Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reclaiming Grace: Grace and Truth

17 For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 AMPC

Grace and truth. Is there a division or distinction between the two? Can you have one without the other? In some circles, it seems the two oppose one another. To some, it seems Grace and truth are two opposites. 

 The idea presented is Grace is good news but brace for the bad news, we must now unveil the truth. You're forgiven but not really. You're eternally saved but it's not truly eternal. On the other extreme, Grace seems like it was designed to oppose the truth. Grace becomes simply a justification for slothfulness or poor choices.

The reality is Grace and truth are on the same plane. They go together. We can't have one without the other. Grace and truth came by Jesus. It isn't truth with some Grace to balance the hard stuff. It isn't Grace with just the truth as we fabricate it. Grace and truth flowing together are, in fact, good news.

 What is Grace? It is the undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor of God. It is God, in His mercy, stooping down to spiritually dead, rebellious, unloving humanity and making up the difference. It is Him showing us loving kindness even though we could never earn or merit it. It is God becoming a man and paying our debt in full with much more to spare. It is Him receiving the full penalty for our transgressions. The pure and innocent taking the place of the guilty. It is the unconditional love and goodness of God manifested in the person of Grace, our Lord Jesus Christ.

 What is truth? Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, so let Him define it. Jesus defined truth as the Word of God. Interestingly, Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus is Grace. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is Grace and truth!

 A Grace revolution has spread throughout the Earth freeing the masses. Saint and sinner alike are hearing and responding to the good news. The saints are throwing off the shackles of dead works. The sinner has forsaken his former nature and embraced the invitation of Grace and received new life. What an exciting time to be alive. 

 Yet in this wonderful excitement, we who know the truth of Grace must remain vigilant. The enemy stirs up opposition. Tradition wishes to stake a claim on Grace. Their mantra is Jesus plus something. Deception wishes to stake a claim on Grace seeking strongly to pervert the message. This is why we must reclaim Grace. In order to accomplish this, the first thing we must do is defend the truth.

In Defense of the Truth

 There is a popular social media meme with a supposed quote by St Augustine. It states "the truth is like a lion; you don't have to defend it; let it loose; it will defend itself." Countless times I have witnessed this popular quote bandied about on various social media posts. I've seen many people cheer this sentiment. The problem? Well, this theory or philosophy is clearly contrary to Scripture.

 This concept has never set right with me. While in meditation in prayer the Lord spoke to my heart concerning this sentiment. He said if truth has no need to be defended then rip out the entire book of Galatians from your Bible. 

 The reality is, people, champion this sentiment because they've become like a politician. What will produce the most votes if you will? What will procure the most likes from social media posts? What will boost my following or popularity? Won't hold an opinion on anything, or just won't share it publicly with others, that could potentially jeopardize my popularity or turn away my devotees. 

 If truth needs defending, then this means the truth can be perverted. It means the truth can be distorted. It means the truth can be subverted. If this were so, then people would at some point need to take a stand one way or the other. They would actually have to take one side over another. This isn't ideal for those looking to please all people, or garner a large following.

 I know some would be quick to shout just preach Jesus, everything will take care of itself. Is that so? I guess Paul didn't just preach Jesus enough because the church in Galatia was falling from Grace embracing a performance based faith after already hearing Paul preach Jesus. The unpopular reality is truth needs to be defended.

Let's see how the Apostle of Grace Paul feels about the truth. Does it need to be defended?
For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. Philippians 1:7 NASB (Emphasis mine)

16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; Philippians 1:16 NASB (Emphasis mine) 
 Paul the Apostle of Grace seems to feel the truth needs some defending. Maybe this was just his personal view of ministry. Did he teach this to others as the way they should minister?
He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error]. Titus 1:9 AMPC

 Hear what the Apostle of Grace Paul is saying. We must encourage and exhort the people with the truth. We also must defend the truth from those who oppose it. We must be able to show the wayward where they err. We must not shrink back in fear of losing a crowd or not pleasing everyone, but with boldness proclaim the truth in love but also confront and refute the error and lies the enemy tries to sow into the minds of the unlearned or deceived. To be clear, the devil and his lies and deception are the real enemies, not flesh and blood.

  Now, this is no way means that Paul intended for us to quarrel constantly amongst ourselves as believers. It does mean that it is ok to take a stand for truth. It does mean it is ok under Grace for believers to actually have an opinion or God forbid hold to a particular point of view. (On a side note, let me say we should stay at peace if, at all possible, with others, but it is acceptable under Grace to hold to a political, or social or economic viewpoint and to actually express your opinion without throwing stones.)

 What the Word of God is saying when we teach the truth we should minister encouragement. We share the good news. At the same time, we should also bring correction to error and deception. Because we love the family of God we don't want deception to overtake them. 

 Now that we've seen truth is to be defended, we can begin reclaiming Grace. We can relinquish any works or performance-based concepts or teachings trying to oppose the truth. We can, by sticking with clear Scripture, defend the Grace Gospel from deceptive error. 

 In fact, the Lord revealed to me the message of Grace falls upon three types of hearers. I will address these types in the next few posts. Stay tuned for these informative messages. Once we are complete with this brief study we will be further equipped with Grace and truth and will be able to further spread this glorious Grace Revolution even more effectively.  
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Secure in Grace: Saved by Grace Through Faith and Our Endurance?

And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:4-5 TLB

  Sensing the strong leading of His Spirit we're continuing in our study of our security in Grace. My prayer and hope for so many are that they'd see the vital importance of the eternal security of the believer. For certain though this is an extremely controversial topic.

Anger, Opposition, and Objections

 I've received much positive feedback from this series. Still, others have not responded with enthusiasm. Some vehemently reject the notion of an eternally secure salvation in Christ. Why is this? 

 I believe one major obstacle Christians need to overcome is the rightly dividing of the Word of God. When we rightly divide the Word, we aren't just referencing distinguishing between Law and Grace or the Old and New Covenant. We are also referencing what is being said in context, to whom is the speaker addressing, and discerning the many admonitions and warnings given in Scripture.

 You see to the immature mind, Scripture seems only to point towards a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. They don't see the Scriptures admonishing believers to mature and walk out practically what has already occurred inwardly. If they see a warning or admonition it can only mean one thing, you better straighten up or you're out.

 For instance, Paul admonished us not to live sinfully in various places. John warns against association with false teachers. Peter warns about following false teachers. Study these admonitions and warnings in context. 

 You'll find Paul's admonishment against sinful living was because it's contrary to our new nature, who's we are, and the fact that God desires that we not be entangled in bondage to anything. John's warning is to keep us from being deceived and led astray. Peter's admonition serves to warn us that if we follow after false teachers our lives will be worse off then before we got saved. 

 None of these warnings and admonitions have anything to do with a loss of salvation. Hold it brother, didn't Paul say many will depart from the faith? Didn't he state he kept his body under severe discipline lest after he preached to others he would be a castaway or one who is lost? 

 Glad you mentioned that. In 1 Timothy 4 Paul does say some will depart from the faith. I acknowledge that this is referencing believers. Does this passage suggest though a loss of salvation? Again, rightly divide the warning. To depart means you're going somewhere. In context, Paul is referencing believers who depart truth and embrace error. Some believers have embraced erroneous theology or ideas and practices. Take note this passage mentions dietary rules. One can easily see Paul is saying some are rejecting a righteousness by faith and embracing a righteousness established by works and religious practices.  

 As for being a castaway, Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 mentions physical discipline. Was he saying I better be perfect because I share the Gospel? Because if not I will forfeit my salvation? Again not every admonition is about Heaven and Hell. He was simply stating because I share the Gospel I want to be an effective witness and not be a stumbling block by living foolishly or immorally.

Endurance, Holding Fast, Soft Heart, Conditions to Stay Saved?

 I really sensed the need to establish the truth about how to rightly divide the Word in order to bring clarity to the conditional salvation so many cling to. Some Christians object to eternal security and instead prefer a conditions-based, hope so salvation. They see passages referencing overcoming, enduring, continue in, holding fast and attribute to them conditions to maintain and retain one's salvation. Or they conjure up the concept that endurance to the end proves one was really saved. This is God starting salvation but us perfecting it by our persevering rather than God and His Grace preserving us till the end.

 Hebrews 3, Revelation 2, Matthew 10 and Matthew 24 all reference holding fast, overcoming or enduring. The traditional view of these passages has birthed two confusions in the minds of believers as I just referenced. Salvation is conditional, either overcome and endure or you're lost. (A variation of this is that sinning too much hardens your heart and will cause you to loosen your grip and you will be lost.) The second as mentioned before, us persevering to the end to prove we were truly saved. These two ideas are erroneous because they leave the believer fearing loss and never fully assured of their salvation. In essence, they both promote an eternal insecurity. 

Allow me to briefly bring light to these passages. To properly understand them context and who is being addressed is key. When Jesus spoke of enduring to the end to be saved, He was referencing the persecution believers would face and the calamities and opposition to come to the Nation of Israel at a future date. The salvation He spoke of was physical deliverance, not eternal salvation. Hebrews was admonishing the unbelieving Jews who heard the true Gospel hold fast to that truth and act on it. For those who've received the Gospel hold fast because Jesus has already procured triumphant victory and you won't experience the benefits if you aren't resting in Christ alone.

 In the book of Revelation Jesus speaks of overcoming. Some see Him also warning of removing lampstands and fear this is talking about a loss of salvation. Nothing can be further from the truth. The lampstand reference is talking about a church's influence, not their eternal salvation. As for overcoming to receive life and not having our names blotted out of the book of life, John already gave us the insight to what overcoming really means and who these overcomers are. John said in his epistle that the overcomer is the one who believes in Jesus

 So is our salvation by Grace through faith and our endurance, overcoming or holding fast? No! If so then eternal life isn't eternal but temporal. You're saved so long as you remain enduring. Religion likes to put the focus on self and human abilities. It seemingly seeks for a "look at me Jesus, I helped sustain my salvation" "award, ribbon or trophy" when they get to Heaven. This is why they can't seem to grasp the New Covenant. They keep trying to add self, conduct, ability to endure, hold fast or continue to the New Covenant. This is why God found fault with the first Covenant. Mankind was never able to fulfill their part.

 In this New Covenant, we don't have a part to play. Jesus played our part already. The Covenant was cut and sealed between the Father and the Son. Our only "work" is simply to believe. To better understand our eternal salvation, we need to look to the Scriptures that specifically address our salvation. 
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”  John 10:28-30 NKJV
This is clear, it is not obscure. We who've received Christ are forever secure in our Father's hands. 

 So in summation, is salvation conditional? Is it obtained, maintained and retained by our endurance? By our continuing? By our holding on tight? No! It is clear Jesus and our good Father is holding onto us and they have sworn they will never let go. Salvation is by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is not Grace plus our works or self-efforts or behavior or performance or steadfastness. Rest and stay in peace we are forever in Grace's secure grip. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Secure in Grace: But What if I...Walk away?...What if I cease believing?

And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:4-5 TLB

  I sense the leading of the Lord to continue in this study of our eternal security in Grace. To walk in triumphant victory and assurance it is essential to know and understand we are forever secure in Him. We've already seen the utmost importance of believing and receiving this essential truth of our redemption. Perhaps though you may find yourself asking why continue studying this truth? 

 What does it really matter? It's of utmost importance because often times our good Father has us studying redemption truths, not just for ourselves. There are many of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters who struggle with their eternal security. They have yet to receive and understand this truth. The more we study and gain a better understanding of His Grace, the better equipt we are to share this good news of Grace when the Lord opens doors of opportunity.

But What If I...

 This is the greatest obstacle that causes so many Christians to stumble concerning His great Grace. These four words, "but what if I...". The reason this is such a stumbling block is because we as believers continue to add ourselves to the equation. We continue to try to add ourselves and our performance in this New Covenant. 

 As one hailing from a Word of Faith Charismatic background I have seen this practiced all too often. I recall attending a conference around four years ago. The minister was sharing about receiving healing or any particular need from the Father. The issue I saw, as the Lord opened my eyes, was that the minister put many stipulations upon us for receiving. These conditions found their true roots in putting self back into the equation. 

 You see the New Covenant was cut between God the Father and Christ Jesus the Son. Nowhere in this New Covenant are we or our performance added to ensure it functions properly. The root cause of not understanding eternal security and the entirety of the New Covenant is because we so often want to add ourselves to the equation. 

 What actually procured our eternal salvation? Was it our conduct or ability to remain steadfast in faith? No! It was the sinless Savior's virgin birth, perfect life, substitutionary death, triumphant resurrection and glorious ascension that forever secured our redemption. That Cross was enough!  

 For some, though, the Cross is merely the "entryway" into salvation, but our performance and efforts and achievements are the "real" root of our salvation. The Cross isn't the once for all sacrifice that purchased our eternal redemption. It was merely the divine down payment. Our achievements and ability to remain steadfast in the faith are the real payment and it isn't once for all time. It's payments collected by the week!

 12 And he has entered once and forever into the Holiest Sanctuary of All, not with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the sacred blood of his own sacrifice. And he alone has made our salvation secure forever!  Hebrews 9:12 TPT

 His blood is enough. It paid the ultimate price, and it's an eternal payment that forever took away sin and death and procured our eternal redemption. You may be thinking, ok I get it, His blood paid the price. What about the original question? Can one leave their salvation? Surely, you can't lose it but come on, you can leave it, right?

 This is where the disconnect occurs. We see His eternal blood pay for our sins and transgressions but don't see and celebrate it's keeping and cleansing power. His divine shed blood perfectly paid the price for our eternal redemption.

 If we can just walk away or forfeit salvation then our redemption isn't eternal but temporal. We aren't sealed until the day of redemption but rather sealed until the day we decide to walk away. It would be amusing if it wasn't so sad, the religious mind is always looking for loopholes and ways out of eternal redemption. 

 Does this make Grace some kind of "bondage" because we can't exercise "free will" to jump out of His hands? Again, this is a faulty concept because it keeps adding us to the equation. Free will isn't even in the equation. Can your offspring, no matter how much free will they exercise, alter their DNA? Of course not. Once in Christ, we are His offspring, we have Christ's DNA within if you will.

 We can't walk away or leave our salvation. The first reason is obvious, He said He'd never leave or forsake us. So if we walked away He'd be right there along side us. Secondly, what happened when we were saved? We heard the good news of Grace. We exercised our free will by faith, to receive a new heart, a new life, to be adopted into His Family, to exchange our filthy rags righteousness with His perfect righteousness. By placing our trust in Him and Him alone for salvation we freely acknowledged we are no longer our own, we were bought with a price. 

 So we see we are not in the salvation equation. He will never leave us. We are not our own. Our wounded soul or deceived mind may renounce fellowship but our new creation heart will never renounce Jesus. What if I stopped believing? 

 Well, once you're saved by faith, how much faith does it take to stay saved? What must you do to build up and maintain this level of faith? If we must maintain our faith, then we are walking in a works and performance rooted faith that will always fall short and produce eventual burn out.

 Ministers, Pastors, and Teachers may spit fire from the pulpit, "prophecy" on stage, lift passages out of their settings to try and establish that as a believer you can renounce or walk away from salvation. Lay aside that fear and condemnation. If you have put your heart trust in Christ alone at any point in your life then you belong to Him. You're His child, and He hasn't forgotten you and you're safe and secure in His loving, Gracious hands. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Secure in Grace: Graceful Journeys

And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:4-5 TLB

 Eternal security is a highly controversial topic in the Body of Christ. There exist believers that resist this wonderful good news of God's Grace. So how does one come to know and understand and receive this too good to be true but true good news?

My Graceful Journey

 I would like to briefly share with you, my own journey to understanding the Grace of God. When it comes to growing in our spiritual walk and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, there exist times when only His intervention will bring about development in our spiritual understanding. 

 Plainly speaking, there exist truths of our redemption in Christ that our finite minds just cannot grasp. A great example of this is seen in Mark's Gospel where Jesus heals the leper. If you study this passage you notice a chain of events. The leper has a question. His faith and understanding of Christ couldn't move past that question mark. Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched him. Nothing happened. It was only after Jesus answered this question that the barrier was removed and the leper received his healing.

 In our spiritual development in Christ, there exist questions. We have barriers that tradition and religion have infused into our thinking. We also have an observe and react theology. I will elaborate on this detail later.

 For example, I couldn't seem to receive the redemptive truth that God is always good, and isn't the author of tragedies until I had the question, "what about Job?" answered. I had an observe and react theology. I observed people not receiving healing and reacted by not believing in His goodness. It was only when the Lord opened my understanding, to see from the Scriptures, that God didn't afflict Job that I could heartily embrace His all the time goodness.

  The same is true of His Grace. I could readily see His Grace from the Word. I could hear it being taught from some ministries. Yet I knew, if I accept Grace it has to mean you have to receive the truth of eternal security. Grace and eternal security are inseparable truths. They are so obviously linked. Yet because of my Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition and my observe and react theology, I rejected Grace.

 I'd observe believers who would attend worship on Sunday and on Monday they were out in public smoking a cigarette. I would then react saying to myself, "no way they are sincerely saved!" Of course, I was not tempted by tobacco nor was I addicted to nicotine. Such self-righteous arrogance on my part. 

 My journey took a right turn when I began listening to Pastor Joseph Prince many years ago. The truth of the Gospel was setting me free in my thinking. It was glorious until I discovered he taught once saved always saved. I was furious. I vowed to never listen to him again. 

 Father God has a good sense of humor and at my work site, there was a believer who knew the truth of eternal security. He challenged my faith and thinking. Finally, I repented or changed my mind. I discovered some messages on eternal security from Pastor Prince. I finally stopped resisting and ceased listening with tradition-bound spiritual ears. Once I clearly saw this beautiful Gospel truth the floodgates of Grace cascaded over my heart and mind. 

A Brother's Graceful Journey

 I would also like to share the testimony of a brother in Christ in his Grace awakening. I've known this brother in Christ for seventeen years. We met while attending the same church. While this church shared some good truths on redemption they flatly rejected the Grace Gospel in its fullness.

 For the purpose of not naming him publicly, I will refer to him as brother Rich from this point forward. Brother Rich and I got along very well from early on. We shared some similar interests. One thing we've always enjoyed, to the annoyance of those closest to us, is the continued need to debate any and every topic imaginable.  Once I received Grace we debated continually, without resolution, the eternal security of the believer.

 The truth about debate though is many times we are having a discourse on issues in the abstract. We are arguing facts and figures and what if scenarios and not actually addressing real situations. So my brother would oppose me on this Grace understanding. He too would have a observe and react theology. 

 However, his observe and react theology often times was from an abstract what if scenario. What if a believer did this? What if they walked away? What if a believer became corrupted? No matter the response he'd have another scenario or say he partially agreed but with a stipulation. Recall what I mentioned earlier about needing divine intervention in seeing the truth. There exist redemptive truths that only God can reveal or open your eyes too from the Word. 

 My friend heard me tell him the good news of Grace. I told him our salvation was eternally secure. Yet it seemed my words were like water sliding off a duck's back. It seemed brother Rich just couldn't receive or accept this truth. It wasn't until a situation arose that the debate we had in the abstract actually translated into the here and now. Not saying God ordained or created the situation but He did use it to reveal the truth.

 Calamity had struck the community where he lived. A young man's life was cut tragically short. Brother Rich knew this young man. Brother Rich had taught him when he was but a boy in children's ministry. The issue was this young man had left the ministry that had rejected the Grace of God in its fullness. Religious systems had left this young man feeling empty and cheated. He turned to drugs and other empty things this World offers to dull that sting and pain Graceless tradition imposed upon him. Brother Rich was now forced to ask the question what of the eternal destiny of this young man?

 The Lord was right there in His loving mercy and goodness with the answer. He took Brother Rich to the story of John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John , we see John clearly state his belief that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the promised Messiah. This was in the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Yet as time progressed, John sends messengers to Jesus, asking if He was the promised Messiah? What happened to John? He was experiencing a crisis of faith. Yet, we don't see Jesus disowning or forsaking him. 

 Brother Rich's eyes were opened. Just like John the Baptist, this young man had a crisis of faith. He hadn't rejected Jesus but religion. He had placed his trust in Christ as a boy. Jesus doesn't let go, His Grace is eternal. Brother Rich called me and shared what the Lord revealed and we rejoiced about this good news of Grace. He now sees a believer can't be corrupted. A believer is born again of incorruptible seed. He now sees and celebrates the truth of eternal security.

 It is so clear. Why would Jesus suffer shame, shed His precious blood and die for a redemption that isn't sure and secure? It meant so much to God to possess our heart. Why would God be so quick to forsake or turn away from those who are experiencing a crisis of faith or belief? 

 This good news of Grace is made real when we come to know and understand our eternally secure salvation. Our salvation isn't dependent upon our goodness or moral excellence. It isn't resting on our ability to remain steadfast and unwavering. Christianity is not a probationary relationship with our good Father. Celebrate His faithfulness and Grace today.