or we work so hard in the church believing God is pleased with our efforts. However, we forget that we’re not to serve God in our own strength but through his grace that gives us strength (1 Peter 4:10).
Apostles Served by Grace
Consider that throughout the scriptures, Christians served God through his grace and not through their abilities. For example, Paul says that he and the other apostles received the gift of apostleship through grace (Romans 1:5). He and the apostles trusted in God to empower them to serve (Romans 1:5). As a result of God’s grace empowerment they were able to “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). Paul even says that it was by grace or “by the working of [God’s] power” that he was made a “minister of the gospel to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ“ (Ephesians 3:7-8).
This is humbling because even the apostles trusted God’s grace to see people come to faith (Romans 1:5, 15:15-18). This looks pretty different from the “apostles” in churches today. Many in churches today act as though they’ve been given some anointing that they’re fully in charge of and can do powerful, even miraculous things whenever they desire. After receiving power from the Holy Spirit, the true apostles never talked as if they were superior to others; instead, they were as reliant on grace as the next Christian (2 Peter 1:1, 1 Peter 2:9).
Signs and Wonders by Grace
Even whenever the apostles were doing miraculous things, it was because of God’s grace that was upon them (Acts 4:33). Signs and wonders were not done because the apostles had control of their authority from God but because of God’s grace giving testimony to the gospel they preached (Acts 14:3). It was not just the apostles who were seeing signs and wonders done through them, but it was even a deacon named Stephen (Acts 6:8). God’s grace can flow through any believing Christian to make incredible things happen; it’s not just people with big titles (John 1:16). Since this is true, can anyone feel proud or brag about their “ability” to perform miracles? The answer is no. Also, if miracles happen because of God’s grace and that grace passes through everyone, even those without big titles, why would you not ask for a miracle in your life or someone else’s life? Believe that grace can flow through you to give testimony to the gospel whenever God deems it necessary.
God is glorified whenever we set out to do good works through his empowering grace (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). The reason he is glorified is that he is the one who is strengthening our hearts and establishing them in every good work (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). If he is doing all the strengthening and empowering for ministry, then of course he should get the glory. If you’re not ministering through God’s grace, you see no need for it. Seeing no need for God’s grace in service means you’re not humble but proud. Being proud is a great way to be denied grace from God (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). We’re encouraged to continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43) because to do so lifts him as all-powerful.
Spiritual Gifts by Grace
You have been given a spiritual gift because of God’s grace (1 Peter 4:10). If it’s been given in grace, then it’s to be used in grace’s power (1 Peter 4:10, Romans 12:6, Ephesians 4:7). Serving in grace leads to the nations being obedient in faith (Romans 1:5-6, 15:15-18). Serving in grace leads to “the Gentiles” knowing “the unreachable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:7-8). Serving in grace also leads to great power being upon your “testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Serving in grace also leads to “the Gentiles” being acceptable before God and sanctified through the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:15-18). Who wouldn’t want that to happen?
The way that we serve in grace is by simply asking the Lord to give us the grace to work hard for his great name (1 Corinthians 15:10, Hebrews 4:16). Believe in faith that you will receive grace to give God glory (2 Corinthians 8:19). Stop saying things like “I am going on a mission for God.” Instead, start saying, “I need God’s grace for this mission.” Humbly asking for grace makes our ministry powerful (2 Corinthians 12:9).
An example would be a music minister saying, “God, we’ve planned to sing these five songs on Sunday. They are true statements about your glory. So I pray you would empower me to sing and play the music well by your grace. I also ask for your grace in that people will not see me perform but see you through me.” Such prayers are powerful for us to use in our service to God because he does something that we can’t understand through the power of grace in all forms of our ministry. Stop doing things for God, but instead serve him through his grace and he, the giver of grace, will get all the glory and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).