Living Up to My Name

In Bible times, the name given to a child had significance and was usually chosen because of its meaning. My full first name is Annetta, and I was told my parents chose the name, not because of its meaning (I’m not sure they knew if my name had a “meaning”), but because it was the name of a distant cousin (whom I never met or knew) and was a name my mother thought was very pretty. But, when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to use the shortened name “Ann,” again not because of any meaning that might be associated with it, but because my name was so often mispronounced and misspelled. So, I became “Ann” and have used the shortened version of my name ever since. My mother, however, never accepted the change, and I was always “Annetta” to her until the day she went home to be with the Lord.

A number of years ago, I was delighted to discover the origin of the name “Ann” was from Israel, a variant on the name Hannah, and the meaning of “Ann” was “gracious” or “full of grace.” What a great name to seek to live up to — and a daily reminder of the source of all grace, Jesus Christ, who came into this world “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14), and that “from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” (vs 16).

In previous blogs, we considered very briefly two aspects of God’s grace — first, saving grace, and then, sanctifying grace. God extended saving grace to us when in his great love for sinful man, he sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. For those who would believe on him, and receive him as Savior, God extended more grace and gave us the right to become his children, part of his family. He brought us into a new relationship with himself.

This new relationship, a child of the King, calls us to a different and higher way of living and being. God makes this a reality by providing sanctifying grace through His Holy Spirit whom he placed within our spirit when we received Christ as Savior. God makes very clear through his word the high calling he has placed on us — and made possible by his sanctifying grace.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us
to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright,
and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of
of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11-13)

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your
body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not
your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1
Corinthians 6:18-20)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,
humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another in love and, if one has a
complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you
also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in
perfect harmony…” (Colossians 3:12-13)

“…God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but
because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus, before the ages
began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

God has not only called us “to a holy calling,” but in his generous mercy and extravagant grace, as we choose to be obedient to his Word, he enables us to walk in his truth and grow in his grace and our calling to be “just like Jesus.”

In this life, followers of Jesus are on a journey of grace, and he has promised that his grace will be sufficient for our every need.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Seeking to walk in and by the sanctifying grace of Jesus leads us to experience more and more his sustaining grace.

Looking forward to sharing with you in my next blog some times in my life when God has faithfully provided his sustaining and sufficient grace.

Stay tuned….

Living in “Cheap Grace” … or “Costly Grace

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, he made some remarkable, demanding, and often not fully comprehended statements about what he expected of those who chose to follow him. To the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, wanting to know what he had to do to have eternal life, Jesus responded: “Go, sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.(Luke 18:18-23 ESV).

Another time, when great crowds were following Jesus, he turned to them and said, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27 ESV).

In a similar vein, Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-25 NIV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran pastor, was only 39 when he was executed in a German concentration camp, martyred for his unwavering faith and uncompromising stand for Jesus Christ and against the evil regime of Hitler which he lived under in Germany. Bonhoeffer literally demonstrated in his own life his bold declaration: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

In one of Bonehoeffer’s best known books, The Cost of Discipleship, he shares some important insights and concerns on what he describes as “cheap grace” versus “costly grace.” Many years later, his words are still very timely for us. Quoting from The Cost of Discipleship:

“Cheap grace is the enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares…..Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost. The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the cost has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities for using and spending it are infinite…..

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

In contrast…. “costly grace” calls us to intentionally follow Jesus Christ. “It is costly because it cost Jesus Chris his life and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘you were bought with a price,’ and what has cost God much, cannot be cheap for us.”

Bonhoeffer lived out these words with a devotion and passion to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even to his literal, physical death. Today, Christians in many places around the world (think Syria!), like Bonhoeffer, are also literally dying because they claim and embrace the name of Jesus Christ. In our own country, sadly, there is a growing hostility and intolerance in some areas toward Biblical values and those who seek to live by God’s truths in their daily lives. Also sadly, many who claim to be Christians, want to live by cheap grace, having the assurance of God’s love and a home in heaven when they die, but not wanting to daily die to self, to call sin what God calls sin, to pursue holiness in their lives, and to take up their cross and live a totally surrendered life to Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul clearly exhorted the early Christians: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not our own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

God’s grace, though freely and generously offered and bestowed upon all who will receive his Son, Jesus Christ, was extremely costly to him. It is his deep desire not only that we humbly receive that grace and become his sons and daughters, but that we then live in the reality of Roman 12:1 & 2: “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” May he enlighten the eyes of our hearts to give us a deeper understanding and appreciation of his great love for us and the privilege that is ours of being totally devoted to Jesus Christ and living daily by his Word. (Ephesians 1:17-20 ESV)

Not only does our loving Father want to enable us by his Sanctifying Grace to live in “costly grace,” but he also wants us to know and experience his “Sustaining Grace” as we encounter the trials and tribulations of living in a fallen world.

Stay tuned……