Many Jews and godly converts to Judaism who worshiped at the synagogue followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them, “By God’s grace, remain faithful.” (Acts 13:43 NLT)
On the Sabbath, Paul and Barnabas attended synagogue in Antioch Pisidia, a city in Turkey’s lakes region. Asked if they had any word of encouragement for the congregation, Paul talked about Jesus as the promised Messiah and the possibility of forgiveness of sin through him. Invited back to speak more on the subject, Paul and Barnabas persuaded many Jews and godly converts to Judaism to follow Jesus and their message is simply summarized for us: “By God’s grace, remain faithful.”
If only more of us encouraged believers with the same simplicity and proper balance. “By God’s grace, remain faithful” gives us a wonderfully succinct presentation of two crucial dimensions of salvation: God’s grace in election and the believer’s choice to persevere. Like the strong legs of an Olympic powerlifter, these twin truths — God’s saving grace and our responsibility to keep choosing the narrow way — enable a Jesus follower to take hold of the greatest challenges, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and press through to victory.
Too many of us zero in on one truth with great enthusiasm, extolling God’s sovereign grace in election and neglecting the necessity of choosing Jesus every day, in the decisions of each hour — or vice versa. We teach people to read the Scripture with one eye closed and leave them vulnerable to one of two pernicious lies: either that their day-to-day choices make no real difference in their eternal destiny or that making mistakes will cause them to lose the gift of salvation.
Personally, I’ve never seen a one-legged weightlifter compete, much less win gold at the Olympics — and I’m pretty sure this doesn’t count.
Brothers and sisters, by God’s grace, remain faithful.