Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: The Reality of the Love of God

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 been in an ongoing study of the Gospel of the Grace of God. The Good News of Jesus Christ and all He accomplished for us. We've seen the Gospel isn't a religion. We've seen the reality of the New Creation, and the New Covenant. 

 Today, I sense the leading to look at the reality of God's great love. Primarily, I want to focus on receiving this unconditional love and then how we can exhibit this same love in light of His Grace. How do we receive this Love?

 God's Love is unconditional. It is eternal. It can't be worked for or earned. 
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT

 God's great Love is for the undeserving. It is for the unworthy. It is for all of us, those lost or those found. His Love is unfailing. His Love is matchless, there is none to compare it to. His Love is the only Love that brings fullness, that brings completion, that supplies, is the only thing that satisfies and brings wholeness to all areas of life. 

 Sometimes we draw back from this Love. We see our own failures. We see our own misdeeds. We even see our own motives or self-centered thinking, and sometimes draw the conclusion that God is disqualifying us or distancing Himself from us. That He loves us less. 

 Nothing can be further from the truth. In our darkest moments, that's when God's Love shines brighter. This Love perceived and fully received produces change. Change of thinking, change of speaking and eventually changed behavior. 

 This Love defined is the agape or unconditional Love of God. It is God's good will toward us. It is His benevolence to us. It is His affection for us. This word agape in the Greek also defines His Love as a Love feast. That is astounding! His Love is like a grand buffet or smorgasbord of His unconditional kindness, goodness, and mercy! 

 Now once we receive this Love what do we do with it?
Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Ephesians 5:1 TLB

 Once received we can exhibit this Love to others. We can bring love into every area of life. In all our interactions with others, we can be a byproduct of that love feast.
Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to him. Ephesians 5:2 TLB

 To be a more effective vessel of His Love we must boast in His Love for us first and foremost. Look at the Apostle John. He is sometimes referred to as the Apostle of Love by many students of the Word. Note how John refers to himself as

 John boasted in Christ's love for him. This put Christ's Love in the forefront of his thinking. From this supply of Love, we can now function and flow releasing His goodness and kindness to others. We aren't doing good deeds, engaged in acts of charity to earn favor or any blessing. We are living and abiding and responding to this great Love within.

Living for ourselves?

 Once we've received the Good News Gospel of Grace, what is the response? Do we now simply dismiss all devotional time? Do we omit Bible study and prayer? Do we cease volunteering our time? Do we cut off our giving? Do we go on a verbal rampage, slandering all others who have yet to awaken to Grace?

 This is important to know and understand if you want to walk in full triumphant victory. Any message that omits Love as the root, that leaves you in bitterness, resentment, swollen anger, and rage is not a message of Pure Grace. Grace has never been about living for yourself. 

 The disconnect is some have taken the amazing out of Grace. Well-meaning but misguided brethren have caught a glimpse of Grace, and see the brand new identity the New Creation creates and conclude that because of His great goodness this must have been everyone's identity since the garden and the enemy through wrong believing convinced us otherwise. The idea being no one was ever lost or in need of redemption.

 My response is, if no redemption is needed why did Jesus come and die? No that is foolish teaching. Humanity as a whole is lost and in need of redemption. Jesus paid that price because of His great Love and made this new life available to all if they simply receive it. 

 However, if we were never lost and the enemy used some form of teaching to keep us blind then those who taught this must be our enemy too. This is where we see some embrace a "grace" message. They rant and rail and attack others and seek to tear down. They never seek to reconcile and build up. Paul the Apostle of Grace reminds us of something;

 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. Ephesians 4:2-6 NLT
 See it's so clear. We are one Body. There isn't a religious Body and then a Grace Body, we are one, the Body of Christ. We are all growing. We are all learning. Let's show love and kindness to all our brethren, not just those whose eyes have been open to Grace. 

 Let's also heed Paul's words. Unite in Christ. Not unity of agreement about this doctrine or that but unity in Christ Jesus. Under Grace, we have found lasting freedom. Let's not use that freedom to ignore others. To no longer volunteer. To live only for ourselves. 

In summation, let's demonstrate this great Love bestowed upon us. This Love supplies us. It flows through us. It is there to lead us and guide us to show Jesus' Grace to others. Through His Grace and Love supply, let's be quick to lend a hand. To be a blessing, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Let's learn to be exhibitors of His Love and Grace more and more. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: Reality of the New Covenant

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 been in an extended study of the Good News Gospel of Grace. The Good News of Jesus and all He did for us in this Finished Work. So far we've seen that this Gospel isn't a religion. We've seen the reality of the New Creation. We've seen what it means to be Righteous. We've seen the reality of the power in the Blood.

 Today, it seemed good to focus on the reality of this New Covenant. Here's a question for you. When you buy some new clothes do you get rid of some old clothes? When you buy some new shoes do you throw out the old to make room? 

Out with the Old, in with the New

 Just as we make room in our house for the new things we buy we also need to remove the Old to make room for the New. Sometimes though we like to keep some of the old stuff and try to cram the new stuff with the old in our storage places. In like manner, Christianity likes to keep the Old and New together. Christianity hasn't made room for the New. 

 We see many churches and ministries vying to keep aspects of the Old Covenant, while the New Covenant has come. Ministries want to incorporate what prayer and giving and relating to God looked like under the Old and add that to this New Covenant. Look at the songs we sing. Look at the books we write. Look at the sermons many preach.

Old Covenant saints begged God not to remove His presence from them. They had to ask and plead for God to come into their midst. They had to follow certain protocols for God to move on their behalf. They had to go to a prophet to hear a word from God. 

 Today, churches sing songs just like the Old is still intact. We sing begging Him to come to meet with us. We ask for more of Him. We model our prayers after Old Covenant principles. This is not making room for the New.

 When a well-known minister declared it's time to make room for the New, out with the old and in with the new, many believers were in an uproar. I specifically addressed this issue in two former posts, you can read here and here. People don't want to put aside the Old they've grown accustomed to. 

 The New Covenant provided a New and living way to relate to God. What makes the New, New? Jesus! He fulfilled the Law with all its demand. He is the substance of what was once the types and shadows. What makes the Old, Old? Us! In other words, the Old Covenant was reactionary, not provisionary. It was a reactionary covenant agreement contingent upon man's behavior. The outcome of any situation depended entirely upon man's ability to perfectly obey the commandments, the statutes, and regulations of the Law.

 This aspect of the Old, man's doing, is what so many ministries, churches, and believers long to keep alongside the New. The problem is there isn't any room for both. There is no place for Jesus to be the total provision and at the same time keep the reactionary portion of the Old. That is, if we do this, God will do that. That isn't living by Faith. That is living by Law.

 When we see provisions like healing, Spirit empowerment, answered prayer, Righteousness, many want to keep in place stipulations, conditions, and prerequisites on the receiving of them. In the New, Jesus paid in full for these in the Finished Work. To receive them, just believe it. 

 Too often though, some don't wish to remove the Old and make room for the New. They will readily say these things are "available" but they are now mere rewards. Instead of provision, they are now a wage earned. They come by a combination of Faith and good behavior. If man could be worthy in their own strength of doing and obeying perfectly, why did Jesus even come?

 This is a major shift in our thinking and understanding of how God moves today. We still want our good deeds, our abstinence from sins, and our faithfulness, to be tallied in our favor and subsequently rewarded to the full. We want recognition for our goodness. This is the root which drives us to keep portions of the Old alongside the New.

 In order to fully grasp the New and relinquish the Old, we need to experience this shift in our thinking. Under the New, doing good and charitable deeds, abstaining from sin, being faithful is living from a relationship with our Father. You see under the New, we've received perfect, unconditional love. From this supply of love, we find ourselves effortlessly responding in love toward others. It isn't about trying to acquire enough points to be blessed. Blessing and provision are already ours apart from our performance, they are fully provided and paid for in the Finished Work.

The Cross worked and changed everything!

  Another aspect of the Old so many cling to is judgment. Not only do many seek the rewards of their doing, but they also long for the punishment of what others are doing. Many still cling tightly to an "I hope God gets them for that" mindset. 

 That is truly the root in all the judgment and wrath sermons and books and songs we see in the Church. The reality is this is merely cherry picking God's judgment. If we are to see swift judgment on behavior that would have to include our own. We surely aren't in favor of that. Our actions have good intent, we justify, others are just bad. 

 That is the self-righteous mindset Jesus railed against when He walked this Earth. Look at the judgment we see in the entire Old Testament. He flooded the Earth. He sent fiery serpents. He sent judgment on Israel when they broke the covenant. He reigned down hellfire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Why these acts of judgment? 

 Because there was no mediator between God and man. Because there was no once for all sacrifice paying the price. There was no substitute who took the full penalty of man's evil, wicked, selfish sins. 

 You know people aren't making room for the New when they proclaim outlandishly that God must apologize to Sodom if He doesn't judge America for its sins. Just what sins did Sodom have? Sexual immorality, lust, basically men following their every desire. Yet Jesus even said the sin of self-righteousness, refusing the Good News of Jesus was worse

 The Cross made the difference. If judgment for sin falls on any person or nation then God would have to apologize to Jesus. Jesus paid the full price. He took the full penalty of all sin. God the Father accepted this once for all sacrifice. The claims of justice were completely met. There is no more judgment for sins.

Just as in the time of Noah I swore that I would never again permit the waters of a flood to cover the earth and destroy its life, so now I swear that I will never again pour out my anger on you. Isaiah 54:9 TLB
 God isn't sending storms and tsunamis to coastal regions because of their wickedness. God isn't causing earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, striking places with tornadoes, creating wildfires, all to punish sinful places. Shock jock Christian voices see a natural disaster and proclaim God must be judging that land.

 Yet, we see places that are flourishing and they are "sinful". Stay consistent with Scripture. When judgment fell, God always sent a prophet proclaiming the coming judgment giving them the opportunity to change their ways. It isn't prophetic when we proclaim some divine sentence occurred after the fact

 In summation, we need to make room for the New. We need to stay faithful to the Finished Work. Stay true to what Jesus accomplished. We don't need to keep works, performance and earned blessing mindsets with New Covenant provision. We need to accept the reality that the cross worked. 

 There are consequences of poor choices. In a fallen and fractured creation, we will see disasters. Yet, none of these are orchestrated by God's hands. Jesus paid the complete price. We are forgiven once for all time.  Let's honor and only make room for the New and relinquish the Old. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: the Reality of the Powerful Blood of Jesus

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 been in an ongoing study of the Good News Gospel of Grace. The Good News of Jesus and what He has done for us in the Finished Work. We've seen that this Gospel is about a relationship and not a religion. We've seen the reality of our righteousness in Christ. We've seen what it means to be a New Creation in Him.

 Today, I feel lead to share on a topic that sadly many ministries fail to mention. Today, I want to share with you the reality of the powerful Blood of Jesus. When was the last time you heard a minister preach on the Blood? What about a new book on Jesus' Blood? 

 The Precious Blood of Jesus is the foundation of the whole Gospel. Without the Blood, there is no Redemption. There is no Righteousness. There is no Finished Work. There is no amazing Grace. 

 Let me tell you the Good News. Jesus Blood is so powerful, beyond anything we can even fathom. This precious powerful Blood is more than enough to bring victory, triumph, and complete wholeness in every area of life. 

Redemption through His Blood

 The Blood of Jesus has purchased our complete redemption. 
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace Ephesians 1:7 NKJV

 His perfect Blood purchased our complete redemption. This redemption isn't a downpayment. He didn't shed His perfect Blood and then expect us to continue to pay for our redemption by our own efforts and performance. This is a paid in full redemption. 

 When Adam fell, he doomed mankind. We were under the dominion of sin and death. We were "owned" if you will by the enemy. We were "owned" by our sinful nature. The flesh wielded dominion over us, but Jesus came and paid a high price for you and me. To redeem means to purchase back, to buy back. He bought us back from sin, death and the enemy. By His Blood, He has completely paid for us. 

 Jesus paid the highest price. He shed His perfect blood. He died for you and me. His perfect Blood was actually an overpayment. He paid for our sins past and present and future. Because of this redemption, we can walk in dominion and authority.

They sang a new song and these are the words they sang, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10 Phillips 

 The enemy, the flesh, and this world system have no more dominion over us. Meaning we don't have to do things their way. We can forgive when others do us wrong. We can show love when others bring hate. We can walk in freedom when they allure us to indulge in lust and unbridled passion.

 Because of this perfect redemption, purchased by the Blood, we can walk in dominion in this life. We have authority over depression. We have authority over fear. We have authority over the schemes of the enemy and his lies. The enemy fears those who know who they are because of the Blood.

We are perfectly cleansed by the Blood

 In the rare event tradition shares anything about the Blood it's usually to say we as believers are merely covered by the Blood. 

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, Revelation 1:5 NKJV
 Because of this precious Blood shed we who received are perfectly cleansed and whole. We aren't merely covered by the Blood. We are totally cleansed by the Blood. 

 To cover leaves the idea that the stain is still there but something is covering it up so it is not visible. Too often, under tradition, I still felt like a dirty rotten sinner. I felt if I blew it I was dirty and needed cleansing. Even if I hadn't sinned, I still saw myself as unworthy. Thanks be to God for the knowledge of the truth. Thank God for His Grace. 

 The truth is His precious Blood totally cleansed us and made us alive in Him. His perfect Blood made us worthy. We aren't unworthy sinners whom God tolerates. We are made whole by this Blood.

This is why we must reject these religious traditions. Seeing ourselves as merely covered by the Blood and not completely cleansed by His Blood, produces sin consciousness. It gives way to the concept that we as believers are mere sinners saved by Grace and not perfectly cleansed Righteous New Creations in Christ.

 We were sinners, we got saved by His Grace. Now we've been totally cleansed and are in perfect right standing. There is no shame, no condemnation, no accusation that can stand against us. We are pure and holy by this Blood.

We have Peace through the precious Blood

In Christ, through His shed Blood, we have perfect peace with God.

20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20 NKJV

 We have perfect peace with God. We have peace with God in relation to His Law. True the Law was given to Israel and not Gentile nations but the Law is a representation of God's perfect standard of Righteousness, which is absolute perfection. No man can keep that standard. 

 Because of this perfect Blood, Jesus perfection is ours. We trust in His faithfulness and never our own. Because of the Blood, we have peace from trying to keep the law in so much that we can now rest on Mt Zion versus struggling on Mt Sinai! Because of the Blood, we are free from the law. We are no longer at unrest trying to follow the commandments on stone that could only demand and never supply

 We can also rejoice in this peace, purchased for us by His Blood, knowing God is not mad at us. How can we be in a relationship with one who is always angry and filled with wrath towards us? Jesus bore all the wrath and judgment on that Cross. God is not mad at anyone. God and I are at peace. 

 In summation, be mindful of the reality of the power of the Blood. This precious Blood is essential to living the Grace life. Because of this shed Blood, we have perfect reconciliation. He is not holding our sins against us. We have a complete and perfect redemption. We are completely cleansed and whole. Perfect peace is ours through this Blood. 

 As the old song said, this Blood was not just blood of another spotless lamb. This Blood was precious Blood for it washed and cleansed the sins of man. This Blood still heals our bodies and sets our spirits free. This Blood is still flowing freely today! 
Image courtesy of pixtawan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: The Reality of our Righteousness in Christ

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 been in a study of the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of God's Grace pledged and manifested in Christ. We've seen that this Gospel is not about religion but relationship. We've seen the reality of the New Creation what it means to be a New Creation in Him.

 Today, it seems good to explore the reality of our Righteousness in Christ. Just what does it mean to be righteous? Is being righteous a state we arrive at one day by much effort? Is being righteous a state of being where we never miss it, blow it, or ever sin again?

 Righteousness isn't a mystery. It isn't a real deep concept. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says it clearly that righteousness is part of the basics. The reason some misunderstand righteousness is that they infuse works and faith. 


 Let's define Righteousness Biblically. When understanding what it is we can also see what it isn't. Righteousness is the Greek word "dikaiosune." Strong's defines it as Christian justification. So what does justification mean? The Greek word dikaioo translated justified means to render just or innocent, free, be righteous. 
 In a nutshell, Justification is to be declared righteous. What the Cross, the Finished Work accomplished is that God declared those who believe Righteous. Even more so, His perfect cleansing Blood actually made us Righteous. 

Righteousness by Faith

 Righteousness is not a message of works that we perfect enough to become something. The great exchange occurred in the Finished Work. Jesus became something He never was, He was made sin, so we could become something we've never been, Righteous. 

 Being Righteous doesn't mean we never mess up again. It doesn't mean we are fully mature believers overnight. Being made Righteous occurs instantly the moment we believe and through Him, we mature into who He has already made us.

 Righteousness isn't a work we achieve, it's a gift we receive. If Righteousness was attainable by our doing, then why did Christ have to suffer and die? If Righteousness is received by the infusion of works and Faith, what work of men helped Jesus complete the plan of redemption? What part of Redemption did mankind help Jesus pay for? Righteousness is a gift no amount of works, good deeds, self-effort or promises to live better could merit its reception.

 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:9 NKJV

Paul the Apostle many times reveals that it is a false message, a false gospel if you will, that states we must earn righteousness. Some may say I am not about keeping Law but then will place more and more burdens on people to achieve right standing with God. Let's look at what righteousness is again.

 Righteousness is a gift we receive by Faith. Righteousness means to be in right standing with God. Righteousness is that state where we stand perfectly accepted and approved by Father God apart from our performance or behavior. Righteousness means we stand complete in Christ. Righteousness means we have the right and privilege to boldly stand in God Almighty's presence without any sense of shame, fear, guilt, condemnation or inferiority. 

 Now any message you hear that states you must do something besides believe to find this right standing with God, know that is false teaching. If women are told to not cut their hair and never wear makeup to be acceptable to God reject that lie. If men are told to remove the jewelry, be clean shaven and have their hair cut short to be found pleasing to God reject that idea. 

 You see, religious tradition creates works, deeds, activities one must engage in for God to find people pleasing and acceptable to God. When they do this, they are preaching a message of works righteousness. We are only accepted and pleasing to God by Grace through Faith. 

 Am I saying God will always find us acceptable and pleasing regardless of our thoughts, words, and behavior? The answer to that question is found in an understanding of our identity. Words, thoughts, and deeds aren't the sum total of who we are. 

 In Christ, as a beloved child of God, made in perfect right standing by Faith in Christ I am made perfectly accepted and approved and pleasing to the Father. Actions apart from identity aren't always accepting and pleasing. As a Good Father, He lovingly reminds me of my identity and more and more I choose my true identity and not the false one that the enemy, the flesh (wrong thinking) and the world system try to convince me of, I find freedom and walk in my true identity. 

 Again, any message that teaches us that we must do certain things to be found acceptable to God is rejecting the truth of Righteousness by Faith. Rest knowing if you have believed you are accepted and approved of God. You don't have to join in self-improvement works programs tradition creates. The whole "If I just did this more" or "If I did this less" God would find me accepting and pleasing, is a burden that weighs down people and slowly removes the joy of their salvation. 

 In summation, know believer, that you are the very righteousness of God in Christ. Christ exchanged your old sinful life with the New. He recreated you righteous and perfectly holy. He gave you His Righteousness. You are just as Righteous as Jesus. You never need to look for approval from any man. You've been given an irrevocable Righteousness. You're forever Righteous and accepted and approved of God. Now be you, the you He created you to be. 
image by geralt@Pixabay