Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Great Grace: More Than a Feeling

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV

  We are continuing in this extensive study of His great Grace. Let's examine another truth that will propel you to a deeper appreciation for His Grace, and a better understanding of its working in our lives. Let's look at some Scripture.

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NKJV

 Grace and Truth came through Jesus. Note that Law is on one side and Grace and Truth are on the other. This also reveals Truth is on the side of Grace, not Law. 

 We've talked extensively about Grace. What about Truth? Just what is this Truth? Let me share a progression of passages to elaborate. 

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17 NKJV 
According to the Lord Jesus Christ, Truth is the Word of God. Of course, we know Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus is the person of Grace. He is the Word manifest. This doesn't alter the fact that the Scriptures are also referred to as the truth. 

 If Truth is God's Word, what always accompanies the Word?
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

 Why point out all these passages? Looking at John 1:17, I see the Lord revealing to us this New Covenant. Note He made a dividing line. He distinguishes Grace and Truth from the Mosaic Law. That means the Old Covenant was a Covenant established by Law and activated in the life of men by performance, effort, Law observance, and obedience. 

We see examples of His Grace and mercy and loving kindness throughout the Old because that is the Father's nature. However, the Old was not a Covenant of Grace. The Old consisted of men, through effort doing something and God responding.

 The New Covenant was established by Grace. It is a Covenant of Grace. It isn't a relationship rooted in our observance of all the rules and regulations. It isn't God blessing us because of our goodness or faithfulness but His Goodness and faithfulness. It isn't us finding favor by our achievements but us walking in divine favor because of Jesus's achievements. We are in a Covenant cut between the Father and the Son where we are the beneficiaries. 

 If the Old was established by Law and activated by personal efforts and works, then how is this New Covenant activated in our lives? Understand the Covenant has already been ratified by the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to walk in the benefits is to receive it. How do we receive it? By faith. The New Covenant was established by Grace but is activated in our lives by Faith.

 Look at what Paul said about this Grace, here. Paul declared it clearly, we have access into Grace by faith. If we journey through all the Epistles we see this New Covenant emphasizing Faith and Grace. The two go hand in hand.

 Since faith comes by hearing the Word, and the Word is the Truth, Then could it be stated the Law came by Moses but Grace and Faith came by Jesus Christ? I don't see this adding to or taking away from the Scripture. 

 I believe this is a dimension of Grace we need to really explore. Because when faith has been taught in the past, it was always void of Grace. Often times faith has been about us doing things to ensure we were in faith. Grace and faith were meant to operate together.

Feelings, nothing more than a feeling...

  Look at religious tradition. They can't accept that we are righteous by faith alone. It needs to be accompanied by something outward. That is why we have seen a resurgence by some advocating a return to observance of Jewish customs and feast days. 

 It appeals to some because one's "righteousness" is easily observable. One can visibly see a person keeping a certain day or abiding by the ritualistic religiosity of men's tradition.  It's much easier and less messy when they see a believer at their lowest point, to simply dismiss them and write them off. 

 It's much more of a challenge to walk by faith. It is more difficult for our minds to agree with what the Word says about a believer in the face of their current behavior. God's Word declares they're righteous, they're accepted in the Beloved, that His Finished Work has made them holy once for all time.

 Grace is messy. Restoration is dirty work. It is getting down in the muck and the mire and saying to people God still loves you and you're precious in His sight. It takes faith to agree with and to declare what God said about that person. 

 Another area where feelings dominate is in our personal relationship with God. Do you recall when you first received Jesus? That moment when you felt brand new? That moment when you sensed the burden lift? Or when you received the Baptism in the Spirit? Often times throughout our walk with God we have a tendency to try and recapture those same emotions.

We base our spiritual development and maturity on the level of "passion" we presently possess. Some go so far as to question their very salvation because they don't always have the "excitement" they had the first few days of their salvation. We sing songs bemoaning our lack of zeal, crying out take me back dear Lord to the place where I first received you.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

  Paul said on three occasions that the righteous live by faith. We don't walk by our senses. Our salvation isn't based on feelings. Our righteousness isn't rooted in our emotions. 

 We may not always feel righteous, or look righteous or sometimes act righteous but that doesn't alter what God's Word declared. It decreed we are the righteousness of God in Christ because we believed in Him and received His free gift. We are to place our complete trust, and confidence in that Word, not in fickle feelings. 

 What about a passionate walk? In reality, what most people call passion is more often than not merely a reference to some kind of feeling. Are you saved? Do you know you're forgiven and eternally secure? Do you know you are righteous in Him? Do you know He gave you His authority to accomplish His plan and purpose in your life? Do you know You're completely loved and accepted with Him? Does this make you thankful? Does this bring a rest and refreshing? Then relax you're already in a fruitful, exciting relationship with Father God. There is no need to try and drum up some feeling to convince yourself you're zealous for God.

 Please don't misunderstand me. God made us, He gave us emotions. They are wonderful. They are a great way to express ourselves in this present world. I am not advocating we abandon emotions. I am only saying don't let them lead you and dominate you. Instead be fully persuaded of what He says. 

 In summation, sometimes our emotions will agree with what God said about us but sometimes our feelings are fickle and they will disagree with what He said about us. Stay with what the Word says about us in those times. Sometimes religious tradition will not agree with what God said about us because they are focusing on the outward. Faith says, I know I may have messed up or blown it but I am still His beloved. I am still accepted, loved and the righteousness of God in Him. Abide in Grace and walk by faith. 
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


karl said...

Thanks for the reminder

John W Reed said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Glad the post could bless you. Pass it on to your friends.