We have been saved by grace. There is no doubt about that. God’s grace is free. We have done nothing, and could never do anything to merit it.
But (you saw it coming, didn’t you?) hereafter, the grace of God does not become dormant or redundant. It continues to do its work in our lives. Pastor Ted Hanson puts it this way: “God’s mercy ended the judgment of law in our lives, but God’s grace is the beginning of everlasting change.”
He goes on to say that, “faith and grace are partners in the testimony of life. Pressure proves our faith and it is our faith that brings us to the arena of God’s amazing grace. If there is no evidence of change, there is no testimony of grace. God’s grace is the power that changes our lives.”
God’s grace grants us the power to stand (Rom. 5:1-5). Grace is not an excuse for the sins of men. It is the power of God that transforms our iniquities (weaknesses) to become the strength of God’s salvation within our lives.
So God made his grace available to us first to save us, then to change us. His grace is given to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). In Greek, grace is charis, which also means “a gift”. The Holy Spirit, being a gift from the Father, empowers the believer and causes him to “walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek 36:27).
Being now empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep God’s commandments, we ought to obey. Not to do so would be to show contempt of the gift of God. Grace and human effort is, after all, not mutually exclusive.
Paul was one of the most, if not the most successful apostle in the New Testament. He attributes his success to the grace of God. “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect” (1 Cor 15:10a). But was it the grace of God alone that produced success? Certainly not. Paul adds hard work to the success equation. “I worked harder than all of them”. He worked as hard as the grace that was in him.
I’m just saying that grace and obedience are not mutually exclusive. Either one cannot do without the other. Anyone who preaches obedience to Christ is not necessarily denying the work of God’s grace. He is merely telling you that it takes two to tango: God (grace) and you (obedience).