The Wedding Guest List 2: The Gospel of Works

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This post is a sequel based on the parable of the King who had a marriage feast for his son. Click here to read the previous part.

The Church of God is one founded on grace. It is by grace that we are saved. It is by grace that we are enabled and empowered and qualified to take on certain feats and record successes in them. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment of grace. The only way to truly demonstrate allegiance to the Lord and His gospel, is to do everything on the bedrock of grace.

The scripture, however records that grace and truth came by our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace did not come alone. Grace cannot stand alone and still be accurate. Grace must stand with its moiety of truth, and together, they make up a complete piece that typifies and exemplifies the person of the Trinity.

Sadly, a segment of the Church today have closed their hearts to truth, convinced that grace is sufficient. I agree only to an extent. Grace is not just sufficient. Grace is sufficient to empower truth. Jesus Christ told Paul, “My grace is sufficient…”. The question is, sufficient for what? Sufficient to help you (Paul) bear a truth. What truth? That God was not going to take the thorn away! (2 Corinthians 12:9). Grace does not stand alone. It empowers truth to take form. And one of the truths, which the Church has greatly spoken against and taught in an unbalanced way is that of works.

Grace is sufficient to empower truth.

We are saved by grace and faith in Christ Jesus, not by works. Granted. However, don’t you find it interesting that when Jesus walked on earth, He spent His ministry emphasising works. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount, a sermon hardly preached on our pulpits these days, is a sermon of works! What to do and what not to do. Who says that the gospel of Jesus is not a gospel of works? The gospel of sole grace has been used to ersatz the whole gospel because the thoughts of putting in works can been depressing. However, according to the tenets of the Kingdom, an all or nothing principle is at play. The Gospel is not a gospel of solely grace nor solely works. It is a gospel of grace and truth; a gospel of faith and works. That is the balance.

In the parable of the King who planned a wedding for His son, it is interesting to see that Jesus, once again, emphasised the aggrandizement of works even in grace. As we continue, we’ll pick up some of the lessons from the parable and learn how they relate to us.

A brief prologue to the lessons. The King had planned a wedding and sent out invitations to people whom He deemed “worthy” of the occasion. Sadly, none of them turned up. Then He sent His servants to go and call in anybody they saw out in the streets, and invite them to the wedding. Now, let’s shoot.

  • The new invitees were not initially “worthy”, but grace (unmerited favour), brought them into the wedding feast: The bible uses different terms that show us that the gentiles were not part of the initial plan. Words like adoption (Ephesians 1:5), grafted (Romans 11), partakers (Romans 15:27) are used in scripture to address the gentile Christians. God wanted a people for Himself and He picked the Jews. However, by mercy and grace, we have become His people. We have become wanted. We have become loved and accepted. Salvation is by grace, just as entrance into the banqueting hall was by grace.
  • The King kicked out and punished one of the guest not dressed in wedding clothes: Entrance into the hall was by grace. One would think that such liberality from the King can be treated thrifty. But the King would have none of that. Instead, He kicked out the person who failed to put in enough work in His preparation as it befits a royal wedding. In all honesty, the King did not expect the people to be clad in purple and scarlet. They obviously could not afford it. However, He was not going to tolerate rags and indecency. In the same way, we are saved by grace but rewarded by works. The Lord expects you to put some effort into the platform grace provided for you. Instead, many believers reject the moral laws and ordinances, the efforts and intentionality demanded to achieve results; and they convince themselves that those are old convent conduct, and that grace is all they need. It bears repeating, and so I will repeat it: grace is only sufficient to empower truth.

One may ask, “Since these were peasants, or at best, ordinary men, shouldn’t the King be more lenient with them?” Well, maybe not. Because a king is a king and is answerable to no one. But much more than that, the King expected them to put in some effort in order to:

1. Demonstrate reverence for a King: However impoverished one is, if they have to stand before a king, they would brush up to the best of their ability. They may not still measure up, but that effort alone shows reverence and honour. In like manner, the Lord does not expect us to be righteous on our own, to pray effectively by ourselves, to never commit iniquity by our ability. No. However, He expects that you honour Him. To Israel He said, “If I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear?” (Malachi 1:6). Do you love Jesus enough to get rid of songs and movies that pollute your soul and impinge the Spirit? Do you honour the desire of the Lord enough to avoid certain circles at the risk of being called names? Are you trying to prove a point that Christianity is not foolishness or do you reverence Jesus enough to bear unjust treatment by persecution?

2. Show reverence for the occasion: Once I had to attend a wedding and from there make a 4 hour trip. The thought of putting on heavy clothing befitting a church wedding for a trip didn’t sit well with me. So, I dressed in something casual but nice, and went for the trip. Everyone kept asking me, “Is this what you wore for a wedding?” Even when I explained my reasons, a friend still asked, “So that is your excuse?” In the same way, the Kingdom we have been enrolled in has very high stakes. So high that it is only grace that can cover your lapses. So, falling below the reach of grace is nearly intolerable. Why should you continue in sin because of grace? Why should you keep ignoring the promting of the Holy Spirit because of mercy? Why should you bring shame and dishonour to the name of God because of comfort?

3. Position for greatness. Assuming the King saw someone who not only dressed well, but carried out the mannerisms of dignity and royalty, the King would be drawn to him, to know more about him. And that could land him a fine spot among the King’s list of notable people. That is for mortal men. For the Divine God, I have seen from experience that whenever the Lord sees (a) a heart of total surrender and submission and (b) a sincere effort, however little, irrelevant to the grand scheme or unideal; He ALWAYS rises to the occasion and empowers you attain the goal.

There are some scriptures that have helped me consistently put in works in order to maximize grace:

1. Hebrews 12:12; Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight lather for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. God knows the knees are feeble, yet He wants you to put in the little effort, while He buoys you on.

2. Hebrews 12:4; In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (RSV). Until blood is shed, you’ve not put in enough effort. Until you’ve exhausted all the options, such that the only thing left is to literally bleed or die, you’ve not scored pass mark.

3. Ephesians 6: 13c-14a; Having done all to stand, stand therefore… You must have done all to keep at it. And even when that has been exhausted, still stand. Somehow. Anyhow. By grace.

The truth is, our works are only a filthy rag when done by our strengths. But when these efforts are done leaning on the grace of God, and the mercy of His grace, those works mean a lot. It is interesting to note that when Jesus came to visit His church, He told all of them, “I know your works…” (Revelation 2-3). He didn’t say, “I know your faith”, or “I know the grace at work in your life”. He had put His focus on their works. It is important to recognise that it was by grace that the people entered that banqueting hall. It is by grace that you are saved. But once you’re in grace, your works matter. They count. And you’ll be treated and rewarded in line with your works.

Do you hear God speaking to you today through this lesson? Please, leave a comment or question; your comment/question might be a blessing to someone. You could also contact us through our contact page.

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