Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Understanding Grace: Resting in the Finished Work

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
 In our last study we looked at the finished work of Christ. To come to a better understanding of grace we need to renew our minds to the truth of Christ's finished work. We saw from the Word there is nothing we can do to make God love us or favor us more. Yet, tradition and religious ruled minds resist this truth intensely.

 Before understanding God's amazing grace, I was one of those resisting this truth. In my past I struggled and strived in a vain attempt to get God to bless me and to "use" me more. I would give away large donations, including portions of monthly bills. I studied for hours at a time. I gave away things I enjoyed, such as collectibles, movies on DVD or VHS (yes, that ancient form of media), I turned off "secular" music and only listened to Christian bands. I pursued God passionately.

With all these efforts I never saw lasting tangible results. I didn't experience the continual overflowing riches or open doors of ministry the preachers I was following kept promising. All the while I was still striving. I would experience burn out and then try harder. I was constantly plagued with the idea that there must be something wrong with me. That I wasn't doing enough or the right things I was doing, I wasn't doing long enough. 

 I was cutting away and suppressing my personality in order for me to be more holy or anointed. I was always taught the anointing will cost you. I realized if I wanted to minister healing and new life to folk I'd better start paying God for use of His anointing. So I kept striving.

 After years of striving, God revealed His truth to me through His Spirit and Word. I finally saw His wonderful, amazing grace. Now I understand who I am in Him. There was never anything wrong with God or His Word and by virtue of His finished work there was nothing wrong with me. Knowing this, I could rest. I now rest in His completed work. I stopped striving and began resting and you can too.  

 Contrary to the myth our detractors are accusing us of we are not preaching a "do nothing" gospel. That is we are not promoting laziness and unfruitful living. True there may be some misguided believers who have misunderstood grace as literally, do nothing. Staying with what God said is the simple remedy for that.

 That being said, there is a genuine "do nothing" gospel. There is nothing you can do enough to earn or deserve God's love. You can't do this or that just perfectly to cause more of God's blessing to be on you. There is no amount of striving that will cause God to be more pleased with you. Jesus did it all. His work was enough.

 Servants or sons?

 In times past there was a concept being taught in the Body of Christ. That is that we were mere stewards or servants of God. Because of this, the idea that God was a hard taskmaster became a stronghold in the minds of many. It is still strongly believed by many even today. 

 This thinking error causes some to believe Daddy God wants to make sure His children aren't too happy or satisfied. For instance, you better not like your job He will make you quit it. Don't like your place of residence because if you like it too much God's going to make you give it away and go to a far away land. In the minds of many God doesn't lead or guide with love. He drives His Children with fear, to motivate them to work and work harder.

 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. Galatians 4:7

 In order to rest in the Finished Work we must also know who He has made us. He calls us sons not servants. We aren't employees looking to follow the commands and orders of some hard to please employer. We are adopted sons in the Family. Our Daddy rejoices over us with joy. We are always well pleasing and accepted with Him.

Working or resting?

In the light of His finished work are you working or resting? 
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

 This passage in Romans is clear. If you are working or striving in order to receive from God then you are fallen from grace and relying on your works. Whenever you add efforts and striving to any equation then you have subtracted grace from it. It is really that simple. 
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Hebrews 4:9-10

 It is interesting to note the same word for work in Hebrews 4 is also the same in Romans 11. This proves that if you are working or toiling you are trying to earn a wage with God. You aren't resting in grace. You are on the achievement program. Why work or strive for what God has already freely provided?

 When we enter into the rest of the finished work then we are ceasing from our own works and performance. Instead we are fully relying on Christ's work and perfect performance. Think of it. What work, or amount of striving could put you in right standing with God? What could you do enough of to meet God's standard of absolute perfection? 
 This said, we must reject the hoops religious, Law mixing and Covenant mixing preachers keep putting up for us to jump through. We must set aside all these works and efforts they insist must be met in order for us to receive from God. The finished work made a new and living way for us to freely receive from God. It's by grace through faith. 
Place your faith in Christ. Put your hope, your trust and belief in His grace and love. Fully trust in what He accomplished in the finished work. My faith rests in His faithfulness and perfect performance not my own. We are at times even unfaithful. Here is good news though. Jesus is always faithful even when we are not. Striving ceases when you know you are accepted, loved and well pleasing to your Father. 

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