God says that by Christ we have access by faith into grace (Ro 5:2); in other words, the power to live the Christian life becomes available to us as Christ Himself enables us to know for certain that He is empowering us to live for Him.
Though God is the source of our strength to live for Christ, God doesn’t merely cause us live for Christ apart from our will, apart from our willing engagement with and pursuit of Him; there is a cooperation with God involved, yet it’s a cooperation which God also determines and enables. This access to grace involves a supernatural knowing (faith) as well as a supernatural willingness to become and to do.
So, it’s significant that God begs us to not receive His grace in vain (2Co 6:1); He pleads with us that we should not neglect His offer to enable us with the strength we need to live for Him. He challenges us and calls us out to act on His invitation to put this divine power into motion and actually live for Him.
Even though God is the Author and Finisher of our faith (He 12:1), and though without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5), He expects us to engage our will to walk in this divine power based on His invitation and promise.
Yet even this practical working out of grace is itself another grace, or an additional divine enablement on a different level, such that everything we become for God and in God is also finally all from God and for God. We may only glory in Him. (1Co 1:31)
Paul illustrates this for us in his own experience: he is what he is by the grace of God (1Co 15:10a), and His grace (or enabling power) was not bestowed on Paul in vain (b) because Paul acted out this grace by laboring more prolifically than all the other apostles (c); but even this abundant laboring was not something Paul himself produced all in his own power — even this activity was due to the further enabling of God within him, equipping him to do so. (d)
So, until we both access divine power by faith, and then also act in accordance with our faith to see God’s grace working out in our life, we’re receiving the grace of God in vain. Both of these behaviors are each driven by grace, and are needed to fulfill God’s purpose in making grace available to us.
Perhaps it’s like being given a brand new cordless vacuum … exciting, but keeping it securely in the box out in the garage doesn’t clean the house. Surely, opening the box and putting it together helps, but still the house is filthy. Charging up the vacuum and turning it on, studying and admiring it — that’s moving in the right direction, but this still isn’t the point.
Amazing design and power may be at our finger tips, begging us to engage, but the vacuum still exists in vain. We may even write elaborately about the vacuum and tell all our friends how wonderful and innovative it is, but this is all still a sad waste of the vacuum. We may do all these things, and most sincerely, yet wonder to ourselves why this amazing gift isn’t working to clean our house.
It isn’t until we get off the couch, put our hand to the handle, and begin to move the empowered vacuum over the dust, actually using it per it’s design, that all the potential of the vacuum is realized and becomes practically useful. Until then the thoughtfulness of the gift, and all its power and design is in vain.
So, what aspect of our lives yet lacks the grace of God? What untapped power has God given us that’s still unopened in the box? (Ep 1:18-19) Where is it that we could we become more like Christ if He but enabled us? (Ga 4:19) He will show us the next step if we but ask, seek and knock. (Mt 7:7-8)
Then, as He shows us HIs way, step by step, we seek grace from God to believe, to know, to become, and to do the will of God. (Php 3:14-15)