Receiving Grace in Vain

“We then, … beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” —II Corinthians 6:1

THE ADMONISHMENT OF the Apostle Paul to the brethren in Corinth was not only for them but for all who would be called to follow Christ during the Gospel Age. This age is a time of grace (favor) for those being called out of this world to follow Christ. The Apostle Paul says, explaining this grace and speaking of those called, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24) Later Paul emphasizes how we are justified by faith (in the blood of Jesus) and this has led to grace (favor) of having a “hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1,2) How can we demonstrate to God that we have not received his grace in vain?


There are certain things we must do to be acceptable servants of God. One important requirement is to study his Word in order that we might become increasingly familiar with the glorious simplicities of the truth. Others cannot study for us, nor can we do their studying for them. We can help one another, but it is essential to prove all things individually, for this is one of the ways in which we work out our own salvation. We must also “study to shew thyself approved unto God.”—II Tim. 2:15

Even in our study of the Bible, it is essential to have the right viewpoint, to be governed by the proper motive. Why do we spend time studying the Bible? Is it merely for the personal satisfaction we obtain by knowing the truth? Is it in order that we might show others how we can dispute? If in any sense self or self-interest is our motive for Bible study, spiritual pride will be the result.

Our chief motive in Bible study should be to know God better through a clearer understanding of his plan. And if this motive is uppermost in our minds, our first thought will be to impart our increasing knowledge of God to others. The better we know God, the more we will want to show forth his praises. And the more of this spirit that rules in our lives, the closer we will be following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Prayer is another necessity in working out our own salvation, but our prayers will not be effective unless they are unselfish. Jesus gave us the example in this also. The first request in the inspired prayer which he gave to his church is one that is calculated to fix our minds on the needs of others, rather than on ourselves—“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are praying for the whole world of mankind. And how appropriate that we should thus pray. We are being trained as coworkers in the Divine plan for the express purpose of blessing the world, and the Lord would have us keep this unselfish viewpoint in mind, even in our prayers.


The great present objective of the Christian life is to be made ready for joint-heirship with Jesus in his millennial kingdom. This objective can be realized only through faithfulness in being ‘coworkers’ in the Divine plan. The principal result, therefore, of all that we do in the service of the Lord is the making of our own calling and election sure. That will be a glorious result, for it will mean glory, honor, and immortality for every individual who thus is victorious in running for the prize.

But there are other results also. The Revelator uses the expression, “His wife hath made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:7) No individual Christian will be the bride of Christ. This is a term that applies to the church as a whole. Thus, the expression that the ‘wife’ or bride has made herself ready suggests the collective service all the members of the “little flock” render for one another. (Luke 12:32) This recalls many scriptures which admonish us to faithfulness in laying down our lives for the brethren. We are to “bear one another’s burdens,” writes the apostle, “and so fulfil the law of Christ.”—Gal. 6:2

We are to serve one another in various ways—by encouraging others with the promises of God; by helping them to a better understanding of the truth; by provoking them to love and to good works; by comforting them in their afflictions; and by our own example of faithfulness in sacrifice. Many of our brethren we do not even know, nor will we ever see them in the flesh, but we can serve these also by our prayers.


The most stupendous work ever to be accomplished in the whole universe is brought to completion during the Gospel Age, and it is our privilege to participate in it. It is the bringing into being of the New Creation, the church of Christ, Head and body. This work is not accomplished by any one individual alone, not even by Jesus; but every Christian who eventually will be a part of the New Creation will have had a part in it, a part that was rendered faithfully and self-sacrificingly even unto death. With most of us it is difficult to recognize anything that is being accomplished directly as a result of our feeble efforts, but as God views the work as a whole, he sees the need for our part, and blesses us as we perform it faithfully. When the Christian journey ends and we look back upon the Divine work of bringing forth the New Creation, we will be able to see for ourselves how important our meagre efforts in sacrificing were to God.


When Jehovah commissioned the Prophet Ezekiel to deliver a certain message to Israel, he told him that he was to give this message regardless of whether or not they received it—“Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.” (Ezek. 2:7) This principle holds true with all of the Lord’s people to whom he has given a message to proclaim. It is important to recognize this, else human reasoning may induce us to keep our light under a ‘bushel’.

Occasionally we hear of these who undertake to proclaim the kingdom message by the many means available today. If they find little response, they should not conclude that the time is past for witnessing.

If the Lord’s people throughout the age had been influenced by low responses, there would have been very little preaching of the truth; for in most cases the Lord has not rewarded individual faithfulness by granting the privilege of seeing immediate results of sacrifices made in his service. It is a privilege of those who follow in the footsteps of the Master to toil and suffer without knowing that their efforts have accomplished anything except to increase their own joy in the Lord. Each time they tell the wonderful story of God’s love it becomes more wonderfully sweet to them. This result is certain to accrue from our faithfulness in bearing witness to the truth, and is one that we need in order to make our own calling and election sure. The efforts in the lives of others are incidental to this main work of grace in our own hearts.


The grace of God to all his people of the Gospel Age is represented principally in the loving provision of justification he has made through Christ and this makes us acceptable coworkers with the Lord. (Rom. 5:18) It is marvelous grace. It means that imperfect, dying creatures such as we were before God called us, are being qualified to be partners with the God of the universe in the great work of bringing forth a New Creation, and also in reconciling the lost world and giving all an opportunity to enjoy everlasting life.

Such grace is beyond our comprehension. It is too wonderful to be adequately explained by mere words. If we say that such grace is as boundless as the sea, the illustration comes far short of depicting what is involved. The grace of God through Christ is what comes to us through his blood. The blood that justifies and makes our imperfect works acceptable to our Heavenly Father does more than this. His grace makes our imperfect works become his works, and we find ourselves in partnership with the Creator.

No wonder the apostle beseeches us not to receive this grace in vain! But how could this grace of God be received in vain? One word ‘unfaithfulness’ answers this question. Unfaithfulness may be manifested in any of a number of ways. After entering into a covenant with the Lord by sacrifice and the blood of Christ being applied for us, we may fail to go on and participate in the work of the Lord. We need also to be watchful lest we become presumptuous and endeavor to serve the Lord in our own way, and according to our own imperfect standards.

We may labor faithfully for a while, even for many years, and then become “weary in well doing.” (Gal. 6:9) Because of the cunning sophistries of Satan, we might not at first recognize that his erroneous arguments are trying to show that it is no longer appropriate to labor in the Lord’s vineyard. These arguments might appeal to us because we have become weary and are looking for excuses to be idle. Let us be on guard along this line, for the wonderful grace of God that has been our portion up to this time might easily have been bestowed upon us in vain, if we fail to go on in the way of sacrifice. But on the other hand, by continuing to be zealous of good works, we prove our faithfulness even unto death.

The grace of God has been bestowed upon us in vain if, in any way, regardless of how zealous we may be to work for the Lord, we do not follow his instructions, or if we fail to avail ourselves of all God’s provisions to perform his work in a way that will bring glory to his name. Paul writes, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.”—II Cor. 6:3

Instead of giving offense, we should endeavor to approve ourselves as the ministers of God—“In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”—II Cor. 6:4-10

If we are “faithful unto death,” we will receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10), and rejoice forevermore that we had not received the grace of God in vain.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |