The Simplicity Of Grace
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
Grace is God's merciful kindness by which He extends access to man to be able to present himself in His presence. Grace is God's ability to approach man in his sinful condition. Jesus is God's gift of grace to all of mankind without which, we would all perish.
I don't believe many Christians truly understand grace because they vacillate between two opinions: works and law, once saved always saved, saved, lost, found, or whatever! They never really agree that grace is truly un-merited favor and that God has the ability to love them in their sin. Once saved by faith through grace they are then swayed by untrained and ignorant teachers who either distort grace or bring them back under law and judgment.
Many a Christian has been deceived by false teaching and led back under the law which in turn makes them doubt their salvation and leads them to walk the tight-rope of works that swings above hell-fire giving them a sense of maintaining their salvation in their own strength. I have seen many a believer gloriously saved through grace only to become legalistic, hard hearted, mean spirited and turned away from the very sinners they were called to reach, ultimately separating them from the mission and commission of God, as well as the rest of the body of Christ.
"Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." Acts 15:10,11
SAVED BY GRACE
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Through the pure and simple grace of the Almighty we have been given a gift bestowed upon us that is almost impossible to believe and yet it is ours to possess. God stepped into humanity in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ to save all of mankind by the gift of grace obtained through faith in His death, burial and subsequent resurrection and by theblood that was shed for us for our sins: past, present and future and they are washed away forever, removed as far as the east is from the west!
Recently I asked a man that has been involved in our meetings if God would have forgiven Adolf Hitler, at the last moment if he would have repented and asked for mercy for his atrocities, he said, "no." The sin was too great and the deeds too wicked for a holy God to forgive, after all, he killed six million of God's own people. It seems that most people have a real problem forgiving others that have committed much worse offenses than they have committed, and yet God so loved everyone, even Adolf Hitler, and sent His own Son to die for us all!
Its too easy, too simple, there must be rules and regulations in order to be saved from our sins and yet God gave us grace. The first Gentiles were gloriously saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, set free from the bondage of sin and death and the law and judgment, but the Jews wanted to complicate grace by adding something to the equation: circumcision. Saved by grace, but! There is always a but, (no pun intended) and it never fails, someone wanting to make the grace of God just a little bit harder.
This only I want to learn from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:2,3
FALLEN FROM GRACE
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified ( pardoned) by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4
The above mentioned scripture has been twisted and perverted and taken out of context more than can be counted. I too have used it in preaching that you can lose your salvation as I thundered: hell-fire and damnation, judgment and destruction on all those who sin against God!
In 1980 I was saved in my living room and delivered from a $2000.00 a week cocaine addiction as well as a myriad of other lusts and pleasures! I joined the local Baptist church, was baptized and then filled with the Spirit shortly after at a revival. I was free at last from the bondage of sin and death, saved by His grace and washed in His blood.
Shortly after my conversion I was discipled by a man who used the Old Testament scriptures portraying God to be a judge sitting on a throne with a whip in His hand, or at least that is what I perceived in my mind, that He was just waiting for me to slip up and then, "Bam"! Your dead! True, God is the Judge and sin causes destruction and leads to eternal damnation and that is the very reason Jesus died for us, to deliver us from the wrath of God and to give us the gift of His grace.
Although my discipleship taught me many things, I had to un-learn much of it because it wasn't balanced biblical teaching and led people, especially young Christians back under the yoke of the law causing them to have to maintain the free gift of God by their works of the flesh bringing them under bondage all over again. For instance: divorce, under this teaching it was the cardinal sin, and if a man re-married he was damned to hell for his unpardonable sin.
I believed it, preached it and taught that a man would lose his salvation if he divorced and remarried, that is until I experienced divorce myself! I was devastated, lost my ministry, friends, integrity and was dis-fellowshipped among those who believed this doctrine. With no place to go, I picked up the bottle and said,"to hell with them all!" If Ihave lost my salvation then, party on, its hopeless, or so I thought and that's when Holy Spirit began to speak to me.
Don't get me wrong, God hates divorce, and I understand why, there are severe and lasting consequences to our actions and I have suffered greatly by my sins and have hurt many by my decisions and I advise if you if are contemplating it, pray, seek godly counsel and consider those that will be affected by your decision, not to mention the grieving of the Holy Spirit.
About the time I thought it was all over the Holy Spirit led me into prison ministry and for several years I was restored and blessed by being able to see hundreds saved and delivered under the powerful anointing of Christ in me, yes, He was still there dwelling inside me forgiving me and leading me into all truth, praise the Lord!
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38
ACCESS INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD
In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. Ephesians 1:7-9
Since Adam's expulsion from the garden man has been separated from God by his sins and only allowed access through the High Priest and the sacrifice of animals. But now through the death of the Son of God man can come through the blood of Jesus by faith and grace back into the very presence of God.
When Jesus died on the cross He shed His blood for us in seven places setting us free from every sin, sickness and generational curse. We have been delivered from the bondage of the law and from the wrath of God. Washed, cleansed, forgiven and delivered by the precious blood of the Lamb we are adopted into the very family of God and we are now His children. He has given us His Spirit as a pledge and has reckoned us righteous in His sight, if we sin we confess, repent and He forgives us just as our earthly parents would.
For some this is too simple, we must work harder to please God, surely we have some hidden sin that He is just waiting to nail us on, or we haven't done enough religious rituals to make him happy, haven't read our bible enough, prayed enough and so on! You cannot make yourself any holier than He has already made you! Give it up! The Holy Spirit is the purifier and and the One that conforms us to the image of God, not our good works. Man cannot make himself holy in God's eyes and it always leads to legalistic and ritualistic practices that have absolutely no benefit in regards to our right standing with Him.
The trials of life and the convicting power of Holy Spirit purify man's heart to become more like Jesus, not religious works. Like gold the heat is turned up and God burns out the impurities from our hearts and minds with His holy fire and through His discipline we learn as we become more like Him! Grace, its all about His wonderful gift of grace, be still and wait, be willing to obey His Spirit and in do season you will become like Him!
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16