Grace: The Christian Life from A to Z

November 8th 2023

Grace: The Christian Life from A to Z

A few years ago, while attending a conference, I was reminded of this very important bit of truth: “The Gospel is not ‘the ABC’s’ of the Christian life, but ‘the A to Z’ of the Christian life.” Did you catch the significance of that statement? Let me try to expand on it a bit.

            Here’s how Paul says it, in his letter to the church at Colossae, in the first century, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” (Col 2:6). In other words, how we received Christ is the way that we continue to follow him. So how did we receive Christ? Ephesians 2:8 & 9 reminds us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The answer, then, is that as Christians we received Christ by grace through faith. Grace is a gift given to us at that transformational moment, when we are born again to new life in Christ. We recognize that our sin has separated us from God, and that we will receive his forgiveness for these sins as a gift of his grace, if we humble ourselves and ask for it by faith (Rom 3:23, 6:23; 1 John 1:9).

Thus, many think that grace begins and ends for us at conversion – at the “ABC’s” of the Christian faith. It’s easy for many (including myself at one time) to think of God’s grace as something that is only given to us when we first receive Christ, as if we are left to our own strength as we walk the Christian life. Of course, no one actually admits that, but that is often how we function.

Moving Forward with the ABCs

            If we limit our understanding of grace to “the ABC’s”, then we mistakenly believe that it only applies to our past actions.  However, if we “continue to walk in Jesus in the way we received him,” we see both a promise and a responsibility.  The promise is that God’s grace isn’t left behind at conversion, but that it stays with us each step of the way – from “A to Z.”  Therefore, what God is ultimately promising is a future grace. Future grace is the hope that God will meet us every step of the way in our life here on earth, and that we will receive heaven when this life is complete. Grace is not only a pardon for all the sins that we have done and will do, but it is also an  enticement and empowerment to separate ourselves from our sin. This is the “responsibility” aspect of future grace.

            If God promises that he will meet us with future grace, then our responsibility is to live by faith in those promises. In other words, we act on those promises by actually believing in them by faith. Trusting in God’s future grace is much more than wishing on a star, or sprinkling “holy water” on our baseball bat before stepping up to the plate. Rather, it is an active trust in his promises, with an expectation of transformative results.

An Example of How Future Grace is Applied

             Let me illustrate what this looks like in practice. It’s common for humans to worry or be anxious about almost anything. From the potentially disastrous effects of how ineffectively we have potty-trained our children, to the endless germs we may encounter at the supermarket, to the much more serious issues of looming lay-offs and life-threatening diseases. These are just a few of the possible worries we may face, all of which contain a future component.

            Anxiousness is rooted in sins like self-trust, doubting God’s goodness, and generally being a control freak when it comes to managing our lives. However,  Scripture says this about anxiousness: “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6–7).  By faith, we place our trust in God by not being anxious, calling out to him in prayer, and believing that his future grace will be demonstrated in our life, thus receiving a supernatural peace that defies understanding. In fact, this kind of trust and repentance is not something we muster up from our own strength, but instead, is a confidence that comes from God’s strength and power which dwells within us (Eph 3:20; Col 1:24–29). In reality, God gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Living in Grace, Living in Christ

            It’s important for us to understand that failing to trust in God’s promises, denying all that he claims to be, and not trusting that he is capable of delivering on those promises – are all key components of sin.  We rely on an abundance of false, lesser promises, even false gods that derail us from trusting the true God and his promises.  This was evident in the Garden of Eden when Satan’s temptation to Eve started with, “Did God actually say…” (Gen 3:1)? Every sin since the Garden of Eden is laced with the notion that there is a greater promise, or a greater way, than the superior promise and way that God has handed down to us through his Word.

            All this to say that God’s grace is there with us from “A to Z,” from first to last. The grace that justifies is the grace that sanctifies and the grace that glorifies. Or, as stated previously, grace is not just there at conversion, but meets us in the future, as God fulfills his promises to us time and time again, for his glory and our satisfaction. So then, what is our response? “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” (Col 2:6).

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Author: Todd Burgett

Todd is married to Lisa and they have 3 adult children. He has been pastoring since 1995 and joined the RBC pastoral team in 2022 giving oversight to several ministries including the Redeemer Training Center. Todd went to The Master's Seminary where he graduated in 2021 with an advanced degree in expository preaching.