Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Understanding Grace: What are God's thoughts toward us when we...

`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

 We have been in a series of study concerning understanding Grace. Recently, we began dispelling the many myths often associated with the message of Radical Grace. More recently, we've endeavored to bring clarity and truth to the myth concerning Grace and God's correction. 

 We've allayed the myth that Grace equates an ideology that God never corrects or instructs His Church. That God isn't grieved when we sin or make poor choices. In reinforcing the Biblical truth of correction we've also revealed from the Scriptures exactly how our Father instructs and corrects us. 

 In summation, God's correction is always about our true nature and identification. Having laid these myths to rest, I had planned on continuing to quell even more myths associated with Grace. But God wasn't finished completely dispelling this myth. I sensed strongly to also eradicate the religious concepts associated with God's correction.

 God's correction has never been about rejection. His instruction has never been about destruction. 

 Sometimes when we answer the myths critics hurl upon us, we also need to take the time to remove the traditional concepts that many try to assign to God in an attempt to place Him in a box of their own design. When we say God is always pleased with us, religious tradition begins to cringe and accuse us of false teaching. The root of this contention between Radical Grace and tradition is a misunderstanding of our identity in Him.

 Religious and insecure minded believers, (whom usually mean well, and yes God loves them the same as us Radical Grace believers), define identity as not just who we are, but what we do. Is our identity centered around what are actions are? Are we the sum total of what we say and do? 

 Religious tradition would unequivocally say yes. Radical Grace soundly rejects this concept. Radical Grace stands firm in agreement with who God says we are. We understand we are the very righteousness of God. We understand He has made us holy and set us apart. He has cleansed us and forgave us once for all time.

 Religious traditional minded believers would offer some passages to supposedly contradict our claims, such as;
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, Ephesians 4:1 NKJV
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1: NKJV
 You see Grace preachers? Paul is saying we need to walk worthy and pleasing to God. This is proof we can be unpleasing and unworthy before our God. Are these the concepts the Spirit wants us to draw from the passages?

 Taken at face value and out of its setting it would appear that way. Thank God though He gave us His Word in context. In the context of each of these passages, Paul was again reminding the believers of who they already are in Christ. He is urging them to mature into who they already are. 

 When our thinking and understanding is rooted in performance and insecurity all we will see when we read Scriptures is threatening concepts such as perform well enough or your salvation will be removed. We will read into God's Word, intimidation tactics such as blessings with be withheld or removed if you misbehave or don't engage in religious practices properly. Relating to God becomes more of a math equation that is one miscalculation away from failure and having to begin again. 

 These concepts must be removed from our thinking if we are to have a fruitful and fulfilling relationship with God. If your image of God is a stern and austere taskmaster with arms crossed in constant disapproval, then you will never know lasting peace and comfort. Allow His Grace to wash over you and your thinking. Let His love and mercy overwhelm you and remove this idea of our Father from you. 

What are God's thoughts toward us when we...

 Let's answer these religious falsehoods and concepts without intimidation or shrinking back from the truth of His Grace. What are God's thoughts towards us when we stumble, fall, fail, or just plain willfully sin? His thoughts toward us don't fade or falter just because we blow it or walk out of love.

 In the Old Covenant, He told His people He rejoiced over them with joy (Zephaniah 3). If He rejoiced over His servants how much more His sons? We have a better Covenant, God is always pleased with us, in our identity in Christ. Our identity then is not what we do but what we've been made in Him. 

 When we miss it, we need to be reminded of who we already are. We are the righteousness of God in Christ, (2 Corinthians 5). We are made holy once for all time, (Hebrews 10). As He is so are we in this World, (1 John 4). We are forgiven of all our sins (Colossians 2). Eternally secure in His salvation for us, (Hebrews 7, 9). He reminds us in this New Covenant our sins and iniquities He will remember no more. God isn't our accuser. 

 Because of the Blood of Jesus and the Finished Work He remembers our sins no longer. He isn't holding them against us because that would mean we are responsible for paying for them. Jesus made the once for all time payment for all sin. Understanding who we are in Him what then are God's thoughts toward us?

 His thoughts toward us are that of love, encouragement, and hope. When our salvation or sonship is threatened in the name of instruction or correction, know that it isn't from God. Again, God isn't always pleased by the actions of His people. But this doesn't mean He is disappointed and let down. 

 God is a good and merciful Father. He is tender and kind. He is also just and perfectly Holy. He leads us and guides us into all truth. He already made us perfect inwardly. The growth process is us maturing into who we already are. This is where correction is utilized. It is not a tool to hold our sin against us. 

 Maturing into who we already are in Him brings Him pleasure. This isn't striving, or toiling or trying to be made worthy. It is us drawing upon His Grace and allowing it to bring maturity.  There is also no place for boasting in this. Because growth only comes when we draw upon His Grace, His divine influence upon our heart. Just as any natural father is pleased to see his children mature so it is with our Heavenly Father. 

 In summation, what is God's thoughts toward us? His thoughts are always those of approval, acceptance and everlasting love and eternal security. Regardless if we have sinned or walked out of love, His thoughts toward us haven't changed. Tradition wants to label us by our actions. It wishes to continually remind us of our faults and failures. Religion reminds us of our sins, Grace reminds us of God's Son.

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