In John chapter 9, Jesus saw a man who was blind and had been blind from birth. Jesus said in verse 3, “This [blindness] happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (NIV) Jesus called himself the “light of the world” in verse 5. The implication is that He can bring sight to the blind and enlighten us so that we should not walk in darkness.
Jesus did not just say aloud “be healed” in this instance. He instead put mud (or clay) on the blind man’s eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. He regained his sight after he did what Jesus told him to do. The blind man could have said, “This will have no effect on my sight. It would frustrate the grace of God to wash in the water. I would be earning the right to be healed. Sorry, that’s wrong.” How silly does that sound? Jesus had the power to open the man’s eyes. Furthermore, Jesus had the right to perform this miracle any way He wanted. There was no magic formula in the water, and it was obviously not for cleansing the filth of the flesh. It was the way to sight because Jesus was involved; Jesus did the healing. Nevertheless, the man had to do what Jesus told him to do.
There are so many obvious applications that can be made here. The blind man’s eyes were restored by the grace, mercy, and power of Jesus. The conditional act that the man did in obedience did not frustrate that grace in any way. It is like the unfounded argument that some still make today. Some say that specifically commanded acts of faith must not be part of our restoration because they would frustrate the grace of God—even though the Bible teaches in other passages that these acts are necessary. The truth of the matter is that God does the saving, but we must do what He requires. John chapter 9 contains a great example of simply being willing to do what Jesus says to do, without overanalyzing and trying to justify everything on our own terms.
It seems clear to me that we start frustrating the grace of God when we add self-directed works to His plan. These additions are not found in the New Testament examples of conversion. It is equally offensive to subtract something from His plan. It should frustrate every Christian enough to speak up and denounce any additions or subtractions. God’s plan is perfect as written. In conclusion, any self-directed work that is meant to earn salvation is definitely frustrating to the grace of God. The essential qualifier here is “self-directed.” We need to be God-directed. We can’t do it on our own merits. The words of the song “Amazing Grace” remind us of the story in John 9, “I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.”
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.