If you've ever built or remodeled a house, you know by experience that it always takes longer than you thought it would. That's what happened with this article on building our spiritual house. I thought I could complete it in two posts, but that just didn't happened. Today, I want to explore two more types of building material, grace and faith.
Grace is an incredible gift. My favorite explanation of grace comes from the Amplified Bible: "The unmerited favor and merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian virtues." (From 2 Corinthians 1:12)
As I showed in part 2, God's grace is an integral part of the foundation. He pours out His grace on us at the cross. In that outpouring, we can never receive any additional grace that will affect our salvation. However, God's grace has more than one purpose. He intends for us to use grace to build our house.
If God's love is represented by the house's framework, then grace could be considered all the wiring, plumbing and air conditioning systems. We never see any of these systems, but without them, our homes would be less valuable. Like them, grace affects the way we act, something that may not be noticed. Consider some of the statements in the Bible concerning grace:
- God commands us to grow in grace. 2Peter 3:18
- We are to ask for grace in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
- According to the grace God gives us, we receive different gifts. Romans 12:6
- We are to be good stewards of God's varied grace. 1Peter 4:10
- God will give us more grace to resist temptation. James 4:6
All of these scripture verses suggest that grace should affect the way we respond to the events in our lives – the way we act every day.
If love is the framework and grace is the hidden systems of the house, then faith is everything else: the doors, window, walls, roof, and furnishings. Faith represents the parts of the house that everyone sees. Faith is the raw material that we use to make our house beautiful.
In both the foundation and house, faith holds a unique position. Love is the essence of God and one of His attributes. Grace is also one of God's attributes. Faith is neither part of God's essence nor one of His attributes. It is a special gift from God to humanity (Ephesians 2:8). Faith allows us to believe that everything God says is true. It instills in us a conviction based on that belief so that we can respond to God in ways that are pleasing to Him.
In salvation, the gift of faith alone is part of the foundation. For the building of the house, however, what we do with the faith determines the quality and beauty of the house. James chapter two explains in detail that faith is useless unless we show it in our works. In Hebrews chapter eleven, the record of the great heroes of the faith, their actions show their faith.
Even though God assigns different measures of faith (Romans 12:3), we are to pursue faith (2Timothy 2:22) and build ourselves up in faith (Jude 20) so that it grows abundantly (2Thessalonians 1:3). Just to make sure that we are not deluding ourselves, God will test the genuineness of our faith (1Peter 1:7). The beauty of our house shows the richness of our faith.
There you have it. Half the year is gone, but the challenge is even more important than we knew. Unless our goals are focused on building a house that pleases God, our other goals have limited value. Let's both make a new list that includes using the building material God supplies for our lives.