God’s grace and our response is the overarching, relational pattern of life we see throughout the narrative of the Bible. We see this in both the Old and New Testaments. When God’s grace is given, it calls for our active response. God anticipates our engagement. When we follow through and engage his grace it is then that God’s intended blessing upon us and on others is realized.
Take a look at just one example. We see God’s grace and engagement in the story of Peter and Cornelius (Acts, chapter 10). Luke, the writer, devotes an entire chapter to the narrative. Keep in mind the pattern, grace and response. Cornelius, a Roman centurion, was a devout, God fearing believer in the Hebrew God. The same was true of his all his family. He was a man of prayer and kindness to the poor. God sent an angel to him with a message. Cornelius was told to send men to Joppa, to a house where Peter was staying, and to have them bring back Peter. This was not a casual walk across town. Cornelius’ military posting was in Caesarea several miles from Joppa. Cornelius was obedient in responding to God’s directive and sent his men with a message to Peter.
In Joppa, Peter was taking a mid-day nap and had a dream. God’s used the dream to prepare Peter to go out of his comfort zone and break the Hebrew law regarding what was unclean and impure. God’s voice came to Peter three times in a dream saying, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” When Peter awoke and began wondering what the dream was all about, he received his answer. The servants arrived. Peter said to them, “I am the one you are looking for.” They gave the message to Peter, and before they left for the journey Peter invited them into the house to be his guest. By Hebrew law, such hospitality to gentiles was forbidden. It brought about impurity since such close contact with gentiles was unclean.
The next day they departed for Caesarea. When they arrived Cornelius told the story of his faith in God and how God told him to send for Peter. Cornelius invited Peter to tell him and his household (family and servants) about Jesus. But before Peter could finish his story, the Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the message. The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. What happened? God’s grace brought Cornelius and Peter together. They both responded with obedience to the two separate ways God spoke to them and the result was that Cornelius and his whole household (family and servants) were saved and filled with the fullness of God. Moreover, Peter learned a big lesson: God’s grace and gift of the Holy Spirit is not only meant for the Jews, but for all, Jew and Gentile.
When followed in obedience, God’s grace and direction always leads to more grace and blessing. Thanks be to God!