That verse – Ephesians 2: 8 – goes on to say of faith, “It is a gift of God.” Now, just as the parental “gift” of milk to the baby is gradually replaced with solid food, so the basic gift of FAITH becomes “solid food”. But your FAITH, that solid food, being for the mature, requires constant use, and, as we use it, “We are trained by it.” (Hebrews 5: 14).
So God lays back so that we can be exercised by the use of our GIFTS in order to “distinguish good from evil” – making correct decisions for ourself. And, as we constantly exercise the GIFT of FAITH, we find that we have come to trust God! Almost as much as He trusts us!
And the important thing is that God has called us to become co-workers with Him. We have an agreement with God – a COVENANT – to be Kingdom Builders! Kings and priests, the Bible says! It takes MATURITY to be a King! It takes MATURITY to serve as a Priest! It takes DISCIPLINE to be a King! It takes SACRIFICE to be a Priest!
The early Christians expected JESUS to return at any moment. I too am expecting Him to return soon. That sense of urgency should be with us at all times! But Jesus, who is King of kings, who is our High Priest, is very comfortably seated at the Father’s right hand up in heaven, while we pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth!” He taught us that! Why doesn’t He come? Apparently, He doesn’t have anything else to accomplish, except maybe to endorse our prayers to the Father. What’s He waiting for? Why doesn’t He come on back?
I’m afraid it’s because His co-workers aren’t cooperating. And I don’t think it’s so much our not working hard enough, as it is our attitudes. The Proverbs say, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our attitudes stem mostly from our RESPONSES to those whom we relate to. Jesus said, “. . .out of the heart come evil thoughts. . .”, and He names many. . .”these are what makes a man unclean.” Just as surely as He sees our “works”, the Lord “knows the thoughts of man.” And He is much more concerned about good thoughts and attitudes than He is about good works. Right attitudes will produce proper and HOLY living. But “good works” can come out of deception – or from a con-artist.
God’s PURPOSE??? God’s PLAN??? His PLAN can only prevail by a cooperative working between Him and us. And His plan is all worked out ahead of time! He’s simply waiting for us, 1) to yield up our independent, rebellious spirit, and 2) to COME ON into FAITH, so that “His GRACE may abound toward us!”
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 9, March 1981.