August 19, 2014
Acts 13:42-43 (in context)
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
This little phrase, “to continue in the grace of God,” captured me today. On the surface it seems obvious enough, but I knew there was something more just beneath the surface of this ordinary English word, “continue.”
I was right. The Greek word beneath is prosmeno (transliterated). Pros means something like “interactively engaged.” Meno means “to remain or abide.” A rough translation for this text might be something like, “To abide interactively with the grace of God.” In other words, our relationship with God is not primarily transactional but relational. A relationship with Jesus Christ is not a static state but a dynamic reality. It is ongoing and calls for interactivity.
That little English word “abide” caused me to remember my favorite chapter in the whole Bible, John 15. In John 15 we see the latter part of the Greek term above “meno” all over the place. Here’s an example:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:4-10.
So how are you “continuing in the grace of God?” One of the most pressing challenges of the church– at least in North America– is the way the Christian faith has been reduced to a simple “decision for Christ.” People are not “continuing in the grace of God.” It’s why there’s little marked difference between Christians and anyone else. This is the missing link in the Christian faith today– continuing in the grace of God.
Let’s ask ourselves these questions today: How or in what ways am I “Continuing in the grace of God?” What small step can I take today that will help me continue? How can I encourage others to “Continue in the Grace of God?
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
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