Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: Reality of Complete Forgiveness

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

We've been in an ongoing study of the Gospel of Grace, the Good News of Jesus Christ and all He has done for us. We've seen that this Gospel is not a religion. We've seen the reality of our Righteousness. We've seen the reality of the New Creation. 

 Today, it seems good to look at the reality of our complete forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Knowing we are forgiven of all our sins removes the burden and heavy load fear, condemnation, shame and guilt put on us. This is why the enemy works overtime to deceive many into thinking they are only partially forgiven or that God reserves the right to withhold forgiveness if we sin too much.

 It is an insidious lie from the enemy that convinces people that they are not totally forgiven. Hearing we are forgiven past and present and future staggers our natural thinking. It seems too good to be true. It can't be. So initially we may react to the Good News by rejecting it. I know I had a momentary reaction of could this really be? That is my heart, my spirit man leaped at this Good News but my mind was so astounded I wanted more confirmation. 

 I searched the Scriptures. I was hearing this Good News preached in book and television from this anointed man of God from Singapore. He gave Scriptures. Yet I had to search for myself. I saw that the Scriptures not only confirmed this, I also saw that God's Word heralded these glad tidings over and over. Then God spoke within my heart and gave me a perfect illustration of this complete and total forgiveness.

 When I was a young man myself and another family member attended a Veteran's Day parade. We were on street level and could only see a float or two on the left or right of us beside the one directly in front of us. Some people relayed we could get a better view from the top floor of a parking garage nearby. We agreed and went to the top floor. From that view, we could see the entire parade. We were able to see every float, from the last one to the very first one. 

 God reminded me of this event. He relayed to me that, that is how He sees all those who've received the free gift of Grace. He sees their whole life from start to finish, from their first breath until their last. He looks at their entire life and says FORGIVEN! When I saw this, and Scripture confirmed this, I knew we were forgiven past present and future! 

 Don't believe me believe God's eternal Word;

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

13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13 NLT

12 I am writing to you, little children (believers, dear ones), because your sins have been forgiven for His name’s sake [you have been pardoned and released from spiritual debt through His name because you have confessed His name, believing in Him as Savior]. 1 John 2:12 AMP

He is the one who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s. 1 John 2:2 TLB 

32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NLT

13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Colossians 3:13 AMP

 What I've posted is the Scriptural proof of just how many sins He has forgiven us. He forgave us all our sins. Not just some, not just past, but all of our sins. We are forgiven past and present and future. 
 Now religious tradition plays semantics and word games. They see these same passages and some will only assign these to our past sins up to the point of conversion. After that, we are responsible to confess each and every one of them or we won't be forgiven. 

 So, as a result, we become sin conscious and not righteousness and forgiven conscious. The Church as a whole has a sinner image. That is they see themselves as a sinner and not the Righteousness of God. Just ask your average Christian. Are you righteous? Are you just as righteous as Jesus? Are you forgiven of all your sins? 

 More often than not the response will be "I hope so" or "I am not so sure, I messed up recently." We need to identify with the risen Christ and His Finished Work. Agree with the Cross. We are eternally forgiven. 

 God's forgiveness isn't granted in installment payments. It isn't received in increments. Forgiveness is received once for all time because His eternal sacrifice was a perfect sacrifice made once for all time. 

 What if we sin after we receive Jesus and this once for all forgiveness? Do we need to confess our sin in order to receive forgiveness of that sin? First, this is a relationship with our Good Father. When we blow it, we don't run from Him. We don't even have to run to Him because He isn't separated from us, He is right there with us. He never left us. 

 When you blow it, thank God for your forgiveness. Confess your Righteousness. Confess your once for all time forgiveness. Confession simply means to say the same thing. We say the same thing God's Word says, we say the same thing the Finished Work says. We are forgiven, we are righteous, we are cleansed once for all by His precious Blood. 

 Also, because we are already forgiven we can confess our sin. This is not the fearful, religious practice of confession in order to be forgiven. We don't confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness. Because we are already forgiven we can be open and honest about our faults and flaws and struggles. I am talking about communicating with our Dad in Heaven, It is being in agreement of what God already said. It's the relationship we have with God. 

 Because our sins are forgiven forever and God is no longer counting our sins against us we can find freedom. Not freedom to sin more,(although He will let you make dumb choices with your freedom but be prepared for dumb consequences, and these consequences are not God's punishment or God judging you), but freedom from sin. In the midst of our darkest moments, no matter how far we've fallen, He is there reminding us of whose we are and who we are in Him.

 Acknowledging our faults and failures to our Father who loves us unconditionally, who isn't accounting our sins against us, who is not seeking ways to punish us, but to lead us to total freedom, brings hope, help, and healing. It brings the realization that the Cross has already destroyed the yokes. It opens our eyes that He already broke the chains, already loosed us from all sin and bondage. 

 In summation, rejoice. You who've received this free gift of life eternal are forgiven once for all. You're forgiven past and present and future. God isn't holding your sins against you. He has set you free once for all. Rejoice in this great Good News!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: More Realities of the New Covenant

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

 We've been in an extended study of the Gospel of Grace, the Good News of Jesus Christ. We've seen that this Gospel isn't about religion but a relationship with our Good Father. We've seen the reality of the truth of God's Word. We've seen the reality of the New Creation and the reality of our Righteousness in Christ.

 We've also examined the New Covenant. Today, it seems good to further examine an aspect of the New Covenant. I would like to address an issue many seem to be having difficulty with pertaining to the New Covenant. That is this issue of the relevance of the Old Covenant today. Is the Old still in effect today?

 Before the reality of the Grace of God was fully seen in the Church this was not really an issue. That is, it wasn't as controversial as it seems today. I believe this is because of the tradition-minded reaction to the Grace awakening that has occurred in the Church. 

 Telling believers they are no longer under the Law and the religious minded goes into panic mode. They feel their traditions are in jeopardy and they react with full resistance to the revelation of God's Love and Grace. Why? Flesh likes to feel it is contributing something. 

 The Flesh is not always about sexual immorality or drunkenness. The flesh isn't just about losing your temper, overeating, or unbridled passion for possessions or power. The flesh is a way of thinking. More clearly stated, the flesh is a mindset that is contrary to Scripture, counter to God's way of doing things.

 Did you know you're "in the flesh" when you think God is holding your sins against you? That God is displeased with you as His child? That you need to work harder to be more accepting and pleasing to Him? That you've messed up too much for God to use you? That you've out-sinned God's Grace? It's also fleshly thinking when we say the Old Covenant is still in effect for the believer.

What I am NOT saying

 You have to clarify truth so as not to be misunderstood by the religious minded or the foolish minded. The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the Word of God. It is God-breathed. It is the inerrant Word of God. All the Word is profitable for us, Paul reminds us of this. 

 No one who is sincere in their Grace walk would say God's Word isn't profitable. That the Bible isn't God's Word. Some who deny God says the Bible is full of contradictions. It actually isn't when you rightly divide it and understand the two Covenants. Under the Old, you will find admonitions to perform. Yet in the New, you will see admonitions to quit your striving and just believe. This isn't a contradiction but rather how those under the two different Covenants related to God.

 So to be clear, let me say again, there is profit in studying the Old Testament. We can see Jesus in the Old concealed. We can see God's faithfulness to His Word and His people. If He was faithful under the Old surely He will be faithful under a New and better Covenant. 

Done away...

 So is the Old in effect today or not? The answer is clear. 

 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 NKJV

 The Word of God is clear, with the establishment of the New the Old Covenant is made obsolete. It means Jesus and the Finished Work fulfilled the Law and completed all the requirements of the Old. When those who are reacting to the Grace awakening with resistance they rush to claim well we are still under parts of the Law, the moral parts!

 Let's really examine that concept. If we are under even a portion of the Law no matter how minute, then we are under all that comes with that Law. If we are still under the moral Law then what happens if we don't measure up perfectly? 

 Jesus said concerning adultery if you even look at a woman with lust you've committed adultery. That means if we gazed at another too long and lust entered in that glance we are guilty of breaking the Law. If we are under the Law, then we are also under the punishment of the Law. That being death. What this means if we are under "moral" Law, then we are dying spiritually over and over each time we sin. This also means each time we are breaking the Law, we are losing salvation and needing to be born again, again and again. Thank God for the Finished Work and establishment of the New Covenant thus fulfilling the Law and setting us free from Law and sin and death.

 What people need to realize is the Law of Love. That is the New Covenant Law. Love guides us into morality and steers us away from immorality. If we love, we won't violate another with a lusting gaze. If we love we won't steal from them, we won't cheat them, we won't lie to them. His perfect Love received compels us to conform to the same image of Love. 

 Paul also made it clear this Old Covenant is obsolete, done away in Christ in 2 Corinthians. Look at the words the original KJV uses to describe the Old Covenant.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 
13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:11, 13-14 KJV
 See Paul's words he attributes to the Old. Abolished, done away, a veil on the heart. Paul doesn't just say the Old is done and leave it at that. He points us to Jesus. He points us to Grace and the New Covenant. He shows us how to remove the veil. 

 In summation, what is the place of the Old in the life of the believer? Is it still in effect today? Are Christians under any portion of Law or Old Covenant? We see clearly that the Old is fulfilled in Christ. That this New Covenant exceeds the glory of the Old. That receiving Christ and knowing and understanding all He has accomplished in the Finished Work removes the veil of condemnation and the Old Covenant Law. Let's honor the New Covenant. It's a better Covenant with better promises.