Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Grace vs Law: Jesus' temptation

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 We've begun a study contrasting Law and Grace. Grace became a much-studied topic over the last few years. Yet with all the emphasis on Grace, many believers and various ministries still cling to Law in some form or fashion. 

 What is the Law? What is Grace? The Law refers to either the Ten Commandments or the whole of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. Some mistakenly claim the Law was only the Ten but tradition made it into the 613 commands Jesus lived under. Not so, the Law has 613 commands given by God, not tradition.

 So what is the Law? The Law is the 613 commands given by God to the Hebrews. The Law is God's perfect standard. It is rigid and unbending. It demands and never supplies. Being under Law is living the Christian life legalistically. This speaks of one who follows, keeps, and abides in outward rules and regulations that produce no inward change. The Law is also any action, performance, or behavior engaged in, with the intent to gain God's love, goodness, favor, acceptance, mercy, and blessing.   

 What is Grace? Grace is the unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor of God. When this unearned favor is received, it produces empowerment, releasing His divine influence upon the heart. Jesus is the person of Grace. Jesus is the center of it all. Grace reminds us that the work is already done, finished, and has nothing to do with us, our part is to trust in, believe, and just freely receive.

 With this understanding, we can further examine the contrast between Law and Grace. With this rooted in our hearts and minds, we can readily see the dangers of mixing Law and Grace. 

 As we study the Scriptures, we can see illustrations of Jesus (Grace), and the Law. How Jesus is greater than the Law. How Jesus came to fulfill and finish the Law bringing a new and living way to our Father. 

 Look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel chapter 4. Jesus was in the wilderness and the enemy came to tempt Him. Note the first thing the enemy said to Jesus. 

 And the tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be turned into bread.” Matthew 4:3 MEV

 The enemy is crafty and clever. Note how the enemy addressed the Lord Jesus. The enemy said, "if you are the Son of God..." This is the first clue the enemy gave away about his works of temptation. The enemy didn't call Jesus what the Father called Him. 

 This is what the Father Said to Jesus;

And a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 MEV

 The enemy didn't want to remind Jesus of what God said about Him. His temptation wasn't to break the fast. It's not a sin to eat or break a fast. Where was the command the Father had given Jesus to not eat for more than 40 days? So often tradition has read it into this passage that the temptation was to eat and break the fast. 

 Still others claim the temptation was to perform a miracle at the whim of the enemy. To prove His Sonship by doing a miracle. This is not plausible because of the response Jesus gave to the enemy satan. 

 What exactly was this temptation then? The enemy, refused to refer to Jesus the way God, the Father did. The enemy told Him to turn stones into bread. The temptation was for Jesus, the person of Grace, to find sustenance and life through the stones, that is the Law. 

 Take note of Jesus' response;

But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 MEV

 Jesus knew what the Father spoke over Him. He rebuked satan. He showed him that He was sustained by the Words spoken by God and not by performance, not by following the ministry of death and condemnation written on stones.

 Jesus showed us a powerful point that will help us walk in victory during times of temptation or seasons of accusations by the enemy and religion. We must come out of agreement with the lying words of condemnation and death. We must come into agreement with what God declared over our life. He said we are His children. He said we are the Righteousness of God in Christ. He said we are accepted and approved. He said we are forever forgiven and made new in Him. He declared He is Faithful, even when we are faithless. We are secure in Him for all eternity.

 The enemy wants to tempt the Church into finding its sustenance and nourishment from the Law. Some teach that we need the Law to grow. That we are saved by Grace but sanctified by Law. 

 The enemy tries to convince believers that sure we begin by Grace, but our nourishment spiritually is to follow and abide under the Law. This is why so much preaching and teaching isn't centered around Jesus' Finished Work, but rather on our works, and performance. Jesus is removed from the focal point and our actions, achievements and accomplishments are exalted to center stage. 

 Grace counters this by reminding us of who we are, and what He said about us. Grace compels us to place Jesus back to the central focal point of our Faith. Grace reminds us we can't live up to the demands of the Law, but Jesus did and fulfilled it. We are no longer under Law but Grace. 

 In summation, let's not continue looking for our sustenance and nourishment and growth by living under Law. Let's live by the Words spoken by our Father. he declared it is Finished. Let's agree with that. Let's live life loved by our Savior, not by trying to become our own savior through, our doing more, performance, or good works. Jesus is our Savior not our behavior. Grace!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Grace versus Law

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 Grace is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a theological topic. It is not simply another Bible subject that we study like many others but has no actual application in our lives. It is not a new fad or trend. 

 In many quarters of the Body of Christ, especially those in Spirit-filled circles, often spiritual topics become trendy or faddish for a season. For instance, spiritual warfare was a flashy trend in the early to mid-1990s. Don't misunderstand, there is a spiritual truth concerning spiritual warfare, but during this phase, it was emphasized in such a way that it was turned into a fad or trend, and Christians after a time lost interest.

 Grace is not a fad or a trend. Although I will be the first to admit around 2010 to nearly 2018 Grace seemed to be a trend and fad in many church circles. In truth part of this was religious tradition's response to God actually bringing the truth of Grace back to the forefront of Christianity. Many Christian circles got excited about Grace. However, now that the trend is waning can we say we still keep Grace at the forefront?

 Understand, Grace is not waning. Grace is the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus is the person of Grace manifested here on earth. Grace is our life in the Spirit, without Grace we will default back to works. Don't allow Grace to be a mere trend or fad. 

 With this understanding, it seemed good to begin a new series of studies concerning Grace and Law. God has opened my eyes to even more illustrations of His Grace versus the Old Covenant Law. God has revealed in His Word that when Jesus came the Law was becoming obsolete and ready to be fulfilled once for all time.

 The challenge of fully embracing Grace is the default setting of man to return to toil and labor in order to gain God's approval. We see it all around us. We see some believers as more special, or more accepted than others. When a fellow Christian is sick, many seem to conclude because of the person's works they "deserve" to be healed. We are flowing in a mixture of Grace and Law when we embrace such thinking.

 Grace is the way of the New Covenant. The entire New Covenant is rooted in Grace. This New Covenant is cut between the Father and the Son. Those who receive it by simple Faith believing are the beneficiaries. This New Covenant then is based on Jesus' performance and works never, not at any time, is it based on our own. It's Grace from beginning to end. Those proclaiming God's provisions under the New are conditional, are blinded by tradition and are still preaching Old Covenant Law.

 Some may say, that's absurd, that the covenant is between the Father and the Son. Let the Word reveal an illustration for you. In 2 Samuel we see the perfect illustration of this.  David had made a covenant between himself and Jonathon. David, wanting to honor that covenant sought out those of the house of Saul. He found out about Mephibosheth and brought him to his abode. He provided freely all things for him and put him at the king's table to feast. What covenant did Mephibosheth personally make with David? 

 He made none. Mephibosheth simply was the beneficiary of a covenant cut between David and Jonathon. That is a perfect illustration of Grace and this New Covenant. 

 Yet through religious traditions, many still think we have a part to play. Under performance-based faith, if we were Mephibosheth we'd say "gotta get busy earning my place at the king's table." If we made a mess, we'd say "I can't sit at the King's table." We would disqualify ourselves.

 In the 1980s musical Annie, a film adapted from the comic strip, we see the title character upon arriving at the mansion of Mr. Warbucks, where she has been offered a week of luxury, immediately grab a scrub brush and bucket. She tries to work and is promptly stopped. She is reminded she is there as a guest. She is there, not based on her merit but on Mr. Warbuck's. She responds by asking how will she earn her time there?

 Isn't this the picture of Christians? We have been given the provision of eternal life. The God kind of life. The life that is never ending and finds its fulfillment in Him. He is our Righteousness, we are no longer in rags of self-righteousness but clothed in robes of Righteousness. We are now accepted and approved based on Christ, not ourselves. What is our response? Grab the proverbial scrub brush and bucket and go to work earning this robe. 

 Think of this great Grace. What could you do to earn a place in God's Kingdom? You were an enemy of God, to begin with. What condition could be placed on you then? You weren't in any place to meet expectations or demands. What could you offer to God that would allow you to gain acceptance and approval? This is why Grace IS the Gospel. Jesus is our acceptance and approval. Jesus is the Grace of God manifest.

 In summation, Grace is the New Covenant. Works, performance, and conditional provision are all Old Covenant. Let's begin to reprogram our thinking and train ourselves to default to Grace and not to performance. Let's honor Jesus' once for all sacrifice and this New Covenant of Grace and Righteousness. 



Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Faithful and True

Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle.  Revelation 19:11 CJB 

 Whenever we hear about God what comes to mind? That He is Love? That God is always Good? That He is our Father? All of these are wonderful and amazing attributes of God. Have you ever heard though that He is Faithful? 

 We may have heard of this attribute of our Father, through hymns or a Scripture reading. However, through traditional religious instruction, it is possible we as believers have not fully grasped just how amazing this attribute of God really is. Let's explore this attribute of God further.

 The Faithfulness of God is an astounding and astonishing expression of God's Love, mercy, and amazing Grace. As men, we look at the failures, the falling, and the foul-ups of others or ourselves and conclude God must be finished with us. We look upon our circumstances or situation and see impossibility. Yet in the midst of it all, He is there shining bright and drawing us close. He is there turning things around for good, working miracles, and restoring all that's been lost.   

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

 God's Love and Faithfulness are there for us no matter what. This is what makes God so Good! That He is always keeping His Word. He doesn't make a promise to us and then fail to keep that promise. He is Faithful and true.

 The enemy, the world system, the religious traditions of men, and contradictory circumstances work overtime it seems sometimes to convince us that God is unfaithful and will not keep His Word. That He will let us fall, He will walk away if we mess up one more time. The temptation is to get us to quit believing that God is Good and Faithful and true.

 Look at Sarah;

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 NKJV

 Sarah received strength by faith to trust God to conceive. Why? Because she counted God to be a Faithful Father! God's Word and promises are true. They are true not because we have experienced them. They are true because God, who is Faithful, declared them.

 We therefore can place our whole trust in God our Father no matter what we are facing. No matter the situation, we can trust Him. No matter what we are experiencing we can trust that He is there for us and there with us and will do what He said He will do.

 God's Faithfulness never ceases. His Love is steadfast and unending. No matter how far we've gone His Love is still there searching and finding us. God's Faithfulness and Love are what compels Him to leave the ninety-nine, and seek out the one. His Grace is inexhaustible. He is Faithful and true!

 In summation, no matter what you're going through, know God is there. He has not forgotten you or forsaken you. He is the One who holds you in His unfailing hands. He has engraved your name in the palm of His hands. There is nothing impossible with God and there is nothing you can do that could change or alter His Faithful Love for you. What a Loving Faithful Father He is. He is for you not against you, rejoice child of God! 


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Theology of sickness and disease: What does God call evil?

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 MEV

Dear Friend, I pray that in every way you may prosper and be in good health,  just as your soul is prospering. 3 John 2 Mounce 

 God is an unchanging God. He is Love. He is Faithful and True! His love for us is unmatched in this universe. God is for us and never against us. 

 Many would quickly and passionately agree. However, when it comes to health, the sad reality of a fallen world, and sickness and disease, many have adopted a different theology. Through tradition, many have embraced a theology of sickness and disease. 

 This theology, this belief system, allows for God to willingly afflict people with sickness and disease. Or this theology says God, for some mysterious purpose, allows sickness and disease to ravish the bodies of His people. This theology of sickness and disease is prevalent throughout the Body of Christ. 

 When we see sickness and disease so common in the bodies of saints and sinners alike it is a challenge not to adopt and accept the theology of sickness and disease. The alternative seems only to stick our heads in the proverbial sand and ignore what is clearly in front of us. However, there is another answer. That is the theology of Jesus.

 Jesus is perfect theology. He perfectly demonstrated the eternal Love of the Father. He perfectly revealed the Goodness of God. He perfectly showed us the power of God. He perfectly made known the will of God concerning sickness and disease. He freely healed whosoever came to Him. Jesus is perfect theology, He perfectly showed us the Father.

 We have to embrace the Father's heart on a matter, not what we see through our natural eyes. We see sin abound in these days we live. Yet God says Grace much more abounds. Though sickness and disease seem prevalent, so also is His healing power!

 What is the Father's heart concerning healing? Through Jesus' actions, and the revealed will of God through Scripture, we can rightly conclude sickness and disease are considered evil by our Good Father. Look at this powerful event recorded in the Old Covenant, 1 Kings 17

 What a powerful demonstration of God's Love and Goodness. In the time of famine, God sustained Elijah and the widow and her son. God provided for His own. When the child became sick and died, God raised up the child.

 and crieth unto Jehovah, and saith, `Jehovah my God, also on the widow with whom I am sojourning hast Thou done evil -- to put her son to death?' 1 Kings 17:20 YLT

 Due to limited understanding and information available under the Old Elijah assumed God brought the sickness. Of course, God healing and raising up the boy from the dead proved that He didn't cause it or "allow" it. The focal point one could miss is the words Elijah used. He called sickness and death evil.

 Even under the Old Covenant, In a Covenant that is not as good as the New, God's prophet knew sickness and death are evil. Elijah, a prophet who only had the Spirit come upon him, not even dwell within him, a man who was not even born again, had enough spiritual discernment to know sickness and death are a curse and not a blessing.

 Today, instead of the man of God commanding death to leave and trusting God for a miracle, religious leaders would just counsel the widow on how it was God's will for her son to die. That God needed a little flower and heaven so God "plucked" her son from the earth. That God had some mysterious purpose, and God is in control, that she should just trust God knows what's best. 

 The fact that God raised the widow's son up from sickness and death, confirms Elijah's words. Sickness and death are evil. The Body of Christ should stand strong against sickness and disease. We should never accept it or welcome it in anyone's life.

 God calls sickness oppression from the enemy. God calls death an enemy, the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Jesus went about doing Good and healing all who were oppressed by the enemy. The theology of Jesus says healing is God's highest and best, and sickness and disease are evil, are a curse, are what Jesus bore on that Cross purchasing our Redemption.

 In summation, let's embrace the theology of Jesus. Let's reject the theology of religious men. Let's reject the theology of sickness and disease. God is always Good, and sickness and death are always evil. Let's look to and embrace the Love of the Father, let's trust Him and receive of all His perfect Redemption. God wants us well, healed, and whole!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Is Salvation permanent once received?

 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

  Throughout the world, we celebrated "Easter" or Resurrection Sunday a couple of days ago. It was truly an exciting celebration. Believers gathered around the truth that Jesus bled and died for all. The innocent died for the guilty. 

 A sense of unity is felt as the Church universal gathered. On that Cross, Jesus shed His perfect blood. It serves as a reminder it's only the Blood of Christ that purchased our Redemption. It's only the Blood that justifies. It's not about man's work or performance.

 Because of the Blood of Jesus, we have peace with God. Peace from a guilty conscience. Peace from the broken Law. Guilt and shame have no right or claim to our lives. All because of Jesus.

 On that Cross, we see that Christ did something else. His precious Blood procured our Redemption forever. He purchased a sustained and secure salvation. 

 When we speak of eternal security, many objections arise. What about when believers sin some object? What about those who claim Christ but live in sin? We still play a part. These are just a few of the objections from tradition. 

 If our Redemption could only be purchased by His shed Blood, then why do we think our work or efforts could maintain this Redemption? If it's only by the Blood, then how could our efforts, our performance, add to or take away from Redemption? If our behavior before we received this Redemption didn't merit it, to begin with, how could our behavior undo it once we received it?

 So is our salvation permanent once received? Some would argue, that it is secure so long as you're in Christ. This argument, though meant to sound balanced, opens up more questions and produces fear and anxiety in God's people. 

 How do I know if I am in Christ? How do I know if I still am in Christ? Can I get out of Christ? These are genuine questions that tradition can't or won't answer.

 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 NLT 

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:22-23 NLT

 We are clearly in Christ when we believed. Looking at all the in Christ Scriptures, you can't find a way out of Christ. Religious tradition has concluded though that our sin, that is too much sin, can cause Christ to depart from us and leave us "out of Christ." 

 They look at the sins and failures of believers and judge they are now lost. They see their shortcomings and unfaithfulness and declare they must have never been saved, to begin with. They conclude too much sinning means believers are shown the exit door "out of Christ." 

 What are we doing when we look at the sins and shortcomings of professing Christians and presuppose they must have never been saved, to begin with? What are we doing when see believers at their absolute worst and conclude that they are no longer saved? We are ignoring and overlooking the perfect, once for all time, sacrificial, substitutionary work of Jesus on the Cross. We are declaring the blood is insufficient to cleanse all sin, and presuming the Finished Work has its limits and another's sin is far greater than His Grace and forgiveness. 

 Sin is destructive. Sin hurts others and those in bondage and captivity to it. Yes, there are believers who have pursued adultery, sexual sins, lying, and defrauding others. Does that mean they are out of Christ? Does that mean that they were never saved? 

 Emphatically no! What it means is that some believers have not renewed their minds to the Word and are still conformed to the world in some areas of their thinking. It means that they fell for the enemy's lie when he brought temptation. It means there still exists unrenewed desires.

 That doesn't mean they are no longer saved or out of Christ. In light of the Cross, our sins are like throwing pebbles at a massive dam hoping to put a crack in it. Stand in awe of the Cross.

 When I survey the Cross, I see sinful man unable to save and redeem himself. I see a God who so loved us all that He sent His only Son to take our place. I stand in awe of the Cross and I am truly humbled, knowing I can never do enough to merit this Love and Grace. I see and understand that this and only this is what saves, forgives, heals, secures, and makes whole. 

 In summation, is our salvation permanent or temporal? Thanks be to God it is forever and eternal. It is unwavering and unchanging. Once received it cannot be undone and cannot be lost. Stand in awe of the Cross. It's only by the Blood, nothing we can do to earn it or merit it, nothing we can do to undo it or forfeit it. Salvation is forever. 


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

God is Not Mad at You

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life. Romans 5:8-10 AMPC

 At some time or another, all believers have asked the question is God mad at me? At some point in a Christian's life, they have wondered if God is mad at them when they sin. I would make the bold claim that many believers still see God as a vengeful angry deity willing and waiting to strike at the moment of failure. 

 Why do we as believers hold fast to this image of God in our thinking? We see the Old Covenant and the wrath and judgment poured out. We hear religious traditional ministers proclaim that God is angry and is poised to strike when we miss it. We hear preaching that God hates the lost, the sinners, and the rebellious and is going to get them by sending famine, floods, fire or pestilence, and plagues. 

 Under the Old, Christ had not yet died. Judgment seemed more swift because there was no price paid for the wicked sins of humanity. Yet in this time, we still see God's mercy and Grace. He provided temporary fixes be it through animal sacrifices, raising up intercessors, and making covenants with individuals. God was still Good then and He waited for the fullness of time to send us His Son, who takes away the sins of the world.

 As for traditional preaching, they have forgotten that their own sins were forgiven. That Jesus' Blood paid the full price. They have made much of God's wrath and made very little of His Grace and Goodness.

 and through him to reconcile all things to himself, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. Colossians 1:20 MOUNCE

 The Blood of Christ brought peace. Because of the Blood of Jesus, we have peace with God for all time and eternity. God isn't mad at you or me. Our Father isn't folding His arms in disappointment when we blow it, foul-up, or sin. Because of the Blood, the price has been paid once for all time. We have peace with God and He isn't mad at us but rather He is pleased with us because of all that Jesus has done.

 We have peace through the Blood. We have peace from a guilt-ridden conscience. We have a Righteousness conscience because of the precious Blood of Christ. Guilt and shame have no place in our thinking or self-image. Thoughts of guilt and shame must bow to the higher truth that we have peace with God and He isn't accounting or imputing our sins to us any longer. 

 Only the Blood of Jesus brings peace with God. We can't promise to do better to find peace with God. We can't do enough to earn peace with God. In days gone by dueling forces, or nations signed peace treaties. Each side had forces, and manpower, and was equipped with the means for war. Each side had something with which to bargain.

 What can we offer to God as a "bargaining chip?" What position did we hold that we could earn or achieve peace with God? We had broken the commands of God. We had fallen short of God's glory. We were guilty before God.

 It was the Blood of Jesus that brought about peace. Jesus standing in the place of man, by means of His blood shed, took the wrath, the judgment, and penalty of all sins for all time. The innocent, the spotless, the perfect took the place of the guilty. 

 I'm so thankful for the Blood of Jesus. It brought about peace with God. It made us the friends of God and no longer the enemies of God. When God looks upon us now He sees us as who we were made in the New Creation. Righteous, holy, approved sons and friends. 

 In summation, understand God is not mad at you no matter what. Because of the Blood, you have peace with God. Peace from a guilty conscience, and even peace from the broken Law. All praise be to God for giving us His Son. You are now Righteous, accepted, approved, and received by God as His own. God is not mad at you, He's madly in love with you!

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, April 4, 2022

Nothing but the Blood


19 And so, dear brothers, now we may walk right into the very Holy of Holies, where God is, because of the blood of Jesus. 20 This is the fresh, new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us by tearing the curtain—his human body—to let us into the holy presence of God. Hebrews 10:19-20 TLB  

One of the greatest revelations of the New Covenant is exactly what happened on the Cross and the subsequent resurrection. That God Himself took our place and shed His perfect blood on our behalf. The Blood of Jesus is what made our redemption and salvation a reality. 

 Do we really understand the magnitude of the Blood? How powerful this perfect Blood is? What this shed Blood has done for us? 

 We sing songs about the Blood of Jesus. We write about the Blood. We may even hear a message about the Blood. Yet when the song ends, the book is finished being read, the sermon concludes, how do we approach God? How do we pray? How do we see ourselves before God?

 Allow me to ask, does the knowledge that Jesus shed His perfect blood alter the way you approach God or see yourself? Or is the truth that His precious blood was shed for you, merely an abstract concept that is far off in the distance and really isn't in the forefront of your thinking and the very foundation of your Faith? 

 The Precious Blood of Christ is merely a theological concept to so many because we aren't taught the fullness of what Jesus actually accomplished for us. When we understand fully what Jesus' Blood procured for us, our lives will be radically transformed. Condemnation ceases to rule over us. Powerless, anemic faith is revitalized into powerful, dynamic Faith that overcomes and lays hold of the victory Christ purchased.

 Legalism flourishes when the Blood of Jesus is not given preeminence. Our performance takes center stage when the Blood of Jesus becomes a mere theological concept, or a stage drama once a year during Easter. Our achievements, our accomplishments, and our actions are what matter most when the Blood loses the focus of our attention, our adoration, and our adulation. Our sacrifice isn't what matters, it's the Blood of Jesus that justifies.

 The Blood of Jesus has become so far from center stage in our theology, that many believe the Blood isn't even powerful enough to completely cleanse us from all our sins. Tradition has convinced many that the Blood merely covers sin, (like placing a rug over a stain on the floor), and doesn't actually cleanse sin. Still, others claim the Blood has such limited reach and power, that it only cleansed us from our past sins up to the point of accepting Christ, but our future sins require our efforts, confessions, apologies, repentance, in order to be cleansed and forgiven. 

 When we recognize the fullness of the power of the Precious Blood of Jesus we will walk in the freedom and acceptance Christ procured for us. We will no longer look to our performance but trust in Christ's. We will cease our efforts to earn and achieve acceptance and approval and simply rest in Christ's Finished Work.

 Now, when sins have once been forever forgiven and forgotten, there is no need to offer more sacrifices to get rid of them. Hebrews 10:18 TLB

 Whose sacrifice are you trusting in? Your own? Your labor of getting up early, engaging in Bible study, or devotion? The amount you gave financially? Your ability to abstain from sinful actions? Your kindness toward others?  Or are you counting your own labor as secondary compared to the once for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus?

 18 For you know that you were not redeemed from your vain way of life inherited from your fathers with perishable things, like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19 MEV

This passage makes it evident that the Blood is the source of our very redemption. Notice Peter cited silver and gold. What's the significance? Silver and gold perish or aren't eternal true, but they also represent something that is earned and achieved. Our redemption is based on Christ alone, not Jesus plus our works and efforts. 

 In summation, let's put the Blood back at the forefront of our thinking and theology. Let's give the Precious Blood of Jesus the preeminence it deserves. What cleansed us from our sins? Nothing but the Blood! What made us accepted and approved by God? Nothing but the Blood! What made us whole? Nothing but the Blood! It's not about us, it's all about Him! It's all about Jesus and His perfect, Precious Blood shed for us. 

see even more about the Blood here.


Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Why you can have bold Faith even when you fail.


Praise the Lord, all you nations! Exalt Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! Psalm 117 MEV    

 Have you ever had a need but were hesitant to pray for it to be met? Have you had a crisis situation arise suddenly but lacked the confidence to call out to God in the midst of it? Has someone ever asked you to pray with them or for them but felt your prayers would be hindered and ineffective?

 In these times, times that I dare say all believers have experienced, what was the cause of the lack of confidence? What was the root of the feelings of inadequacy? Why the hesitancy to pray? Why the sense that our prayers would be hindered and ineffective?

 The reason for all the uncertainty is the thinking that we weren't qualified at that moment to receive from God. We believed that God would not hear us or that our Faith would falter. Why?

 The reason is there is a teaching in many many Christian circles that has caused us to disqualify ourselves from receiving from God. This teaching is pervasive throughout the many quarters of the Body of Christ. The teaching that our sins and shortcomings and failures will cause God to break fellowship with us and not hear or answer our prayers.

 This teaching is rooted in two passages of Scripture.

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you. Jeremiah 5:25 MEV 

 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; Psalm 66:18 MEV

 Take note these passages were written during the Old Covenant. A Covenant that was rooted in man's ability to keep the commandments and observe the Mosaic Law. These passages are in direct contrast with the entire premise of the New Covenant.

 The New Covenant is rooted in Christ's performance not our own. The New Covenant is founded upon the Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is based upon the Father fully accepting the substitutionary work of His only Son. God affirmed that to all those who believed He would be God to them and they would be a people to Him. Because of Jesus we are accepted and approved by God our Father.

 He made the New Covenant superior to the Old when He also decreed as a result of the Work of His Son He would not remember our sins any longer. This aspect of the New Covenant is seemingly dismissed or neglected by so many believers. How can I say this? Because the teaching that God will not hear or answer prayer because of our sins is so pervasive throughout the Church.

 This Old Covenant teaching about sin and the corresponding unanswered prayer is why so many struggle in Faith. They look so often at their own works, their own performance, and their own behavior. They see failure, shortcomings, and sinful deeds and conclude surely God would not respond to any request to answer prayer, to bless, to heal, to deliver, or to provide. 

 This is natural reasoning based on Old Covenant thinking. Many Bible teachers use these passages to disqualify God's people from receiving from Him. It's not that they are malicious or trying to harm people. They are just repeating what they were taught. These beliefs are strongholds that can only be pulled down by a fresh understanding of the New Covenant and the Finished Work of Christ.

 David's words recorded reveal something that leads us to the correct understanding concerning this New Covenant. He stated if he regards iniquity in his heart God won't hear him. David reveals that his sin consciousness caused him to shrink back believing that God wouldn't hear him. God didn't tell David this, he just believed this. Many today, are doing the same, disqualifying themselves. 

 The answer to disqualification is to remember who we are now in Christ. Jesus gave us His Righteousness. He made us Righteous in this new creation. What does it mean to be Righteous?

 Righteousness is God's gift of no condemnation. Righteousness is that gift whereby we can stand before God without any sense of condemnation, guilt, shame, insecurity, or inferiority. Righteousness is that gift where we who believed are in perpetual right standing with God. Righteousness is that gift that grants us perfect acceptance and approval from our Heavenly Father. Righteousness is that blessing David spoke of, the person who God no longer imputes sin or uncleanness. This is the Gift of Righteousness.

 Here is the good news, we can have bold Faith even when we fail. Why? Because Jesus has made us Righteous. Because God is no longer imputing sin to us. 

 Faith is having a good opinion of God. That God loves us so much He gave us His Son. If He gave us His best, there is nothing He will withhold from us. Faith is being fully persuaded that what God said He will do, He will do. Faith is unwavering confident trust in His Word. 

  Even David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness without works: “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” Romans 4:6-8 MEV

 Why can we have bold Faith even when we fail? We have bold Faith because He remembers our sins and iniquities no more. Because we have been forgiven of all our sins, past present, and future. Because He is not imputing sin to us. We have a good opinion of God because of Jesus!

 In summation, no longer accept anything disqualifying you. No longer accept the concept that your sin is a barrier to your Faith. No longer shrink back seeing yourself as not good enough or worthy to receive. Come boldly before the throne of Grace and freely petition the Father because Jesus made a new and living way for us to come to the Father.

 This New Covenant is rooted in Jesus' work and the Father has accepted that work. You can have confident Faith that God hears and answers your prayers because you're declared Righteous. You can stand before God without any sense of guilt or inferiority or condemnation. You can ask boldly and be fully persuaded you will receive, all because of the Finished Work of Christ, and the Gift of Righteousness.   

 pastor Joseph Prince has a whole message he taught on this, highly encourage you to listen. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Is His Grace enough?

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 MOUNCE 

For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 CJB

I would like to ask an honest question concerning the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation. Is Grace truly enough? Is Trust in Christ alone sufficient? Is there something else we must do?

 There is within the Body of Christ, various believers who adamantly oppose the idea that salvation is received simply by trusting in Christ alone. That Salvation is not just by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone. Rather than this, salvation is really about change. Changing one's ways, their actions, continually acknowledging they are a sinner, and persevering in a life free of sin, enduring till the end. This doctrine has been called reformed theology.

 Not to be disparaging or derogatory, but I would agree it is reforming. It has reformed the Gospel from the Gospel of Grace to a gospel of works and performance. After hearing some comments and commentaries of the proponents of this message I was truly astonished by their theological views. They put much emphasis on the sovereignty of God and very little on God's Love, mercy, compassion, and His great Grace.

 Religion does its best to find ways to disqualify and declare ineligible God's people, and the lost looking for help and hope in a fallen world. Whereas Grace has approved all to receive by simply believing, religion disapproves all until they meet certain requirements, stipulations, and requisites. Religion gives you a thumbs down, but God's Grace and love give you a thumbs up.

 This reformed ideology is where Lordship salvation was birthed. The idea is that what one must do to be saved is to not only believe but also repent for all their sins, not merely apologizing for them, but turning away from all sin completely. If one still has desires for sin then this proves they were never "converted" or saved. Even if one were to live a moral life for several years but later fall into sin, this proves they were never saved, never making Jesus Lord of their life. 

 Where is mercy in this theology? Where is God's Love in this kind of thinking? Where is God's Grace to be found in any of this teaching? When Peter denied Christ, did that mean he never believed in Jesus as the Messiah? Of course not.

 This works and performance gospel, believes there are millions of professing Christians who will die and end up in hell, lost and separated forever. Not only are they dismissing Grace, but they are also promoting doom and gloom messaging. They are presenting The Father as a wrathful angry God to all. God was angry at injustice and the pain and suffering sin caused, so He did something about it, He sent His Son to suffer all the pain, punishment, and judgment of sin. 

 Religion is rooted in the sensory realm. It is mankind attempting to relate to, and understand God based on intellect, reason, and the senses. Just as traditional religion rejects the supernatural, signs and wonders, divine healing and provision, and the Gifts of the Spirit in operation today because of intellectual reasoning, they also reject the Grace and mercy towards the fallen by reasoning Grace doesn't allow for long term mistakes, misdeeds, or immorality.

 Is His Grace enough? Is His Grace enough to be saved when we simply believe? Is His Grace enough even when we fail, falter, foul-up, or just plain sin? What else must we do to be saved? What can we do if we have failed or fallen? 

 When we are serving the austere taskmaster instead of the Father,  there isn't much hope. We will continually beat ourselves up, walk-in condemnation, and try to earn the attention and affection of God. When we through reason, intellect, and what we sense, try to understand and relate to God we will always feel distant, and displeasing to God.

 The root of this false gospel is self-righteousness and pride. Reformed theology is basically Calvinistic. Calvinism teaches that God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost, that He ordains some to salvation and some to eternal separation. The proponents of this false gospel believe they were the chosen, therefore pride and arrogance swell within their minds, intellect, and emotions.    

 All the while they are passing judgment on the salvation of others, none of the accusations and condemnation they hurl at others ever comes their way. This is how this false gospel spreads among the proponents of reformed theology. If they believe they are the chosen, they then can pass condemnation and judgment on others freely.

 Again, I ask, is His Grace enough? The answer is a resounding yes! Grace wrecks this false gospel. Grace reveals we are all unworthy apart from Christ. Grace reveals that it is His Grace from start to finish. We trust in this Grace, we boast in His Love for us, never our works or performance or even our behavior. We trust in His Goodness and Love alone.

 Salvation is simply trusting in Christ alone. This New Covenant reveals what we must do to be saved. Jesus and Paul the Apostle layout how simple salvation really is

 He then led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved. Acts 16:30-31 MEV 

 Paul let us know just how simple salvation is. Paul didn't say believe, and change your behavior, your thinking, promise to do better, commit every single aspect of your life and you just might be saved. He simply said believe. 

 The Gospel is Good News! The Gospel is the Grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The Gospel reveals God isn't mad at anyone. The Gospel reveals how much God loves you. The Gospel reveals how much He loves me. The Gospel heralds the acceptance and approval God has made available to whosoever will receive it. 

 Grace is enough. God doesn't ask that we get our act together. God doesn't give us a timetable to meet His standards. He doesn't put us on a probationary status. His Grace is sufficient. 

 God is a loving Father who sought a family. He sowed His Son and reaped a family. He gave us His best because of His great love toward us. We can't earn our place in His family, or kingdom. We can't do enough to qualify. We can't perform well enough to earn our keep. All He asks is that we believe. 

 In summation, man is looking to earn their keep. To prove they were worth saving. God is simply wanting us to enjoy this eternal life He paid such a high price for. God wants everyone to know and experience His Love. For all those who responded God wants you to know God isn't mad at you. God is pleased with you. God wants your highest and best. Your His beloved, the one in whom Jesus loves. Receive the true Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, accept no substitute. In Him, you're greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved. 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Redeemed from the curse of sickness and disease.

 


Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:13 BSB

 We've been in a study examining our redemption from the curse of the Law. We've seen that the curse is threefold. That though the curse covers various areas of life it can be summed up as a threefold affliction. The curse is poverty and lack, spiritual death, and sickness and disease.

 So far we've seen how poverty and lack isn't something the Lord delights in. Looking at the earthly ministry of Jesus one could never conclude God takes pleasure in poverty or scarcity. This message of abundance and prosperity must stay centered of course. Prosperity isn't "balanced" by accepting a little lack and insufficiency, nor is it "balanced" by concluding all will be millionaires, and that all God cares about is our material gain. 

 We've seen how Jesus' Finished Work of Redemption forever redeemed us from spiritual death. We are never again to be separated from our Father. We are forgiven and made eternally secure forever.

 Sickness and disease are part of the curse, see Deuteronomy 28. The good news is in His Redemptive work, Christ also redeemed us from the curse of sickness and disease. Isaiah and Matthew and Peter speaking of Jesus' work on the cross, declared He bore our sickness and pains and by His stripes, we were healed.

In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God. Isaiah 53:4 CJB

Surely he has borne our sickness and carried our suffering;
yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflictedBut he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 WEB 

 Jesus has procured for us our healing and wholeness in His perfect Redemptive work. He bore sickness and disease so we never need to bear it. Sickness and disease aren't the handiwork of God. He is the author of Goodness, not evil. 

 Some seriously ignorant and misguided religious tradition-minded believers and ministers teach and believe healing was not in the work of the cross. They write books, preach sermons, host seminars, create videos, and flood social media doing all they can to convince the masses of this. They believe and teach that this healing only speaks of the healing of sin.

 This sounds real spiritual but we were not sick or disease-ridden with sin. The Word is quite clear. We were not sick with sins and therefore needed to be healed from sin. We were dead in sins. Because of sin, we were all spiritually dead. We didn't need healing we needed new life. Paul revealed our condition, we were dead and needed to be made new. In Christ, we are a New Creation, not a "healed" old creation.

 Healing is ours through the Redemptive Work of Jesus. When we see all the types and shadows of the Passover lamb, the sacrifices offered by the priests, none of the animals were ever scourged and tortured. Yet Jesus, the Lamb of God was shamed, humiliated, scourged, and tortured. Why? 

 Jesus took the chastisement of our peace, our wholeness, and by His wounds, we were healed. Jesus bore the pain and shame for the joy set before Him. He gladly took our place, for the joy of seeing us healed and being made whole. Our healing, our deliverance, and our protection were a joy set before Him. He willingly gave His body for us.

 Now some have said in light of what we can see around us, and the experience of others, that we don't need messages about how God wants us to avoid suffering, but how to endure suffering better. This sounds noble and I am certain those espousing this mean well, but what exactly are we to suffer? What do we need to endure?

 Are we to suffer poverty and lack? Are we to suffer sickness and disease? If we are to endure suffering better, and we are meant to suffer what Christ bore on the cross, then why are so many gainfully employed? Why are so many using medicine and seeking help from the medical field to get better? 

 These phrases are poetic in nature but we must use the Word of God as our source for truth. In a fallen and fractured world, challenges and afflictions may arise. The key to enduring better is to first and foremost understand God isn't the author of suffering, loss, or affliction. 

 The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 34 that in this world there are troubles, fears, and afflictions. Thanks be to God he doesn't stop there. Through it all, God is there with us. God is bringing us through them. God is also delivering us from these afflictions. 

 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of sickness and disease. Healing is God's highest and best for His children. Sickness and disease are the work of the enemy. God procured our healing and wholeness in the Finished Work. Freely receive it.

 Because healing is a work of Redemption, we, therefore, can't earn or merit it. Healing is a work of Grace, not our effort. We can't ever arrive at a place whereby we are good enough to receive. We can't do enough, give enough, serve enough to merit or earn healing. It is freely received by Grace through Faith alone.

 In summation, rejoice in the Good News of our Redemption. We are redeemed from poverty. We are redeemed from sickness. We are redeemed from spiritual death. For poverty, He has given us wealth, for sickness, health, for spiritual death, eternal life. Jesus has perfectly purchased and procured our redemption. We are healed and whole because of Jesus. Claim what Christ has purchased and provided freely, and walk in it. Let the Redeemed say so, we are healed because of Jesus!

Image by chiplanay from Pixabay