Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series, where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand how faith and grace are related.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Faith and Grace
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself. It is the gift of God." Ephesians, Chapter 2, Verse 8
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, we explore the relationship between faith and grace.We know that our spiritual growth depends on our exercise of faith and the use of grace that allows us to grow in truth. There has been and continues to be a lot of misunderstanding in the minds of many believers as to what the Father’’s will is in this earth life, and because of that we wish to clarify the function of the Father’’s will in our lives during our sojourn on earth. We know that in this life the divine will has only a spiritual function, and that is to bear the spiritual fruits, to love one another as Jesus loves us. He is the vine, we are the branches, and as we bear this fruit, we grow in the knowledge of truth, through grace and by our faith.
We have material minds and material difficulties that hamper and hinder us. It is a vexation and strain on us to be saddled with material problems that defy solution, or that has no solution but to try as best we can to adjust to them. It is natural that we pray to the Father for help in removing or alleviating these material difficulties. But the practice of seeking the Father’’s help in removing them also hinder us in our attempts to discern the Father’’s will.
Experience has shown us that in most material situations, there is no direct help from the Father. The Father does work to improve our lots on earth, but his ministry in the material arena is indirect. He works through established material laws governing such problems. It is safe to say that in the material arena God works through us to discover, understand, and find solutions to our material problems. And this work, though delayed by time and handicapped by space, is well under way, as we are constantly marveling at material accomplishments. Even so, the heavenly Father works directly with us in the spiritual arena. He works with and through us.
We are eternally created in God’’s image, the image of His Son. This image was perfectly displayed when the divine Son lived in the flesh. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." When Jesus was in the flesh, he revealed God to men. Now that he is no longer in the flesh, His Spirit of Truth reveals Jesus to the hearts of men. When man yields the fruits of the spirit in his life, he is simply showing forth the traits that the Master manifested in his own earthly life." The Spirit of Truth reveals the spiritual nature of the Father and the moral character of the Son. Thus we see that the function of the Father’’s will and the Spirit of Truth is to recreate us spiritually and display this "new image" to our brothers and sisters. But because Jesus was also a human being, fully human in every sense of the word, he was not immune to the suffering of his earthly children. Thus many so-called material miracles were associated with his life in the flesh. These mercy ministries to things material has further laid the foundation for our continued petitions to the Father for direct material help. And though the material discoveries can never affect the spiritual, the spiritual can affect the material as we shall soon see.
Because the divine spirit lives in our souls and minds and because of the Spirit of Truth, we can know the divine will and know that we only exist spiritually in this life to bear the fruits of the spirit. Furthermore, it is now apparent that when we seek to know the Father’’s will, we are seeking to know His character; when we seek to do that will, we are seeking to reveal that character to our brothers and sisters. Let’’s consider this analogy to help us grasp this all-important spiritual truth.
If we look into a material mirror, what we see is a perfect reflection of ourselves, and when we turn from this mirror to our brothers and sisters, what they see is the same material image. Now it is useless to look into this mirror and expect to see anything other than ourselves; and it is useless to try to portray to our brothers and sisters anything other than our material selves. It is true that over time this material image changes. That is, the material image is different for each stage of material growth that we experience. The image that we behold is materially different for an infant, child, adolescent, adult, or an old man or woman. But though age changes the material appearance of a person, he still reflects a material image.
But when we look into the spiritual mirror, the divine spirit, what we see is not the image that our soul presents but the soul’’s perfected image. This process has profound consequences because each time we look into this spiritual mirror, each time we seek to know the Father’’s will, we resemble a little more our perfected image. And when we turn our souls outward, we display a soul that has been changed slightly into its perfected image. And this is true despite our inability to detect this gradual change. This process of presenting our souls to the spiritual mirror and being changed in the process and displaying it externally is the doing of the divine will and is the domain of prayer, worship, and loving service.
Now we can begin to see how this process indirectly affects our material environments. We are living in an environment that has been polluted by sin and that has a deleterious effect on us. "Sin enormously retards intellectual development, moral growth, social progress, and mass spiritual attainment. But it does not prevent the highest spiritual achievement by any individual who chooses to know God and sincerely do his divine will." These deficiencies have plagued us with all of these problems that would have been solved hundreds of thousand years ago were it not for the effects of sin on our world. But until the effects of sin have been eradicated from our world, we will continue to be handicapped by them.
But with faith and grace, we can escape from the lack of mass spiritual attainment, launch out on our own and obtain the highest spiritual achievement: perfection even as the heavenly Father is perfect. With the grace of the Spirit of Truth we are equipped with the power to achieve this. The Spirit of Truth endows us with new spiritual weapons. No longer must material forces be used to advance the sovereignty of God in the world. It empowers us to go out and conquer the "world with unfailing forgiveness, matchless good will, and abounding love.”” We are equipped to ““overcome evil with good, to vanquish hate by love, to destroy fear with a courageous and living faith in truth. The Spirit of Truth endows us with the power to forgive personal injuries, to keep sweet in the midst of the gravest injustice, to remain unmoved in the face of appalling danger, and to challenge the evils of hate and anger by the fearless acts of love and forbearance." And with this powerful spiritual weapon of truth, it is no wonder that the Masters says, "my grace is sufficient." And since grace is supplied, all that is necessary to make it a personal reality is our faith, to wholeheartedly believe Jesus and follow him.
This concludes today's message on understanding how grace and faith are related. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.