Monday, September 24, 2018

What's so Amazing about Grace?

18 Instead, grow in grace and in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed, to whom be glory, now and until the coming of the new age. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 Voice

 Today, I want to answer a question that though isn't asked in a straightforward manner but does seem to be the foundational question at the heart of all the objections to God's Radical Grace. This question may be worded differently by some. However, the question is basically the same no matter who asks. Just what's so amazing about Grace?

 Now, most religious folk would never ask such a direct question. They use more subtle wording. They make statements like, yes Grace is good, celebrate Grace, but what about holiness? Grace is important, but we must focus on being more obedient. Some even say Grace isn't the goal, we must focus on holiness.

Grace is for beginners?

 This is the mindset of many believers captive to the traditions of men. Grace is the baby steps. The initial entry into Christianity begins with Grace but once a believer, the focus becomes one's performance, accomplishments, and achievements.  

 I and many other well studied leaders and ministers have written and spoken about God's Radical Grace. The Good News Gospel has been spread worldwide. There is truly a Grace Revolution covering the Earth as the waters cover the sea. 

 Yet, in spite of this overflow of Good News, many still cling to their traditions. They will hear the Good News with legalistic ears and respond in kind. Hence, the prevailing mindset that Grace is for beginners. Grace is unimportant after we are saved. 

 Traditional religion calls for the lost, the broken and hurting, those outside of Christ, those separated by their fallen nature to salvation. They call the broken to wholeness. They call the sinner to receive right standing. They proclaim God isn't angry at you, He has arms open wide to receive you freely. Then they respond, and they receive Jesus and His free gift, and at this point, the party's over.

 Once salvation is received, the rejoicing ceases. The loving gaze of a merciful Father morphs into a grimace, a scowl replaces an affectionate smile. The approving, open arms of the Father become folded in disappointment. The outstretched hand lifting up the hurting closes into a clenched fist of outrage. The finger pointing to the Father as the only help turns into a finger pointing accusatively.  

 What happened to the unconditional love of the Father? What happened to the God who isn't moved by one's sin and offers eternal life? Where is the Father who doesn't ask you to do anything to earn eternal life? Where is the Good News that all one needs to do is believe?

 Sadly, once one receives Jesus, Grace seemingly gets tossed to the wayside. Grace is no longer the focus of the Christian life. Efforts, working hard, performance, faithfulness, giving, achievements, and accomplishment become the main criteria. If Grace is ever mentioned, it is done so with an altered definition.

 Grace becomes simple empowerment. It becomes defined as some form of ability gifting empowering one to do, to perform, all the tasks tradition has formulated. Grace is not empowerment. Grace is God's unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor. Once received freely, His divine influence will produce an empowerment. 

And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Romans 11:6 NKJV
 here it is in another translation/paraphrase version
And since it is by God’s grace, it can’t be a matter of their good works; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a gift of grace, but earned by human effort. Romans 11:6 TPT
 Grace received will produce an empowerment. That's what Grace does but that's not what Grace is. Yes, Grace produces an empowerment in believers, that is the truth. What we mustn't do though is put a timetable on that empowerment working in the lives of individual believers. 

 We mustn't look at a believer who is struggling in a long-term sin and assume that it is proof they must have lost or forfeited their salvation. Tradition would respond are you suggesting that it's ok to live in sin? Absolutely not, Grace gives us dominion over sin. That said we can't create some timetable where one is living in sin and they have only so much time to find victory or they are out. 

 I've pointed this out to tradition ruled folks and they accuse me of being soft on sin. No, I am just big on Jesus and His Grace. I also ask which sins constitute living in sin? For these same ones neglect many sins in their lists. Fear and worry is a sin. Are we worrying weekly, daily, hourly? Well, are we then "living in sin?"I am always met with silence afterward.

 Because of the lack of Grace understanding, many believers get lost in their spiritual walk, not fully understanding their identity. They hear Grace to gain entryway, and then they hear better get busy showing God you were worth saving. If you don't measure up you are in jeopardy of being removed from salvation. 

 This is why there is so much talk and emphasis on Grace. This is why many ministries have dedicated to teaching the Grace of God. The truth is for years and years many Christians have been leading lives quietly struggling with the idea that God is often displeased with them, disappointed in them, and doesn’t approve of them. They struggle under the weight of trying to perform better, meet Christian “obligations” and “expectations”. They strive in their walk because they sense God is a harsh taskmaster and not a loving Father. 

 Think of this, if Grace is just a doctrine, just an entryway, just for beginners, why did Peter, by the Spirit tell us to grow in Grace? He didn't say to grow in holiness or righteousness. He said to grow in Grace. Why?

 Because it's only by Grace will find our true identity. It's only in the Finished Work will we see true growth and fulfillment. The Finished Work reveals to us the work is complete. God is satisfied, He has accepted the work of His Son.

 What's so amazing about Grace? Under Grace, we now know our sins are forgiven once for all time. We realize that we aren't just declared righteous, but He actually made us righteous. We discover that He has already sanctified us once for all, we are already holy. We just daily mature into who we already are. 

 What's so great about Grace? Because of Grace, we see that He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Just as Jesus has perfect acceptance in the sight of God, so do we. Because of Grace, we understand He has approved us and is not mad at us. We see His Grace has purchased our eternal redemption. We rest confidently in our eternally secure salvation. 

 This is the Good News of Grace. Grace isn't about denying that there isn't anyone lost, or separated by sin. That apart from faith all are saved anyway. That Hell is a man-made fantasy and there is no real enemy, satan. Grace isn't even about throwing stones at religious tradition. Grace is about exalting Jesus and His Finished Work and inviting whosoever will to partake of the Good News.

In summation, God by His Spirit has been reintroducing Himself and Jesus the person of Grace to His Church, His people, for many years now and they are now seeing their Father in His love and goodness. They are finally finding the peace, the rest, the joy of their salvation, and satisfying life in Christ because of His Grace. No longer having to strive or struggle with receiving His goodness or favor or love in their life. This is the Grace Revolution! 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Does God's Grace make you Angry?

21 I can’t dismiss God’s grace, and I won’t. If being right with God depends on how we measure up to the law, then the Anointed’s sacrifice on the cross was the most tragic waste in all of history! Galatians 2:21 Voice






 This week, I had intended to do a follow-up study on God's Grace and our eternally secure redemption. That is, answering some objections raised about eternal security. It seemed good but the Spirit interrupted me with an observation made about some people's reaction to God's Grace.

 Let's look at some Scripture that will give us a clear image of this observation. In Luke, we have the parable of the prodigal son and the older brother. See it in full context here.

 This observation made concerns the older brother. What is his reaction to his father's kindness and goodness and grace? Anger! He is enraged at the goodness of his father. Let's see the older brother's reaction in another translation;

25 ‘The older son was out in the fields. When he came home, and got near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on.27 ‘ “Your brother’s come home!” he said. “And your father has thrown a great party – he’s killed the fattened calf! – because he’s got him back safe and well!”
28 ‘He flew into a rage, and wouldn’t go in.‘Then his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 “Look here!” he said to his father, “I’ve been slaving for you all these years! I’ve never disobeyed a single commandment of yours. And you never even gave me a young goat so I could have a party with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours comes home, once he’s finished gobbling up your livelihood with his whores, you kill the fattened calf for him!”31 ‘ “My son,” he replied, “you’re always with me. Everything I have belongs to you. 32 But we had to celebrate and be happy! This brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost, and now he’s found!” ’  Luke 15:11-32 NTE

 We can clearly see the older brother's reaction. It wasn't one of rejoicing or celebration. It was one of contempt and anger and rage. Why? Grace reveals our thinking, our true thinking, and beliefs. 

The Grace that makes you angry!

 This is the observation the Spirit impressed upon me. Grace makes some people mad. God's goodness and love and mercy in action sadly produce a bitterness and anger in some people's thinking. Why is this?

 Because people identify more with the older brother than they realize. How so? Because we can allow the same error in our thinking that the Pharisees and Sadducees adopted. They believed because of their good deeds they warranted God's favor.

 These religious leaders forgot the words of God. In Deuteronomy, He told them it was His love for them, why He chose them and nothing they had done to earn or deserve it. Sometimes we've got so caught up in all we've done for God we make the mistake that His goodness and love overflowing in our life is because of all the good we have done. 

Remember, He blesses and favors and bestows goodness upon us because He is good not because we are good.

 If we are the source of the good in our lives then we have a place to boast;
 "It was my faith, and faithfulness that produces all this goodness and favor!"
 " It is God rewarding me for all my hard work in the kingdom."
 "God, you sure are blessed to have me working so hard for you."

 These self-righteous mindsets negate God's Grace, His undeserved favor. We get our eyes off of God's goodness and Grace and shift our focus upon our deeds, and actions. Now am I suggesting good deeds, walking upright, avoiding sins and speaking right words is somehow anti-Grace? Absolutely not! 

 I am saying these are the fruits of His Grace. These are the result of Grace's influence upon our hearts. So we, therefore, can't take the credit for anything.  We have no place to boast. 

 When we get so focused on our own goodness, our own works, achievements, and accomplishments, we then become resentful and angry at the blessing of those who appear "undeserving." When witnessing God's mercy overtake judgment in a fallen brother it produces contempt in our thoughts. When we see Grace restore a believer who was lost in great sin, we will look upon that one with contempt and mistrust and will distance ourselves. His Grace produces anger and resentment in the performance-driven believer.

What makes you angry?

 I'm confident that many believers would respond that Grace doesn't make them angry. They would say I believe and celebrate His Grace. Some leaders would then preach a six-week sermon series on the dangers of Grace teaching. Some would then go and write a book warning about the dangers of Grace. The same believers denying Grace makes them angry would readily listen to those sermons or read those books, thinking we need to watch out for that Grace stuff! It needs to be balanced with Law and good works.

 Let's be transparent. Let's be positively introspective. Does Grace make you angry? Bitter? Resentful? Again most would respond with a loud no, but is this being really honest?

 If you hear about a minister who had fallen into porn addiction or adultery being restored and returning to the pulpit what is your reaction? If you react with distrust, contempt or anger at this "greasy grace" response to that leader's sin, then know Grace makes you angry. 

 There was a minister in the Southeast part of America who fell into great sin. Some other leaders surrounded him and began a restoration process. To my knowledge, he hasn't fallen again, and he is back in public ministry. Come to think of it there have been two such ministers in this vicinity with similar testimonies. 

 To me, I say praise the Lord. His Grace is greater than their sins and failures. His Grace and love can heal the hearts of those wounded by these sins. Certainly, these ministers should ask forgiveness from those directly affected. I am certain they did just that. This was Grace restoring. 

 Yet, while Grace was working, many Christians were busy throwing stones. They mocked the whole restoration process. Once these guys fell that should have been it. No more ministry for them ever. Grace made them angry.

 A minister in the Southwest portion of America had fallen so deep in adultery and sex addiction, he had to resign from ministry. Again a restoration process began. Soon after he returned to public ministry. Another minister I know responded with contempt. His contention was he had returned to public ministry too soon. Apparently, in this minister's view, God was done with this minister.  In reality, he was just angry at the Grace of God.

 If you preach the Gospel and must include hellfire and brimstone to garner a response from the lost, but get disturbed because others just focus on the Good News of Grace to reach the lost, then you're angry at Grace. Grace is enough to draw the lost to the Father. Dangling people proverbially over hell's fire isn't going to win people. They will not respond to the drawing love of a loving, good Father. Rather, they will buckle under fear and respond hoping to escape Hell. Being fearful of our good Father isn't the right way to begin a relationship with God. 

 Speaking of the Gospel, if hearing that upon receiving Christ's free gift that we are eternally secure causes an angry reaction, know you are angry at God's Grace. God purchased for us an eternal redemption, not a temporal one. If this Good News produces contempt in your thoughts know Grace has made you angry. If you have to come up with a long list of reasons one can undo what only Grace can do then know you are bitter at the Grace of God. 

Grace is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is the Good News. Grace manifested reveals and exposes our own thinking and heart motives. 

 Let the spotlight of God's goodness and love reveal the hidden areas of our hearts. If we become bitter or angry at the news of restoration, of the Good News preached, or eternal security know we need to experience the love of God for ourselves in those areas. 

 In summation, this Good News can either make you mad or make you glad. If you're focused on your own goodness and ability to remain steadfast and faithful, chances are you will have a mad reaction to the Good News. If you know it's only by His Grace and goodness you walk in victory, Grace will make you glad. If we are dependent upon self, Grace will make you mad. If we are dependant upon Him and Him alone, Grace will make us glad. 

 How do we overcome this anger? By letting go of trusting in our own goodness and abilities. By focusing on His goodness and not our own, Grace begins to transform our thinking. We will begin to see without Grace it is impossible to walk in victory. Allowing God's love to overshadow our hearts and minds we will experience His Grace in a greater measure and will relinquish tradition and a performance-based faith. If you're angry at Grace, there is hope. Just trust in Him. It's Jesus plus nothing where you will find complete fulfillment. 
 Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Grace Q & A: Can a Christian lose their Salvation?

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 extended study getting back to the basics of the Good News Gospel of Grace. Using a Q & A format we've asked and answered many pertinent questions about Grace and even addressed concerns some may have about the message of the Radical Grace of God.

 So far we've seen that under Grace, there is no condemnation in Christ. We've seen what Grace is, we've also addressed the concern about too much Grace? Is there something as too much Grace

 Today, it seemed good to conclude this study by answering the question often asked in relation to God's Amazing Grace. Can a Christian lose their salvation? Can a believer forfeit or leave, or "give back" the gift of salvation?

  What is the root of such questions? What drives believers to ask such a question? Is it walking by Faith or walking by sight, or walking according to outward evidence, to surmise that a person once born again can somehow undo what only Grace and the Finished Work could accomplish?

 Where did man somehow draw the conclusion that a believer can lose his salvation? We have zero accounts of anyone in New Testament Scripture where they were born again and then lost that salvation or came to the point of "walking away" from their faith. I mean if something that has such eternal consequence as loss of redemption, shouldn't there be at least one person we can point to that experienced this?

 What is at heart is a concept rooted in many believers thinking. This concept suggests that somehow man, in all his finiteness can somehow undo the eternal work of the Infinite Lord God Almighty.  In other words, if there is a way to foul it up man can find a way so therefore God just allows fallible man to foul it up and has made no fail proofs in His plan of redemption.

Can we lose our Salvation? Can we leave it?

 Here is the Good News Gospel of Grace answer. No! Your salvation is an eternal work of God, not a temporal work rooted in the fallibility of man and his performance. Think of it, what work caused you to be saved? What good deeds did you do enough of to qualify you for Heaven? No amount of good deeds or random acts of kindness done caused you to have an entryway into the Kingdom of God. No righteous act performed caused you to be saved, so what unrighteous act could cause you to be unsaved?

 Where the disconnect begins is the fallacy that man, when they receive Jesus, are somehow in Covenant, personally, with Father God. So if they aren't faithful to uphold their end then certainly, it seems justified that the person would then be removed from the Covenant. Many Christians in some form or fashion hold to this belief.

  The problem with this concept is the truth that God and man are not in Covenant together. God already tried Covenant with man. That was the fault of the Old Covenant. Man couldn't keep the standards of a Holy, Righteous God. The Law was good and perfect but couldn't make man perfect or holy. 

 Under this New Covenant, God is in Covenant with Himself. God is in Covenant with God and He is infallible. So we are not even factored into the equation. Whenever you hear a teaching or concept that suggest that man in his strength or power, or actions can somehow undo the work of redemption, the Finished Work of Christ, know that is an error. It is wrong because it presumes that man is factored into the equation.  The only part man plays in this Covenant is to believe, and God even gives us His Faith as a gift. 

Irrevocable Love

 Lose our salvation? Salvation is a gift. An eternal gift. Salvation is not an eternal reward for faithfulness or good works or kind deeds. You cannot earn a gift. If salvation is rewarded because of good works or performance it ceases to be a gift. If salvation is received by belief, but then perfected by good works and kept by our ability to remain sinless and faithful, then salvation is a wage earned, a payment for services rendered. 

 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 NKJV

 This is the Word I want to encourage you with. Irrevocable. God's gifts are irrevocable. Salvation is a gift from God. This gift is irrevocable. God doesn't renege or change His mind about His promises. Yes, you may say but surely our actions or unbelief has a part to play in keeping our salvation, right? See this passage in another translation.

29 God’s gifts and God’s call, you see, cannot be undone. Romans 11:29 NTE

 This is the Good News of Grace! We are eternally secure. Our salvation is begun by Grace and kept by Grace. God is our Father, not our Heavenly employer. 

 Jesus gives us His clear view of our eternal security;
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will 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 the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30 NASB

 Hear what the Apostle Peter says about our eternal security;
 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

 In summation, can we lose our leave our salvation? Absolutely not! We are eternally secure in the perfect hand of God, resting safely in His perfect once for all redemption. Fear-based theology, reactionary theology, that is reacting to the missteps and failures of our brothers and sisters in Christ by formulating a concept of loss of salvation has no place in the life of Faith. 

 We are saved by Grace through Faith. We are kept by His Grace and not our goodness or faithfulness. We walk by Faith, believing what He said about us is true. We don't walk looking at our circumstance or others to determine the truth. Jesus and His Word are the only truth we look to. Receive this irrevocable love and rest in His Grace. Once you've received Jesus you are eternally secure, no matter what. 
Image courtesy of smokedsalmon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Grace Q & A: Our future sins are already forgiven?

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 a study of the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. Utilizing a Q & A format we've been asking questions concerning Grace, getting back to the basics of the Grace Gospel. We've seen that under Grace we are no longer under condemnation. We've addressed the sin issue. We saw the place of Grace and the local church

 Today, it seemed good to address another issue. What about our future sins? Are our future sins really already forgiven? The sins we've yet to commit? Those misdeeds we've not even engaged in are already forgiven and cleansed? 

 The answer is yes. When you received Jesus, at that instant all of your sins were forgiven and you were fully cleansed by the blood of Jesus. This is such good news it should be heralded throughout the land. Yet, when we speak this truth to believers it's met with disbelief and skepticism. Why?

 We are conditioned by tradition and religion that we need to see ourselves as lowly sinners. To see ourselves as not so pure. We see our righteousness as mere positional but not truly who we are presently. We are also convinced that we aren't fully forgiven.

God's forgiveness is an installment plan?









 The installment plan theology is what much of the Christian Church ascribes to. This plan seems gracious to tradition. In reality, it leaves Christian's seeing themselves as only partially forgiven. 

 The installment plan sees forgiveness as an individual transaction. Each time you miss it or blow it, you must come to God to get forgiven for that particular sin. If you don't, you harboring known sin. You will be out of fellowship with God, and your prayers will not be answered. 

 The installment plan sees us forgiven only up to the point of receiving salvation. Afterward, we must receive forgiveness for each sin committed. How is it received? By our owning up to it and apologizing for it. 

 In this theology, tradition prides itself on being gracious by saying "see your past is forgiven." People will speak of the goodness of God to rescue people from their past. The Saints past is done away in Christ, they are made new. Great, but what about today? 

 What about the struggles believers are facing right now in the present?  What about those temptations that seem to be overtaking them? What about those habits they can't seem to overcome? Are they currently unclean Christians? 

 What about the addictions that may be there tomorrow? What about the anger issues, the impatience, the critical words that may be spoken? What about the future? Is it uncertain? 

 Before Grace, I knew 2 Corinthians 5:17. I knew I was a new creation. I knew the enemy couldn't remind me of my past without me reminding him of his future. Tradition would say, you're righteous in Christ, your past can't hold back God's goodness or favor. What about my current circumstance? Would that cause God to withhold blessing?

 So I knew I was righteous in Christ, but this righteousness seemed only to apply to my past and not my present or future. I don't believe I am alone in this experience. Tradition can never offer me any peace of mind or a firm faith. 

Forgiven ONCE for ALL Time!

Tradition's installment plan disregards the Finished Work. The installment plan exchanges a once for all time forgiveness, for an individual transaction plan. Its biggest error is substituting a forgiveness only attained by the shedding of blood with a forgiveness obtained by individual apologies. 

 How is forgiveness even obtained? Is it by our turning away from committing sinful deeds? Is it by our admitting we sinned? Is it by individual apologies? The Bible is clear, there is only one God accepted way forgiveness for sin is obtained.

22 In fact we can say that under the old agreement almost everything was cleansed by sprinkling it with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22 TLB (emphasis mine)

 The Word is simple and clear. The only way for sins to be forgiven is for the shedding of blood. Think with me. If we are only forgiven of our past sins, and after the point of conversion, we must seek forgiveness as an individual transaction for each sin, whose blood is being shed for each of these forgiveness transactions? Ours? Does Jesus need to keep dying for each sin we commit? 

 Religious tradition then back peddles, saying no Jesus shed His blood once but we must individually apologize for each sin to obtain forgiveness for each sin we commit. So we exchange the once for all sacrifice for individual effort. We substitute God's forgiveness plan with our own apology plan. Traditions plan of redemption and receiving of forgiveness is in direct opposition to God's perfect plan of blood-bought redemption.

 Jesus perfect shed blood is the final sacrifice it's the only shed blood we need for once for all time forgiveness of all our sins, past, present and future. Our individual apologies are not how we receive once for all forgiveness.  God isn't looking for your apology but rather looking for you to believe and accept His once for all time perfect sacrifice for sins. 

 Forgiven once for all time for all our sins? Yes! The Word is clear;

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, Colossian 2:13 TLB

14 who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins. Colossians 1:14 TLB

12 I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 1 John 2:12 NLT

  It is clear He has forgiven us once for all time. Rejoice, in Christ, your past is cleansed and done away with. Your past can have no hold on you. All shame of yesterday is removed by Jesus, the shame remover.

 Be glad, He sees your current situation. He sees you in the middle of the mess. God isn't turning His head away from you. He isn't turning His back on you. His perfect redemption purchased the blessing and goodness and favor not your behavior or performance. His goodness causes us to run towards Him even in our worst. You are forgiven and cleansed right now. 

 Celebrate, your future is bright. His forgiveness is already there awaiting you. Even if you fail, stumble or fall, you can confidently get back up and keep walking with your Father. No need to fear that He will eventually give up on you. 

 Oh, but what if I am still failing and giving into this same temptation? Surely, His Grace has limits? No, His Grace knows no bounds. The concept that He wouldn't keep forgiving us if we keep sinning the same sin is faulty. Because He has already forgiven us once for all time. Look, when He saved you, He knew of all your struggles and failures, and the foul-ups you'd make before you did and He still chose to save you.

 In summation, are we forgiven of our future sins? Yes, we are forgiven once for all time. Heaven's economy is a shed blood economy. Jesus shed His blood once for all time. There is an endless supply of forgiveness. It's not over, no matter how many times we fail. We must remember and trust in the Finished Work. We are forgiven once for all time in Christ. 
 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net