Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Radical Grace preaching a "Different Gospel"?

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

 We have been in a continual study concerning the Radical Grace of Almighty God. Up to now we've seen how Grace has redeemed us, forgave us and brought us complete peace. We have also begun allaying myths and misnomers often linked to the teaching of Radical Grace. 

 Today, it seemed good to continue addressing the misnomer from our last post, that the Radical Grace of God is some false teaching. Many consider Radical Grace as some "different gospel" we have concocted in order to placate our flesh or Earthly sensual desires. Is the Radical Grace of God a false gospel or different gospel?

What Scripturally constitutes false teaching?

 The Bible is the source of all truth and wisdom. It reveals to us the true perimeters of what false teaching really is. Allow me to say this. Some traditional ministries would be quick to hurl the accusation of false teaching on those who believe in the Gifts of the Spirit for today. If one prays in other tongues or prays for the sick to be healed they might be labeled as false brethren. In order to distinguish between true and false teaching, we must lay aside petty doctrinal issues. 

 The Scriptures are pretty clear on what actual false teaching consists of. The criteria to meet false teaching is a denial of the basic foundations of Christianity. Allow me to list what the Scriptures referenced as false.

Denial of the deity of Jesus

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God John 1:1-2 NKJV
 22 And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.23 Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:22-23 NLT
 Jesus is God in the flesh. Any denial of the deity of Jesus is a denial of Him and the Father. Without the deity of Christ, there would be no perfect redemption.

Denying that Jesus became a man

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV 
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that  Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. John 4:2-3 NKJV
 The denial that God became a man again takes away from the perfect redemption of Christ. God became a man to bear all of our sins in His body. If He were mere spirit how could He die for us taking the full penalty for our sins? 

Denying the Resurrection of Christ and the Believer

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 1 Corinthians 15:12-17
 It is clear that if we deny Jesus resurrection and the eventual resurrection of the Believer we do away with the perfect redemption we have in Christ. I hope you noticed how all false teaching leads us away from the glorious redemption we have in Christ.

Altering the simple gospel of Christ

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all Romans 4:16 NKJV
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 NKJV
 Finally, we see that any ideology altering the gospel message is a false teaching. Universalism/inclusion alter the gospel by saying all humanity is in Christ, adopted, righteous and born again. This takes the amazing out of Grace. Paul clearly states this. He declared it is by faith that it might be by grace. 

 In summation, all false teaching denies the person of Jesus, His deity, His resurrection and plan for salvation. False teaching points to other avenues of salvation or redemption. Is the Radical Grace gospel a fake or false gospel then?
8 Anyone who comes to you with a different message than the grace gospel that you have received will have the curse of God come upon them! For even if we or an angel appeared before you, to give you a different gospel than what we have already proclaimed, God’s curse will be upon them! 9 I will make it clear: Anyone, no matter who they are, that brings you a different gospel than the grace gospel that you have received, let them be condemned and cursed! Galatians 1:8-9 Passion Translation
Paul is very clear that there is only one gospel, the gospel of Grace. In reality, those who oppose the Radical Grace of God are the ones preaching a different gospel. 

Again I say to you...

 It is clear that the Scriptures promote the Radical Grace of Almighty God. Yet no matter how many times we teach the truth the insecure and performance minded still object to the simple gospel. The legalistic, performance focused, effort driven mindset will only accept a "gospel" of rewards and ribbons. The Grace gospel rests in Jesus accomplishments, not our striving or attempts to gain status among men.
 Paul addressed the concept of a gospel of rewards and status.
16 we know full well that we don’t receive God’s perfect righteousness as a reward for keeping the law, but by the faith of Jesus the Messiah! His faithfulness, not ours, has saved us, and we have received God’s perfect righteousness. Now we know that God accepts no one by the keeping of religious laws, but by the gift of grace!” Galatians 2:16 Passion Translation

 Is Radical Grace a different gospel? No, it is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the message of God becoming a man to rescue and restore His creation that was lost and doomed to an eternal separation from Him. It was God giving His Son in order to gain a Family. It was God in Christ taking all the pain, punishment and peril for all humanity. It is the understanding that there is nothing we can do to earn or achieve this salvation that He freely gives to those who simply receive. Grace is the gospel! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Radical Grace teaching rooted in deception and error?

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

 In the recent months, we've been in a series of study about understanding God's Grace. Currently, we have been dispelling the myths that are often associated with the teaching of Radical Grace. We've spent considerable time looking at God's correction methods and how He sees us when we miss it or fall short.

 We've established a firm foundation that our identity is rooted in Christ's righteousness and obedience. When we miss it, the Spirit brings to our remembrance who we are and whose we are. This is good news. This is what brings change and freedom for the Believer. 

 With all this good news, some in the Church still lay the charge upon us that we are ministering false teaching or promoting error. Are we who minister God's Radical Grace infusing error to the Church? Would Paul the Apostle agree with that assessment?  

6 I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel— the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 Passion Translation
 Paul declared to us the only gospel is the Radical Grace of Almighty God. The fake gospel is that of works, achievement and effort. I believe Paul answers the objection that Radical Grace is false teaching. He clearly defines the gospel. 

5 Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, He united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by His wonderful grace!...8 For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in Him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, not even our faith, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! 9 So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving. Ephesians 2:5, 8-9 Passion Translation

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

 It is settled by the Word, Grace isn't some end time deception or faddish message. The Apostle Paul declared it was His grace, not our good deeds or actions that brought salvation. Radical Grace isn't some message that we overemphasize. It is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 So why do some reject and fight this message? Why do some ministers label it as erroneous? In the spirit of honesty, I will concede that some have misrepresented Radical Grace. Such as those who would encourage an acceptance of Universalism. But, those who follow that path are so minuscule. So what is the true reasons some reject Radical Grace? 

Some reject Radical Grace because of a distorted view of Father God

 Too many hold fast to the view that God is an angry God. That Father God is so displeased and disappointed in the Church. That He is just one Supreme Court decision away from decimating the Western Hemisphere. They see God as holding an account for all their misdeeds and missteps. They see God as one who withdraws from them whenever they blow it. 

Some reject Radical Grace because of a menial self-image

 Those with a menial image of themselves never see themselves as right before God. They see themselves inferior to others. These are they which cling to the "gospel" of status. They are in constant competition with others for God's favor and blessing. They're especially motivated to seek the approval of men. 

 Their wrong thinking won't allow them to accept that simply putting one's faith and trust and hope in Christ alone are enough to be forever forgiven and made holy and righteous before God. They believe there is something we also must do, such as keep the commandments perfectly. As a result, they always see themselves as unclean before God. They relish in concepts like I need a "clean" heart and continually pray "Lord create in me a clean heart". They  see themselves as never measuring up, that they could be doing so much more.  

Some reject Radical Grace because they would lose their influence and control over other believers

 Those who use ministry as a tool to keep others "in line" will always reject Grace. In reality, the true motivation for control is fear. It is fear in the leadership that they won't have their personal needs met. It is fear that some in their meetings might pursue sin if they discover all their sins are already forgiven. It is also fear that the folks won't blindly listen to and applaud whatever they say. 

 Those who know and understand their freedom in Christ can no longer be dominated into submission by controlling leadership. Those under Grace can freely ask questions and search the Scriptures themselves and ensure what they are hearing lines up with the New Covenant. This isn't about encouraging folk to become disruptive, or "rebellious" and creating strife and division in a local church. It's about pursuing Christ and following Him and not men's traditions or helping a man to establish "his kingdom". 

Some reject Radical Grace because of their efforts and achievements

 Some reject this message because they look at their lifetime of spiritual growth and attribute it to the "sacrifices" they've made. To them accepting Radical Grace would diminish their achievements and efforts. This is clearly seen in the parable of the vineyard workers in the gospels. The eleventh-hour workers were paid the same as those who first began. Those who had put in more hours became bitter and envious.

 What these should recognize are the sacrifice of Jesus and His Finished Work purchased and provided all we will ever need. These always insist there is some "price" we must pray to be spiritual. What price is it? Just how much prayer and fasting and giving will make us spiritual enough to minister healing or new life to another? The reality is this is all about prestige and status. Look at what I can do because I spent so much time doing this or that.

 In summation, Radical Grace is the gospel. It is untameable by religion. It is uncontrollable by insecure leadership. It angers traditional religion and shakes it to its core, setting the captives free. This Grace honors Jesus Finished Work and once for all time sacrifice and it pleases our Father in Heaven. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Understanding Grace: What are God's thoughts toward us when we...

`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

 We have been in a series of study concerning understanding Grace. Recently, we began dispelling the many myths often associated with the message of Radical Grace. More recently, we've endeavored to bring clarity and truth to the myth concerning Grace and God's correction. 

 We've allayed the myth that Grace equates an ideology that God never corrects or instructs His Church. That God isn't grieved when we sin or make poor choices. In reinforcing the Biblical truth of correction we've also revealed from the Scriptures exactly how our Father instructs and corrects us. 

 In summation, God's correction is always about our true nature and identification. Having laid these myths to rest, I had planned on continuing to quell even more myths associated with Grace. But God wasn't finished completely dispelling this myth. I sensed strongly to also eradicate the religious concepts associated with God's correction.

 God's correction has never been about rejection. His instruction has never been about destruction. 

 Sometimes when we answer the myths critics hurl upon us, we also need to take the time to remove the traditional concepts that many try to assign to God in an attempt to place Him in a box of their own design. When we say God is always pleased with us, religious tradition begins to cringe and accuse us of false teaching. The root of this contention between Radical Grace and tradition is a misunderstanding of our identity in Him.

 Religious and insecure minded believers, (whom usually mean well, and yes God loves them the same as us Radical Grace believers), define identity as not just who we are, but what we do. Is our identity centered around what are actions are? Are we the sum total of what we say and do? 

 Religious tradition would unequivocally say yes. Radical Grace soundly rejects this concept. Radical Grace stands firm in agreement with who God says we are. We understand we are the very righteousness of God. We understand He has made us holy and set us apart. He has cleansed us and forgave us once for all time.

 Religious traditional minded believers would offer some passages to supposedly contradict our claims, such as;
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, Ephesians 4:1 NKJV
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1: NKJV
 You see Grace preachers? Paul is saying we need to walk worthy and pleasing to God. This is proof we can be unpleasing and unworthy before our God. Are these the concepts the Spirit wants us to draw from the passages?

 Taken at face value and out of its setting it would appear that way. Thank God though He gave us His Word in context. In the context of each of these passages, Paul was again reminding the believers of who they already are in Christ. He is urging them to mature into who they already are. 

 When our thinking and understanding is rooted in performance and insecurity all we will see when we read Scriptures is threatening concepts such as perform well enough or your salvation will be removed. We will read into God's Word, intimidation tactics such as blessings with be withheld or removed if you misbehave or don't engage in religious practices properly. Relating to God becomes more of a math equation that is one miscalculation away from failure and having to begin again. 

 These concepts must be removed from our thinking if we are to have a fruitful and fulfilling relationship with God. If your image of God is a stern and austere taskmaster with arms crossed in constant disapproval, then you will never know lasting peace and comfort. Allow His Grace to wash over you and your thinking. Let His love and mercy overwhelm you and remove this idea of our Father from you. 

What are God's thoughts toward us when we...

 Let's answer these religious falsehoods and concepts without intimidation or shrinking back from the truth of His Grace. What are God's thoughts towards us when we stumble, fall, fail, or just plain willfully sin? His thoughts toward us don't fade or falter just because we blow it or walk out of love.

 In the Old Covenant, He told His people He rejoiced over them with joy (Zephaniah 3). If He rejoiced over His servants how much more His sons? We have a better Covenant, God is always pleased with us, in our identity in Christ. Our identity then is not what we do but what we've been made in Him. 

 When we miss it, we need to be reminded of who we already are. We are the righteousness of God in Christ, (2 Corinthians 5). We are made holy once for all time, (Hebrews 10). As He is so are we in this World, (1 John 4). We are forgiven of all our sins (Colossians 2). Eternally secure in His salvation for us, (Hebrews 7, 9). He reminds us in this New Covenant our sins and iniquities He will remember no more. God isn't our accuser. 

 Because of the Blood of Jesus and the Finished Work He remembers our sins no longer. He isn't holding them against us because that would mean we are responsible for paying for them. Jesus made the once for all time payment for all sin. Understanding who we are in Him what then are God's thoughts toward us?

 His thoughts toward us are that of love, encouragement, and hope. When our salvation or sonship is threatened in the name of instruction or correction, know that it isn't from God. Again, God isn't always pleased by the actions of His people. But this doesn't mean He is disappointed and let down. 

 God is a good and merciful Father. He is tender and kind. He is also just and perfectly Holy. He leads us and guides us into all truth. He already made us perfect inwardly. The growth process is us maturing into who we already are. This is where correction is utilized. It is not a tool to hold our sin against us. 

 Maturing into who we already are in Him brings Him pleasure. This isn't striving, or toiling or trying to be made worthy. It is us drawing upon His Grace and allowing it to bring maturity.  There is also no place for boasting in this. Because growth only comes when we draw upon His Grace, His divine influence upon our heart. Just as any natural father is pleased to see his children mature so it is with our Heavenly Father. 

 In summation, what is God's thoughts toward us? His thoughts are always those of approval, acceptance and everlasting love and eternal security. Regardless if we have sinned or walked out of love, His thoughts toward us haven't changed. Tradition wants to label us by our actions. It wishes to continually remind us of our faults and failures. Religion reminds us of our sins, Grace reminds us of God's Son.