Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Paradigm for Understanding the Relationship Between Grace and Works

James Jordan comments on the relationship between God's grace and our labour as illustrated in the life of Jacob.
Just as he was about to cross over into the Promised Land, a "man" met Jacob and wrestled with him all night (Gen. 32:22-30). It was the Angel of the LORD, God Himself, Who wrestled with Jacob. Amazingly, Jacob "won" the fight, although we realize that it was a victory in grace, not in works. This passage is explained by Jesus Christ when He tells us that the Kingdom of God is open, and all men strive violently to enter it (Matt. 11:12, Luke 16:16). All his life, Jacob had desired to inherit the Covenant, and had wrestled to obtain this blessing. God approved of his actions. It had been God Who had set up the roadblocks in Jacob's way, to test and improve his character, but it had also been God who gave Jacob the grace and the will to persevere.

Then God crippled Jacob as a reminder that when we wrestle with God for His blessing, it is not our might that prevails, but His grace. Then we read, “Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel." Just as Jacob crossed the boundary into the land of promise, the sun rose. We can see him limping across the boundary, and the sun bursting up in its might behind him, a sign of the strength of God's people... who wrestle with God and prevail by His strength, scattering His enemies.

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