The clearest expression of these effects of grace is seen in a section that does even not contain the word “grace” . . . yet most clearly embodies it:
- “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
“To will and to do of His good pleasure”. If nothing else this encompasses Bill’s definition completely. God works, which makes us want what He wants us to want, and then we work toward those objectives with the energy He gives us. What should we call the work of God within us “to will” and “to do”? Paul calls it “grace”:
- “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
We need the power of grace to serve God, particularly to do it the way He wants:
- “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28)
There is that idea of trembling, fear. The consequences of failing to work out our salvation are great. The more we realize this the more we will embrace and cling to the grace God gives us for that purpose.
Paul tells us to not try to work (Greek “ergo”) our way into God’s reward, that being supplied by grace:
- “Now to him that worketh (Greek “ergo”) is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” (Romans 4:4)
Yet in Philippians 2 he tells us not only to work, but to work out our own salvation with focused effort. The Greek word for “work” in “work out your own salvation” is “katergazomai”, which is the word “ergo” on steroids . . . Work it out fully, make it happen. What we thus learn is that grace moves us to “work”, but to do so standing in His authority and enabling power instead of our own.
So let’s see how else “Desire to do what God wants us to” is found in grace. In Titus 2 grace is defined by Paul as something which teaches us to think like God thinks about sin, so that we instinctively turn from it:
- “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savoir Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
Grace appears to us all, and immediately begins to motivate us to hate sin, love righteousness, get excited about His soon return. Grace does all of that as it seeks to lead us to salvation and thereafter to redeem us from all the effects of sin. It turns us into zealots for godliness and good living. Strongs tells us that the Greek for “zealous” means “most eagerly desirous of, zealous for, a thing, to acquire a thing, (zealous of) to defend and uphold a thing, vehemently contending for a thing”. Whatever grace is, it gives us powerful longings we never had before.