Don't Stop at the Door
If you’re familiar with the Christian faith at all, you’ve probably heard the word “grace.” It’s one of the more appealing words associated with Christianity and it’s usually tossed into conversation like seasoning. You may have heard phrases like, “It's by the grace of God that I made it through college,” or, “God’s grace led me to you.” But if you look at Grace, straight in the eyes, it’s all that and much, much more.
Grace is scandalous, controversial, and unexpected. Grace is the Good News that God has not only chosen and accepted us but made a clear way for us to get to Him and live in fellowship with the Trinity. Grace is the voice that calls us home, the door we enter through, and the home we abide in.
Prevenient Grace is the Grace that begins our journey towards God. We don’t usually participate in this type of Grace. Prevenient Grace can happen long before we even know the name of Jesus. If you are believer, there will come a time when you turn around, squint, and survey the life you have led so far. When you do so, you’ll see faithful traces of the Father’s hand, loving you, planting you, and tugging your heart towards Him. You’ll see gifts that seemed like coincidence at the time, which are now being revealed as God’s deliberate attempts to shape your life and your heart for Him. In Prevenient Grace, God is orchestrating a welcome for you. God, knowing you, loving you, and wanting you, uses Prevenient Grace as a whisper which, someday, will serve as a symphony showing you that He has always been in pursuit of you. Prevenient Grace calls you Home.
Then, there is Justifying Grace. This grace is closely knit with Salvation and typically comes after the sweetness of Prevenient Grace has caught our attention and softened our hearts to Jesus. Justifying Grace happens when we confess and believe in Jesus Christ. In Justifying Grace, God takes our tattered identities and makes a cosmic switch. Where we used to be sinners, steeped in brokenness, we now share an identity with the Son of God. Our debt is paid, our identity becomes righteous, and we find ourselves placed firmly at the Door to the Kingdom of God. But that’s exactly what Justifying Grace is. It’s a door, meant to be breached, entered in to, and passed. Justifying Grace is The Good News, the only news strong enough to get our feet moving. Justification used to be treated as the end goal, but it is actually just the beginning. It is the ticket that gets us in, the gust of wind that pushes us through, the momentum that we’re invited to catch.
Sanctifying Grace is the Grace we get to live in now, after we have been justified, if we choose. Sanctification is evidence that God has chosen to partner with us, even after He has saved us. God’s not interested in just “getting us to Heaven,” He is interested in walking with us as we become more like Jesus. Sanctification is the long, messy process of holiness. God knows it won’t be linear, but He’s deeply committed to it in all of us. As a church, we want to commit to it too, thus, each of us are invited to cooperate with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in pursuit of becoming whole. If Justification is the door, Sanctification is the house we get to spend our lives growing up in, playing in, and exploring. Why stand in the doorway when you can run about the house? Sanctification is where we learn to invest in deeper community, where we discover the importance of repentance, and where we grow in knowledge of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. This is the place where growth, joy, and life happen. This is the Grace that God gives us to get closer to Him, to have fellowship and friendship with Him. Sanctification is where, as Jon said, we become clay in the Potter’s hands, giving Him permission to gently shape us and mold us, bringing about new life in us.
It’s easy to stop at the door, to designate Salvation as a “later” thing. But the gift of Sanctifying Grace is what nourishes the Christian life. God is always on the move, always working in us, always bringing us from Glory to Glory. Participating in this is part of what creates the rich, abundant life that Jesus designed for His disciples. Will it be uncomfortable? Yes. Will it cause us to change and surrender our lives? Absolutely. But we’ll come out on the other side more whole than we could ever hope to become. Don’t stop at the door.
All three types of Grace work together as God invites mankind into His Family. Grace never draws lines and it never says no. It’s more scandalous than we can now fathom. Grace is an alarming yes from God to all people, from all places, with all types of stories. Grace is calling out names constantly, standing at the door, singing “Come on in.”