Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Understanding Grace: Merely covered by the Blood or totally cleansed by the Blood?

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

 Depending upon the particular background you hale from, you may or may not have heard the concept that we as believers are covered by the Blood. In many Christian circles this is a popular concept. It appears in some Christian music lyrics. I've heard it taught in sermons. I have seen it in Christian literature. 

 Is this a Biblically accurate concept? Or is this yet another misguided traditional stronghold? Is this one more example of religious misunderstanding of the New Covenant and the Finished Work? What is the importance, if any, in understanding the truth about being cleansed or merely covered? Let's unveil the truth by actually reading the New Covenant.

 Merely covered or completely cleansed?

 In the Old Covenant sin was atoned for not removed or cleansed.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ Leviticus 17:11

 In the New Covenant we should have a much better means of redemption. The blood of animals could only cover. They could not cleanse. The sin still remained. It was not removed. Let me give you a good illustration of this.

 In my last article I cited the woman caught in adultery. I made the bold claim she was righteous. In the context of the passage I saw the very limited "righteousness" blood atonement gave her. I must add some clarity to my position. There is no righteousness in following the Law. There is no perfect right standing by the blood of bulls and goats.

 This woman, being in the Abrahamic Covenant, being under blood atonement by the sacrifices, had a once a year covering. Now she was still under condemnation and guilt. She still suffered from the shame and fear of punishment for her sins. Jesus showing mercy and grace chose not to condemn her. In this sense only she had a sense of righteousness before Him. 

 This is not the redemption we have in the New Covenant. We are not merely covered by the Blood of Jesus. Our sins aren't simply covered temporarily until we "confess" them. Again, let me be clear on this matter. We never confess sins in order to receive forgiveness. We are already cleansed and forgiven the moment we receive Him. We have a better covenant. We have a better promise in the Finished Work.

 New Covenant redemption in the Finished Work

 The Old Covenant atonement simply covered sins and guilt. In fact the Hebrew word for atonement is the Hebrew word Kaphar. It means to cover. It does not mean to cleanse or remove sin. 

 In the Finished Work of redemption we have our sins cleansed and forever removed from us. At the Cross Jesus once for all dealt with the sin issue. In truth, the "lost" or those without Christ's free gift of grace don't enter eternal separation because of their sins or deeds. They enter there because they freely, and knowingly reject grace. That said, see how the Word confirms our cleansing from sin in the New Covenant.

  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, Revelation 1:5
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  2 Peter 1:9
 Allow the Word of God to be the final authority in this matter. In this New Covenant sin is no longer covered. It is completely washed away. 

Cleansed, washed, made brand new!

 So why should this be important to you? It is exciting news knowing that you no longer are sentenced to a life of guilt and shame. 
12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:12-14
In Christ we are free from shame and guilt. When sin was covered the guilt also remained. That is not a so great salvation.

...can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1b

This is clear. The Law and Old Covenant cannot remove or cleanse or make perfect anyone.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins Hebrews 10:2-4

 Covering for sins always leaves a trace of guilt. Think of this if you spilt juice on your carpet the stain would always be there if you only covered it. If, however, you applied some industrial strength cleanser to that stain it would be completely cleansed. Not a trace of that stain would remain.

 In the same way the Finished Work accomplished this for us. The Blood so cleansed us that now it is as if sin never even existed within us. Why this matters to you is in your relationship with our Father the enemy cunningly slips thoughts of guilt into your mind. The enemy wants to remind you of any failure or sin. The accuser says you are unworthy.

 When you understand how cleansed you are no accusation, no guilt, no shame can hold you back. You can always have bold confidence with God. He has made you worthy. Rejoice in who you are, you've been remade perfect in Him!

There is a purpose for this cleansing. If you sterilized jars to "can" fruits it would be futile to just have clean jars but not put anything in them. Christ cleansed us so that He could pour His abundant life into us. We now have the very life and nature of God within. We are vessels or carriers of God Almighty. He dwells within us.

 Understanding the New Life in Him

 Now, whenever we miss it, it isn't that we mope around moaning and groaning that we missed it. We shouldn't be plagued with thoughts of guilt and shame, ever. We always have available an open access to receive all God has for us.

 Now as New Creations in Christ, our hearts are different from those of the World. Whenever we miss the mark of the standards of love and honesty our hearts remind us of who we are. In other words, we "feel" it when we miss it. 

 If we get a little frustrated in traffic and find some other words slipping out of our mouth, our hearts don't condemn us. Our Father reminds us of who we are. The New Creation is loving, not impatient. We simply agree with God and grow up further in grace. 

Being cleansed not covered is vital to understand who we truly are. No guilt can reign in your mind. We all can rejoice we have this new life in Him and are made perfect by His blood. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Understanding Grace: Who judged you guilty?

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

 There is one thing we all have in common. All of us who have received new life in Christ have at one time or another felt the stinging accusation of the enemy. The Word of God even identifies satan as the Accuser of the Brethren. In reality all accusations against the righteous are rooted in the work of the enemy. In light of this I want to ask a question.

Where are your accusers?

 Where are your accusers? This is one of the most powerful questions the Lord Jesus Christ ever asked. I would like for you to actually grab your Bible or device where a Bible App is downloaded and follow along with me in this study today. I want to dig deep into John chapter 8 where Jesus deals with accusation against the righteous. 

but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. John 8:2-3
 Notice what has just happened. Jesus is teaching the Word of truth and these religious leaders bring a woman caught in sin to Him. Take note the shame they are inflicting upon this woman. They are exposing her flaws and sin for all to see. Love covers wrong, it restores, it doesn't try to expose and shame people. I've always wondered why they never brought the man with her, it takes two to commit adultery. 
 Now this woman is not a prostitute. It never states this. She was brought into the Synagogue, therefore she was an Israelite. She was under the Old Covenant. Therefore she was righteous only in the sense of the sacrificial system in place at the time. Now her choices and actions weren't in any way righteous or upright, but she was nonetheless a daughter of Abraham. 

  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. John 8:4-6
 What are these religious types actually doing here? They are bringing accusation against Jesus. By citing the Law and asking Jesus what is your view, they were bringing a two fold accusation. 

"Do you hate the Law, Jesus? Do you disagree with Moses?" 
"Are you advocating sinful living, Jesus?"

 These religious leaders, were staring at perfection in flesh. They were conversing with the Word made flesh. Yet, they couldn't see this. Their traditions blinded them to the truth and they felt compelled to accuse the Lord Jesus Christ of hating the Law and promoting sin. 

 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. John 8:7-8 
 Jesus, perfection, the standard, reminded all of the accusers of their own faults and failures. Jesus was God in the flesh. He wrote the Law. He knew its purpose. He knew it was a perfect standard to reveal just how flawed we are in ourselves and why we need a Savior. 
 Take note what Jesus did here twice. He stooped. He stooped for this one being shamed. The one who didn't deserve it. In the original Hebrew one of the meanings of grace is to stoop. To bend in kindness for one who doesn't deserve it. 
 Jesus wanted to express grace, to show mercy. To reveal that restoration comes from His love and faithfulness. The religious tradition bound, demanded "justice". Give her what she "deserves" but not us. 

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:9-11
 In light of this powerful passage of Scripture allow me to ask again, where are your accusers? Who judged you guilty? In the light of Christ's Finished Work, who can accuse you of unrighteousness?
 Who says you aren't forgiven? Traditional theology accuses us of not being forever forgiven. That our future sins are not forgiven. Traditional theology believes redemption goes something like this. You hear the gospel and you receive Jesus in your life. Your past sins up to the point of conversion are now remitted or "wiped away". From this point until you draw your last breath you must apologize and seek pardon for each and every mistake and misdeed and sin you commit.
 To accomplish this you repent and confess I did this wrong. I am wrong, and I am unworthy and unrighteous, please God forgive me and accept me back. Please don't remove my place in the Kingdom of God. After much groveling and tears and chest beating God will take you back once again, but you best quit committing this sin or His forgiveness will run out. 
 This is not the gospel. Repentance is not turning from sin to God. Repentance isn't saying I am sorry to God each time you blow it. Repentance is a change of mind. The good news is realizing only the blood remits or forgives all sin. 
 Those who have received His grace and understand the New Covenant are today dealing with the very same accusations the religious hurled at Jesus. We are accused of hating the Law and/or promoting sin. 
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:18
 We are preaching the gospel. We are proclaiming the simple truth that when we receive the Lord there is no more sacrifice or offering for sins. No confession or apology is going to forgive you. Only the Blood of Jesus forgives. This is the answer to our accusers. We are forgiven forever. 
 Does grace promote sin? Do we hate the Law? No, we just understand the purpose of the Law and we bring mercy and restoration not condemnation when addressing people's failures. Better be careful preaching this way some may say. People will get the wrong idea.
 Using this same logic, should we not teach Christ bore all our sickness and disease in the Finished Work? Will telling folk Jesus paid for all of their healing make them pursue ways to get sick or contract a disease? This is absurd.
 Grace brings growth and produces fruit. Grace doesn't promote licentiousness. One who desires to pursue his earthly unbridled passion says this. Grace doesn't teach all are saved and the place of eternal separation doesn't exist for those who reject the free gift of grace. The Universalist proclaims this. 
 Rest knowing you are righteous in Him. You are forever forgiven. No accusation the enemy may bring can remove you from the Father's hand. Even if you are engaging in sin, be it sexual sin, drunkenness, or any fault know you are still the righteousness of God. Certainly, these are unprofitable and poor choices but it doesn't change who you are. Identify with your righteous new nature and be free from these habits. Who can dare judge the righteous guilty before God? 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Radical Grace "the great end times deception"?

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

 As truth is revealed to the Body of Christ, hearts are opened and thinking changes. Traditions of old are brushed aside as the Word of God becomes clearer. Error loses its hold on the minds of God's people. It is truly a time of joyous celebration. 

 Even as many are being set free, opposition will arise finding fault and bringing forth accusations. As this understanding of God's amazing grace is spreading so also is the resistance to this truth. One accusation some choose to assail towards the teachers of this gospel of grace is that we are promoting deception. 

 Is Grace an end time deception?

 There is a legitimate concern and warning in the Word of God concerning deception and erroneous teaching.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.                2 Timothy 4:3

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

It is clear then. God has in fact warned us of end time deceptions. What though is the criteria that makes up a false teacher or false teaching? Sadly, that depends completely upon who you ask. That is to say, if man is the source of what is true or false. 

 Some ministers would say if you believe in praying in other tongues or ministering healing to the sick you are a false teacher. Others would say if you teach once you are saved, truly born again from your spirit, you are always saved, then you are a false teacher urging others to freely sin. Who is correct?

 Let God's Word be the final authority

 If we allow the Word of God to be our source of final truth and accept what it says then many of these debates will cease. Is radical grace an unScriptural teaching? Is grace a "satanic sedative" putting people asleep in their sins and poor choices? Is "hyper" grace in reality just cheap grace?

 To honestly answer this we must then see what the opposite of radical grace equates to. Does the Bible teach in the New Covenant that we are under the Law? Does it teach our ability to keep the Law and commandments perfectly is what our salvation and relationship with God is rooted in? Is there ever condemnation to the believer? Are we expected to strive and work harder in order to achieve some level of spirituality or acceptance with the Father? 

 What about our forgiveness? Is forgiveness in an installment plan? Are we to confess each and every fault or error we find we have committed in order to receive forgiveness? What about the ones we don't recall? Is holiness a place we arrive at based on how well we perform? To the opposition of grace the answer is yes to these questions.

 Does the Word of God actually teach that forgiveness is in installments? Does the Word teach we must confess in order to be forgiven? That performance is the root of our salvation and relationship with God? That we are still under a portion of the Law? The answer from God's Word is a clear, exclaiming negative! 

 What action or deed could you do just perfectly, or do enough of to become righteous? The Word stated our righteousness was as filthy rags. In the Old Covenant, everything was based on our performance. In this New Covenant, everything is rooted in what Christ has done. Therefore grace is not an end time deception.

 The real deception is those opposing grace. Grace is not teaching that any choice or action a person partakes in is acceptable and right. Grace teaches us how to live in peace and love and in relationship with God, not rules and Laws and traditions. 

What about what God told minister...?

This may be misunderstood by some or abused by others. The truth is God does still speak to His Church, His kids. This doesn't mean something spooky or goofy either. This doesn't mean what someone hears in their heart has the same weight of Scripture. The Bible refers to a still small voice or an impression or a peace. Again, this is not hearing voices, neither is it looking for some experience.

 With that understanding I have heard ministers say the Lord awoke me and spoke this to me or that. The words they say are not from grace but from a performance and striving based relationship. In other words they claim God said "you need to work hard to achieve." "You need some condemnation in your life." "The Law is still relevant." How would you respond to someone saying God told them these things brother?

 This may shock you but I would agree with them that God in fact did speak to them. Are you denouncing grace then brother? Of course not. I had a time of prayer and the Lord showed me something from the life and ministry of Jesus. This will shed some light to all of this.

 When Jesus, the Word made flesh, walked among us what did He teach on many occasions? He at times pointed to a loving Father that had abundant life to give. Other occasions He taught an impossible life in God. Be perfect as God is perfect. What was He doing? 

 The answer is who was He addressing? When Jesus encountered the sinners and down and outs He gave them amazing grace. When He encountered the religious leaders He gave them perfection. Why He was endeavoring to bring Israel and those who knew the Lord through Law and end to themselves. He proved that the standard was absolute perfection. No one can achieve that status. This is why we need grace.

 When God is speaking to some of these ministers who oppose grace, He is doing the same. He is speaking to their hearts an absolute perfect standard to bring them to an end of their efforts and works. Sadly, they don't recognize it sometimes and try and make this the gospel message. 

 God is gracious and merciful and overflowing with love. He wants all to receive this beautiful gospel of grace. Is grace an end time deception? No, it is the end time harvest reaching to all the World with an open invitation to receive the free gift of righteousness and acceptance with God. Let's not fight it or oppose but promote it!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Everyone Ok because of the Finished Work?

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

Drawing the right conclusions

 When presented with certain information and facts, inevitably we draw a conclusion from those facts. For example, what if a wife sees her husband continually begin to take calls in another room? She could come to the conclusion that he was secretly having an affair. Or, she could more positively conclude, that her husband is planning a surprise party for her. She would have to have more facts to come to a complete conclusion. 

 When it comes to the Finished Work of Jesus Christ we can draw certain conclusions. One conclusion I draw from the Cross is because it's finished I need no longer to strive to please God. Many who have experienced His grace have come to this same conclusion. Others though have drawn a different conclusion because of the Finished Work.

 Because of the finality of the Cross, some have concluded that all humanity is already saved. Some conclude that because of the Cross, "Love wins" and this means all humanity will be saved in the end. If another believer, who understands grace, doesn't draw these same conclusions then it must mean you're not "deep enough" in grace. That you are preaching "mixture". That you believe in an angry god and have no pity for the World.

 What makes the Finished Work "unfinished," or unsuccessful?

 Religious minded folk, Covenant mixing and Law mixing believers say the Finished Work is only begun in us. They teach a "gospel" where we must complete it by our performance.  Now these Universalist and Inclusionists say the work is unsuccessful if all humanity aren't redeemed and given the gift of righteousness. So, Jesus' work is only successful based upon how many respond?

 I have heard the two Adam debate and all other arguments made by the Inclusion and Universalist camps. They refute others with accusations that we who don't accept their view, are saying Adam's original sin was greater than Jesus' work. I am not here to debate and argue with those who differ with me. My primary goal is to reveal to all that God is always good. That His grace and Finished Work was enough. When received, you become a new creation, accepted, adopted, forgiven and healed. Eternally secure and forever righteous. 

 As I have stated many times before, I do not agree or draw the same conclusions of Inclusion or Universal Salvation. I will list a few reasons why this is. Also, I am going to refer to others excellent points proving why we shouldn't come to the conclusions of Universalism/Inclusion.

 Trinitarian Theology/Inclusionism, (not the doctrine of the Divine Trinity, or Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I believe in the Trinity), is the label inclusionism has taken to describe their philosophy. In a nutshell they teach that all humanity is already a new creation. That all humanity possesses the gift of righteousness, is adopted into the Family of God, is seated in Heavenly places with God, and has the Spirit of God indwelling them. 

This is my issue with this. It overrides freewill. In other words, you are all in, until you are out. It alters the gospel message. It isn't believe and be saved but you're saved, now believe it. So the gospel is no longer about a heart change. It is not an exchange of natures, but rather a mental awakening to a new identity. 

 What Inclusionism/Universalism relies heavily upon is enticing words of men's wisdom to propagate it. Conclusions are based upon reasoning and emotions. It feels like this should be true so therefore it is true. With this mindset the Scriptures are no longer inerrant. 

 Those who embrace these philosophies no longer value the Scripture. They diminish them every opportunity they get. Why? Because the Word of God challenges their reasoning and philosophy.  I have seen countless times, the proponents of this message attack the Word. They express continually that the writers of the Scriptures were mistaken and confused. They didn't hear God accurately. They are expedient however, to reveal how they are accurate though. That they have the "real message" from God. 

 Another aspect I have noted in the Inclusion circles is a slow transformation into pure Universalism. When we abandon the Word and embrace other reasoning error will always abound. With this allow me to point you to other ministers who have answered the arguments of Inclusion/Universalism

"Top Reasons I think “Inclusion” is delusion
4. The many warnings in Scripture about the importance of repentance, belief, calling on the name of the Lord, and the present and eternal consequences of unbelief. This includes the many passages about a place of punishment and some who do end up there.
3. Every passage about those who believed and received the Spirit (didn’t have Him before!) in the early church, and every conversion experience in history since then. One moment they were not new creations; the next moment they were. Clearly, we do not have the Spirit at birth, or the entire book of Acts needs to be re-written!
2. Many verses like 1 John 1:9 and Acts 26:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:20 that say forgiveness from God is received only after admitting one’s sinfulness and turning from unbelief to belief (at salvation) and that reconciliation takes two parties with a response on our part being necessary. Take a minute to look those passages up and ponder them.
1. The doctrine of “Inclusion” either promotes salvation of all for eternity, no matter what, or in more cases, claims that all begin saved but not all end up saved. So either it tosses Scriptural warnings about unbelief to the wind and gives false security to all; or it ignores God’s promises to the believer and teaches loss of salvation for some in the end. Either way, it’s not the new covenant message."Grace minister from Texas

" I don’t see the Good News in the inclusionist theory, nor do I see the advantage that theory supposes when it comes grace. Theologians must ask themselves the question, “is Christ’s work finished because of its success performed in humanity, or is it finished because there is nothing left to be done for man?”  The difference is not so subtle.  I don’t believe my position of grace is less because I believe in the latter.  Namely, that Jesus’ work of redemption is in fact complete, regardless of whether one benefits from it or not.  A gift is still a gift, even though it may not be received.  The same for grace, and the same for Christ’s completed work.  All has been done to settle man’s fallen condition.  Jesus will not die again.  Yet, while the work of redemption is complete, it does not benefit man unless he believes and receives.

When faith joins with truth about Christ, a New Creation is the result, where old things are passed away and new things have come.  I have grave difficulty seeing and believing that the entire human race was in effect born again when Christ was resurrected but they just don’t know it.  I think this diminishes our view of the New Creation.  Where is the change in humanity if all are born again?

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on believers.  Why didn’t He fall on all the human race if all were born again?  Even the prophet Joel foretold that the Spirit would fall on “all flesh”.  Yet it is obvious in Acts that this did not happen.  What then did Joel see?  He saw the Spirit falling on all believers (Jews and Gentiles), which is clearly evidenced in the documentation presented by Luke in the book of Acts.

The New Creation has the nature of righteousness, holiness, and have become partakers of the divine nature.  All believers have been given a new heart, and have the mind of Christ.  Can we with boldness proclaim to all the human race that these things are true of them whether they believe or not?  I don’t see it, nor do I see that it increases the value of the Good News we preach." Grace minister from florida

Joseph Prince on Universal Salvation here

Paul Ellis on Inclusion here and here and here and here

Ed Elliott on Inclusion here

Dr. Andrew Farley on Inclusion/Universalism here

What is it I am saying in all this? I am not saying I hate the World and those without Christ. I am not advocating we tell people how wrong they are. I am saying the message is never changed. Christ died for all because all were already dead and need a savior. He paid the price all we need do is simply respond with childlike belief.

 Am I now not deep enough in grace? Have I rejected the message of grace? Am I no longer understanding grace? Of course not! The real truth is this, grace is inclusive and universal in its invitation and application. Universalism and Inclusion aren't the message of grace though.