A friend of mine was recently praying for me and was kind enough to pass along a word he heard from the Lord for me. The word was “GRACE”. To which my somewhat ‘ungracious’ response was “Can you define what you mean by Grace?” … his word was right on & timely.
Derek Prince, author and teacher has made the observation “I believe Legalism is the greatest single problem in the Christian Church”. Derek Prince made this statement sometime before he went to be with the Lord in 2003. Have we as the Christian Church made any progress from the time he made that statement? Grace really must define Jesus’ church.
Legalism is what the apostle Paul called the Galatian church out on. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? … Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” It is interesting that of all the churches that Paul writes to in the New Testament, the Galatians are the only one’s to whom he does not address any immoral behavior. Yet it seems their impeccable behavior had left them increasingly vulnerable to fall into the trap of legalism. Paul’s concern for the Galatians seems to be of the greatest magnitude. Grace cannot be deserved or earned, it is a free gift. This is the offense of the cross. JESUS IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Grace emphasizes so completely what Jesus has done on our behalf. Our part is simply by BY FAITH. to “receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness”. There is not much room left for our pride in this arrangement. Unless of course we decide that at some point we begin to deserve the undeserved.
We all start out in grace, but then along the way it is possible for us to lose sight of grace. As we grow in our understanding,and we begin to see the fruit of righteousness worked out in our lives it is possible for the emphasis to shift from Jesus to ourselves. The temptation arises to begin to take credit for what he is doing in our lives. We must be on guard and continually walk in faith & humility. The danger, as Paul explains to the Galatian church, is it is possible to step out of grace & back under the law and therefore step back under the curse. The Galatians were successfully insulting the Spirit of Grace, by believing they were now earning by their good works what can only be continually received by faith.
Hebrews is also a powerful look at how far grace can actually take us. Studying it helps us very clearly understand the tricky dynamics between grace & law. The emphasis in Hebrews is a profound revelation of the powerful and complete work Jesus has done. There are a number of important themes laid out for us in Hebrews; Rest is mentioned 8 times, Perfect is mentioned 9 times, better is mentioned 13 times and Grace is mentioned 7 times. I have found it extremely enlightening to meditate on all of these mentions of grace in Hebrews. I believe what is contained in the pages of Hebrews is intended to take us beyond the foundation Paul lays in Romans.
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
• a proper understanding of grace will remove the fear of death
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
• a proper understanding of grace gives us direct & immediate access to God
• gives us help in our time of need
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
• a revelation of the blood and a revelation of grace go hand in hand
• Understanding that our sin has been forgiven by the blood of Jesus is only the starting point
• having a low view of the blood makes us vulnerable to potentially insulting the Spirit of Grace
looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
• Bitterness is poison & a threat to our standing in grace
• continually draw on God’s grace to forgive others thereby protecting others from potential defilement by 2nd hand offense
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
• the only effective way to establish a human heart is grace, rules are ineffective in subduing rebellion
• grace is the only food that profits
Grace be with you all. Amen.
• grace is for everyone!