By Randy Harshbarger
“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23). How could Barnabas see the grace of God? Is the grace of God something tangible? Can we literally hold the grace of God in our hands? After receiving the grace of God, could we then place it on the mantle over the fireplace for viewing? Obviously, the answer to these questions is no! The grace of God is more important and more significant than anything that even remotely pertains to this life. Without the grace of God none of us would be saved. Without the grace of God we would be wandering aimlessly in sin. We cannot save ourselves (Jer. 10:23) or earn our salvation (Rom. 4:4). Thank God that all men can benefit from his grace. The question is: Will you and I “see the grace of God and be glad”?
Barnabas saw people who were saved by grace. In that great statement about grace by the Apostle Paul we read: “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)” (Eph. 2:8).
Barnabas saw people who needed to continue in the grace of God. “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43). We have the promise that our Saviour is ready and able to help us do what is right; let us always turn to him (Heb. 4:14-16). Walking in the ways of God (Psa. 119:11) keeps us “perfect” or upright spiritually. When temptations come, the way of escape is provided; yet, we must turn away finding refuge in the Lord not in sin (1 Cor. 10:13-14). Fighting the good fight of faith, standing for the truth of the gospel, and working out our salvation is a good matter of grace (1 Tim. 6:11-12; Phil. 2:12-14). God’s “good work” is that we might be saved (Phil. 1:6). Opportunities to serve and worship are essential (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18).
Barnabas saw people who needed to grow in grace. We must seek to live as the Lord instructs. Peter says: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Pet. 2:1-2). The Lord provides the formula for spiritual growth. His plan is divine and is one of grace. We can be strong in his grace (2 Tim. 2:1), as we put on the armor he provides (Eph. 6:10). We can grow, fight, and persevere. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” We are enabled to continue in the grace of the Lord as we rely on his power and might (Eph. 6:10ff).
Barnabas saw people who could fall from the grace of Christ. To turn back to sin (2 Pet. 2:20-22) is to say that the grace of God means nothing to us. Turning to errors jeopardizes our standing with God (Gal. 5:4). Refusing to obey the words of the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29), puts us in danger of losing our salvation. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby may be defiled” (Heb. 12:15). To promote and engage in the sins of the world while shouting “it doesn’t matter since I’ve been saved by grace” is to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 3-4). False teachers seek to pervert the grace of God, turning it into a license to sin (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
How are you handling the grace of God? 2 Corinthians 6:1 says: “We then, as workers with him beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” To obey the gospel and then turn from the Lord is to receive his grace in vain. Through compromise whether in doctrine or in life, we can make void in God’s grace. Seeking to please the Lord by doing what the Bible says is not meriting one’s salvation. After our miserable efforts are finished, we still stand in need of God’s grace. Let us live for the Lord as we look for the salvation to be given at the last day (I Pet. 1:5).
“To obey the gospel and then turn from the Lord
is to receive his grace in vain. Through compromise whether in
doctrine or in life, we can make void God’s grace. Seeking to please
the Lord by doing what the Bible says is not meriting one’s salvation. After our miserable efforts are finished, we still stand in need of God’s grace. Let us live for the Lord as we look for the salvation to be given at the last day.”
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 21
May 6, 1993