Receiving the Grace of God in Vain

By Irvin Himmel

All who obey the gospel are blessed by the grace of God. It is the grace of God that brings salvation (Tit. 2:11). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9). To re-pent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is to respond to the grace of God.

Paul and the other apostles were ambassadors or good-will messengers to show people how to be reconciled to God. Their entreaty was, “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1). Paul and his fellow-workers were cooperating with God by declaring the word of his grace, the word of reconciliation. Paul pleaded with others “that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

There are several ways in which reception of the grace of God may be in vain or to no useful purpose.

By Turning to a Different Gospel

After being called into the grace of Christ, the Galatians were quickly removing to “another gospel,” a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Gal.1:6, 7). Paul’s assessment of their situation was this: “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal. 4:11).

By Failure to Bear Fruit

A fruit tree is expected to produce fruit. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt. 7:19). The Christian who fails to be fruitful is barren. Jesus said,

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). Read Galatians 5:22, 23 to learn more about the fruit of the Spirit.

By Permitting God’s Word to be Choked

In the parable of the sower and the soils, the seed falling among thorns illustrates one who hears God’s word, but “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18, 19).

By Turning Back to Worldly Pollutions

Some who have escaped the pollutions of the world are again entangled therein and overcome. Peter compares such persons to a sow that was washed and returns to wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. 2:20-22). One’s receiving God’s grace is indeed in vain if he goes back to his old vile way of life.

By Losing Faith

The Israelites were delivered from Egypt by the grace of God. Most of them perished in the wilderness. Why could they not enter the promised land? Because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19). In this there is a lesson for Christians. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).

By Beginning in the Spirit and Ending in the Flesh

Paul asked the Galatians, “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). The apostle was determined to keep his body in subjection, not allowing the flesh to become the master, lest he be rejected (1 Cor. 9:27).

Many people who have received the grace of God have nullified the effect of that grace in such ways as these listed above. Now is the day of salvation! Now is the time to give earnest heed to our calling and our election (2 Pet. 1:5-10).

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 16, p. 11
August 15, 1996