Grace: the Gift of God 

54.5 The Choice!

By Hubert F. Sturges, www.144000.cc, October 2009

Topics:

Grace, Decision, and Consent
Conscious Choice and Consent
Right Use of the Will
Grace Applied
Song of Solomon

Grace, Decision, and Consent

Salvation issues include faith, grace, sin, and "works" with matters of free will, decision, and consent.

Opinions vary from Predestination which denies free will, and puts decision and consent in the hand of God entirely. In other views faith and works are moved entirely outside the realm of human responsibility.

Then there is the Catholic view where there is merit in works, even in the works of the saints. Sin is handled by the priest and by penance.

The classic Protestant view is that "we are justified only by what Christ did for us, apart from us, outside of us." This statement still has support with many people. There are problems with this view: 1) so long as it is limited to justification only, it is not a bad statement. 2) Most people do not know what "justification" means, and probably equate this with "salvation." 3) These same Protestants will insist that they are "born again" and are a "new creature." These are both actions of grace to change the life -- something that is done "in" us by the power of God, and thus are not consistent with their first statement.

Most thinkers will look for a more nuanced view of salvation. Certainly salvation is by grace alone. Yet the Bible is strong on the change in the life, and the function of the law in the life. Where does the action of God through grace interface with the decision and consent of the sinner seeking God. Is a dependence on making the decision to serve Christ, and a consent for the action of grace in the life -- is this a work? Is it necessary for salvation?

Conscious Choice

By the supernatural action of grace, man may again partake of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4-8). Under grace, sin is no longer the master. By choosing Christ man may again become servants of righteousness.

Look again at Romans 6:12-18: It is by a conscious choice that grace is invited into the soul, and sin is evicted! Grace will change the motives, so that in Christ a man again becomes righteous and does not sin.

    6 "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

    9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:6, 9, KJV).

   17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

If this is the case, why does not God change every man, and provide salvation for everyone? Please remember that man, created in the image of God, was given free choice. If God should over ride man’s free choice it would threaten the basis of His kingdom of love and freedom. Thus the Plan of Salvation was made, and the free choice of every man is respected.

It is a conscious choice to choose Christ and to consent to the action of grace. Christ will change the motives, make of man a new creature. In Christ he will not sin! This is a work that Christ does for us and in us. Since it is by conscious choice and consent, all sin is not overcome at one time. Man will repeatedly meet temptations and will repeatedly need grace to overcome.

There a number of Bible texts to support this concept. Here are a few:

Joshua 24:15 Choose whom ye will serve

Psalm 51:3 I acknowlege my transgression

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while He may be found

Matthew 16:24; 19:21 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.

John 6:48, 51, 63 the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life"

Hebrews 10:3,5 cast not away therefore your confidence

Hebrews 11:6 he that cometh to God must believe that He is

James 2:20, 26 Faith without works is dead

2 Peter 3:14 be diligent that ye may be found of Him in Peace.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive ...

Does Man Exercise Free Will?

There are a number of conditional statements in the Bible indicating that the Christian must consciously choose to serve God. Words like "if, choose, seek, ask, find" and many others. Free will is a special gift from God, yet man has only a limited option in exercising free will. Most of the decisions we make from day to day are based on practical issues, and can better be considered "reactions." The only real decision that man makes is in choosing Whom he will serve; Christ or Satan (disguised as self).

When Jesus died on the cross, he died for all (Hebrews 2:9). Salvation was made a free gift to every person (Romans 5:15-18). The Holy Spirit makes that salvation effectual in the life, but only by your consent. God never overrides your choice. In this passage to the end-time Laodicean church, note how many verbs require action on the part of the Christian. Also please note, the required action is to consent to the work of grace, to decide to exercise faith.

    "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

    "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

    "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

    "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Revelation 3:18-21).

Once you are born again, once you become a new creature, can you fall from grace? If salvation is a free gift to every man, can that salvation be taken back? The following verses show that the Christian is expected to endure to the end, be confident, patient, and not turn away from faith.

   "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).

   "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

   "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

   "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

   "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:35-38).

The Christian must renew his commitment to God every day. Be assured of this, God has gone to great lengths to save mankind. Jesus came and died that all who believed might be saved. God is in the business of saving people. He will not let you be lost unless you deny grace and persist in sin.

God has staked His reputation on the lives of His people. It is a special problem when God’s people sin.

   4 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

   5 "And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

   6 "If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Satan can no longer injure Christ except through His people. It is now the purpose of Satan to show that Christ died in vain, that grace is not sufficient to save. The Christian, trusting wholly in Christ, will prove that grace is sufficient to save (1 Corinthians 4:9).

Right Use of the Will

Most Christians recognize that God created us with the power of choice, or "free will." This free will is a precious gift that allows a love freely given to be returned to God. God will inform, He will persuade, but you must choose which direction you will go. Unfortunately, Satan is also giving false information and actively persuading you through deception to choose wrong. But God has promised that: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

"All true obedience comes from the heart. ... If we consent, He will so identify Himself without thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him, we shall be but carrying our out own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified will find its highest delight in doing His service." White, E.G.: the Desire of Ages, p. 668

Decision or consent is needed at every step. You must decide to keep the ten commandments. You must decide to not sin. Then by grace you are made a new creature (19). These decisions are usually made at the point of temptation.

To choose good means to choose Christ. And to choose Christ is to choose to be like Him, to keep His law. It is His grace that makes this possible.

As C.A. Murray has said, when you are tempted or tried, you must "run to Christ." Send a prayer to God for grace and help, then decide to do what is right. By the grace of Christ, you will receive power to support your decision and to overcome. You must do this with all the small temptations so that if and when a big temptation or trial comes along, you will be able to find the road to Christ even in the dark (20).

By the grace of God you put aside pride and selfishness and become humble, loving and Christlike. Through grace you receive guidance in your life. This happens when you give your life to Jesus every day. Read the Bible, pray, meditate on His life. This is what Jesus said: "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23 (KJV)) (20).

If you do this, you will live day by day with Jesus. It will become a habit. In this close association you will become more and more like Him. Remember, you are NOT fighting Satan. Jesus has already won that battle. You are trusting in Jesus, and He gives you grace. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV))

Grace Applied

Even as this is the creative act of God, your decision and consent are needed at every step. You must choose Christ and give Him your consent. You must consciously be convicted of sin, confess that sin, repent of (turn away from) that sin, then God will forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). These are conscious decision that make possible the grace of God to forgive and to cleanse from sin.

How do you meet trial and temptation? When Satan brings you a trial, or tempts you to do wrong, stop right there. Remember, there is never a hurry to do wrong. Take a minute to immediately pray to Christ for help. THEN, trusting Him, you decide to do what is right. He will then give you grace and victory.

You must do this in all the small trials and temptations that come your way. You must learn the road to Christ. Then, when the BIG ONE comes, you can find the way in the dark! This is what it means to follow Christ.

If you do this, you will live day by day with Jesus. It will become a habit. In this close association you will become more and more like Him. Remember, you are NOT fighting Satan. Jesus has already won that battle. You are trusting in Jesus, and He gives you grace. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV))

Here are some beautiful thoughts from another writer:

"The Lord Jesus is making experiments on human hearts through the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace. He is effecting transformations so amazing that Satan, with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of His government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. ...

"... The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depository, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display." White, E.G.: Testimonies to Ministers, p. 18

"All true obedience comes from the heart. ... If we consent, He will so identify Himself without thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him, we shall be but carrying our out own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified will find its highest delight in doing His service." White, E.G.: the Desire of Ages, p. 668

Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon 5:2-6 pictures the Lover at the door and his betrothed inside. He is yearning for her and she needs only to open the door. He is uncomfortable as it is cold and wet. Yet he has braved these elements in the hope of seeing his betrothed. She has gone to bed, cleaned her feet, and it is an imposition to call her out at this time.

Yet the Lover has awakened a yearning in her. She wants to open the door. The Bible describes the church as the Bride of Christ, and He is the Husband. There is a yearning for each other where love exists. Is it faith or works to respond to that longing?

In Revelation 3:20 Christ stands outside the door and knocks. He awakens longing in the heart of those inside the door to open it and let Him in. A beautiful fellowship is promised to the one who opens the door and lets Him in.

Is opening the door a work? Or is it the exercise of faith? Faith will tell you that Christ is just outside the door, and in joy you will open it.

Genesis 3:15 simply states that God will put enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman. Jeremiah 31:31-34 describes the new covenant where God writes the law on the heart. 2 Corinthians 5:17 makes the conditional statement "if" any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. The first two statements describe the work that God will do for us. The third statement makes the statement of what God will do "if" the person is "in Christ," and has exercised faith in Him.

These are not easy questions, and it requires prayerful thought. Much more can be written, but it appears that God will work wonders in those who exercise the response of faith.