Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Radical Grace against repentance?

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 an extended study concerning God's amazing, over the top Grace. We've been allaying the many myths associated with the message of Grace as of late. Radical Grace isn't the message that celebrates sin and lasciviousness. It isn't a message of inaction and passivity. Grace once received, produces empowerment and brings greater understanding of who we are because of Christ.

 One last myth I wish to put to rest is the idea that Radical Grace is somehow opposed to repentance. I am aware why some may perceive this about the message of Grace. The source of the contention is the definition of repentance. This is yet another reason for the rejection of Grace. Men cling to a dictionary and Latin definition of repentance. 

 Whenever truth comes it lays aside the traditions of men. When tradition is laid aside some men fight to keep their traditions on the forefront if you will. In order to better understand where I am coming from let's define what repentance is not.

Repentance is NOT you telling the Lord I'm sorry

 This mindset perhaps is rooted in the misapplied and misunderstood Scripture 1 John 1:9. 
 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NKJV
 This passage is written to the human who is a sin denier. Those who have refused the free gift because they don't believe sin exists. Or they feel their works and intellect is more than enough to stand before God. Some, however, have turned this passage into the Christian's bar of soap when they blow it. 

 Because of this, many feel that confessing and repentance are equal parts or two sides of the same coin. They then see repentance as some apology principle. That God withholds forgiveness until we feel bad and receives an apology. This concept is rooted in error and wrong thinking.

Jesus has forgiven us on that Cross. He took our past and present and future sins and paid for them in His Finished Work. We are perfectly forgiven. Now, if it helps one to receive of the Finished Work to ask for forgiveness when they miss it, by all means ask away. You don't need to though because having received Jesus also means we received all He purchased for us in His great work of redemption. 

Repentance is NOT turning from sin

 This is where the dictionary and Latin definition of the word repent get people caught up. So many seem to define repent as a turning away from something. Some have gone so far as to rip the assurance and security the Finished Work purchased for the believer by wielding this definition.

 Some teach that if you blow it or mess up and ask God for forgiveness, but continually repeat the same mistake, you haven't really repented. You must turn from that sin and not commit it again. Only then will God actually forgive you. I have heard this concept taught in many holiness circles. 

Repentance IS changing one's mind

 To repent is to change one's mind. This is the Bible definition of the word repent. So, Radical Grace isn't opposed to the changing of the mind. We all had a change of mind when we received the good news of the Finished Work and Grace. We changed our mind from trusting in our performance and began trusting in Christ's Finished Work. 

 Lay aside the weight and traditions of dead religion. Come embrace the Radical Grace of Almighty God. Receive the truth that you're salvation is eternally secure. Receive the truth that you are forgiven of all of your sins. Receive the truth that you've been made worthy as God is because of the Blood. Identify with Jesus, as He is now so are we. This is understanding the Radical Grace of Almighty God. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesus: The greatest gift of all

 Being this is the week of Christmas I sense strongly the Lord leading me to write about the greatest gift of all. Many people at this time are desperately looking for that perfect gift for friends and loved ones. People get bitter, angry and in a mad dash searching stores, shops, and malls. I wanted to interject at this very moment that the greatest gift of all has already been given.

 Jesus is the greatest gift of all. No, I am not going to be writing about how materialistic Christmas has become. That many get so selfish around this time of year. That people get angry if they didn't receive what they thought they should have gotten. I have come to proclaim good news to you no matter your situation. 

Receiving of the greatest gift

 So many don't seem to realize throughout the year just how wonderful a gift they have in Jesus. I want to take the time to remind you just how wonderful a gift Jesus is.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

1. Jesus has given us eternal life. When we received Jesus we received eternal life. This isn't temporal life but eternal life. This word eternal life is the Greek word zoe. It means life like God has it. 

Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King Romans 5:1 Voice

2. Because of Jesus we have peace. Peace with God. Peace from turmoil and torment. Jesus is our peace. We can rest knowing God isn't mad at us. We have peace in this troubled World because of Jesus.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV

3. Jesus gave us His righteousness. Because of Jesus and the Finished Work, we have been made the very righteousness of God in Him. We have perfect right standing with Almighty God. We have an irrevocable righteousness because of Jesus. 

 Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him Romans 5:9 Amp

4. We are saved and freed from wrath because of Jesus. Because of Jesus God will never be angry with us. We have no fear of God's wrath. Jesus paid the full price for us. We are not guilty before God.

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

5. Because of Jesus we have been made new creations. We are brand new thanks to the Lord Jesus. Our past is wiped away. We are new creations in Him. The Spirit dwells within us and the Love of God is cascading in our hearts. 

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

6. Because of Jesus we have been forgiven of all our sins. All sin, past and present and future have been forgiven by His shed blood. This is such good news. God, because of Jesus, isn't holding our sins against us. We are forever forgiven.

10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 NLT

7. Because of Jesus we are made perfectly holy once for all time. Holiness isn't something we strive and perform to become. We are made holy by Jesus Finished Work. Through Jesus, we progressively mature into who He already made us. 

 12 He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]. Hebrews 9:12 AMP

8. Jesus, by virtue of His shed blood,  has obtained and secured our eternal salvation. Jesus ensures our salvation is secure and permanent. I can't understand why so many want to fight this wonderful gift from Jesus. We need not fret or fear from one day to the next if we are still saved or not. Jesus obtained and secured our salvation forever.

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

9. Because of Jesus we have been made healed and whole. Jesus is our healer, not the one bringing pain and misery. No matter your circumstances put your hope and trust in Jesus your healer. Jesus knows whatever you're going through. He is the healer, the mender and the one who brings wholeness. 

19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

10. Jesus is our supply and our source for all we need. He is our help at all times. Jesus is our provision. Have need for peace? He is our peace. Have need for strength? We can do all things who strengthens us. Do you have a financial need? He has wisdom and provision for us in our time of need. Jesus is our everything.

 This is just a short list of all we have because of the gift of Jesus. In this Holiday season take the time to reflect of what we have in Jesus. Partake of all He has for you. God loved us so much that He gave us the best, His Son. Freely it has been given, freely receive it.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Understanding Grace: Why do so many reject Radical Grace?

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've been in a series of study on understanding the Radical Grace of God. We've established that we have been completely forgiven of all our sins. This would include all past and present and future sins. We've discovered we don't confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness. We have explored the truth that we are made completely righteous by the Blood and have been made as worthy as God to receive anything we need. 

 We've spent time allaying myths often associated with Radical Grace teaching. Radical Grace isn't a license to live selfishly or sinfully. It isn't a message that produces a lazy or fruitless living. It is not a philosophy of Universalism. Radical Grace is not the great end time deception of the enemy. 

Then why do so many seemingly reject and resist Radical Grace?

 I have briefly touched on this topic in an earlier post. You can read it here. As I have said some have a misguided view of Father God. Some have a low self-worth of themselves and their standing before God. Simple instruction from God's Word will decimate these strongholds from believer's minds. There is one particular stronghold that runs deep in the Body of Christ that really fuels this rejection of Grace.

 So many seem to reject Radical Grace in favor of what they are too familiar with. They label it "Hyper-Grace". From the pulpit to the sermons preached and what is in print we see a continual barrage of attacks against Radical Grace. I am not just referencing the ministers who have written books and made a living by spreading myths about Radical Grace. 

 I am including many of our brothers and sisters in the many churches across the globe. Radical Grace is most often cast aside or given an insignificant place in favor of the alternatives. Why is this? There is a simple explanation. 

 There is a deep stronghold rooted in many of our minds after we've received the Lord. What is this stronghold? In the spirit of honesty, allow me first to say this, most believers agree we can't earn our salvation. They agree readily it is by grace we have been saved. Many many seminaries, denominations, and Bible institutes will readily agree with us. They will agree Grace is key to the Christian faith.

 The problem is, (and this is where this stronghold begins to take root) after we receive the Lord Jesus, Grace becomes an insignificant part of the Christian life. This is that stronghold, grace being inferior to achievement and performance. Radical Grace is contrary to many believer's thinking. We have been so conditioned to the alternatives. Why is this?

 The alternatives to Grace are so much more appealing to our unrenewed thinking. Grace is only factored into the equation of our salvation. Once we receive the Lord it is time to get busy. We need to walk worthy of our calling.

 Many interpret this into we must work or earn our keep in the Father's house. Much of the Christian World is geared toward achievement programs. In "Faith" and Charismatic circles, many are continually striving to reach a "new level". In many mainline denominations, many are striving to meet the latest goals. 

 The system of achievements, accolades, accomplishment and applause is more comfortable to our unrenewed thinking. Why? It gives us a place to boast. It establishes a hierarchy in the local church. It gives us something to strive for. It gives us a "hope" that possibly we can shine one day in the eyes of others. 

 Ministries prefer this because the "go-getters" will always rise to the top. The kingdoms of men will be built that much faster. Then the ministry or minister will become renowned throughout the land.  It's not just the minister, the people also can become boastful. "Look, I belong to this mega ministry...". This is all kingdom of men building and it is so contrary to Radical Grace.

 The appeal for the alternative of Radical Grace is it gives a measuring stick to men to judge the commitment level of others. In the minds of men, it allows God's opinion of His Church to sway by their performance level. It gives place for God to withhold forgiveness until we "repent" or rather say I'm sorry and really mean it. It regulates forgiveness into an installment plan. It transforms sons and daughters into servants and subjects. 

 This is the stronghold that must be dismantled from our thinking collectively as a Church. The performance, reward mentality must be renewed to the Lord's Finished Work. When we interpret the blessings of God as simple rewards then God becomes an employer who is paying a just deserved wage for good works by His employee. Healing and provision and abundance are already ours by the Finished Work, not our efforts or achievements. 

 Grace is not an insignificant portion of the life of the Believer. Radical Grace is what Christianity is all about. We rely on His Grace from the time when we first receive Him until our last breath or until He returns for us. Those of us who've received this Grace, know firsthand how the accolade and applause system left us weary and burnt out. The performance wheel may be more appealing to our old thinking, but it always leaves us wanting. The enemy and religion will always be quick to remind us how we don't measure up. 

God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling—not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 2 Timothy 1:9 Voice
In summation, many reject this Radical Grace because the servanthood way of Christian living is more appealing. Human effort and the possibility of shining before others is too enticing. This rejection, therefore, is no indication from God that Radical Grace is a false teaching. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Understanding Grace: What about Hell and the Radical Grace Gospel? Does Radical Grace deny Hell is real?

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 an in-depth study of God's over the top, too good to be true but true good and glad news. The amazingly good news of the Grace of Almighty God. Recently, we began allaying the myths often associated with the Radical Grace Gospel.

 Today, I wish to address one of the most controversial issues in this Grace Restoration that has visited the Body of Christ. That being the topic of eternal damnation. More plainly stated, what about Grace and Hell?

Hell, real or unreal? 

 The Word of God teaches us that we have been completely forgiven of all our sins through the Finished Work. The Word of God is what reveals we need not confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness of our sin after we've been born again. The Word is what informs us that we have unconditional eternal security in Christ. The same Word that reveals the Grace Gospel also informs us that a place of eternal separation does in fact exist.

What Jesus taught about Hell

 Surely the person of Grace didn't believe a place of eternal separation exists?
11 It will not be just the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob who celebrate at their heavenly banquet at the end of time. No, people will come from the East and the West—and those who recognize Me, regardless of their lineage, will sit with Me at that feast12 But those who have feigned their faith will be cast out into outer darkness where people weep and grind their teeth. Matthew 8:11-12 Voice

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 NLT

Here we see Jesus words. Add the book of Revelation and we see clearly the Scriptures reference a place of eternal separation. Now that we established that Hell exists, how do Grace and Hell coincide? Have I stopped preaching the good news because I agree with the Bible that Hell exists? Before some bring out their "grace" stones to throw, at least, finish reading. I promise you will see the good news of Grace even when acknowledging Hell exists.

 What Paul, the Apostle of Grace taught about Hell

 Some say Paul never taught about Hell, I must point out that they are mistaken.  
 It is only right that God would repay with trouble those who have troubled you 7-8 and give relief to all of you still bandaging your wounds, as well as to all the rest of us. On that day—when the clouds draw back displaying His powerful heavenly messengers in a fiery blaze, Jesus the Lord will appear from heaven dealing out perfect justice to anyone who doesn’t know God and anyone who disobeys the good news of our Lord Jesus. And what’s to become of them? They’ll pay for what they’ve done; their punishment will be eternal destruction. And what’s worse? They’ll be banished from the Lord’s presence and glorious power. 10 On that day when He comes, all the saints in heaven and on earth will celebrate the glory of His power, and all who believe will stand and be amazed—this includes you because you believed us when we testified on His behalf11 All this is why we are constantly praying for you, so God will make you worthy of the great calling you have received from Him and will give you the power to accomplish every good intention and work of faith. 12 Then the great name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified through your lives, and you will be glorified in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12 Voice

This is essential to understanding the Grace Gospel and the existence of a place called Hell. What Paul taught here is the absolute good news of Grace. With Paul's teaching, He illuminates the "mystery" of a place called Hell. He answers who goes there and why. Now for the good news associated with Hell.

Acknowledging Hell's existence and Hellfire preaching are two distinct views.

I want to revisit Jesus Words and Paul's Words to give insight in the Gospel and good news. 
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16 NLT
41 Then I will turn to those on my left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. Matthew 25:41 TLB

...and anyone who disobeys the good news of our Lord Jesus 2 Thessalonians 1:8b Voice
 As promised here is the good news of the Gospel. Hell is NOT the gospel message. Hear the Words of Paul and Jesus. He said Hell was not even prepared for any man. No man has been destined to an eternity separated from God. Scaring people into receiving Jesus then, isn't God's best. It is not His commission to tell the World they're all going to Hell. There is no bad news in the good news.

 This doesn't mean Grace denies the existence of Hell. This means that we acknowledge that man wasn't designed to end up there. That Jesus made a perfect way of grace for all to receive new life and experience eternal love, peace and security that only comes from a freely received relationship with Him. Our highest calling is to spread the good news that God isn't mad at anyone and that He has made a way for all to receive eternal life and righteousness.

 It doesn't seem to coincide with Grace that a place of eternal separation exists? Here are some thoughts that will show how compatible the Good News is while acknowledging the existence of Hell. Who actually goes there? Does God send people there? Absolutely not.

 Jesus and Paul give us insight on why some people end up in a place of eternal separation. Jesus said that those who willingly reject the free grace of God will be condemned. Paul mentions those who know not God and who disobey the Grace Gospel. What does this mean?

 Go back to Hebrews 10:26-28. We know this isn't talking to Christians but those who refused the payment of the Finished Work in favor of relying upon temple sacrifices. I've been pondering this passage in light of this study. What we see here isn't just applicable to Jews who refused the Grace of God. 

 When the Grace Gospel is preached we all have the opportunity to receive it or reject it. This passage in Hebrews is a solemn warning about those who reject it. What are they saying? They see the payment Jesus has made for all humanity. They refuse that payment saying within, "my works, my performance, and my goodness outweighs any faults or "badness". I don't need your grace." 

 To further illustrate, it would be like me paying for your meal at a buffet and you saying, no thanks, I will pay my own way. Yet you have no money. You can't pay a debt you owe if you are bankrupt. 
 Still having trouble reconciling the Grace Gospel and a place called Hell? Let me illustrate it another way. Sin is what all mankind was born with. This sin is like a virus. The dead walking is a reality. It is the virus of sin. This virus is active in all humanity at birth. Because of this virus no man can spend eternity with God, because Heaven is "virus" free. Therefore, the only destination for the virally infected is a place of eternal separation.

 Again, God didn't design that anyone spend eternity separated. Yet this virus still exists and God can't have this virus in Heaven. So what did He do about it? He became a man and took the virus from humanity and exchanged it with His wholeness, His righteousness. He, therefore, is the cure for the virus of sin that has infected all of us. He sends His messengers out with the good news that there is a cure. All you need to do is receive the cure. If people fight the cure, or reason it away, deciding that their virus isn't all that bad what else can Grace do? If it is forced then it isn't grace.

 In summation, Hell does in fact exist. But it wasn't made for you. It was designed for the enemy satan. So don't align with his rebellion. Don't reject the cure, the Grace of God, and therefore, accept the same fate of the enemy. We are called to preach the good news that Grace and the Finished Work was enough. All one need do is respond. We aren't hell fire preachers trying to scare people. We are ministers of the Grace of God bringing hope not hopelessness to the masses. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Understanding Grace: What about God's wrath and judgment?

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've been in a series studying the over the top, too good to be true but true, Radical Grace of Almighty God. We've established what the gospel message is. As of late we have been dispelling myths and accusations hurled upon the "message" of Grace.

 Today I feel impressed to share about God's wrath and judgment. What about wrath and God's Grace? This subject can become a source of contention. When we mention anything about God's wrath and judgment two lines of thought manifests. 

 One declares God is an angry vengeful God, keeping score on how many individuals, governments, and nations miss it. God is poised and made Himself ready to smite any who don't measure up. The other line of thinking dismisses any Biblical passages about God's wrath. God was never angry and to believe otherwise is an admission that one hasn't grasped the concept of Grace. 

 I believe when we understand the gospel truth and why Jesus came in the first place we readily see that both of these ideas are wrong. The legalistic, performance minded resent the message of God's Radical Grace. The foolish minded misrepresents the message of Grace. We who have received the truth of God's amazing Grace desire to represent this beautiful gospel to the masses. 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,

Isaiah 61:1-2 NKJV

 In Isaiah, we see the prophet foretelling of the Finished Work of Christ and His second coming. What do we see God doing here? He is setting things right, He is bringing deliverance and freedom. We see only one mention of wrath or vengeance. 

 If you study the gospel of Luke Jesus cites this passage to reveal that He is, in fact, the Messiah. Jesus rightly divides the Word of God in Luke 4. He quotes verses 1 and a portion of verse 2 of Isaiah 61. He mentions the acceptable year of the Lord but omits the portion stating the day of Vengeance. Why? 

 Jesus knows He came to be the redeemer. To accomplish the will of God to be the Lamb. He came to take our place and exchange our old sinful nature with His righteousness. He knew this day of vengeance was a future work. I truly believe the day of vengeance is a two-fold application.

 One it was Jesus taking all of our punishment and satisfying the claims of justice on that Cross. It was Jesus taking the full wrath of God for all humanity. This is why when we see a tsunami strike some nation we can't say that God must be judging that nation for their sin. How could God put all that judgment on Christ and then say that wasn't enough, I must send an Earthquake to "straighten out" a wayward nation?

 Secondly, I believe the day of vengeance is also referencing the second coming of Christ when He will fully make right the things on this Earth. The full price and penalty of all sins have been paid by Christ. However, there are some who are disobedient to the gospel. That is to say, they are knowingly rejecting the gospel and being a stumbling block for others who want to receive. His return will even the scales of justice. 

 Let's talk about God's anger or wrath. Throughout the Old Covenant, we see God's anger mentioned. Here is an honest question. Did God get "born again" in the New Covenant? Did the "GodFather" suddenly become Father God? Of course not! He was always good.

11 God [is] a righteous judge, And He is not angry at all times. Psalms 7:11 YLT

 This passage in the Psalms in other translations tends to give the impression God is always mad and in a bad mood. If you do an honest study of the Old Covenant many of the passages we see God trying to send blessings but the people reject His goodness. Some pursue ideas and actions that are contrary to God's nature of mercy, and love and compassion. Because there was no mediator between God and man God had to allow judgment or wrath to fall. 

 Under the New Covenant, moving aside all the philosophical debates, and eloquent speeches, and getting down to the root what is the real question about God's wrath? I believe it is a simple question with a simple answer. I've blown it or messed up or down right deliberately sinned. Is God mad at me? Is God going to get me? Is He going to send some punishment or some harsh experience to instruct, or chasten me? 

Allow the Word of God to answer this concern

“9 Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. Isaiah 54:9 NLT

 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:9 NKJV

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 NKJV

 Allow this to be personal to you. Let the truth wash over you. God isn't mad at you. God isn't in a bad mood. He isn't holding your sins against you. He isn't ticked off with you continually because you keep messing up. God isn't saying to the Holy Ghost, "I'm so fed up with them!" Jesus isn't there trying to "soothe" or appease God's ever increasing anger with us. God is a good Father who rejoices over us with joy. He is pleased with the Finished Work of His Son.

 As we have already established, God corrects poor behavior choices by reminding His kids who they are and whose they are. So don't misunderstand what I'm saying. But don't look to God as some cosmic taskmaster who can't wait to dole out wrath and judgment to people. Jesus brought the truth to people that God is a good God. 

 In summation, Grace recognizes God was angry with injustice and even today He isn't rejoicing in the selfish acts perpetrated by mankind. We do know that God didn't just shake His fist in despair or disgust. He did something about it. He paid the highest price.  

 Grace doesn't deny the wrath of God. We know and understand God poured that wrath out on Jesus. We know that those who oppose God's free grace and mercy have decided to partake of final judgment instead of New Life in Him. There is no conflict between Radical Grace and God's wrath. Wrath is an attribute of His love. He protects those who have willingly come under His care and received His life.