Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Growing up in Grace: Right Root produces Right Fruit

18 but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 AMP

 Spiritual growth. This concept sometimes has a negative, performance oriented stigma attached to it. Our detractors often accuse us Radical Grace ministers of promoting "sloppy agape" and "cheap grace". What these accusers fail to recognize is that Our Daddy God loves us with a furious love. As one song states, Heaven meets Earth with a "sloppy wet kiss". I'll take this "sloppy agape" over the performance and conditions based faith they promote. As for cheap grace, the only way to cheapen grace is to dwindle it down to a price where humans can afford to pay for it by their achievements and efforts. 

Spiritual Growth: Right Root equals Right Fruit

 The truth is spiritual growth is not some fast track works rooted plan to gain God's love or acceptance. For the misguided and misinformed ones who are perpetually seeking God's love and approval, spiritual growth becomes a task to complete or duty to perform. However, when one realizes the truth that through the Finished Work they've already been accepted and are thoroughly pleasing to their Father, growth occurs freely and effortlessly as a response to the new creation within.

 In past studies, we've established the right roots in His Grace. These roots will produce growth and right fruit. Once we've placed our trust in Christ's Finished Work, we are in Christ, we have union with God. Let's review briefly these right roots.

 We've been made New Creations in Him ( 2 Cor 5:17). We've been declared righteous (Romans 5:1) and made the Righteousness of God in Christ, as a result, we are just as righteous as Jesus (2 Cor 5:21). We've been forgiven of all our sins, past present and future (Colossians 2:13). We are perfectly accepted and approved by God (Ephesians 1:6). We're completely free from fear and shame and all guilt (1 John 4:17-18). We have freedom from all condemnation (Romans 8:1). We rest knowing our Father will never be angry with us, or be disappointed with us (Isaiah 54:9). Through this Grace and Finished Work, we've been made holy, once for all time (Hebrews 10:10-14). This is the right roots that produce real fruit.

 One last root we must put into remembrance is the truth of our unconditional eternally secure salvation (Hebrews 9:12). I recognize that so many resist this glorious Grace Gospel truth. Traditional mindsets plant hurdles to this truth in believers minds so as to sway folk from receiving this truth. Jesus is the answer to all these objections.

Tradition says "Salvation isn't eternally secure."
Jesus says "My blood purchased eternal redemption, and all those  who come to me are secure in my hand and will never perish."
Tradition says "We can sin away our salvation."
Jesus says "Sin is not greater than my once for all time sacrifice for sin. Where sin abounds Grace much more abounds."
Tradition says "We can walk away from our salvation."
Jesus says "When you are faithless, I remain faithful."

 These are the proper roots for growth in Christ. With these truths established firmly in our hearts and thinking our life in Christ will flourish. Is there any performance or efforts required? This is a great question. Religion looks at the performance and God looks at our heart.

 Does this mean that we lounge around never studying the Word or spending time in prayer or devotion? Does this mean we live any way we choose regardless if it is immoral? Certainly not. A lifestyle of drunkenness or sexual immorality may be acceptable with the World system but it is contrary to our new nature and brings misery and loss. 

 All one need do is read a newspaper and clearly see sinful pursuits are not fulfilling. We see authority figures, such as teachers, who act on feelings of unbridled sexual passion and engage in inappropriate relationships with their students. We see how a wild night of drinking in excess costs much in the long run. Poor judgment is always the result and many regrets are produced from living this way.

 Grace doesn't revel in condemnation or pointing fingers. It always points us to Christ. Christ has so much better for us. Walking in His love within us is much better than harboring prejudices, bitterness or envy in our thinking. Christ is our sufficiency. There is nothing this World can offer that take the place of this furious love and eternal hope and everlasting joy we have in Him. 

 How then do we grow spiritually? We grow by acknowledging continually who we are and what we have in Christ (Philemon 6). This is why we study His Word and spend time with Him in prayer. It is not to fulfill some religious duty or obligation. It is about a vital relationship, not a dull or drab religious exercise. We spend time with God because we are already loved and approved. We relax with Him because we are always pleasing and accepted in Him. 

In summation, growing in Grace is progressively maturing into who you already are in Him. It is not a journey to attain a position, or garner some status with God. We aren't in pursuit of what we already have. We rest in the Finished Work, and receive of all He has purchased for us and what He has made us. It is identifying with the risen Christ. As He is so are we now, He isn't bound by addictions or habits or bitterness. If He isn't bound and we are like Him then neither are we, identify with this and you will see true fruit manifest. 

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