KEY TEXT: Ps 91:14-16 "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."
KEY THOT: Grace is never unconditional but always contingent on our response of faith and repentance. If grace is unconditional, then everyone will be saved—regardless of their attitude towards God or Jesus. And that would be universalism—the doctrine that all humans will be saved and there is no need for them to believe in Jesus. Repentance from sin and self and faith in Jesus Christ must be present before divine grace can be experienced both as a position in Christ and as the power of God: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). While faith itself is a gift of God, it is a necessary condition for, “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6).
The psalmist in Psalm 91, verses 14-16 makes it quite clear that the experience of divine favour is contingent on our obedience to God in love: “Because he holds fast to me in love, therefore I will deliver him... protect him…answer him.. be with him in trouble… rescue him… honor him… satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms are not “law” but gospel for they remain the resource for NT church worship: “addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19) and “singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16).
We see the same principle of divine favour contingent on obedience repeated in the following NT texts: John 15:7-10; Rev. 2:17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Gal. 5:25; 1 John 3:22; etc. In Jesus' parable of the vine and branches, we see that grace attaches us to the Vine as branches, but it is obedience that allows the sap of life and blessings from the Vine to flow into the branches, resulting in fruitfulness in ministry and outreach. The lack of fruitfulness in terms of evangelism and mission is often the result of a lack of total obedience to Christ’s Great Commission as given in Matthew 28:18-20.
If we want to experience divine favour, we have to examine our hearts to see if we are fully committed to obedience to His commandments, for Jesus has said, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:10).
Father, thank You that we are saved by grace through faith. Help us experience Your divine favour through our obedience so that we may be fruitful. Amen.