In these excerpts from the devotional Knowing and Enjoying God by Tim Challies, Tim examines three impactful quotes about the amazing gift of God’s grace reminding all of us to not get too discouraged or overconfident and to keep pressing forward in knowing God more.
“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you beyond the the need of God’s Grace.”
There can be a subtle danger inherent in a long focus on the spiritual disciplines and the building of good habits. If we are not careful, we can begin to take a kind of comfort in our habits that makes us think they are what makes us acceptable to God. Even though we know we have been saved by grace through faith, we can still believe that God’s ongoing favor toward us depends upon the strength of our devotional lives. Conversely, when our habits are disrupted or neglected, we can feel a kind of fear that our poor habits have made us unacceptable to God. And this is where we need this reminder from Jerry Bridges that even on our worst and most neglectful days, God does not suddenly begin to relate to us by works rather than grace. God’s love for us does not waver on the days we neglect Scripture and prayer. But we also need to be reminded that our best actions on our best days are never so good that they make us more acceptable to God or more righteous before him. Through the gospel we have been accepted once and for all, not on the basis of who we are, but on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice!
“Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.”
As we live out the Christian life and cooperate with the Holy Spirit through the precious means of grace, we face a number of foes, a number of enemies that mean to derail us from our pursuit of God. Of all those enemies, none may be more prevalent and none more deadly than complacency. If it is humility that keeps us from thinking we have somehow risen above those ordinary means, complacency is that all-too-familiar satisfaction with our own accomplishments. It is that feeling, that conviction even, that we have done enough, that we have done more than enough, that we can now relax our pursuit of God. Yet what God said to Isaiah, he says to us: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). Humility calls us to assess ourselves rightly as remaining so needy and so incomplete, while contrition calls us to be remorseful for how little we truly know of God and how full of sin we still are. Together they call us to commit ourselves to God and to his Word, to
tremble before him and to forever desire him.
“Advance in the Christian life comes not by the work of the Holy Spirit alone, nor by our work alone, but by our responding to and cooperating with the grace the Holy Spirit initiates and sustains.”
There are two related truths we need to understand and keep constantly in mind when it comes to our growth as Christians: Advance in the Christian life, which is to say advance in our relationship with God and advance in being like God, comes by a combination of God’s work and our work. Where justification is a work of God alone, sanctification is a work in which we cooperate. God, by his Spirit, initiates and sustains that work, but we are called to respond to it and cooperate with it. Any relationship depends upon each person pursuing the other, and what’s true of our friendships with other human beings is equally true of our friendship with this Divine Being. While God genuinely pursues us, we must also pursue him. Even as he begins the relationship, we must foster it. Even as he reaches out toward us, we
must reach toward him. Have you reached out to God today through prayer? Have you listened to his voice through the Scriptures? What are you doing to foster this relationship?
Tim Challies is a Christian, a husband to Aileen, and a father to two girls in their teens and one son who is waiting for him in heaven. He worships and serves as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Canada. He is a blogger and book reviewer, and has written a number of popular books. www.challies.com