In the New Testament, Paul and Barnabas made many converts. Scripture says that they urged those new believers with these words: “By God’s grace remain faithful.” This is very interesting advice.
The new converts were not simply told “Remain faithful,” as if faithfulness was something they could achieve on their own. Had that been the case, they might have devised some formula of disciplines, thinking that by doing certain acts and saying certain words they would be what Christians are supposed to be. They might have written scores of “How To” books and appointed people with charisma or leadership qualities to rise above the rest and tell them what to do. They might have fallen into the trap of feeling spiritually smug when they achieved and guilty when they fell short.
Instead they were told that the key to faithfulness was God’s grace.
I can relate to those converts. Without God’s grace, there is no chance of my spiritual survival. Still, in my everyday life, it’s to my own benefit to maintain communion with God, to seek divine direction, to then choose His ways over my own, etc. I want – even try – to live that way, but ultimately it is only by His grace that I even come close.
The cycle continues. God gives me grace… I try to remain faithful… He gives me grace… I try to remain faithful… He gives me grace… And so forth.
Smith Wigglesworth, a follower of God who lived from 1859 to 1947, said “Pray as though it all depends on God, and work as though it all depends on you.”
Likewise, Paul and Barnabas said “By God’s grace remain faithful.”