Monday, January 28, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: the Reality of the Truth of God's Word

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

  We've begun a study of the Good News Gospel of Grace. So far we've seen that this Gospel isn't a religion. The Gospel reveals this New Covenant is about a relationship. We've seen the reality of the New Creation. What it means to be a New Creation in Christ. 

 Today, I sensed the impression to address an area that has been severely neglected when ministering the Gospel of Grace. It seems in some gatherings that God's Word is of minimal value. It seems to have taken a receive it or dismiss it place in some people's lives. What must be brought back to the forefront is the truth that apart from God's Word we would have no knowledge of the New Covenant and what we have in Christ.

 God's Word is the eternal truth. It is a light to our path. It leads us and guides onto right paths, revealing the truth. Some have said it is not God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Bible. I would agree with that in the sense that they meant it. Some tradition-bound believers believe God isn't speaking to or leading His children any longer since we have the Scripture. 

 The key to keeping this truth centered is that any impressions or thoughts you have inwardly would never contradict Scripture. The Spirit authored the Scripture. Therefore, He would never contradict or dismiss Himself.

 What the Gospel doesn't do is dismiss God's Word. Anytime someone says the Word is wrong and their view or "revelation" is right, know that they are in serious error. God would never contradict His Word. Understanding this, let me expound of the purpose of the Gospel briefly.

 The Gospel is the proclamation of the Good News. It is the glad tidings of the Grace of God pledged and manifested in Jesus Christ, and His Finished Work. The purpose of the Gospel is to herald Good News so the lost can be found, turning from darkness to light.  It's a celebration of redemption.

 The Gospel of Grace is not, however, designed to be some weapon of mass destruction. Yes, God in Christ, soundly defeated the enemy. His truth destroys the works of the enemy. Understand though, that the Gospel is not about tearing down portions of the Body of Christ. It isn't given to tear down "religion" or to be a tool to shock and irritate fellow Christians. 

 Some have adopted a concept that Grace is designed to destroy and tear down people. what do I mean? Yes, religious tradition is highly mistaken in their teaching. Do you believe then that God wants to smite them? No, God wants to see their eyes open to the truth.

 We do a disservice when we say religion lied to me. To lie means that one knows the truth, and maliciously conceals that truth purposefully misleading others. Instead, just be sincere, religious tradition is mistaken and they spread mistaken ideas about God and His goodness. I wasn't lying when I used to teach we could lose our salvation. Why? Because I sincerely believed we could. I was mistaken. I didn't have a clear understanding of the truth of the Word.

 This is why we need to understand God's Word in light of the New Covenant. It isn't that the Bible is wrong, its that we haven't rightly divided it in light of the New. Truth is we all need each other. The whole Body of Christ. No Christian is our enemy. We are the Family of God. God wants all of His kids to understand the truth of Grace. Berating, belittling, being bitter towards others will not cause that to come to pass.

The Word is Truth

 The Word is truth. Religion may misunderstand it. However, the foolish one dismisses it or twists it to find a following. Or to find "favor" in the eyes of the World system. Jesus didn't find approval or acceptance in the World's eyes, so why do we so often seek their approval?

 Don't allow foolishness to guide your study and understanding of God's Word. All Scripture is for edification, exhortation, instruction, correction, wisdom and sound doctrine. His Word is the eternal, immutable Truth. 

 God's Word never was, nor ever is or will be, some type of riddle or puzzle or code that we must decipher, ever searching to find some new hidden meaning that will concur with and conform to the sentiments of modern ages and secular cultures. Bible interpretation isn't about appeasing the masses, diluting truth to be more acceptable to the natural minded, or dismissing whatever "secular progressives" deem to objectionable.

 The truth is we can't win this World by appealing to their sinful nature. We can't win them by conforming to their darkness. We can't win them by finding new tenets of the faith to publicly deny. We win the lost, by revealing the light. By showing them the love of the Father. By revealing that He isn't mad at anyone and that He isn't holding their sins against them.

 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

 The Good News Gospel is clearly revealed to us in God's Word. We need to realize the reality of the truth of God's Word. God's Word reveals and details all that belongs to us in Christ.

The Title Deed

 God's Word is the promise of what we have in Christ. Faith is the title deed. Faith rests in what God promised. A title deed means even if I can't see it or feel it I know beyond a doubt I possess it.

 If you have the title deed of a house, it means you have a house whether anyone believes you or not. This is amazingly Good News when it comes to the Gospel. God's Word is our sure guarantee it is Finished.

 It's the Word that tells us we've been forgiven once for all time. It's the Word that tells us we've been made the righteousness of God in Christ. It's the Word that tells us we've been made accepted in the beloved. It's the Word that reveals we are eternally secure in Christ. It's the Word that reveals by His stripes we were healed. 

 When we blow it and feel like we are out of fellowship, the Word reminds us, He will never leave or forsake us. When we sin and we feel like we are unworthy, The Word reminds us He made us worthy by the Blood of Christ. When we mess up so badly, the enemy comes with condemnation, the Word reminds us we are righteous and are under no condemnation in Christ no matter what it looks like or feels like. 

 In summation, never lose sight of the importance and preeminent place of God's Word. It is the anchor in tough times. It reminds us of all Christ accomplished on our behalf. Faith comes by hearing God's Word. Whenever men, tradition, the World system, the enemy brings their error, their mistaken ideas, their accusations, their lies, we have a more sure Word that silences them all and is the final authority in all things. God's Word is invaluable in the life of the believer. It's God's love letter to humanity. It's His eternal truth revealed to mankind. His Word is non-negotiable, no devil, no tradition, no man can alter or deter it. His Word is love, light, and truth.
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Monday, January 21, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: the Reality of the New Creation

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

 We've begun a new series of study on the Gospel of Grace. We are digging deep expounding on the truths of this glorious Gospel. We've seen that this Gospel isn't a religion. It isn't a message of lethargy but at the same time, not a message rooted in works and personal achievements and performance.

 Today, I sense the leading to expound on the reality of the New Creation. What it means to be a New Creation in Him. We need to understand what this New Creation entails. We also need to understand what it doesn't mean to be a New Creation but will get to that.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

 As a new believer, I had this passage memorized. It was a verse that always brought me joy. Yet, in most churches, the fullness of this passage wasn't expounded. What it really means to be a New Creation in Christ was not fully explored.

 How can I say this with such boldness? How can I be so direct? Because so often, I am seeing believers share things about their struggles. The challenges they experience in their faith. What challenge or struggle? The contention they have over their past.

 Some have acknowledged how their past life, their past sins, their old ways weigh heavy on them and their conscience. I hear such reports and my heart goes out to them. What have they been taught I wonder? Do they not understand who they are in Him? 

 Religion prides itself in reminding believers how unworthy they are. Most of their message center around how people aren't measuring up. How they are letting God down. How they are losing ground because of their unfaithfulness. I believe many feel they have not had a real church experience unless they were made to feel guilty, small, and unworthy at some point.

 Cutting through all the traditions of men and relinquishing religious mindsets we can bring freedom when people realize what it means to be a New Creation in Him. With that, we must really understand what happens at the New Birth. Paul explains our state before and after salvation comes. 

 Paul masterfully reveals our condition. We were dead, that is spiritually separated by our sinful deeds and sin nature. It wasn't just our actions and thinking that were wrong. Our spirit man was separated, we had a sinful nature. It wasn't just what we did but who we were that needed redemption. 

 That is why salvation is more than just forgiveness of sin. Many traditional churches seem to say salvation is merely being forgiven of sins. But if you pardon a criminal the desire to commit a crime will still exist. We needed more than forgiveness. We needed total transformation. 

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) Ephesians 2:5 NKJV

 The New Creation is when we receive total forgiveness but also a recreated human spirit. God comes in and makes us completely new. He deposits within us all we will ever need to be a successful, fruitful Christian. He sanctifies us once for all time. He makes us the very righteousness of God in Him, just as righteous as Jesus. He washes us with His precious blood cleansing us from all sin. We are totally remade new, with the fruit of His love shed abroad in our heart. His faith is within us, and His Spirit makes His abode in us. This is the Good News of New Creation realities. 

 We are completely new. Our past is over. Our sins are as far as the east is from the west. Our sins are forgiven forever. Our past is cleansed and the guilt and shame removed. Our present is victorious as we are approved of God. Our future is bright because He holds our tomorrow and has gone before us in goodness and favor. All things are made new.

What we must caution against is misunderstanding what it means to be new. Some translate 2 Corinthians 5 as being a new life. It is if we understand it's speaking of a brand new spirit. However, some view the new as a new way of living. 

 This is where tradition turns the Good News into bad news. They see Paul's words and assume they mean a brand new way of living. Well, when the person claiming faith in Christ, doesn't measure up to the standards men have set, that person's salvation is now in question.

 Now the New Creation is measured by how faithful one is, how fruitful one is. What they are confusing is a New Creation and a renewed mind. It is only right believing and right thinking that produces right living. 

 What happens in the New Birth is your spirit is recreated and all things are made new inwardly. Some habits drop off almost instantly. However, spend some time with this babe in Christ in traffic. Or in a long line at a business or gov't building. The patience Christ produces hasn't developed yet. Saying no to certain temptations can still be a struggle. 

 What we mustn't do is use this time to claim these weren't obviously saved. Some will be so glad to see Bob the drunk come to church. They get real estatic when he walks the aisle receiving Jesus. Then next week or so and we see Bob drinking, so many would say well he must have not got it, he must not have been sincere, he must not be saved.

 However, if they spoke with Bob, they'd see getting drunk now just doesn't feel the same. Sure he got the buzz, but it just didn't feel right. It wasn't as fun. That's God teaching him not man and their wagging fingers. 

 Want to see fruit? Don't put burdens on people. Just remind them of who they are already. Focus the new believer on renewing their mind. Remember God changes us from the inside out not outward rules that are somehow supposed to produce change.

In summation, in Christ, we are brand new. The reality of the New Creation is a vital truth we as believers need to major in. If people just knew they were made completely new and totally forgiven the burdensome reminders of their past would fall away. Believer in Christ, you are a new species of being. Righteous, approved, accepted a brand new person from the inside out. 
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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: It's not a Religion!

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

We've begun a new study examining the Gospel of Grace in its fullness. Last time we looked at the idea of effortless Christianity. On the fringe, some view the Gospel as a message affirming lethargy. Seeing any aspect of the Faith as works and performance. 

 When we examine the Gospel, we will naturally quell foolish errors as well as the accusations presented by the religious traditioned minded. What is best is to stay centered, stay focused on the truth. We mustn't allow bitterness or wounded emotions to form and fashion a "god" acceptable to our sentiments. 

 Today, I sense the leading to focus on the truth that life in Christ is not a religion. This is not a do this or perfect that and God may finally find you acceptable. In my time under performance-driven ministries, they often ascribed reasons as to why people weren't blessed. 

 They would say there is nothing wrong with God. There is nothing wrong or faulty with His eternal Word. Then there must be something wrong with you. They would say you must not have employed some spiritual discipline. Or you did but you didn't do it correctly. Or you didn't do it long enough. 

 Grace says, this New Covenant wasn't made between you and God. This Covenant was cut between the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. You don't have the power to nullify it. This New Covenant doesn't disqualify God's people. We come to God based on Jesus faithfulness, perfect obedience, and worthiness, never on our own merits. We receive God's goodness, favor, blessing by simple Faith, resting in Jesus Finished Work, not our own works or performance.

 The Gospel of Grace is predicated on Jesus Finished Work. It rests on the truth that the Father accepted Jesus work. The Gospel of Grace makes Jesus bigger in our eyes. It puts the Lord Jesus as the central focus of it all. For too long, our works, our performance, our track record had too much focus and Jesus was out of focus.

Living the Christian life under Grace

 I am going to give you some life-altering, amazingly Good News. I am going to simply and practically explain the Christian life. Here is the extra Good News that accompanies the Good News. None of what I am going to tell you is rooted in perfectionism or always getting it right. It is living the Christian life under Grace.

 So here it is, the simple, practical Christian life. Looking at the four Gospels, where we get to know Jesus better, seeing how He interacted with the sinner, the saint, and even His enemies. Going through Acts, seeing the Church in its beginning stages, how it navigated through life in good times and bad. Onto the Epistles and the Revelation, seeing day to day living, all the while patiently awaiting the triumphant return of our Savior.  All this together sums up the Christian life.

 You may say, brother, you haven't said anything about how to live. I am going to make it plain and simple right now. First things first, receive Jesus as Savior. We can debate this next point if you will and if you do then just move on, then receive the Baptism in the Spirit and that beautiful Grace gift of a prayer language. Follow the Lord in the waters of baptism. This is merely a public display of personal identification of faith in Jesus, not a work whereby you're saved. Now nothing we see so far is works or self-effort.

 Now putting the rest of the Scriptures together we see how to live as a believer under Grace, living out this relationship. How does this look? In a relationship, the two parties communicate, they fellowship, they enjoy each other. 

 Spend time with God. Read the Scriptures often. Meditate on them. This simply means ponder them. Take a passage, think about it and how it applies to you, in your daily life. Get to know who you are in Him, and continually remind yourself of who you are in Christ. Fellowship with God by spending time in prayer. When we pray, we are communicating with God. He gives us wisdom and insight on issues we personally face. Find some fellow Christians and get to know them. Build each other up. If you can, go to church. Bring your supply of His gifts and favor on your life and bless and minister to others. 

 Realize His great unconditional love for you. See and understand His amazing forgiveness He has bestowed upon you. Now walk in love and forgiveness to others. Be a generous giver. God gave us His Son. Be a blessing no matter how small the gift. 

 Guess what, I just laid out a simple way to live. This is performance free. All I have said is simply a byproduct of relationship, not religion. Loving people, forgiving people, fellowshipping with other believers, studying God's Word, gaining a better understanding of it the more you study, recognizing your true identity in Christ, ministering to others, devoting some time to God, spending time with Him in prayer, hanging out with your Father, none of this is based on perfection, always doing the right thing, or always getting it just right. Jesus already got it right, just lean on His righteousness, not yours. 

 As an added bonus, whenever New Year's rolls around you don't need to worry about some word for the year or some new discipline you need to be doing. Staying steadfast and immovable in the basics, relationship, and you will always see successful growth and maturity and fruitful living. 

 This is the Good News. Jesus perfectly performed the work. Rest in that. That is the foundation. On top of that, we begin a healthy relationship with God, first by understanding one important truth. That God loves you unconditionally. That He finds you perfectly acceptable right now. He has made you just, that is in perfect right standing, He has made you holy once for all time and given us His Spirit. We did nothing to earn, achieve, or merit any of this. 

 In summation, this Good News Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of Grace is rooted in Jesus unconditional love, God's approval, and Jesus perfectly completed Work. It is not dependant on your perfect obedience, or faithfulness or performance. The work is to believe in Jesus. The only labor is to enter into the rest. Jesus made the finish line, our starting point. 
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: Effortless Christianity?

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

 Whenever us believers hear something new, we as fallible humanity usually respond in similar ways. We either reject it and spend much energy fighting what we've just heard. Or we seemingly receive it but then follow it to the extreme turning it into something it was never intended to be, rejecting any and everything we've ever heard. Lastly, we sometimes simply receive it, study it, prove it out, and are better for it. 

What was your response when you heard the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Grace? How did you receive it? Or have you never heard the Good News? The Gospel of the Grace of God manifested in Christ Jesus. 

 Today, I'd like to address a response some have to the glorious Gospel of Grace. This area of practically living the Christian life. Some say it's effortless while others proclaim we have a part to play, rejecting this notion of effortless faith. So what is the right response?

Working harder or hardly working?

 If we stay centered we will come to a better understanding of what it means to live life under Grace, and have a focused understanding and awareness of the Finished Work. This is the most important truth we must grasp. It is Finished. It wasn't started and has yet to be finished. It wasn't begun by Christ and expected to be completed by us and our works and performance.  

 Jesus completed the Work. The Father is pleased. He has fully accepted the once for all sacrifice of His Son. He isn't waiting on its fulfillment or completion. It is Finished. The Father isn't looking for our contributions to Jesus' Work to "perfect" it or make it a reality. It's the Finished work, not the just started work or "the waiting on someone else to help complete it work." 

 We must understand the work is finished and keep that as the foundation for successful Christian living. Living the life in Christ must have its beginning with this understanding. So again let's ask, is it effortless Christian living? Before we answer I was reminded in my heart that we must give this some context to help more folk understand the issue.

Keep it in context

 The Body of Christ makes up some billions of people who've received Jesus and His free gift of Grace, life eternal. Apart from the essentials, all Christians believe, i.e. the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the infallibility of God's Word, Jesus is the only way anyone can be saved, God our Father is the maker of Heaven and Earth, there are various denominations to agree or disagree on the minor issues. So it stands that not all believers have the same experiences. 

 That said, the idea of effortless Christianity was really a response to what believers who had been involved with the Word of Faith Charismatic circles of Christianity had experienced. Over the years much of faith teaching had transformed from the idea that you could take God at His Word, that what He promised He would fulfill to more of a works and performance message. In essence, it mixed the Old and New Covenant when it came to receiving from God. 

 Effortless success was the way one Grace minister phrased it. Another said it a little clearer, speaking of self-effort. So the idea of effortless Christianity came as a response of sorts from the performance-driven, achieve to receive mindset many had adopted. 

 With that understanding, let's bring it back to the center. Do we have a part to play? Is Christianity effortless? Is Grace a message to affirm laziness, apathy, lethargy, and slothfulness? 

Living the Grace life

 Having been one of those under a performance-driven ministry hearing words like do your part, Christianity isn't effortless, can make me pull away from that. That is why we must live in the center and let go of the extremes. 

 The Gospel of Grace is not a do-nothing message. That is it is not a message promoting slackness and lethargy. If what you hear leaves you sensing that you should separate from the local church, fellow believers, Bible study, prayer and personal devotional time, note you haven't heard the Gospel. Grace is gracious and full of God's love. Love doesn't isolate itself.

 It is true that the Gospel of Grace is a do-nothing message in the sense of do nothing to earn or achieve or merit God's favor and goodness and love and blessing. Think, what righteous act could make you receive the most important gift of all, salvation? No amount of sacrifice, giving, Bible study, apparent faithfulness could merit God to make you righteous. 

 This is where the center is. Grace is effortless in the sense of personal merits, achievements, and works done to try to be found worthy enough to receive from God. Living under Grace isn't effortless in the sense of being in a relationship with our Father. Rest isn't inactivity, it is Spirit-led, Spirit-directed activity. 

 Now don't use the fleshly lie that the Holy Spirit hasn't lead you to be a giver or fellowship with fellow believers or ever pick up your Bible. What happened was He called and you hit ignore messages. Spending time with our Father is refreshing. It brings peace and guidance and wisdom. It isn't a chore or a work to perform.

 If Grace isn't completely effortless then what is our part? 
 29 ‘This is the work God wants of you,’ replied Jesus, ‘that you believe in the one he sent.’ John 6:29 NTE

 To believe in the one He sent. We believe in Jesus that's a living active Faith. If we believe we will follow Him. Look at James 2. Note James mentions Abraham and Rahab. Abraham offered his son. Rahab opened a door. They didn't do this task over and over to get God's attention. No, their faith in God was living and active. It caused a response from them.

 In summation, Grace is not a message of do nothing, be lazy. It is the Good News that Jesus finished the work. There is rest in that. This Faith in rest will cause a genuine response. Rahab opened a door, a task that could've gotten her killed. Yet, something in her heart produced a bold response and action. That wasn't effortless, yet it also wasn't a performance-driven, I hope God will like me now, kind of action. The truth is in the center. 

 Follow love's leading and guiding. The Spirit will lead you into all truth. He won't lead into error, false teaching, immorality or a lazy, lethargic way of living. 
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