Grace, Discipline and Power

The power of Pentecost comes to us by grace—it is a pure gift of God.  But to continue in that power calls for enthusiastic discipline that comes naturally to us over time through the love of the Father. Like two pedals on a bicycle that both must be pressed to balance a bike in motion, we need to rely both on God’s grace and His discipline to make our way through the ups and downs of life in balance and with confidence.  Let me explain.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Probably every born again Christian today has heard this famous verse.  The next verse says: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  When we’re born again, we know God has a better plan for our lives and He has some good work for us to step into. But after that first flush of new life in Christ, the world often seems to press in on us again and the destiny we so long for can begin to seem very elusive.

The missing element in many people’s walk with Christ is often discipline.  Unless you’ve played sports, studied to get good grades, kept a clean house, built a successful business, or pursued a hobby with passion, you may not grasp the importance of discipline to fulfill your dreams. Discipline is what it takes to be good at something.  Discipline is pleasurable when we keep our eyes on the goal set before us.  In fact the idea of discipline as punishment only came later in the history of the word.  From the beginning, discipline basically meant doing what it takes to learn something.  A disciple is first and foremost a willing learner. 

When Peter and John were arrested for teaching boldly about Jesus in the Temple, the elders and rulers noted that the uneducated apostles were ordinary people who “had been with Jesus.”  They connected their boldness with their having been with Jesus.  This is still true for us today.  Your boldness and your success in living out your faith will in the end depend on how disciplined you allow yourself to become about being with Jesus.

Being with Jesus can be as basic as making your way to church to join others in worship and hear a sermon.  Anyone with little children knows what an effort this seemingly simple discipline can take.  That’s a form of discipline.  But in the end there’s no substitute for the discipline of reading God’s word for yourself, and praying more.  If you keep your eyes on the prize of doing the good works God has prepared for you to do—such as raising your kids successfully, providing for your family, and caring for others—you’ll find the daily discipline of “being with Jesus” is the most satisfying thing you can do in life.

We are always dependent on God’s grace, but discipline is the other pedal that keeps us moving forward to grasp the riches of His grace stored up for us right here and now.