A Radical Grace based, encouraging, never discouraging, blog proclaiming His all the time goodness. Come discover The Father's lasvish love for you today! This site is dedicated to proclaiming the Hyper/Radical Grace Gospel of Jesus Christ, His unconditional love and everlasting mercy!
Caution, this blog may make you rethink your traditional religious understanding of the Bible. It will help you fall more radically in love with a loving and gracious Father!
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV
We've begun a new series focusing on the great Grace of Almighty God. In our last study, we saw that Grace is truly great because of the Cross and Finished Work. That His Grace is greater than performance based religion.
Today I sense the impression to focus on an area of life that we all have experienced. I want to address a subject that directly affects our lives. Before we do though I need to briefly make some qualifying statements so that I am not misunderstood.
Let's talk about sin
As a preacher of Grace, the subject of sin is something that is often discussed. Mainly because some seem to think Radical Grace or Hyper-Grace is some type of philosophy that winks at sin or says we love sin and can't wait to indulge in it as much as possible. The charge that Grace is a license to sin is an overused label. Grace is what frees us from sin not what brings us into it more!
Why avoid sin? Because we don't want to be a poor witness to others, we want all to come and experience this beautiful new life in Christ. Sin is not fun as some have said. Yea it may seem pleasurable to the senses but we aren't governed by our senses, we are new creations under Grace. Sin is contrary to who we truly are inwardly.
Having established that Grace isn't some weekend pass to indulge in sin we can now address an area that we are all too familiar with. I want to address the area of our failures. We all know under Grace sin has no dominion over us. Yet, we have all experienced those times when we were overcome. We blew it. We failed miserably.
We have all been there. We blew the budget, buying those new shoes or making some other type of impulse purchase. We messed up our diet by eating the cake or the cookie. We lost another job. We really screwed up, we visited that website again. Or we shattered trust and brought pain and betrayed our spouse by engaging in adultery. Is there any hope? Is it all over? Do we throw in the towel?
Grace is Greater!
I have some good Gospel news. Grace is greater. We have yet to reach the full depths of His great Grace. His great Grace will find you at your lowest and clean you up, build you up, cheer you up and stir you up. He will remind you of your true identity. He won't run to you to beat you down and belittle you for your failures. His great Grace will renew your strength and put you back on the right path.
Now I am not saying God is going to simply wink at sin and nudge Jesus and say "Oh well, boys will be boys." or "I understand it's not your fault, you're just a girl who is misunderstood." Sometimes our failures hurt others. Sometimes we do some serious damage to our reputation. What I am saying is there is always hope. That God and His Grace are far greater than all our mistakes and foul-ups.
When we fail or falter or fall, we should run to Jesus not run from Him. When we run to Him, He brings healing and wholeness. Just owning up to our failures bring so much healing and redemption to the situation. A repentant man or one who has changed his thinking can bring great restoration to any situation or relationship.
Now when we know how loved and valued we are pride melts away. We don't have to be too proud to admit our weakness and imperfections. Now I am not saying become sin conscious or failure minded or embrace some lowly mindset about yourself. Let me illustrate what I mean by talking about myself.
I lack patience sometimes when I drive. I often get upset at the way some people drive. I many times feel the need to respond to a social media article or post that I disagree with. I debate theology and politics at times. Sometimes I find myself wanting to show them just how wrong they are. Oh here is the big one, sometimes I argue with my wife. I just shared some of my shortcomings and imperfections.
No pride, no need to prove how right I am to have these things in my life. Note also that I am not denying my new nature or perfect righteousness in Christ. Just revealing I am still maturing into who I am already inwardly.
What I truly sense the Lord impressing about failures is not to deny that we have shortcomings but also not to just give up when we falter. The biggest takeaway from this study I want to impart is that it is never over. It isn't too late. No one has gone too far. There is no limit to His far-reaching Grace.
When we blow it we feel the weight of our failure. We often times don't want to interact or fellowship with our Father God. In reality, what we are feeling is that we aren't worthy enough to be in His presence. What Grace does is reveal His great work of redemption and the Finished Work. That He has made us worthy and secured our righteousness once for all time.
John Mark had departed Paul early on in the work. He failed Paul and Barnabas. Perhaps the young man was frightened by the persecution or maybe he allowed some other distraction to cloud his judgment. We don't know, but we do know is he deserted Paul. He failed. Is this the end of his story? Did God write him off? Did God say you've quit, you've crossed the line? No, God's great Grace finished writing the story of John Mark's life.
Barnabas took John Mark with him, even though he didn't deserve it. Barnabas invested in his life. What is the end result?
11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.2 Timothy 4:11 NKJV
John Mark, going by Mark now, has proven to be a profitable minister. He experienced God's great Grace. His failure wasn't the final word. His ministry was profitable and reliable. God turned it all around. In fact, scholars tell us it was John Mark who wrote the gospel of Mark. If you study the Gospel of Mark you see the wonder-working power of Christ Jesus. It stands to reason that God would appoint Mark to record the Gospel of signs and wonders and miracles. He had seen and experienced the wonder-working life changing, power of God firsthand.
It isn't over. If you have breath in your lungs it isn't too late. You haven't gone too far. His great Grace far exceeds our faults and failures. You can't exhaust His Grace. No matter how many times you fail, get back up and embrace the wonderful, majestic and life altering love of God and His great Grace. His Grace is searching for you, His great Grace is looking for you. He can turn any situation around and bring wholeness, redemption and full restoration. His Grace is far greater than we can fathom. image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV I sensed the impression of the Lord to begin a new study on the Radical Grace of God. The objective of this study is to come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of Just how amazing His Grace truly is. This is the foundational question. Just how great is His Grace? Look at our text for this study. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV
This is a beautiful passage of Scripture. The Apostles at this time were the very ones who were witness to the crucifixion and resurrection. The Apostles saw, interacted and fellowshipped with the resurrected Christ. They were now facing persecution and were subjects in an oppressive Government, the Roman Empire. Yet in the midst of these circumstances and conditions, they had been so impacted by the Lord Jesus Christ they were determined to share this good news of the Gospel of Grace whatever the consequences. With the power of God in them and upon them and flowing through them they were empowered and emboldened to preach the Gospel. The Word records that Grace was upon them. Not just Grace but great Grace. So just how great is Grace in your life or spiritual worldview?
What is the one indicator that Grace isn't great in your eyes?
We as believers can discuss and dialogue and even debate certain points of view from the Scriptures. Healing, Spiritual gifts, methods of water baptism etc. The one thing we can't debate or alter or disregard is the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. It is only by Grace we are even granted access into this new life in Christ. So is there a simple indicator or clue that we haven't really seen or accepted just how great this Grace truly is? Yes.
Still more to do.
If this sentiment is added to the end of any sentence concerning redemption then yes it is clear Grace isn't great in your eyes. If we feel that the work is undone in any way, we have not yet fully grasped His Grace. Let me be honest and transparent. I am still grasping just how great His Grace is. Unlike the average person, I have encountered and had to manage and supervise the worst this fallen World has produced. I've dealt with heartless murderers and rapists. There is even a recent report of a brutal gang rape of a minor in a High School here in the United States. I am appalled and outraged at such brutality. Yet God's Grace is so much greater than this evil.
His Grace can heal the heart and every wound of this precious child who was so brutalized. Now, this is what still humbles me and makes me stand in awe of His love, but His great Grace can also change the very hearts of the vicious perpetrators of this act. His Grace has unconditional love, the offering of mercy, total forgiveness, complete wholeness and redemption to even the worst of humanity. This Grace is so much greater than my own human capacity to love and forgive. Yet in the face of this great Grace far too many are willing to place restraints and limits on this Grace.
Unleash His Grace!
We have allowed religion and mixture of Law and Grace and blending of the Old and New Covenant to figuratively put restraints and a leash on His Grace. The still more to do mantra is a subtle wrong thinking pattern that creeps into our thoughts. It manifests so subtly and easily located by our words.
"Jesus' work is finished but your work has just begun."
"God has His part and you have yours."
"Holiness is what you do."
The still more to do mantra means we believe something is greater than Grace. Our performance, our commitment, our obedience is deemed greater than Grace. What else is greater than Grace?
To some sin is so much greater than His Grace. If we say that person sinned away their salvation or blessing, then we are saying Grace is not greater than sin or our deeds. Disobedience is greater than Grace to some. They seem to believe disobedience will disqualify us from receiving from Him. This thinking pattern is indicative of one who really believes the source of blessings and favor is our performance and ability to follow the rules perfectly. The source of all blessing, healing, favor and peace is Christ alone. It is His obedience on our behalf that secured all the goodness of God. We receive by resting in Christ's Finished Work, not our abilities. It is His blessings, His goodness received that causes us to repent or change our thinking. His goodness leads us from disobedience to obedience, not blessings and favor withheld. His Grace is so much greater than even we can grasp in our finite minds. We need to unleash His Grace from the shackles of tradition and wrong thinking. His Grace is greater than we can even imagine. The moment we think we've seen it all, His great Grace appears and astonishes us with His amazing splendor and everlasting love and goodness.
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
In the recent weeks, we've been engaged in a brief study of the vital relationship between Grace and truth. We've seen the significance of defending the truth from error and traditions of men. There is another area of truth we need to establish. We as believers who've been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus must live the truth. What exactly do I mean by living the truth? Living the truth isn't a state of perfection. It's a state of mind, that we will remain faithful to the truth we know and understand. It's not altering behavior to please people or religious traditions. I'm not advocating we be rude to others or use our liberty and freedom as a stumbling block to others. I am only stating the importance of walking in the truth we know and understand. Peter and Paul's interaction in Galatians 2 is a perfect illustration of this. Peter was the first to see that God had invited all, Jew and gentile, to receive the free gift of Grace. He had the truth revealed. He knew and understood it. Yet under pressure to please men and to conform to religious traditions, he chose not to live out the truth he'd been revealed. He chose not to eat with the gentile believers. Paul understood what it meant to live the truth. He didn't allow tradition or the pressure to please people to determine how he should live. He chose to walk out the truth he'd been revealed. He rightly rebuked Peter for embracing tradition. This is a clear illustration of the vital relationship of Grace and Truth. Grace is the Gospel. The truth is God's Word. The two are inseparable.
Three hearers of Grace:
As we've been studying Grace and Truth I've shared what the Lord revealed to me about the message of Grace. That the message of Grace falls on three different types of hearers. The first is the legalist. The second is the foolish. The third hearer of the message of Grace is the receiver. This is the one who hears the truth of God's amazing over the top good news of Radical Grace with a good and honest heart.
Three words could best sum up each of these hearers. Do. The legalist is all about the doing. It's the Martha vs Mary syndrome. Do more, do it a certain way. Don't, is the word best describing the foolish. Don't pray, that's works. Don't give, that would be an attempt to earn something. Don't read your Bible or attend a church that's performance. Don't be so close-minded, allow the philosophies of inclusion or universalism to be taught alongside the Gospel. Done. That word describes the receivers.
Done. It is done. This concept alludes so many religious people. Jesus finished the Work on that Cross. Tradition says sure Jesus work is finished but yours has just begun. No surprise as to why so many have burned out on dead works religion. It is done. Jesus completed the Work, we rest in His Finished Work and live out of that reality. The Word of God is complete, we don't add enticing words of men's wisdom to the message or the Word.
The Clear Good News Gospel of Grace
Over the last few weeks, we've seen the need to reclaim Grace. Tradition and error have staked their claim against the clear message of Grace. To conclude this study I sense it best to reclaim the truth of His Grace by sharing just what the good news of Grace is and to bask in its spiritual refreshing. Simply Saved Having heard the good news we simply place our trust in Christ alone and we are saved for eternity. Religion says no, in order to be saved one must repent and commit to Christ's Lordship and determine to not engage in sin again. What rubbish. Am I saying that we should sin or not commit to Christ? Certainly not. What I am saying is to be born again all one must do is simply believe. Is there a place for repentance? Sure, but it's the true meaning of the word. When we hear the good news we change our minds about doing things our own way. We change our thinking about Jesus Christ. We realize our need for Him and simply trust in Him. This Lordship Salvation model is all too often practiced in most churches. This is the starting point of a performance-based relationship with God. God isn't our good Father and Jesus isn't our loving Savior and best friend. God is our taskmaster we must submit to. Under Grace we understand He committed to us, so we commit to Him by not trusting in works or performance or any Law keeping to maintain my salvation and relationship. Relationship We are born again and redeemed unto a loving everlasting relationship. It is a relationship not rooted in rules or regulations. It is a relationship rooted in His Finished Work and never in our performance. Tradition makes it seem as if God gets so displeased with us because we don't live up to our end of the bargain. First the bargain wasn't made with us. God and Jesus cut the New Covenant between themselves. We are beneficiaries of this Covenant. It isn't based on us, or our goodness or faithfulness. Accepted The concept that those in Christ have perfect acceptance can be mind boggling. This means when you have a need, or a burden weighing you down, or experiencing a trial or temptation or just have a broken heart that you don't go through some ritual to come to your Father. It means we always have His attention. We don't do anything but call upon His name. He is always with us and will never leave us. He will never say to you, "Why can't you be like brother or sister so and so over there?" "They never foul up like you." "You're a failure." "Well, you have a long way to go before I'll be pleased with you." These are the words of performance rooted philosophies. You are accepted in the Beloved and He rejoices over you with joy. 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NKJV Forgiven How exciting and liberating the good news is that we are totally forgiven in Christ. The enemy, condemnation, and religion relish in reminding us of our failures and shortcomings and sins. When we know just how forgiven we are those words slide off of us like water off a duck's back. Christ and His Finished Work and redeeming shed blood purchased our total forgiveness. We are forgiven of all our sins Past and present and Future. That is good news! 14 who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins. Colossians 1:14 TLB Loved This is the scandal of Grace. God loves lost, fallen and rebellious humanity. While we were His enemies in our actions, thoughts, and words He sent His own Son to pay the full price for our sins and transgression. The Father so longed for a family He sowed His own Son to reap a Family. This is the greatest love story ever told. Hollywood hasn't got anything on the Gospel. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins 1 John 4:9-10 NKJV God so loves us He adopted us into His Family. By faith, we are the children of God. The good news is God will never be angry with you. God isn't mad at you, even when you fail. God is our good Father who loves us eternally. Secure Once in Grace always in Grace. We have an eternally secure salvation in Him. It strikes me as really odd that God would send us His Son and put on Him all the punishment and wrath for every sin and rebellion that will ever be committed, investing in complete redemption, only to have salvation rooted in the abilities of men to maintain it. Jesus bore that shame of the Cross for the joy set before Him. We were that joy. The joy of restored relationship with God by Grace through faith alone. God wouldn't stake this restoration on the mere ability of mankind. People forget the Old Covenant was based upon the abilities of men. That could never work. So God cut the New Covenant between Himself. You can't get more eternally secure than God making a Covenant with Himself. This is the Gospel. The Gospel is the Grace of God. This is reclaiming Grace. We must defend this truth from the schemes of the enemy. We must speak the truth of this Gospel even in the midst of religion and tradition. We must teach the truth in it's purity. We must live out the truth of the Gospel. We are saved, redeemed, accepted, forgiven. We are loved with the everlasting love of our Father that will never be displeased with you. We are forever secure in our Father's hands. We should never tire of hearing this good news Grace Gospel
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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 We've been in a brief study of the inseparable relationship of Grace and Truth. We've seen that Truth must be defended. There exist those who would pollute the pure stream of Grace and truth with man-made traditions and error and false philosophies of men. Therefore we must not only defend the truth we as the rescued righteous ones in the eternal loving grip of Grace, must speak the truth in love. Of course, we can only speak the truth when we are hearing the truth. That is why we must also teach the truth. Those who are in the bondage of deception who go about deceiving have staked a claim against pure Grace. We reclaim Grace by teaching only the truth!
Contrary to modern sentiment teaching the truth and only the truth isn't narrow-minded or unloving. It is in actuality being truth minded. It is being "closed minded" to error and false philosophies. We show our love when we protect the flock of God from error and wolves in sheep's clothing. Error tolerated in the midst of any ministry will cause its influence for good to weaken and wane and eventually be its downfall.
A Grace Revolution or Pseudo-grace Rebellion?
Moving like a tsunami there is currently a wave of the pure Grace of God sweeping the nation cleansing the believer's hearts and minds of tradition, tyrannical tenets of men rooted in performance, and condemnation and fear and insecurity. This is the true move of God. This is the Grace awakening or Revolution. It is a dynamic shift in our thinking and understanding and our approach to our Father God.
Grace reveals that our good Father has an everlasting love for you. That God never grows weary of you. He never tires of hearing your voice or you calling out His name. He never demands perfection of you. He doesn't measure your worth based on your achievements. He doesn't meet out the favor of God by how well you perform.
His love, affection, and kindness isn't something we can earn. There is nothing we can do that will make Him love us more. There is nothing we can do that will cause Him to love us less, or to look down upon us with disgust. Our times are in His hands.
He knew before He saved us how often we would fall, fail, reject His wisdom, or how regularly we would rebel. He saw, in the beginning, the times we would allow the flesh to dominate our thinking instead of walking out our new creation reality. Yet He still chose us, to be holy without blame before Him in love. There is no sin or failure that will catch Him off guard and make Him abandon us or trade us in for someone more faithful. This is Pure Grace! This is the true Grace Revolution. Now let's examine the false.
In our last post, we mentioned the first type of hearer of Grace. The legalist. This is the one who rejects Grace in favor of Law and tradition. The second hearer of Grace is the foolish. These are they who hear Grace but abandon the truth and embrace error and pseudo-grace. Let's begin dismantling the errors of pseudo-grace. Is Grace a license to live in sin? Does Grace make light of sin? Sadly, some folk who minister, Grace, have alluded that behavior no longer matters. Ifwe are making light of sin because of Grace that is an error. The amazing and sometimes mind-boggling truth is how free we are in Christ. Grace will reveal our true motives. You're free now what are you going to do with that freedom? Pursue sin or pursue Christ which is more profitable? Espousing a view that sin is permissible because of Grace or that behavior doesn't matter is erroneous. Is Universalism the true gospel of Grace? Universalism is the spoiled rotten fruit of dangerous deception. The enemy says don't worry how spoiled the fruit looks just eat it. The foolish hear and obey and partake of this deception. Do all roads lead to God and eternal redemption? No! Jesus declared He was the only way. Not the best way but the only way. Is faith necessary to receive redemption? Yes! 5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christhas become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 1 John 5:1 NLT 22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:22 NLT pseudo-grace proclaims the error of universal salvation apart from faith. We must reject this lie and error and teach the truth. We must defend the truth from the falsehoods and lies of the enemy. Is Inclusion, Trinitarian Theology inclusionism deeper truths of Grace? Where Universalism is the obviously spoiled fruit of the enemy, inclusion is the subtle, candy coated, deceptive error that captures many with its enticing words of men born from the very lips of the enemy. This is one of the major error of the foolish. This doctrine of pseudo-grace floods social media. In truth, this is merely reason and emotion exalted over the truth of the Word. Are all humanity in Christ apart from personal faith? No! 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13 NIV Paul the Apostle of Grace stated there were even those who were in Christ before him. Are all the children of God apart from personal faith in Christ? Again, No! 26 For you are all childrenof God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 NLT Some are children of the devil because they reject Grace. 10 So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don’t show love for one another do not belong to God. 1 John 3:10 Voice Is all of humanity righteous and possess the Spirit of God apart from personal faith and simply by virtue of the Cross? Again the answer is no!
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) Romans 8:9 NLT
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 NASB
Paul declared righteousness is by faith alone. Relinquish the lies of inclusionism. They are all rooted in serious error and are not pure Grace. They aren't just a different view point. They are deceptive erroneous philosophies birthed from our enemy satan. If you embrace them you are not embracing Grace and Truth you are cheating on Jesus and sleeping with your enemy.
Is all humanity forgiven of all their sins?
This idea is an overreach of Grace. Pseudo-grace proclaims this idea of all humanity being forgiven of all their sins. Yes, Jesus paid the price for all sins. But forgiveness still needs to be received to be activated and see the benefits.
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:47 NASB
43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43 NASB
But what about 2 Corinthians 5? This passage states God was in Christ reconciling the World. Reconciliation is a two-way street, it isn't one sided. God paid the price for all to receive. Jesus took the full penalty of all sin. Now by the change of mind and the placing of heart trust in Christ alone anyone can receive the forgiveness of sins and perpetual right standing and eternal security. The good news is the invite is available to all and no one can earn it or deserve or merit it.
What about Hell?
Hell is real and no one should want to go there! But pseudo-grace says Paul never spoke of Hell. Seems pseudo-grace misinforms once again.
9 They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of his power 2 Thessalonians 1:9 TLB
John the apostle of love spoke of Hell in revelation. The only answer for Hell is Grace. If one rejects Grace they are in essence saying, Lord, I see you paid for my sin but I don't need your provision. That person would be then trying to pay for their own sins by their own goodness and performance and not Grace. Once we trust in Christ alone we are eternally saved and forever secure. No born again child of God will be in Hell.
Is the Word of God infallible?
Pseudo-grace attacks the validity of the Scriptures because it denounces and dismisses their errors. It proves them to be false and from the enemy. There is a concentrated effort by some to delegitimize the Bible. Jesus quoted the Old Covenant to prove who He was. Paul declared the Scriptures to be God's Word.
The Word of God is what revealed the Grace of God. It is what proves we are righteous by faith and not efforts and performance. It proves we are loved and highly favored and eternally secure. Don't allow pseudo-grace to rob you of the joy of Scripture.
Up to now, we've seen two types of hearers of Grace. Legalism and foolishness. We who know the truth must reclaim Grace and garrison around the truth. The truth is never discerned and established by emotions or reason or what feels good. We must stay with Grace and Truth.
The Grace that revealed He will never leave us, and will never be angry with us. Grace and Truth keep us anchored when tradition tries to pull us back to efforts based relationship. It keeps us secure and free from error when deception speaks in our direction. In our next study, we will look at the final hearer of Grace. We will look further into pure Grace and see just how amazing Grace is.
Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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
In our last study, we saw that truth goes hand in hand with God's great Grace. There exist opposing forces who've staked a claim on Grace. We saw the vital need for defending the truth from this opposition. We saw the need to reclaim Grace.
Truth must not only be defended, but we must also speak the truth. Believers in Christ can only speak the truth in love when they are hearing the truth. Religion speaks tradition not truth. Sadly what many hear is a mixture of Grace and Law.
In fact, during a time of worship, the Lord visited me and detailed three different types of hearers of the message of Grace. Today, I will share about the first type of hearer. He spoke to my heart and revealed the first hearer of Grace is the legalist.
Legalism rejects the message of Grace. They've staked a claim against Grace. when they hear Grace and they either flat out reject it or tend to water it down. They label it Hyper-Grace and dismiss it as a form of "cheap Grace". What they have never grasped is that cheap Grace is when we water down God's perfect standards to a place where men can actually perform well enough on their own.
Grace is also cheapened when we attempt to earn or deserve God's free favors by our goodness and performance instead of by resting in the Finished Work. What then is the best way to define legalism? It's Jesus plus something. It is Jesus plus you. What Grace leads us into through a living relationship legalism twists into obligations.
The legalist has a stake against Grace because Radical Grace sets men free from religious duties into a living, vital, and loving relationship with our good Father. They may claim they too want believers to enjoy a relationship with God but they stipulate one must, of course, keep all the regulations and meet the standard obligations. What's most important with legalists is the keeping of the rules.
For instance, look at the often controversial topic of marriage and divorce. Legalists have lifted some passages out of their settings and created a whole laundry list of rules concerning divorce. I know of whole denominations who will disqualify people from serving in ministry if they've been divorced. Divorce in many circles is the unwritten unpardonable sin. The rules about divorce are strictly enforced.
One of my own relatives was in an abusive marriage. She got a divorce from this person. I recall telling a fellow believer about the situation. He said,"doesn't she know if she divorced, she could never remarry?" So her being free from an abusive relationship isn't what's important. What's important is that she maintain the rules. Sure she is expected to never find redemption in relationships and find a healthy marriage partner in her future. So what that she was a young woman when this occurred. She should have thought of the consequences before she divorced. Her happiness? What's that? That sounds like fleshly, Earthly sensual passion and we can't have that sin in our religious midsts.
The point is the rules must be kept. That is all that is paramount. Women getting abused physically at home? Women and the children living in a prison of fear? That's not an issue. What's at stake is that they are obligated to the rules. I have actually heard Christians teach even if the woman was being beaten by a spouse that divorce is a sin. That she, the battered woman, must do all she can to reconcile the marriage. If all else fails and they divorce she can't remarry that would be a sin.
When I was still under the bondage of religion and had not yet seen the truth of Grace I could never accept these rules and traditions of men. It seemed to cut so crosswise to the love and mercy of our Gracious good Father. Legalist will do and say nice things in public ministry but be sure obligation to keeping the rules is always right there in all they say and teach.
As believers in Christ, we do need to speak the truth. What is the truth? Grace and truth, we must speak who we are, who's we are and what we have in Him because of Grace. We are forever forgiven. We are the righteousness of God in Christ. We are redeemed. We belong to God, we've been bought with a high price. We have eternal security, freedom and complete wholeness in Him.
Under legalism, believers can't speak the truth because they are never taught it. They are taught tradition over truth. You're forgiven but only up to a point. You have eternal life in Christ, but it isn't eternal life if you sin away, Grace. You're righteous positionally but you need to perform all these deeds to really be righteous. Grace is an important part of getting saved but holiness and performance are what's really important in your daily walk.
The biggest area that legalism stakes its claim against Grace is this issue of our sins being forgiven past and present and future and our eternal security in Christ. I've actually seen Christian ministers teach there is no 100% assurance of salvation. Forever forgiveness and once saved always saved ruffles the feathers of religion and sends them into a frenzy.
We've just completed a short study concerning our eternal security in Him, (here, here and here.) These will answer the religious objection to eternal security, and the words of Jesus will silence legalism. As for future sins being forgiven, let the Word of God answer legalism.
7 So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved; Ephesians 1:7 TLB
32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. Ephesians 4:32 TLB
14 who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins. Colossians 1:14 TLB
13 You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, Colossians 2:13 TLB
These are just some of the passages that reveal in Christ we have received the forgiveness of all our sins. Not just some. It says all. How many is all?All would include your future sins. Think of it, all of our sins were in the future when Christ died for them.
God has placed no obligations on us. He isn't saying if you do this enough you can fellowship with me. If you can behave for so many days I will be there for you. Brethren, this legalistic obligation knows no denominational barrier or whether your mainline protestant or Pentecostal/Charismatic.
When I was steeped in the Word of Faith movement, much of what was taught was religious duty and obligation. If you speak this way long enough if you read enough Scripture and if you give enough money and ensure you give it in the right way then God will bless you. Mind you now, if you've done all these things but mess up just once you've messed up your harvest of blessing. You must start all over again.
This is why we must reclaim Grace. We must relinquish legalism in all its forms. We must stay with Grace. God's Grace brought us into the Family of God. It His Grace alone and not our performance or obligations that keep us in the Family. Celebrate His Grace today, where would we be without it?
Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net