A Mixed Message? Are We Okay, or Not?

wpid-27029_360054929042_83975054042_3430697_4705708_n.jpg

We hear that we’re okay and that we’re not okay. We hear that we are saints and that we are sinners? Which is it? We hear that we have a new heart and Christ dwells there but also that our heart is desperately wicked? We’re told we are forgiven but also that we’re not totally forgiven. We are righteous but we’re not “practically” righteous. We’ve heard that the devil is the accuser of the brethren and at the same time however, we hear the Holy Spirit is the one convicting me of sins. We hear we’re not under the law but we still have to keep the law… well, just the moral law… uhm, just 90% of the moral law. We’re saved by grace through faith not of works… until after we’re saved, then it’s up to us? So did the gospel get worse once we believed?

We’ve heard we have eternal and everlasting life, that is unless we mess it up, then it’s neither eternal or everlasting. Or that Jesus lives in us and the Holy Spirit will never leave us or forsake us, but we can still be out of fellowship with Him? We hear Jesus became a curse to redeem us from the curse, then we hear you’re cursed if you don’t give. We hear grace is unearned favor, then hear if you don’t “fill in the blank” God won’t bless you. We talk about being new creations in Christ, but still think of ourselves as old creations trying to be better versions of our old selves. We sing about the power of Christ’s Blood and the cross, then talk and act as though It changed nothing. “What can wash away my sins, NOTHING but the Blood of Jesus.” …oh, and confessing them each and every time or it doesn’t count.

What does 1 John 2:1 say to do if we sin again?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

What are we supposed to do if we sin? Oh, right. Keep trusting in Jesus Christ, our advocate, our righteousness, the propitiation for our sins, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world(not that just temporarily covers).

The problem is this: We haven’t rightly divided the Word of Truth.
We are putting new wine in an old wine skin and wondering why it’s bursting. We’ve tried to balance Law and Grace, mixing cold and hot become LUKEWARM! Its time to pick ONE and stop being double-minded oh faithless generation of ours! Either follow Christ or the Law, but they DO NOT MIX!

Brothers, if we continue to talk out of both sides of our mouths, and wonder why churches are dying and people are falling away in droves then we are as blind as the pharisees of Jesus’ time. We search the scriptures for in them we think we have life, totally missing that they are all about Jesus. To rightly divide the Word of truth is to view it in light of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I know grace is scary. It gives people a freedom to fail. (And how are they doing without that freedom?) But what I’ve seen is that the freedom to fail actually frees us to succeed.

transformationalv-isuals

The gospel is not just for unbelievers, its for believers in EVERY STAGE OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH! The moment you’ve out grown the gospel of God’s grace, you’ve out grown Christ.

Advertisements

A Mixed Message? Are We Okay, or Not?

image

We hear that we’re okay and that we’re not okay. We hear that we are sinners and that we are saints? We hear that we have a new heart and Christ dwells there but also that our heart is desperately wicked? We’re told we are forgiven but also that we’re not totally forgiven. We are righteous but we’re not “practically” righteous. We’ve heard that the devil is the accuser of the brethren and at the same time however, the Holy Spirit is the one convicting me of sins. We hear we’re not under the law but we still have to keep the law… well, just the moral law… uhm, just 90% of the moral law. We’re saved by grace through faith not of works… until after we’re saved, then it’s up to us? So did the gospel got worse once we believed?

We’ve heard we have eternal and everlasting life, that is unless we mess it up then it’s not eternal or everlasting. Or that Jesus lives in us and the Holy Spirit will never leave us or forsake us, but we can still be out of fellowship with Him? We hear Jesus became a curse to redeem us from the curse, then we hear you’re cursed if you don’t give. We hear grace is unearned favor, then hear if you don’t “fill in the blank” God won’t bless you. We talk about being new creations in Christ, but still think of ourselves as old creations trying to be better versions of our old selves. We sing about the power of Christ’s Blood and the cross, then talk and act as though It changed nothing. “What can wash away my sins, NOTHING but the Blood of Jesus.” …oh, and confessing them each and every time or it doesn’t count.

What does 1 John 2:1 say to do if we sin again?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

What are we supposed to do if we sin? Oh, right. Keep trusting in Jesus Christ, our advocate, our righteousness, the propitiation for our sins, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world(not that just temporarily covers).

The problem is this: We haven’t rightly divided the Word of Truth.
We are putting new wine in an old wineskin and wondering why it’s bursting. We’ve tried to balance Law and Grace, mixing cold and hot become LUKEWARM! Its time to pick ONE and stop being double-minded oh faithless generation of ours! Either follow Christ or the Law, but they DO NOT MIX!

Brothers, if we continue to talk out of both sides of our mouths, and wonder why churches are dying and people are falling away in droves then we are as blind as the pharisees of Jesus’ time. We search the scriptures for in them we think we have life, totally missing that they are all about Jesus. To rightly divide the Word of truth is to view it in light of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I know grace is scary. It gives people a freedom to fail. (And how are they doing without that freedom?)  But what I’ve seen is that the freedom to fail actually frees us to succeed.

transformationalv-isuals

The gospel is not just for unbelievers, its for believers in EVERY STAGE OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH! The moment you’ve out grown the gospel of God’s grace, you’ve out grown Christ.


“The principle of good and evil is to live according to what is right or what is wrong. Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit their right and wrong were in God’s hand. If they did not live before God they knew nothing at all, for their right and wrong actually were in God.

By taking the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they found a source of right and wrong in [someone or something] other than God Himself. Consequently, after the fall men need not find in God the sense of right and wrong. They have it in themselves. This is the result of the fall. The work of redemption is to bring us back to the place where we will now find our right and wrong in God.” – Watchman Nee, Spiritual Authority P.21

This is an amazing passage. When we say things like, “We are not under law, we are under grace” people often respond, but we need the Law or the Ten Commandments as a guide to live a holy and sanctified life. However, that idea totally neglects the working of the Holy Spirit. People also respond with, if we(believers) don’t have some kind of “moral code or law” then people(believers) will be free to sin. This too is based on false assumption that freedom of choice = choice for sin, and that believers are exactly the same after as before the trusted in Christ Jesus and our desire to sin is still stronger than our desire to live righteously. We fail to grasp that where we once were under the law, we are now under grace. What the law couldn’t do because of the weakness of our flesh, Grace has done.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” – Titus 2:11-12

The biggest problem is that, we don’t have some type of list to rely on. But that’s the beauty of it, we have to completely rely on the Spirit of Christ. We have to be lead by His Spirit, which can only be done by His sheep because it’s His sheep that hear His voice and follow Him.

Continue reading

The Law is still relevant for Christians

“Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” Romans 3:31 (NLT)

Just let that sink in for a min. Then go read Deuteronomy 28.

The point is that the Law is still relevant, just not how most people think. By faith in Jesus, the Law is fulfilled in us. That means the Law now judges believers based on Christ’s life and not our own efforts and short comings. Hence, we receive the blessings of the Law because the requirements of the law have been met because of our faith in Jesus’ perfect work.

“For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk in the Spirit (in faith).” Romans 8:3-4

“So the Law can no longer condemn a believer, it can only bless us because of Jesus.”

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14

Now that’s some really really REALLY Good News!

1. We’ve been redeemed from the curse of the Law.
2. And the blessing of Abraham has come to us in Christ Jesus…
3. …so that we receive the Spirit through faith.

The Law is also relevant for Christians to use in evangelism. You can read my other blogs about that though.

Disclaimer
And just to be clear, when I say the Law is still relevant in the life of a believer, I am in no way saying that a Christian is supposed to live under the Law, ever. The Law can only take you as far as the foot of the blood-stained cross and no further (Galatians 3). Paul is clear in Romans 7 that we are dead to the Law, and trying to keep any part of the Law ends up arousing sinful desires.

Thanks for reading!
-Chris


Shack: Off

Dr. Shack Attack

Imagine for a moment; There is a doctor who has just been given a temporary visa to Haiti. He has the only cure for a deadly disease along with standard medical and training equipment. Someone he has never seen has generously supplied him financially with whatever he may need or ask, in order that he may train the native people to use the supplies and equipment. However, during the doctor’s stay,  he notices a very nice shack with a beach front view. He uses most of his time and resources fixing up the shack and making himself a comfortable island getaway. Sure, there are people dying of disease all around him, yet the bulk of his time is spent in his comfy little beach shack. After all, he’s worked hard, and deserves a little comfort. “Right?

“All that he has built

            must be left behind.

3 years have now passed and he is informed that his visa has expired. All that he has built must be left behind. When he returns to America, his benefactor asks him to give an account of his trip, noticing that some of the original medicine and supplies were never opened or used. The doctor reports that while there were very many sick and dying people all around him, he spent most of his time and resources on creature comforts and building a “really nice shack on the beach.”

Off-Mission

That story should make people sick to their stomach, but in all honesty, that’s the way I have lived most of my life as a Christian. God sent His son Jesus, to die in my place, to forgive my sins, and justify me before God and make me a new creation. But instead of Him taking me “Home” instantly, He has given me a short mission here on earth. The mission: to love Him with all I am and all I have, to love others as I love myself, and to share the “Cure,” the Good News, with the “sick,” the unbelievers, and teach them about the mission. But I somewhere down the line got off track, much like the doctor in the story, I started living for myself and working on my version a “shack.”

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1Peter 2:11 (NLT)

Instead of living as a foreigner or temporary resident, I acted like this was a permanent home. My prayers were selfish, and “off-mission.” I see this mentality in a lot of believers today as well, an off-mission mentality. There’s more focus on the gifts, than on the Giver of the gifts. And what’s more, we have missed the actual purpose of the gifts. The gifts are primarily FOR the mission, not for our comfort.

“The gifts are primarily FOR the

          mission, not for our comfort.”

I have to say, that there is nothing wrong with having things we enjoy, as long as the things don’t “have” us. God gives us richly all things to enjoy. But we should not be prideful in nor trust in riches and “things,” which are so unreliable. That’s like boasting about a “nice shack” in Haiti. Instead, we are advised in 1 Timothy 6:18 to use the things God blesses us with for good so that we can be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share; which actually ends up storing “a good foundation for the time to come.” There it is again. Its about being on-mission. When we see our life the way God sees our life, its not supposed to be aimless or self-centered, its about the mission.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Summary:
Our mission is to Love God, Love others, and share the gospel. It’s simple, clear-cut and concise. We are only here temporarily.

Question:
What answer will you give when God asks you to give an account of the resources He gave you during your mission here on earth?

Thank you for reading, Be Blessed.


Starting the New Year Off Right

Can we really live a righteous life?

As Christians, we know that we are supposed to live a righteous life. Yet many Christians today seem to be missing it. I for one am someone who constantly struggled with this issue. I’d try and try to live righteous and sinless, but I always seemed to fail. I still slip-up from time to time, but there is one truth that totally changed my life. It set me free from addiction and bondage. Here’s a clue;

“Righteous living starts not with right doing, but with right believing.”

Let me unpack that a bit for you. Many Christians I see today are getting the “cart before the horse”, so-to-speak.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a drunk comes in off the street into a church service. Christians will go to him and tell him of God’s wonderful grace. They’ll tell him of Ephesians 2:8, “for by grace you have been saved, not of works…” Let’s say the man has a genuine conversion, repents and believes in Christ. But the next week, he stumbles in off the street, drunk again. These same church people spoke of grace will likely go to him and condemn him, and tell the man that he’s not right with God unless he is “living right.” They’ll even say he’s not really saved if he isn’t “living right.”

Do you see the problem here? We say that we are saved by grace through faith, but then we turn around and say that it really depends on our own works. That’s the mentality I see in a lot of the Church today—A “works” mentality. A “works gospel,” if you will.

Get it Right

But please look at what the Bible says about the true gospel in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

So the biblical description is that the gospel is the power of salvation for everyone who *believes,* and it reveals the righteousness of God by *faith.*

And then in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

The righteousness of God comes only through faith and believing in Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21, sums up how the gospel relates to us in this way,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

That’s called being justified, being made right with God. And it doesn’t depend on your effort. Period. That’s good news!

Romans 3:28 says, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

And then a few verses later, Romans 5:8 & 9 has this awesome thing to say,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

I hope you’re getting the message, We are justified by faith, based on Jesus’ work. Not our own work. We didn’t earn it, we didn’t deserve it, we can’t deserve to keep it, so we can’t lose it. Its not based on us! We just believe.

Get Right or Get Out

If I just shocked you, then read this shocking letter from the Apostle Paul.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”Galatians 1:6-9

“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? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”Galatians 3:2

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.””Galatians 3:10

Right On

“I want you to see that by faith in

Jesus Christ, you have become

the righteousness of God in Him!”

I want you to see that by faith in Jesus Christ, you have become the righteousness of God in him.

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

The old sinful you is gone. The old sinful me is gone. All that’s left is the new righteous spirit man that “wars against the flesh, and vice verse.

“But pastor Chris, are you saying you never sin anymore?”

No, I’m not saying that. But I am saying that when you feel the urge to sin, if you remind yourself of the Good News, you’ll see what the Apostle Paul talked about in Romans 6:14 when he said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

You will see that you do have the power to overcome sin, and that power is called GRACE! Not only that, but when you declare what the Word of God says about you, sin will actually flee from you!

Go ahead now and declare what the Bible says about you as a believer. “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” “I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.” “I am the temple of God.” “I am a child of God.”

Don’t get caught up in the religiosity of religion—Don’t try to clean the fish before you catch it. Faith comes first, then sanctification, which simply means, putting into practice what you already are positionally with God. I want you to live righteous, and that can only come from knowing that you already are because of Christ.

The more you focus on God, and what He has done for you, the holier your life will become. That’s the secret. Use it well.

-Chris Esparza

 


Greasy Grace and False Converts

The Dangers of Grace

The other day, I was thinking about the Grace of God and how this grace is actually kind of “dangerous.” What do I mean? Well, grace is given freely without any strings attached, ever. So, because of that, I used to find it difficult to preach on grace simply because, “it would be easy for the hearers to “take advantage” of the grace of God.” “I mean, if I tell people that they are really free, then they might abuse that freedom.” And its true. So in my mind I’d rationalize it, I’d warn myself not to preach “too much” grace, or I wouldn’t be able to use “scare tactics” on them to live a moral, upright and obedient life through fear. In essence, they’d be free to abuse grace based on God’s own design. They might say something like, “Well, its okay to sin now because God already paid for all my sins” or something wacky like that. But that was based on my shallow understanding of God’s Grace. I didn’t understand how the absolute goodness and grace of God would actually enable, and lead them to repentance and right living.

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” – Titus 2:11-12

Just look at what the apostle Paul said;

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10

I was talking with my best friend Ben the other day about this so-called “dangerous grace,” and what i should do. He said, “Well, I’m not to sure what I think about all that, its hard. But I’m going to believe God’s Word over my brain any day.” So then I figured, “If I’m gonna preach the truth of God’s Word and His Grace, I’ve got to understand that its in His Hands,” because in reality, all grace is “greasy grace.” And no matter what religious-types might try to “add” to the free gift, it is completely unmerited, undeserved and not dependent on our own self-righteous works. Its Jesus plus nothing. Grace is free, but it wasn’t cheap.

Grace Abuse

In all truth, however, Grace is still very dangerous, mainly because of the nature of Grace, it’s “greasy.” And if Grace isn’t “greasy,” then its not really Grace. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term, “greasy grace” but it came up here and there a little while back. I’m not exactly sure what people mean by it, but I assume, its referring to grace-abusers. (You know the types, “I can do what ever I want, and can sin all I want because I’m not under law, I’m under grace, so stop judging me!…” and so on.) Basically, greasy grace is a term used to describe those people that take the concept of the Grace of God and then “live like the devil.” They come to God when they have a need, but live far from Him when their life seems good. So the term “greasy grace” is when someone abuses the liberties that we have in Christ. They’re “libertines” (freedom abusers). However, I think the root goes deeper, back to when they first heard the gospel(if they ever even heard it). People who abuse Grace simply don’t understand it(or Him) at all. If they did, they’d never abuse it, but instead, like Paul in the verse above, it would push them to labor for the Kingdom. Lets go back to what Jesus said about hearing and understanding the word.

“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” – Matthew 13:23

Obviously, a person who abuses Grace doesn’t understand Grace, or they wouldn’t abuse it. It seems to me that its more about their own life-fulfillment and “what Jesus can do for them now,” instead what Jesus has already done for them. I personally think that its because they never were told or never understood why they need(ed) Grace in the first place. Its not just a get out of jail free card, fire insurance or a free ticket to eternal life. Its much much more than that. We have to face God on Judgement Day after we die (Hebrews 9:24). And we don’t usually think of how we will stand before a holy and just Judge on that Day. We were bound by sin because we had broken God’s law(s) (namely the 10 Commandments), but the majority of people don’t understand that. They think that they are “good enough” and God will see their goodness and give them access to eternal life because of how they lived on earth. And that’s where the law comes in to play.

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” – Romans 3:19

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. – Romans 7:7

“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” – Galatians 3:24

False Conversion

I believe that the reason people don’t understand the gospel of God’s Grace is because they haven’t been lead the right way. We we use life-fulfillment as a draw card for unbelievers, they come under false pretenses and for the wrong reason. They come because they see God somewhat as a good-luck charm. They don’t come humble, broken and repentant, they come greedy, self-seeking and proud.

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”James 4:6

Now I believe that there are many people who come to church and profess faith in Christ, are “sincere” in their heart, yet they are not even saved. Why? Because they aren’t really trusting in Christ’s Finished Work on the cross in their place to save them from justice and the righteous wrath of God. Their faith is in a Jesus that is going to be a “good-luck charm” for them and make them happy, healthy, blessed, and live forever because they accepted Him (ie; they repeated a prayer once in their life.) Of course, they never saw their sin as bad, and then never realized their dire need for Grace, they never repented, and thus they never really trusted in Christ because they thought/think that they were and are a good person, and good enough to get in to heaven, more or less. So Jesus is just a free ticket to heaven in-case, He’s a blessing-machine, a good luck charm, and an escape from hell (though it really doesn’t make since that God would send a “good person” like them to hell…), hence, the  gospel doesn’t make sense to them.

The Parachute

I’ve heard it said, that “any way that wins people to Christ is the right way,” but I have to disagree simply because of the MASSIVE fall-away rate in the churches these days. So, does that mean there is a wrong way? I think the answer is that there is a way that actually converts the soul and there is a way that gets a decision with no conversion.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;” – Psalm 19:7

Ray Comfort, of Way of the Master, uses an analogy lovingly known as “the parachute analogy.

Imagine you were flying on an airplane, 15,000 feet in the air. Then stewardesses start to pass out parachutes to the passengers. Now imagine a stewardess asking one of the passengers, “Would you like to have a parachute? It will improve your overall flight experience by giving you peace and joy, comfort, and security.” So the skeptical passenger agrees and takes the parachute. He puts it in his lap, but its heavy and clunky and it blocks his view of the on-board movie. Its also hinders his movement and now some of the other passengers start to look and laugh at him. After a few minutes of this, the passenger gets tired of the parachute and drops it to the floor. He’s disappointed and and feels lied to. He vows to never trust airline stewardesses again.

Now you see another stewardess passing out parachutes in another area of the plane. You over hear the conversation with another passenger. She says, “Sir, the plane’s engines have started started to fail because of a major leak in the fuel lines. At any moment, you will have to jump from the plane at 15,000 feet in the air. Please put this parachute on immediately!” Suddenly the passenger grabs the parachute and puts it on. He thanks the flight attendant hardily as she moves down the aisle. This passenger also notices that the parachute is large, bulky and heavy, but he has peace knowing that when the jump comes, he will be saved and not die. This also brings him joy, comfort and security. The parachute is limiting some of his movement and some of the other passengers that haven’t heard the news start to laugh at him, yet he only clings tighter to the parachute. He doesn’t take it off, because he didn’t put it on to improve his flight, he put it on because it’s “the only way” he will survive the jump to come.

Many times i’ve heard and even said myself, “Come to Jesus and make Him lord of your life and He will give you love, joy and peace. He will save you from hell, and bless you. You have God-shaped hole in your heart and Jesus is the only one who can fill it.” But that’s like the stewardess with the first passenger. People will sincerely come to Jesus, sincerely to get all those good things, but not for the right reason. And what happens next, exactly what the bible said would happen.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” – 1 Peter 1:6-7

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” – Matthew 13:20-21

But when we use God’s law, we prepare the heart for Grace, the biblical way (Gal. 3:24). And once a person sees his or her sins and feels the weight their guilt before a just and holy God, then and only then are they are humbled and able understand the gospel, the good news of Christ’s perfect Finished Work in our place.

As Matthew 13:23 says, the “good ground” hearer is the one who understands. And then after understanding, it says that they produce fruit. And its so simple to understand the gospel after the law does its job (to crush us and lead us to Christ). Then its easy after that. Basically, they have to trust in Jesus like they would trust in a parachute. They don’t just believe in it, they have to put it on (trust that it all depends on Christ’s Work). When they understand the need for the parachute, we don’t have to keep following up to make sure they are keeping it on, you can focus on getting others to see the need to put their parachute on as well.

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6

The Grease of Grace

Here’s the thing about the free gift (Romans 5:15) of the Grace of God. In order for Grace to really be Grace, abuse and excessive living must be an option. I’m in no way saying believers should sin, on the contrary, they, as new creations, should according to their new nature, hate sin. But, again, in order for Grace to really be Grace, abuse and excessive living must be an option. Otherwise, it would just be a temporary stoppage from the penalty of the law and sin. Their consequences would be pardoned, only for a short time and then the other sentence drops and we would have to pay for our own sins.

“not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.Hebrews 9:25-26

Just think about it: it’s not really Grace if you don’t get away with it. Its not really Grace if you get what you deserve. That’s the nature of grease, stuff slides off of it. Religious pharisees hate the idea of true Grace. True Grace leaves nothing to brag about (Romans 3:27, Ephesians 2:9), it robs us of any and all control and pride.

then He[The Holy Spirit] adds, Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” – Hebrews 10:17

Often, you see people living in sin with seemingly no repercussions. We all get away with all kinds of sins that no one ever sees or knows about(lying, lusting, coveting…), and rarely suffer any penalty. Sowing seeds of sinful behavior without seemingly reaping any negative results. A lot of the time the waters of grace and law seem muddied. Why isn’t God punishing us when we mess up? Its because Jesus took our punishment on the cross (propitiation).

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2

Pretty “greasy” stuff huh? And though it might seem correct that each should lead to the other, its not true. The law leads us to Grace, but it never can save us. Not that it trains us to make us good enough to receive Grace but the opposite; it shows us our utter need for something else. Although I’ve heard many messages and preaching and demanding holiness and moral perfection through the instruction of law for salvation or to keep your salvation (Learn the law, memorize it, love it, live it.) — The sad result of that teaching is an epic failure. The law merely points out our guilt and shows us as having fallen so far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It shows us our utter hopelessness under God’s holy and perfect standard. The law cannot and will not ever save us nor keep us. It can only show us our complete need for Jesus, and that’s when we are truly humble and ready for Grace. The law does not bring us closer to God, that’s the job of Grace! We are saved by Grace, not a moral code.

Not that the law trains us to make us good enough to receive Grace but the opposite; it shows us our utter need for something else.

I have to say, that the more I understand Grace, the more I actually do love the law. It’s amazing. When I look at the 10 commandments, I see where I fall short, everyday. And everyday have to rely on God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s Finished Work on the cross in my place. Every time I fall, His Grace and mercy is that much more sufficient, His blood, that much more cleansing. I hate my sin, I wish and I try to live as sinless as possible, not to save myself or to keep myself saved, because that was already accomplished on the cross, but I want to live now only for His glory. I thank God that He became a man born of a virgin, who lived a perfect life, and died on the cross to pay the ultimate price for my sins. He, being sinless and never knowing sin became sin on the cross (in our place) so that you and I could become the righteousness of God by Grace through faith in Him(2 Cor. 5:21). So I hope that when talking of Grace, no one mistakes the free gift for cheap one, free Grace for cheap Grace. Grace is free, but it wasn’t cheap. And because if that Grace, you can live holy and blameless, not by trying to be good enough, but because, by His blood, He made you good enough. You are righteous because of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ! Righteousness doesn’t come through the law, it only ever comes by Grace. Please remember, no amount of “law-keeping” will ever make you or keep you righteous. Its living under Grace that produces righteousness.

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” – Galatians 2:21