This new ideology of Grace can be implemented very practically. I am going to use a system that John Piper teaches to his leadership staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church. It is called APTAT: Admit Pray Trust Act Thanks.
Step one: Admit that you can not transform in your own power or will; it is going to take an act of the Spirit.
Step two: Pray to God earnestly for Him to work in you; there need be no more said on the importance of prayer in the christian life.
Step three: Trust in God and His revealed promises for His adopted sons; don’t be bothered with anxiety or worry.
Step four: Act proactively for God to move; dig some ditches, and labor to be brought closer to God (notice the determiner).
Step five: Thank God from whom all goodness is birthed and prospers; realize that He is the one worthy of the praise, for you did not succeed in anything that He didn’t work.
This process can be applied to 1) struggling sins of commission, as well as 2) struggling apathy in sins of omission. I say this because my first reaction to this system was only focused on the first: how it could expel sin in my life. BUT it is just as easily applied to the latter: equipping to accomplish things for God proactively (starting a church, accomplishing a spiritual discipline, acting charitably, etc).
The Holy Spirit is given to complete a task. We have watered down the Holy Spirit to be a mere worship experience aid rather than the power of grace (this is a post for another time, but moving on…). So this begs the question: what is the task, that grace is used to accomplish, of the christian life? Is it to live in a manner worthy of the gospel? Is it to live holy and blameless lives? I would wager, at this present time, that the great task is: The Great Commission. These sub-goals of the pursuit of holiness are mere benefactors to the focal goal of making and reproducing disciples.
I do not know if you have realized, but many pastors are caught up in this message of “God’s plan for your life”. Being at college, I feel like I hear this message almost every other week. And do not get me wrong, God does has a plan for His followers; He does have a specific purpose for His children, BUT… We as the church, the body and bride of Christ, are called to one great plan: the great commission. The church already has a revealed plan: to make disciples; and if I am not executing the revealed plan of God for my life, then why do I seek more rather than execute what I already have been commanded?
“What is God’s will for my life?” “Where does God want me in ten years?” “Who is to be my God-given spouse?” It seems that these are all of the Christian Life Questions that the church centers around now. I fell into this trap early in college, but God quickly got a hold of me and shook me free of my egotism. I say that I was egocentric because, I was so concered about how God was going to use me rather than simply living in the holiness God had already called me to. What is God’s will for your life? Well if you live in obedience today, and continue in that power of grace, you will find yourself where He wants you to be in ten years. Through perseverance by the scriptures and obedience to His already revealed commands, we will find ourselves where God wants us. Obey what He has already commanded rather than searching for a way for God to obey your desired plans!
Pardon the rant, but I think it makes us zero in on the purpose of Grace. It is by Grace that we accomplish anything in our spiritual walk: defeating sin (not merely overlooking it) and making disciples. We aren’t equipped only to defeat sin, but to execute the task of God’s revealed plan! Grace is the power of the gospel. Grace is the working of the Spirit. “Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.”