Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Yet Another Mistaken Idea: You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:12 NKJV

 I sensed the leading to again expose another mistaken idea inflicted onto the Body of Christ. This mistaken idea has gained a stronghold in the minds of most of the family of God. This idea may be hard to shake off. Just focus on Jesus and seek His wisdom if you have a hard time receiving this. 

  Let me begin by sharing how I saw this truth from the Scriptures. I was sharing with a friend some answers to religious objections concerning eternal security. I also shared how some miss it in explaining eternal security. As so often with tradition-bound believers, they tend to muddy the proverbial waters with a mixture of performance and Grace. Meaning when some teach about eternal security, they tend to "apologize" for Grace and are quick to point out they still believe in some form of performance or works associated with a Christian's walk. They say well Jesus said we will be known for our fruits.

 As we discussed this issue about fruits suddenly, in my heart, the Lord shined the light on that Scripture to me in its full context and on who He was referencing. I had never seen it before. It instantly brought clarity and true freedom.

You shall know them by their fruit?

20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:20 NKJV
 The traditions passed down based on a misunderstanding of this passage is the basis for this mistaken idea. The mistaken idea is that this is referencing Christians and addressing their walk with the Lord. That it's referring to a person's salvation. That it's talking about a believer's behavior.
 The idea that a believer will be known for their fruits is a sentiment and message taught by so many throughout the Body of Christ. Think of it. Where is the focus then? This is the real issue the Church struggles with. Our eyes are not on Jesus but focused and set upon each other. We are focused on other's growth, development and walk. Our focus should always be on Jesus Christ.
When we get our eyes set on another believer we can't see the Savior in them. We begin to look at their failures and shortcomings. Most often when we do this, we unwittingly begin to see the areas of their failures and struggles that we have already overcome and no longer face temptation. We then begin to see ourselves as morally and spiritually superior to them.  

Aren't Christians called to be "fruit inspectors"?

 This concept is built upon the faulty premise that Christians are only known for their "fruit" or rather some outward behavior. I know this concept cuts cross grain to all we've been taught. The truth is This passage isn't addressing a Christian's walk or relationship in any way shape or form. What then is this passage in Matthew addressing? Look at this passage in full context, here. Let's look at who Jesus is referencing.

 In Matthew 7 Jesus is clearly referencing false teachers and false prophets. He says you will know them by the fruit. How is this fruit observed? By their actions? No, it is by the words they speak. 

 He also uses the illustration of trees. Think of it, would you go crawl around a briar patch looking for sustenance? No! Why? It doesn't produce any fruit and all it would leave you is being stuck, scratched up, and in pain. 

 This is what Jesus is saying. If you go look for spiritual refreshment and sustenance from a false source all you will get is pain and misery. False teachers lead people astray and so many suffer as the result. Are we to be fruit inspectors then? 

 We aren't called to be fruit inspectors. That isn't what Jesus said. What He really said is we are to be spiritually aware. We are called to be fruit observers. The fruit we are to told to look at isn't about behavior in a person's life but rather what they are teaching. In other words, we look at a teaching and see the results of it in people's lives. Are they experiencing joy? Are they experiencing peace and restoration? Is it exalting Jesus and Him alone? 

What about Christian fruitful living?

 Am I saying there is no such thing as fruit bearing as a believer? I am glad you asked for clarity. The truth is this passage misunderstood and misapplied is the mistaken idea we need to remove from our understanding. Get this, see and understand this. 

 This passage and the statement "you will know them by their fruits" isn't a reference to Christian's and how they live. It isn't a condition of our eternal salvation. Jesus is our Savior, not our behavior. Our conduct didn't cause God to save us and it won't cause God to remove us from the Family. 

 So what about Christian fruitful living? Paul makes it clear the origin of fruitful living. 
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 NKJV

 These are the fruits of the Spirit. Our efforts, or performance or moral excellency didn't produce them. These are the fruits of God's Spirit recreating our spirit and depositing them within us. Note it doesn't say you will be known by these fruits. These fruits are not just attributes of our spirit but our true identity in Christ. 

 We don't work hard enough to possess love or joy or peace. It is part of who we are now in Christ Jesus. It is God's best that we exude these fruit wherever we go. It is most profitable to express these fruits daily. 

 Are we then to be known by these fruits? Didn't Jesus say we would be known by our love? What if we aren't bearing fruit? 

 Jesus did say we would be known for our love. The issue is people take passages like this out of their full setting in Scripture. The Scriptures always reveal our identity in Christ first, and reaffirm our security in Him and that this salvation isn't based on us or our doings before it lays out the "behavior" or growing in Christ passages. 

 These passages are showing our relationship, growth, and discipleship in Christ, not the root of our salvation. We don't just look at a person's fruit to determine if they are saved. Sometimes we encounter people at their worst. 

 What if we woke you up at 4 AM and took your picture? "Bedhead", bad breath, barely awake, would this be a total picture of who you are? Why then do we look at fellow believers and judge their eternal destiny based on some encounter we had with them?

 What if we aren't bearing fruit? Some mistake Jesus words in John 15 as preaching loss of salvation. 
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit John 15:1-2 NKJV

 The translators didn't seem to understand the literal Greek in verse 2, for it doesn't say "take away" it literally says "lifts up". Jesus wasn't saying the fruitless branch is removed and sent to Hell. What He said was He lifts up the fruitless branch. In other words, Grace will pick you up when you fail or falter and draw you closer to your Savior. When you're connected to the Savior you can't help but bear His fruit. This passage then clearly isn't referencing the loss of salvation. Understand once you're saved you're in Christ forever.

 In summation, the concept that some will be known by their fruit isn't a reference concerning a Christian's conduct or behavior patterns or relationship with God. It isn't a litmus test for us to stay saved. It isn't an encouragement for the Church to begin striving to achieve fruitful living. It was an admonition to steer clear of false teachers and their teachings. Want to grow in Christ? Be fruitful? Focus on Jesus, find out who you are in Him, continually acknowledge your new identity in Christ, and walk out who you already are in Him. 
Image courtesy of RK008 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Another Mistaken Idea: God's Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways?

32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32 NLT

  Today I sensed the leading to once again look at some of the mistaken ideas that are being perpetrated onto the Body of Christ. These ideas creep into our thinking from religious tradition and by a simple misunderstanding of the Scriptures. When we look at the Word with New Covenant "eyes" and study the Scriptures in context these mistaken ideas are removed and clarity comes.

 How often have you heard the phrase God's ways are higher than our ways? Often when we hear this phrase, it is in respect of a situation we encounter in which we have no answer for. Meaning when we see a loved one succumb to a disease, a co-worker injured or viewing the news and some tragedy is being reported on. 

 Why did this infirmity overcome my loved one? Because God is mysterious and His ways are higher than ours. His purposes are too high for us to understand. Why didn't we get the job? God's thoughts are not your thoughts. His ways are past finding out. He is so mysterious. You just have to accept whatever comes your way without question. 

 This is the answer religious tradition, with their hyper sovereignty view, gives to answer why bad things happen. We know God is Omniscient, or all-knowing. He is Omnipresent, or everywhere at all times. He is Omnipotent or the all-powerful one. Religious tradition has created a new category, "omnicontrol." That is God is totally controlling every single action of every human that ever lived. 

 Got a flat tire? God did it. He is in total control. A person got sick or got into a car wreck? It couldn't simply be that this is a fallen World. That there is a devil lose who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. It couldn't be simply that us humans make mistakes, like poor choices in diet, not paying attention while driving, neglecting proper vehicle maintenance. No everything that goes wrong is because God's ways are higher and He is literally controlling every single action on Earth. 

 Foolish ideas like this are where mistaken ideas about God's ways actually rob us of a greater understanding of His goodness and Grace. This phrase His ways are higher comes from Isaiah 55. When we read this passage in context you will come up with an entirely different view than the religious perception. 

 This passage of Scripture is an amazing prophecy of God's great Grace and love. Allow me to post this passage in its entirety. I know it may be a lot but it is worth it. It is an amazing passage of Scripture.
 6. Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.

7. Let the wicked forsake his way

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

8. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

 9. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
 10. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11. So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

12. “For you will go out with joy

And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13. “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,

And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:6-13 NASB

Ok, I know that's a lot. It's so worth looking at though. It is the good news of Grace. First, let me correct the mistaken idea. His ways are higher than our ways, but in what way? And concerning what exactly? 

 God is offering compassion and abundant forgiveness to the wicked. He is offering Grace to the undeserving. In the Hebrew, He is offering not just forgiveness but multiplied forgiveness. In other words, to the level of their transgressions and wickedness, His Grace is much more abounding. Sounds something similar to what Paul said, where sin abounds Grace much more abounds. 

 God is saying here, I am offering an abundant pardon to undeserving wicked ones. Then He explains because His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. At this time, the Israelites only knew the Law. They knew an eye for an eye. They didn't see mercy extended to the undeserving. God is saying to humanity, my love and mercy extend to the outcast, the unwelcome, the worst of the worst. 

 The concept that God's ways are higher has nothing whatsoever to do with answering why bad things happen. It's a proclamation of His amazing, too good to be true, but true over the top Grace. I love how another translation states it, "This plan of mine is not what you would work out." 

 In full context, this passage is a clear proclamation of the New Covenant Grace to come. What God is saying is while He is offering relationship receive that invite. Accept His love and compassion. He will have mercy and multiply forgiveness towards us. Multiplied forgiveness, means forgiveness of our past and present and future sins. It's a perpetual cleansing and forgiveness. 

 He then declares He does this because His ways are higher than ours. We think in terms of vengeance. He thinks in terms of reconciliation and restoration. We seek to condemn the wicked, and He seeks to recreate, restore and renew the lost. He then offers an illustration of how sure and certain His Word of promise is. Then He shows us once we receive His promise we will be led out with joy. 

 Finally, He declares to us that there will be a memorial to what He has done. The Finished Work, a changed heart, a new life is forever a testament to His goodness and amazing Grace. I have seen countless people healed and made whole. I have seen many mighty miracles. Yet nothing can compare to a lost, sinful, wicked person, changing their mind about God and accepting His free gift of Grace and receiving new life in Christ. Seeing one pass from death to eternal life is the greatest miracle one can witness. 

 His thoughts aren't our thoughts? this is not a sentiment expressed to reveal that we can't know and understand our Father. It's not an answer to why bad things happen to us. It's a revelation of His goodness and amazing Grace. It's an insight into just how willing He is to extend forgiveness and mercy to the undeserving. In other words, He doesn't consult with religious leaders as to who He extends mercy and forgiveness to. He is love, He, therefore, offers an unconditional invite to all people to freely receive new life and forgiveness by Grace through personal Faith. That is the good news of the Gospel. 
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Pseudo Grace (Erroneous Teaching)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

 We've been in an ongoing study concerning the various opponents of Grace. Paul instructed us to stand fast in the liberty and freedom Christ and His Grace brings. If we are told to stand fast, then it stands to reason that there are opponents that we must resist. 

 We've exposed the many opponents of Grace over the past few weeks. We've seen how shame, fear, and tradition seek to get you off of Grace ground and back into a performance-based relationship with God. Today, I want to conclude this series of study by unveiling another opponent of Grace, pseudo-grace. 

 What is pseudo-grace? The word pseudo means something that is not the genuine, false, sham, a fake. Fake grace is a really down to Earth way of putting it. There are two sides to this opponent. 

Pseudo-grace A-side Religious grace

Pseudo or fake grace manifests itself in religious traditions of men. What do I mean by religious grace? Religious grace is that false grace that adopts the language of Grace but rejects and refuses to receive the revelation and reality of Grace. 

 Religious grace embraces the lingo but insists upon keeping their traditions central to all aspects of their walk with God. The mixing of Law and Grace, the blending of the Old and New Covenant is one sure way to easily recognize this opponent. Another subtle way this opponent arises is how they define Grace.

 Allow me to elaborate briefly. How do you define the word airplane? Would you say oh, that's that winged structure that flies me from one destination to another? If you answered yes then you are incorrect. You defined what an airplane does not what it is. An airplane is a powered heavier-than-air aircraft with two fixed wings. 

 I hope you are tracking where I am going with this. I'm not giving a lesson on Airplane mechanics or vocabulary definitions. I wanted you to see how often we defined things by what they do and not what they are. This isn't detrimental to us per se, that is until we see how this applies to how we define Grace. 

 Religious grace defines Grace simply as an empowerment. As God using His ability on our ability. What's wrong with this? Because it leaves in place all the efforts, performance, and achievements tradition requires of us. It's just now we have God's empowerment to do all required of us. Many teach that we can keep the Law because we have His empowerment now. 

 This is a serious error. What they are doing is defining Grace by what it does and not what it is. Grace is God's unmerited and unearned favor. It is God stooping down to rescue lost humanity. What Grace does is produce an empowerment. Grace isn't an empowerment to keep the Old Covenant. It is an empowerment to follow God's plans and purposes for our lives. If you're interested I've devoted a whole article on religious grace, see here.

Pseudo-grace B-side error and false teaching

 Pseudo-grace also entails the false teachings and errors that some are misled into following. Allow me to elaborate from "least to worst" if you will on these errors. It begins with simple misunderstandings of the scope of Grace and ends with the rejection of Bible truths.

 Under Grace, it is ok to hold an opinion regardless of its popularity. Pseudo-grace gets offended and flees in terror if someone under Grace expresses a political stance, holds to an opinion contrary to the World's system or encourages others to vote their conscience and convictions in a general election. Grace is loving and respectful of others, but it is ok to have differences of opinions.

 Under Grace, we abide in God's love and kindness towards us. Therefore Grace believers should be the most confident and stable people there are. Pseudo-grace on the other hands exalts emotions and feelings over reason and all else and produces some of the weakest, unconfident, emotionally unstable believers in the Church. 
If you dare disagree with their viewpoint on a subject or offer correction in love to an area of their life they have a meltdown and run and hide and claim they are being persecuted and that other believers are just haughty or arrogant.  

 Through Grace, we walk in love and unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our unity, however, is rooted in Jesus and the truth of who He is and what He has accomplished in the Finished Work. Sadly, pseudo-grace in the name of love and unity impresses believers and ministers to align themselves with Universalists and those proclaiming inclusion and denying the existence of Hell. When we align ourselves with false teachers we unwittingly endorse their views. 
If this fellowship is sincerely about love, why I have yet to see pseudo-grace endorse unity or fellowship with those preaching Law or tradition? Paul the Apostle, never aligned or sought unity with the Legalists perverting the Gospel for the sake of unity. In fact, he called out false teachers and even rebuked Peter for aligning with those perverting the Gospel. Sadly, ministries who are misled by pseudo-grace to align with false teachings have folded and churches have closed their doors.

 Grace frees us from sinful habits. Grace leads us out of sin. Christ and His Grace brings a change of mind on how we view sin. We now see it as wrong and detrimental to our lives. Pseudo-grace sees sin as no real issue. Meaning, sin is ok. It is of no consequence or even an issue if people in the church are engaging in sexual immorality or adultery. Pseudo-grace says we are loved so let's not talk about sin. In order to be more accepted and popular, it embraces the World's definition of what is right and rejects what the Word defines as sin.
 The reality is Grace says love your neighbor, that includes your gay, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist neighbor. This is true. Grace loves its neighbor in their sin but Grace doesn't celebrate their sin. Grace doesn't conform to the World's system definition of right and wrong. Grace doesn't mean that every action is good and permissible and beneficial. Sin is real and it's offers nothing but sadness and misery. Grace provides the way out, not the way in.

Universalism, Trinitarian Theology inclusion, inclusionism,
denying eternal judgment-existence of Hell:
 So many in an attempt to distance themselves from religious tradition and Law and Grace mixture have embraced the darkness. demons have offered a counterfeit to God's redemptive Finished Work and pseudo-grace readily accepts it.

 Grace plainly and clearly reveals salvation isn't by our merits or achievements. It does reveal though that it is received by Grace through Faith. These aforementioned false teachings all say everyone is already saved or will be. They say Hell is not real. A loving God wouldn't send anyone there. They say all humanity is included. These are all lies from satan to diminish the preaching of the Gospel.
Is all humanity saved?
Jesus the Person of Grace said only those who believed would be saved and have eternal life, here and here.
Is all humanity righteous apart from personal faith?
No, Paul revealed it is a righteousness by faith, not an automatic righteousness, here.
Is all humanity forgiven of their sins or do they need to receive the forgiveness of their sins?
Jesus the person of Grace has the answer,
 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:18 NKJV
Though He is the propitiation for all sin mankind must still personally receive the forgiveness of their sins.
Does everyone have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them apart from faith?
The Word declares otherwise, see here. Paul after his conversion had hands laid upon him to receive the infilling of the Spirit. If its all automatic why go through this ritual? This again proves it's by personal faith that we receive, that we have the Spirit dwelling in us.
Is all humanity the children of God? Are all adopted into the Family of God apart from Faith?
1 John 3 reveals otherwise. It is by Faith we become children of God. This invitation is made available for all to receive. Grace doesn't force people to come to God.

What about Hell?
Hell is a real place but was designed for satan and not any man. God is a good God. He is a loving God. He is also a just God. A just God deals with evil. Would it be loving and just for the World not to have dealt with Hitler? When a lost soul by free will rejects Grace they are saying yes to the devil and freely choose to partake of his destiny. That's why we preach urgently to see people freed from darkness. The only thing that sends people to Hell is the rejection of His free gift of Grace. 

 This sums up the aspects of pseudo-grace. Legalistic, oppressive works oriented and viewing God as the harsh taskmaster. The flip side is the distant god that is of man's own imagination and has an anything-goes philosophy. The god who says there is no urgency to reach people, for nobody is lost anyway. Stay with the Word and pure Grace will always lead you in paths of righteousness, goodness, favor and God's perfect plan and purposes for your life. 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Insecurity

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

 We've been in a study of the opponents of Grace. Paul admonished and instructed us to stand fast in the liberty which Christ made us free. If there was no opposition why the need to stand fast?

 These opponents are often creeping in subtly. Slithering into our thought life cloaked in what appears to be a spiritual truth. A great example of this is the vicious enemy of insecurity.

Sadly, so many Christian organizations, denominations, and ministries embrace this enemy. A religious zeal without New Covenant knowledge and wisdom allows this enemy to flourish. Believers and ministers, in their crusade to usher the Church into a more "holy" walk and lifestyle strip away security in so many Christian's lives.

 Let's define our terms so as to not miscommunicate. Insecurity, as defined by the dictionary, is to lack confidence, be deficient in assurance, uncertainty, unsafe, shaky, beset by fear and anxiety. Now that we have the full understanding of what we are referencing let me ask you this. Have you ever listened to a message, attended a Christian crusade, went to a church and afterward felt insecure as per the dictionary definition?

 Have you ever left a Christian gathering feeling uncertain about your right standing before God? After a message felt deficient in the assurance of your salvation? While speaking with other Christians, ever felt beset by fear and anxiety about your relationship with God? Fear and anxiety about how He looked upon you and your estimation in His eyes? After listening to a particular Christian song or sermon did you suddenly lack the confidence to approach your Father?

 If you answered yes, (if we are really honest, we know we've all felt like that at least once in our walk with God), then you have just dealt with the opponent of Grace insecurity. This enemy is so subtle it disguises itself as holiness, commitment, and deep spiritualness. Preachers fall for it and bring it in the Church and prop it up allowing it to bombard believers each time they darken the doors of the church house.

 Grace, the Lord Jesus, defeated this enemy with His words of promise in John 6 and John 10. He not only spoke it, He fulfilled it in His Finished Work, Hebrews 9. The Lord Jesus Christ, the person of Grace, declared that He would lose no one that came to Him. That those who believed would never be lost or perish. That nothing or no one could remove us from His hands. The Finished Work revealed His perfect shed blood purchased our eternal salvation forever.

 Sadly, many Christians reject this notion. According to them, we as Christians aren't guaranteed, Heaven. That Grace is merely the entryway into salvation. Afterwards, it is up to our performance and steadfast faith to complete what Grace started in us.

 Their theme is He who began a good work in you expects you to complete it by your effort, performance, and spiritual disciplines. If you don't you're not assured of your eternal destination. Is this what Paul said?
6 I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious expression of grace in your lives will faithfully continue the process of maturing you through your union with Him and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 TPT
. Letters from Heaven by the Apostle Paul (The Passion Translation) (p. 59). 5 Fold Media, LLC. Kindle Edition. 

 Paul reveals it is God who began the work and God through our union with Christ that will mature and complete the work. This is the good news. This is the truth that counters this opponent of insecurity.

 Burned out? Stressed? Anxious? Fearful? Pause and take an inventory. Do a checkup from the neck up as they say. See if you bought the insecurity lie. 

 One great minister of the Gospel of Grace relayed a conversation he had with a German Psychiatrist. This Doctor told him that all the Christian patients he had come across that were suffering severe depression, anxiety, and other mental issues were those who had believed that they had committed the unpardonable sin. In other words, when the eternal security of their salvation was in question they began to lose their minds. When they thought they were hopelessly lost they began to suffer stress and unrest.

 We can readily see the distress caused by this teaching of eternal insecurity and yet Ministers still insist on teaching it. I've seen a preacher tell their church at an altar call for salvation that at least 2/3rds of the congregation needed to be at the altar. Really? In the span of a few weeks over half your church have lost their salvation? Of course, the altars were packed and it looked really good for television. In reality, all the preacher did is strip away the assurance and security of the people's salvation. 

 One well-known opponent of Radical Grace teaching says we can still have security even when the teaching is salvation isn't eternally secure. He used the analogy of the airplane ride. The plane takes you to your destination and if you want to arrive your secure but you can jump out the plane anytime you want. 

 So our salvation then is still contingent upon us? Even in the natural, a plane has stewardesses that attend to you. They are there to assure you everything is ok. They deal with nervous passengers. They won't let you jump out the plane. 

 Think of it. If you as a sincerely born again believer, who possess a new heart and the very life and nature of God within you, would want to walk away where is that thought originating from? Certainly not your new heart. It's from your unrenewed mind being assaulted continually by the enemy. Is Grace not greater in scope and power than the enemy?

Defeating Insecurity

 You want to uproot this enemy? You must continually meditate upon who you are in Christ and what His Finished Work accomplished for you and in you. You must see yourself as God sees you.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4 NLT
 This is how Christ sees you. This is what Christ made you through the Finished Work. If we want to be in a relationship with God, to have free access to our God, to able to approach Him at all times we have to be holy and without blame eternally. 

 God is a Holy God. His very nature opposes sin and uncleanness. There is no sin or wrongdoing in Heaven. If we were not yet holy but still trying to attain it, we could never approach God until we "arrived" at this state of holiness. Thank God in the New Creation He already made us holy and blameless and flawless in God's eyes. That's why we can have perfect communion with God. 

 Christ in His Grace and goodness exchanged our old nature with His nature. He gave us His righteousness. Now we can stand before God without shame or guilt or insecurity or uncertainty. In God's sight, we stand perfectly accepted. We are forever forgiven, irrevocably righteous, possessing His righteousness. We are just as righteous as Jesus. We have been redeemed eternally. Our salvation is secure as long as Christ lives and He is the everlasting One.

 In summation, reject those assurance robbing messages you hear from certain preachers. When you know how eternally secure you are in Christ's hands and God's hands you never need fear or worry or have uncertainty about your future. You never need to feel like your salvation is on shaky ground. Your salvation is resting on Jesus precious Blood and Finished Work, and He said it is Finished. You're eternally secure and insecurity can no longer rob you of your assurance and confidence before God because your salvation is based on Jesus work, perfect performance, and once for all time sacrifice. 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Unworthiness

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

 We are continuing our study of the varied opponents of Grace. Again I say, Paul, admonished us to stand fast in this liberty if there were no opposition why the need to stand fast? These opponents will creep in subtly if we are unaware of the schemes of the enemy. When are forewarned of their methods and characteristics we are forearmed to quickly render them ineffective against us. 

Today, I want to expose yet another of these opponents. This particular adversary is hard to detect because often it masks itself in religious piety, humility, and worship towards God. This enemy appears to be so harmless. In reality, it is one of the greatest enemies of Grace. 

 I am speaking about unworthiness. Just go to some churches and listen to their worship songs. Listen to their prayers. 

"Oh Lord, we are so unworthy!"
"Please Lord come by here and visit us. We know we aren't worthy but we ask you to come fill this place."

 These prayers sound pious. They sound so spiritual. So humble. Yet all they are doing is reinforcing the low self-image and diminished worth before God concept so many hold onto to. Many will bring praise to God saying "God you alone are worthy."

 Is that the truth? Is God the only one worthy? That depends on the complete thought you're conveying. Allow me to elaborate. I can recall in elementary/grammar school as a young boy first hearing the definition of a sentence. A group of words that make up a complete thought. Aside from a grammar lesson what point am I making by bringing this up? Glad you asked.

 I want to pinpoint the concept of a complete thought. When we say He alone is worthy we are making an incomplete thought. Think, say I gathered ten men in a room and asked if all ten had their wallet in their back pocket. They all respond with an affirmative. What if I then pulled my wallet out of my pocket and stated I am the only one with a wallet, would that be a correct statement? Of course not.

 What if though, I knew that my wallet was the only green colored wallet among the bunch? I could then rightly say my wallet is the only green wallet. I hope you're tracking with me. When we are saying, God, you alone are worthy we are making an incomplete statement an incomplete thought. Why? Because in this New Covenant Christ has made us worthy.
You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy Revelation 3:4 NKJV

 Based upon the New Covenant, the Finished Work, the truth revealed in this passage, can we rightly say God is the only one worthy? No, because He has made all His children worthy. Now if we are making a complete thought we can say God alone is worthy. God alone is worthy...of all praise. He alone is worthy...of our adoration and love. He alone is worthy...to be called Lord of all. 

 I am not trying to split hairs or debate semantics but this opponent is so subtle we often dismiss it and its detrimental effect in our relationship with God. Our worth, our value, our self-image all will affect how we approach our good Father. 

 Take a look at the World system and all that people go through to be found worthy. To be accepted. Some will starve themselves, some will put up with much just to get ahead. 

 When the day is done, when the doors are closed, when the shades are drawn, when the lights go dim we are alone with our thoughts and we are confronted with how we really truly see ourselves. With no one there to impress, the masks fall away. We are forced to see ourselves. What do you see?

 Do you see a failure? Do you see a lazy, good-for-nothing, ne'er-do-well? Do you see a loser? Do you see a victim? Do you see a disappointment? Do you see one who is always letting people down? Do you see one who is unlovable? Do you see a reject? Do you see a nobody? 

 If we are honest, we all have seen ourselves at some point in our lives like the aforementioned. Often we just bury these feelings. Or we just ignore them when things get better in our circumstances. The enemy subtly reinforces these negatives through the prayers we pray and the worship we bring to our Father.

 The truth is it is not God-honoring worship to debase and diminish ourselves before our Father. God paid a high premium for our lives. He gave His only Son to ransom us from death and the enemy. Jesus and the Finished Work redeemed, restored and recreated us, righteous, holy, forgiven and totally accepted and cleansed. It's only true worship when we uplift and exalt with thanksgiving, our Father for what He's done in the New Creation and New Covenant.

 Prior to my own personal Grace Revolution, my Grace awakening, the Father opened my eyes. The Lord revealed this area of our worth in Christ. In fact, this truth of our worth in Christ is what brought me to a true understanding of salvation and relationship with my Father.

 Having been raised in the church, I heard the gospel and accepted Christ at a young age. Now I didn't capitalize Gospel like I usually do because the gospel I heard was only partially good news. Yes, Christ died for me but certainly, clauses were attached to salvation. Now I am not saying they outright said salvation is by Grace through Faith plus your works but that was the subtle message. 

 Often times the message in youth meetings was to stay away from "R" rated films and steer clear from that Rock and Roll music. All the while I was never shown the power of a relationship with our Father. I was never shown just how much He loved me. 

 Yet right before my Military service began, a Pastor named Stan had come on staff at the church my family attended. Stan was a nice fellow. Let me tell you the impact of his message. If it wasn't for Stan I am not sure if I would have really grown in my walk. 

 During the mid-week meetings, the church offered classes on different subjects. Just so happen Pastor Stan was teaching a class and I attended that night. It totally changed my life. He taught that God loved me. I mean sincerely loved me. That God doesn't invest in a flop, he doesn't make junk. In other words, Stan was teaching God's unconditional love, and how He saw me. For the first time in my life, I saw I had value in the sight of the Most High.

 This totally transformed my life. I saw I had value. I had worth. Nobody could take that away. I had a confidence birthed in me that has grown stronger the more I see just how worthy God has made me. 

  Stand fast in this Grace, especially against this subtle opponent of unworthiness. This enemy is constantly seeking to diminish our effectiveness in the Body of Christ. It causes us to look continually at our failures, our misdeeds, our sins, and shortcomings. 

 When we grasp the reality of the New Creation, our perfect righteousness, our total acceptance with our Father God this enemy will be broken off our lives. We eradicate these unworthy concepts in our thinking when we remind ourselves of His once for all sacrifice in the Finished Work, how His blood has cleansed us and made us holy once for all time.

 In summation, don't look for your approval, your acceptance, your value, or worth outside of Christ and His Finished Work. The World, the fleshly sensual thinking, and the enemy promises fame, fortune, and love but only leave you broken, beaten down and in misery. In Christ alone is found worth, love, and acceptance. His Grace and Finished Work made it all possible.   
 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net