*Adapted from Desiring God*
“God’s grace is everything for the Christian. By grace alone, God chose his people before creation. By grace alone, Christ chose to die for his people. By grace alone, God causes his people to be born again so that they are new creations. And decisively, God’s grace transforms us into holy people.
Our deeds earned us death. Our works followed Satan. We were dead in our sins. Mary couldn’t save us. Saints couldn’t deliver us. The law could not justify us. But God.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”
When we write, paint, sing, or whatever, we can do it in only one of two ways — either for the glory and pleasure of God, or for our own vainglory and pleasure. This is one of the paradoxes of being a Reformation Artist; constantly putting our work out to be consumed by human heads and hearts, yet doing so for the glory of God alone. It can drive a man crazy at times! How do you strike that balance of, “I am doing this for God and God alone,” and “I have to do this to eat food tomorrow”? It’s not always easy. And I don’t know about you, but I get it wrong a lot of the time.
But there comes moments when you realize, God has given me the ability to express myself in this artful manner, and the very utilization of that gift glorifies Him. Were I to shun it, cast it aside, let it rot and die, then I would cease to glorify God with my talents. But if I continually step forward, trusting in the the grace of God to order my steps, my words, my notes, my strokes, something beautiful happens. I am no longer tethered to inaction by my own sense of lacking. I feel I lack the talent, so I do nothing; I feel I lack the ability to do it for the Lord, so I sit in fear of pride; in each case, I fail to glorify God with my talents, because I fail to use my talents. One critical manner in which the “Reformation Artist” understands and makes use of grace, is in the freedom of creation.
Not to be understood in an antinomian sense, this freedom of creation allows the believing artist to put his hand to his art and just go. What comes afterward, if it is beautiful, honorable, or generally Philippians 4:9 worthy, is glorifying to God. And for every moment where he accidentally walks in sinful pride, there’s grace for that. For every work that comes out of the oven and has an air of unwholesomeness or darkness about it, there’s grace for that as well!
As Christians, we know that there is no force on earth that can make us glorify God correctly, appropriately, or substantially enough to do Him any justice. But God. God has placed His Spirit within us, so that, by His great grace, we might create things of beauty and edification, for the glory of God. And for every stumble along the way, there’s grace for that.
Romans 3:23–25: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
Romans 11:5–6: “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
Ephesians 2:4–10: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
Piper, John. “What are the five solas? (pt2)”. Desiring God. https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/by-grace-alone