Gift 56 – Committing to Disciplined Spiritual Growth is Not the Same Thing as Working to Earn Your Salvation

Quite the title, huh?

A while back I heard a friend comment that his daughter needs less of the gospel in her life. I asked what he meant. He said that the constant reiteration of the grace of the cross at school and at church had made her lazy in her “spiritual life” and even with homework. Grace, grace, grace resulted in lethargy.

But this is a misunderstanding of the gospel—or at least a disfigurement of the intended fruit of the gospel in a person’s life. Our post Reformation Christian culture is often prepared to call out legalism in its many forms, but sometimes not so well equipped to encourage a growing spiritual devotion, especially in young people, for fear they will believe that doing good deeds or becoming a good person is how to earn God’s favor. But maybe this neglect of discipleship is one of the factors in the spiritual laziness my friend was noticing.

But the gospel, believe it or not, is more than just forgiveness. It’s the promise of a new heart.

If God is a gardener, then the gospel is the soil in which we’re meant to increase, not in order to earn God’s affection, but fueled and fed by it. This means growth, and fruit, and flourishing.plant

If a person’s reception of the gospel results in their loving God and others less, then it probably wasn’t the gospel, rather what Dietrich Bonheoffer called “cheap grace.”

Personally, I have found that spiritual intentionality actually increases my capacity to receive God’s love and grace—not that he loves me any more as I put forth effort, but that my life is in a better posture to receive. Just as a hollowed out cup can hold more water, an eager, obedient, disciplined life is able to understand and embrace God’s mercies more readily.

God’s grace is a new soil in which to grow more than it is a declaration that the plant doesn’t matter. My prayer for you, Rea, is that your roots go down deep into the love and grace of our God. And, firmly rooted, you will grow to the fullness of all that God is calling you to be as His beloved child.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”  – Titus 2:11-12

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2 thoughts on “Gift 56 – Committing to Disciplined Spiritual Growth is Not the Same Thing as Working to Earn Your Salvation

  1. Thanks for your post. We could all use MORE of the gospel not less of it. Its understanding just how much Jesus did for us when he was slaughtered on the cross for our sake is what produces contrition and repentance. I know when i forget that thats when I start to fall into that lazy grace. And Im not talking about the whole imagining the body of Christ and His agony on the cross as He suffered and died, I’m talking about how completely bankrupt and unable to come to God on my own without that death. Jesus’s suffering didn’t just purchase our forgiveness as you said, it paid our debt. Its two separate things. we could be forgiven and yet still go to Hell. I need to remind myself of this fact even now. I shake my head that I forget that truth so easily ugh…

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