Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Understanding Grace: Identifying with the Finished Work of Christ

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Identity, what defines it? Is it simply what you do? Is it your occupation? What makes you, you? Many a lost soul has traveled the land trying to "find themselves." In the end one may find new appreciation for living, for creation or for another occupation. Is this what makes up who they are?

 Identity is the essence of all that is you. Truly the only way to realize your full potential and be all you are is found in Christ. When we receive the Lord, by virtue of the finished work, we have union with Christ. We abide in Him. 

 Identity is not what you do or what you abstain from. Identity is who you are. In Christ, because of the finished work, you are complete. This is why it is essential to understand the finished work is in fact finished. 

What part of finished is unfinished?

 In the minds of the religious, when Christ said "It is finished," they take it to mean "I'm just getting started, now you all need to complete it." To the Covenant and Law mixing minded minister we are not really complete in Him. Holiness, is something to be pursued, or a status to be achieved. Righteousness, is something you grow into. 

 To the mixture minded grace isn't even unearned, undeserved favor  of God. They instead focus solely on the empowerment that grace, or His divine influence upon the heart produces. They subtly replace grace as mere empowerment. Thus, giving allowance for efforts, and achievement, and works in order to please God. 

 Want to receive from Him? Get busy working for it. What about freely given, freely received? Sure it is, the religious will tell you. His empowerment was freely given and you freely received it. Now therefore, get busy. All the works we tell you to perform are still in effect, but you have His empowerment to aid you in your efforts.

 In many Charismatic/Word of Faith circles performance and hard work is still much in order. Granted, they teach a freely received salvation, works free. However, if you want to receive the return on your giving, or healing, then you must work hard and perform well enough to receive it. This is why New Covenant grace is so vital to understand. It is a finished work. We can rest in Him. It is not by achievement we receive from Him it is by identity, by our union with Him. 

Our union with Christ

When He said it is finished He meant it. This is who we are now in fullness by our union with Him. 
21 He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
 We are the righteousness of God in Christ. He gave us His righteousness in exchange for our old sin nature. If Christ gave us His righteousness, then we are just as righteous as God Almighty.

We are Sanctified, made Holy in Him. This isn't something achieved over time. This is who we are in Him.
10 And because of this, we are made holy through the sacrifice Christ made in his body once and for all time. Hebrews 10:10
This is what causes division and stirs up religion since the New Covenant began. Many want to assign a "positional" holiness to the believer.  In time, and through achievement and abstinence from any influence deemed unacceptable, you are progressively holy. Or you are holy, for real. 

 The truth is there is no progressive setting apart of the child of God. There is no process of being made holy. Holiness is who you already are. The error from religion is they expect a mature holiness right away from new believers. Because there is not maturity in all areas they formulate a doctrine of a progressive setting apart for believers.

14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. Hebrews 10:14
This is who we are in our union with Christ. There is no progressive holiness or sanctification. There is however, a progressive maturity into who we already are. When we identify with who we already are, then and only then, will fruitful living be visible to all. 

 We are the forgiven in this Union with Christ. He took away our sin. He completely forgave us. 
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13
We are forgiven of all sin. Knowing we are forgiven produces a genuine love and a true fruitful response to God. Many in mixture circles resist this truth. To them, in order for God to forgive we must repent first.

 Is this truth? What did Jesus say about forgiveness?
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22

 Jesus taught Peter, forgive no matter what. He didn't teach him to forgive a person only if they repent. Would God tell us to forgive others regardless if they repent but then hold onto a different standard of forgiveness toward us? He told us to not hold anything against anyone regardless if they repent. 

 In other passages, Jesus does mention if one repents forgive them. He also teaches forgive others regardless if they repent. Is this a contradiction? No, it means in any situation forgiveness is paramount. 

 So what is the conclusion? Because of the finished work and our union with Christ, we are made perfectly righteous and holy and completely forgiven. This is who you are. This is your identity. Regardless of your actions, this is who God says you are. Actions don't define us. The finished work defines us. We are hidden in Christ. Walk in the fullness of who you are with boldness. 

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