GRACE 1: SAVED BY GRACE ALONE
We are privileged to be living in an amazing time for the Church and the Kingdom – a time as the Church has never known before. 500 years ago the Holy Spirit gave Martin Luther a revelation that we are saved by grace alone. This revelation started to free the Church from the false doctrine of salvation by good works. This revelation that salvation was by grace and not by good but dead works brought mankind out of the “Dark Ages”. Sadly however, history shows that the revelation of grace was not complete as 500 years ago the majority of Church Reformers taught that Christians, who were saved by grace, were called to live by a mixture of grace and Law. The good news is that God is rectifying this error and that this is a time of amazing revelation and new reformation that will revitalize the Church once again. For the first time since the Apostle Paul, the the Holy Spirit is bringing the Church back to the understanding that not only are we saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but we are called to live everyday by the grace of Jesus. Correctly understanding grace is crucial to the effectiveness of the Church in this era as without a revelation of the grace and love of God it is actually impossible to know the truth(1John4:16) of God’s purpose for mankind and the Church. Grace, Truth and Jesus are inseparable (Jn:1:17). Because of the lack of the revelation of the fullness of grace we see great confusion and multiple conflicting doctrines in the worldwide Church and this is causing division and preventing the sharing of the good news to a lost generation. Now this is the good news of the grace of Jesus……
JESUS' GRACE IS ABOUT HOW GOD NOW RELATES TO US Heb.10:15-17 ” This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” The entire New Covenant screams overwhelming evidence of a loving, gracious God. God the Father longing for His beloved children to be restored to Him. God did not send Jesus to come and change what we do but to change who we are. Being in God's Grace and filled with His Spirit will automatically change the way we do things. Jesus came to change the way God relates to us - by GRACE. God no longer relates to us on the basis of our sin and performance, but through His Son, Jesus. The Righteousness of Christ has been imparted to us and we are no longer Jesus' servants but friends Joh.15:15. We are no longer God's slaves but His children Gal.4:7. He is now our loving, kind Father. It’s not the definition of grace that causes problem, it's peoples wrong belief that we have to earn it. Driven, performance orientated and obedience focused Christianity is the norm today, to the extend that it often appears to deny God's grace. It is only Grace leads to true obedience, not obedience that lead to grace! This is the controversy – that God relates to us ALL the time in GRACE no matter what we do! Most of us are so performance orientated we cannot accept the truth of grace.
THE OFFENCE OF GRACE Gal 5:11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision (viz.The Law), why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. The cross heralded in a new system in which we are called to live - that of God's Grace. Grace is scandalous. It’s hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers as it defies our judgement based on logic. It is truly not of this world - It frightens us with what it does for Sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them. We would save the “not-so-bad”. But God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the Giver,Jesus, and nothing to the Receiver, the Sinner. It is given to those who don’t deserve it, barely recognize it, and hardly appreciate it. That’s why God alone gets the glory for our salvation that is by Grace alone (Eph.2:8). Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross... "It is finished" He said!(Jn.19:30) Grace focuses on Jesus work and performance, not ours.
SO WHAT IS GRACE The Greek dictionary definition for Grace show us what a beautiful thing Grace is. GRACE: G5485 χάρις CHARIS: Thayer Definition: 1) grace 1a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech. 2) good will, loving-kindness, favour. 2a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. 3) what is due to grace. 3a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. 3b) the token or proof of grace, benefit. 3b1) a gift of grace. 3b2) benefit, bounty. 4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward. It is closely related to the following foundational word: G5463 χαίρω chairō: 1) to rejoice, be glad. 2) to rejoice exceedingly. 3) to be well, thrive. 1. Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved favour towards us. 2. It’s our unearnt, unconditional blessing from God. 3. It is God’s goodness to us. 4. It’s His unconditional, freely given, love for us. 5. It is God’s empowerment of us by His Spirit. 6. It is God’s riches at Christ expense. 7. Ultimately Grace is not a doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ. The controversy is not over the definition of Grace. It’s the application of Grace that leads to controversy as most people accept they are saved by Grace but they don't know how to live in it.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS & THE LAW HIGHLIGHT OUR NEED FOR GRACE Rom.5:20-21 Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. This refers to the laws given to Moses – primarily the ten commandments. The Law demands that we keep all it's 613 laws, perfectly, all the time (Deut 28) ! Shockingly impossible: Exactly….”HELP LORD!” These laws simply add to our transgressions, showing us even more clearly our need for Grace and to be saved by Jesus. We all blow it in some way, all the time! We all fall short. We all sin, despite not wanting to. In response God has provided us with super-abounding Grace (GK: huperperisseuo G5248)(Jn.4:16). i.e. More grace and forgiveness than we actually need. He gives us enough Grace for our sins plus even more for our blessing. Jesus' Grace does not set aside the Law, but rather completely satisfies and fulfills it. (Matt.5:17) As deep as sin goes, God’s Grace goes deeper. As wide as sin is, God’s Grace is wider. When sin abounds, Grace super-abounds. God’s Grace is greater than all our sin. Sadly, performance orientated Christianity has made us double minded. We were all been taught to "perform" - since childhood in our own families. When we are good we are in Grace and can receive love and blessing. But when we are bad we fall from Grace. Satan loves this belief as all he has to do is tempt us into sin and then accuse us when we fail. When we fail and sin we then separate ourselves from God and reject His call on our lives! Instead God is calling us to focus on our righteousness in Christ. We are called to live a life that is holy and righteous and the ten commandments set a standard. However the Ten Commandments imposed on us from the outside just leads to condemnation due to failure on our part. Jesus came to reveal a new way, the way of the Spirit who guides us to do what is right (Heb.10:16). We now live by love, not by the Ten Commandments, as those who love keep them because of their new nature (Rom.13:8-10) and the leading of God's Spirit within.
WE ARE RIGHT WITH GOD, BY GRACE, NOT BY OUR PERFORMANCE. Right living only comes about through right believing. As we believe so we become. If we believe we live in grace, so grace will flow from us to others. If we believe we believe the core of our relationship is to obey then we will be driven & restless and doomed to failure and condemnation. Grace is good news, Law based living is bad news, as we always fail. Obedience based Christianity is no difference from Israel’s Law based religion.
“GRACE & PEACE” WAS THE CHURCH'S GREETING Rom.1:7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 2Co.5:19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. In the New Covenant grace and peace are linked. Through Jesus the Father sends us peace. What is this peace that is so linked to Grace? PEACE: G1515 εἰρήνη eirēnē Thayer Definition: 1) a state of national tranquillity 1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war. 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord. 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous) 4) of the Messiah’s peace 4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation). 5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is. 6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death. Our every day & relationships should be full of grace and the fruit which is peace. Through their greetings the early church constantly reminded each other of grace. Virtually every New Testament letter contains a greeting and farewell focusing on grace. If we want peace in our lives we have to live in God’s grace. Understanding grace leads to inner peace. We are no longer at war with God – we have peace with him through grace.
Jesus' Grace is really good news.
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