On the Urgency of Continuing in the Grace of God


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 13:42–52 (NIV)

As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

This little phrase, “to continue in the grace of God,” captured me today. On the surface, it seems obvious enough, but I had a sense there was something more just beneath the surface of this ordinary English word, continue.

I was right. The Greek word beneath is prosmeno (transliterated); pros means something like “interactively engaged”; meno means “to remain or abide.”

A rough translation for this text might be something like, “To abide interactively with the grace of God.”

In other words, our relationship with God is not primarily transactional but relational. A relationship with Jesus Christ is not a static state but a dynamic reality. It is ongoing and calls for interactivity.

That little arcane English word abide caused me to remember my favorite chapter in the whole Bible, John 15. In John 15 we see the previously mentioned Greek term meno all over the place. Here’s an example:

Abide in me, and I will abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not abide in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now abide in my love. If you obey my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and abide in his love. (John 15:4–10)

I bolded the word abide for effect. It appears eleven times within the span of seven verses. Do you think maybe Jesus was trying to make a point? I suspect because of the arcane nature of the English word it has been removed from most translations. That’s why I like it even more. Abide just hits differently doesn’t it? I call this translation the UJDWV (Unauthorized J. D. Walt Version). 

So how are you “continuing in the grace of God”? One of the most pressing challenges of the church—at least in North America—is the way the Christian faith has been reduced to a simple “decision for Christ,” or less clear, a decision to “join the church.” People are not “continuing in the grace of God.” It’s why there’s little marked difference between Christians and anyone else. This is the missing link in the Christian faith today—continuing in the grace of God. So many are continuing in the motions but have lost the movement of the grace of God. It’s right there in the text, isn’t it? 

When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

On the one hand, we have the “congregation” which was dismissed. Then we have the ones here labeled, “many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism.” The “congregation” are good folks, but they are mostly focused on what’s for lunch, and we all find ourselves there from time to time. The smaller group—they are the ones to watch. They are the ones who linger after everyone else is dismissed. That’s who you are. You are the ones I’m talking to. That’s what the Wake-Up Call is all about—us urging each other to continue—to abide interactively—in the grace of God. Notice how they “urged” those who lingered. We don’t “urge” unless there is “urgency.” Friends, I need not tell you the urgency of this moment in history, but I will. My sense is Jesus wants to bring many more souls into the fold of our fellowship. Notice how he was moving by the Spirit in the text: 

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.

I’m already looking forward to our launch of 2024 with the January Wake-Up Call series on prayer and fasting. Will you join me in prayer as to how we might cast a wide net into the deep waters of this world? So many out there are searching for more of Jesus than they presently know. Even better, Jesus is searching for them. Let’s be bold; even audacious. 

I keep thinking about those nineteen students who lingered after chapel on February 8, 2023, at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, and what it continues to become in the world. The congregation was dismissed, and nineteen remained to “continue in the grace of God.” Within hours, many more spontaneously joined them. Sixteen days later, some 70,000 souls from all over the country and many countries beyond, from more than 300 colleges, and from all generations had filled that chapel. 

If you have an extra 3 minutes and 45 seconds here’s the trailer. 


Lord Jesus, I am your witness. 

I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness. 
I receive your love and release my selfishness. 

Come, Holy Spirit, transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.


Are you sensing the “urgency” of the Holy Spirit in these days? How or in what ways are we “continuing in the grace of God”? What small step can be taken today that will help us continue? How can we encourage others to “continue in the grace of God”? Do you tend to be one who is ever speeding on to the next thing or are you learning to linger behind in the stirrings of the Holy Spirit? 


Today we will sing “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” It is hymn 361 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

9 Responses

  1. I personally sense that we who are truly in Christ are being prepared for battle. Anyone who’s even vaguely familiar with what the scriptures have to say about spiritual warfare can see that “this world is on fire”. The problem is that many believers are still attempting to fight a spiritual conflict with the weapons of the flesh rather than the armor of God. Many still put their confidence in either politics or the “Almighty Dollar “ in hopes to return to the comfortable Christianity of Christendom. From my perspective, as long as the institutional church remains as divided as it is, it will remain paralyzed and unfit for serious battle. Maybe I’m too cynical, but it seems that denominationalism is where Spiritual Movements go to die. The urgency I sense is that our prayers be lifted up to God for Him to “bind us together with cords that cannot be broken, bind us together in love”. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness.

    1. Love this. I agree with this on many levels. A comment then and a question: as you point out, I too believe that many people who consider themselves Christians are using the tools of the world, which at best makes them misguided or at worst means they are not actually Christians. Going with the more charitable possibility, what specific words would you offer to these individuals about what the Armor of God is? For centuries, I firmly believe that the vast majority have gotten this question wrong?

    2. “Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more”. I agree with you, Bob. I have a sense of excitement about what God is going to do. I feel like a warrior who has spent years in training about to go to battle. Like Gideon’s 300, the unserious, the hangers-on, the cultural Christians are being weeded out and God’s true army is standing up. “I’ve seen the end of the story, and we win”.

      1. Hi Rob, Appreciate your posts too! Who in your estimation are the cultural Christians? I could see very well intended people sincerely not knowing. Lovers of money and the things of this world, absolutely. After that, it gets really challenging for me. I ask God to shine his light and love through me every day but I confess I get stuck on this question and eventually decide I need to focus on the log in my own eye primarily.

  2. Let God’s Spirit continually urge you to stay focused on the urgency of always aligning your heart and your lifestyle to the risen Jesus and His will. Continually interact with the grace of God. Let Jesus cleanse and restore your heart every time it drifts from Him.

    Keep your heart interactively engaged with the living Jesus. Continually focus on His inner presence and always obey His promptings.

    A listening heart hears more than words. When hearing sermons replaces personally hearing Jesus in your heart, Christians become spiritually deaf. Refuse to let that happen.

    Words from God’s Spirit
    Are heard by the heart.
    Let your heart listen
    And you’ll be amazed.

  3. Thanks Bob, for your comment. In answer to your question about the armor of God; I believe Paul explains it pretty well in his letter to the congregations at Ephesus chapter 6:10-18. Most believers have read these words, but I believe that we forget that there’s no such thing as an “army of one”. This is why I’m so much a reader of Seedbed. JD is constantly promoting the re-establishment of the long neglected classes and bands. God’s army is truly a band of brothers or sisters, whatever the case may be. Also, the arrangement between Church and State that Christendom provided, allowed Christians to depend more on the State to provide for their needs than God. Unfortunately for those still dependent on the State to win their battles, this arrangement is now either dead or dying.

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