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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