Book: By Grace You Have Been Saved— Now What?

You are saved by grace—not by any works you may have done or will do. You are expected to take that grace, freely given by God, and grow spiritually in preparation for His kingdom. You grow more like God the Father and Jesus Christ through regular prayer, Bible study, meditation and occasional fasting; you grow by fellowshipping with and serving fellow Christians; you grow by being taught by God’s true teaching servants—then living by what you learn. This involves giving up your sinful human ways and learning and living God’s way. It means changing your priorities, so that seeking God’s kingdom and growing more like Him are more important to you than anything else in life (Matt. 6:33).

But God has never promised that it would be easy—quite the contrary. Of living in this godless world, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation [distress, difficulties, problems]. But be courageous! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And, because Christ has overcome, we too can overcome. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome ... because greater is He [Christ] Who is in you than the one [Satan] who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

You are also taught that in this life you will have various trials to test and perfect your faith—and to teach you to depend on God for help. Peter has much to say about this necessary aspect of your calling: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial among you which is taking place to test you, as if some strange thing were happening to you. But to the degree that you have a share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice; so that, at the revelation of His glory, you also may rejoice exceedingly” (I Peter 4:12-13). Indeed, you are called to have your faith and commitment tested—“because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that [you] should follow in His footsteps” (I Peter 2:21). It is through such trial and testing that God will prove your faith: “In this you yourselves greatly rejoice; though for the present, if it is necessary, you are in distress for a little while by various trials, in order that the proving of your faith, which is much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is being tested by fire, may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6- 7).

But God’s Word also promises, “No temptation [or trial] has come upon you except what is common to mankind. For God, Who is faithful, will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear; but with the temptation [or trial], He will make a way of escape, so that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13). Like King David of old, you must learn to rely on God for help and deliverance, crying out, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusts in You; yea, in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these great troubles pass by” (Psa. 57:1). You must, like David, learn to say, “I will sing of Your power; yea, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my strong tower and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Psa. 59:16).

Such trial and testing is part of what Paul calls going on to “perfection” (Heb. 6:1). Christ Himself forewarned us of this process: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. He takes away every branch in Me that does not bear fruit; but He cleanses [prunes] each one that bears fruit, in order that it may bear more fruit.... In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:1-2, 8). What kind of fruit does God desire? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, selfcontrol; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The real key to going on to perfection is a growing, intimate relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. This requires deep personal study of the Bible, heartfelt prayer, focused meditation, fasting and obedience. Notice what the apostle John wrote concerning our spiritual relationship with God: “That which we have seen and have heard we are reporting to you in order that you also may have fellowship with us; for the fellowship—indeed, our fellowship—is with the Father and with His own Son, Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3). Christ, in what was one of His last prayers before His death, expressed this fellowship another way. He prayed that “they [the ones God has called from all ages] all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me. And I have given them the glory that You gave to Me, in order that they may be one, in the same way that We are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one; and that the world may know that You did send Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23). This is how you become “perfect, even as your Father Who is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

God has an awesome, fantastic inheritance awaiting all the saints when Jesus Christ returns. He says, “And behold, I am coming quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to each one according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). He has an important assignment for each of us—for you personally—to fill in His coming government. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High…” (Dan. 7:27). “[And] they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).

Is this promise important enough to you that you’ll diligently seek God, His love, and the growth He wants you to make in preparation for that office? Please realize that you can “do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4.13). Now is the time to accept God’s freely given grace, and grow in it. Now is the time to be diligently about the business of working with God to build “Christ in you.”