Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Grace Q & A: Is Grace just a message of comfort for the lazy?

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NKJV


For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NASB


 We've been in an ongoing study of Grace, the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. We've been getting back to the basics and asking and answering questions concerning Grace. We've addressed issues like is there too much emphasis on Grace? Is Hyper-Grace false teaching? What about cheap Grace? We've also seen how there is no longer any condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.

 In our last study, we were answering a well-known minister's objections, more accurately categorized as accusations, against the Hyper-Grace Gospel. The two-pronged allegation was that Grace teaching was for those who struggle in sin and those who had an issue with discipline and obedience. We dealt with the obedience issue when we addressed the sin question. 

 Today, I sense the leading to focus on the claim that Grace is only for those with an issue with discipline. In a nutshell, I see this as just the same charge that Radical Grace is for lazy, fruitless, inactive believers. So Is the Grace Gospel only an ear-tickling message for the lazy?

 In order to better answer this charge, let's first explore a traditional mindset in Christians. There exists a thinking pattern in most of Christianity. This line of thought can be summed up this way if you will. There is still more to do. Because believers don't understand rest, they feel they should be doing something. 

 This is of course in relation to our relationship with God. What believers in Christ must remember is that they're already freely accepted by God. They've already been made righteous. They've already been forgiven once for all time. They've already been made holy. Their salvation is sealed by the Spirit, it is already eternally secure. There exist no extra work or action or spiritual discipline needed to make this truer for the Christian. 

18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. Hebrews 10:18 NLT

 The writer here is telling us once the work is finished there is nothing you can add to complete it. Look at an already baked and decorated cake. It's finished. You can't add any more eggs to help complete it. How foolish would it be if you went to the kitchen and started mixing more eggs and sugar for the cake? You might be saying I must add my part to the completed work to make it more complete. As foolish as this sounds, that's exactly what tradition has done with Christianity.

Rest, it is Finished!

 Religious Christianity fails to grasp the concept of rest. They can't comprehend a completed finished work. They sincerely feel compelled to act. That there is in fact still more to do. There is still more to do to become holy. There is still more to do to become more acceptable to God. There is still more to do to receive full forgiveness of sins. There are spiritual disciplines we must master in order to walk in more favor. 

 There is in fact only one thing to do. That is to enter into rest. To take God at His Word. To simply believe. Believe and receive it. It isn't "achieve to receive" or "strive to arrive." It's simply accepting it and believing it. Believe what? Believe the Finished Work was enough. Believe God accepted the once for all sacrifice of Christ.

 The real work, if you will, is to labor to enter into rest. Society is merit-based. That's good and fine and acceptable in the natural realm. However, in relation to God, that's a burden too heavy for anyone to bear. 

 Many believers see relating to God the same way they've done all their life with their elders, parents and older relatives, their employers, and even the natural authorities, such as Monarchies, Prime Ministers, and Presidents. In other words, they see God as the harsh taskmaster who sets up commandments and these orders must be strictly carried out or else. They may claim to see God as their Father, but they still want to relate to Him as their employer who is constantly engaging in performance rating evaluations. 

 Then along comes Grace. Grace portrays our God as a good Father. One who is pleased with His children. Who accepted Jesus once for all sacrifice and longs to fellowship and commune with His people regardless of their performance level. This infuriates the minds of the religious. 

 Because Grace is saying rest, the work is complete now just enjoy the relationship, tradition charges that this revelation just creates inactivity. Not true, it just redirects our pursuits. It just reveals to us that we can stop the striving to be loved, accepted, forgiven and eternally secure. Grace says God always favors Jesus and He is our perfect righteousness so walk in Jesus' favor not our own, and certainly not a favor based upon our doings.

Lazy, "good for nothings" or Believers in rest?

 Lazy? Lacking in discipline? Or are we resting in Christ? What is laziness spiritually speaking? Is it only praying for 20 minutes instead of an hour? 

 Some sadly have made a doctrine about praying for an hour because Jesus asked His disciples to pray for an hour. That was a one time request Jesus made for His disciples. Yet some have turned this into the standard "prayer time".  Some have turned this into the ministry of condemnation concerning prayer. 

 Tradition is about rules, regulations, and the letter of the Law. Grace is about a relationship. A restful relationship rooted in the Finished Work. A relationship that's not working or striving or performing in order to "make the relationship work." 

 Being honest, I have been involved with the local church all throughout my life. Most churches I was associated with weren't Radical Grace based. On numerous occasions, I saw the pleas and multiple requests for volunteers to serve. I've seen whole services dedicated to trying to get members and attendees to help out in various areas. Question, why then, isn't the "holiness", the "Pentecostal", the "Baptist", the "charismatic",  the "Faith" message being taught accused of promoting laziness?

 The truth is it is a religious accusative slander to the truth of Grace to say it promotes laziness. Now, is there a small minority of folk who misunderstood the Gospel who stopped praying or giving or reading the Word thinking these were legalistic chores? Sure, but with proper instruction, these will gain a better understanding, and their misuse of Grace doesn't alter its truth.

 In summation, Grace is about a relationship. We pray, we give, we fellowship with other believers, we study our Bibles, not to achieve favor or blessing or love. We read, pray, give and fellowship because we're already blessed, favored and loved. Again, Grace is a relationship. It's a rest in Christ. It's not inactivity, it's Spirit led actions based upon being already accepted, loved, and redeemed. 
photo courtesy of iosphere@freedigitalphotos.net

2 comments:

Mary Harwell Sayler said...

Grace draws us to God and gets us through hard times. It's a cause for rejoicing - nothing lazy about that! Thanks for addressing this important subject. God bless.

John W Reed said...

Amen. God is good to us. Glad the post could bless you. Thanks so much for your kind words.