Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rob Rufus on the Difference Between Law and Grace

I love this comparison of Law vs. Grace!  Rob Rufus shows us how far superior the covenant of grace is compared to the covenant of law!  After finding out about grace, who would want to go back to law anyway?  As I've heard it said, moving from law to grace is "like dropping green baloney when somebody offers you a filet mignon!"  (Mike Fitzpatrick)

Enjoy this comparison! I'm rejoicing in the better covenant today!! 

"The law demands absolute perfect standard of God's righteousness from you. 
Grace gives you God's free gift of righteousness freely. 

The law says, "Do, do, do." 
Grace says, "It's done, it's done, it's done, you're safe. You're safe, my Bride. You're safe, my Beloved. You're safe, my son. You're safe, my daughter. You're accepted in the Beloved. You're righteous forever in his eyes. Your mistakes, your sins, your failures I remember no more." And when the ultimate sacrifice is made, no more sacrifices are necessary. 

The law makes you conscious of sin. Grace makes you conscious of being the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 

The law always condemns you. Grace never condemns you. 

[The law makes you feel like hiding from His presence.]
Grace lifts you into the cloud of his presence and into the cloud of his unfading glory. 

The law took the disobedience of first Adam and condemned us all. 
Grace took the obedience of Jesus and declared you to be perfectly righteous in the Father's eyes. 

Under the law, God says, "I will by no means forget your sins." 
Under grace, God says, "I will by no means ever remember all of your sins ever again, past, present, and future." 

The law is a revelation of how much is wrong with you. 
Grace is a revelation of how perfectly right with God you are through the cross and through the gift of righteousness. 

Under law sin abounded. 
But under grace, grace super-excessively-far more abounded. 

The law makes you self-conscious. 
Grace makes you Christ-conscious. The law makes you ask, "What must I do? Should I go to the Kurds?" Grace asks, "What has Jesus done already?""

Rob Rufus (from a sermon preached in Oct., 2012, Atlanta, GA)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing gift of Your Son to us! 

Thank You for Your grace that sought us out and fixed things up in our relationship with You before we even knew a thing about You! 

Thank You that You have restored our hope and given us new life, Christ's very own life, to swell within us like a rising tide of love! 

Thank You for being You, a Giver, a Blesser, Our Perfect Father and Friend, the One who truly understands and loves us! 

To be at peace with You, to be loved on by You, to be blessed beyond measure by You through Your Spirit of Life radiating within, just makes us want to jump for joy and shout to the world how beautiful and compassionate and amazing You are!

1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Romans 5:1-11 (Message Bible)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Grace Blessing!

I bless you in the name of the Lord!

I bless you with all the love you can possibly handle, straight from God's heart into yours, to fill every nook and cranny of your being to overflowing!

I bless you with His peace that surpasses understanding, to come over you and protect your heart from harm, because your life is hidden with Christ in God!

I bless you with abounding and overflowing joy because He is delighted with you and proud of you!

I bless you with rest from all your striving because He has already completely accepted you!

I bless you with unending, uninterrupted heart-to-heart fellowship with God forever, for that is what Christ's finished work has brought to you!

I bless you with His keeping power to hold on to you, keep you secure, and complete the work He began in you by grace!

I bless you with grace, the amazing and free-flowing favor of God, His unconditional love to satisfy your heart and bless you all your days!

I bless you with complete well-being and tranquility, safety and assurance, health and strength, gifts and abundant blessings, out of His rich stores of grace in Christ!

I bless you with the joy of His Presence both coming and going, rising and sleeping, when alone and with others, one day and the next, no matter what, forevermore!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

His Eyes

Jesus lifts our head away from our downcast glance at the problems and worries of this life - He lifts our gaze to look into His eyes!

A friend made this statement to me recently:  "I have seen His eyes and they are pools of unconditional forgiving love."  I thought that was so beautiful and true, and I started thinking about Jesus' eyes.  I think of how the woman who sneaked up and touched the hem of His garment wanted to be healed from behind, as it were, for maybe she felt too insignificant to even have Jesus notice her, much less speak to her or look into her eyes.  But Jesus wanted to do more than heal her physically - He wanted her to have and encounter with Him, so she could look into His eyes and see the love there for HER!  He wanted her to know His heart toward her, how full of compassion and delight and love He was for HER!  He wanted more than just to give her the wonderful gift of healing - He wanted to give her the gift of Himself, so she could KNOW Him, the Healer, and not just have healing but have the Healer Himself as her Friend!

He wanted her to look into His eyes and see how He felt about her!

He wanted her to experience who He really was and is - LOVE - as she looked in His eyes!

I think it is the same for us...He wants to give us sooo much more than we ask for, wants to give us and encounter with Him, so we can KNOW the love of Christ in fullness and be filled up to the brim with His presence.  He wants us to truly know this giant LOVE He has for us, that has no beginning or end, no top or bottom, this love that will never, ever fail us.  He wants us to know it, and He makes sure that we do!  Just like Jesus turned around and talked with the woman that was healed and let her look deeply into His eyes, so He does with us!  He has turned us toward Him and reconciled us back to Himself at the cross so we can look into His eyes..

What do we see in those eyes?

His eyes are endless pools of acceptance and love!

His eyes are full of understanding and compassion!

His eyes are brimming with strength and affirmation!

His eyes are full of delight and laughter!

His eyes are deep with tenderness and beauty!

His eyes are filled with goodness and grace!

His eyes are upon me, upon you, looking on us with love -

He never has anything but LOVE for us  in His eyes!

This is the love we already have, and these are the eyes that are always looking at us.  These are the eyes that our spirits look into always, where we have found our true home, our true safe place where we can be our true selves and be completely known, completely naked, seen, and totally, unreservedly accepted and loved!

"Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him.."  (Mk. 10:21)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mercy and Grace

I am trying to understand the nuances of mercy and grace...

Mercy is when we don't get the punishment we deserve..Grace is when we get the glorious wonders that Jesus deserves!

Mercy is when God sees us and loves us in our misery and lifts us out of it..Grace is when He sets us up as rich royal children in His own household!

Mercy means we are pitied in our poverty...Grace means we are made rich in Christ!

Mercy is when we don't get cursed by the law...Grace is when we get blessed with the blessing of Abraham and his seed, Jesus!

Mercy is when we are forgiven..Grace is when we are given the very righteousness of Christ!

Mercy is when God made us to die to the law...Grace is when God made us alive in Christ!

Mercy is when we are not forgotten in our pain..Grace is when we are healed of the pain and wounds!

Mercy is when we are cared for in our brokenness...Grace is when we are made complete and whole!

Mercy is when we don't get hell...Grace is when we get heaven!

Mercy is when God doesn't treat us as our failures deserve...Grace is when God treats us the same as He treats Jesus!

Mercy is God fending off the curse...Grace is God piling on the blessing!

Mercy is when God pities us in our sinfulness...Grace is when God loves us just as much as He loves His own dear Son!

Mercy means He won't reject us even when we mess up...Grace means He accepts us as He accepts Jesus!

Mercy means He won't leave us when we're down...Grace means He'll hold us up and lead us in triumph and keep us to the end!

I'm still learning about the facets of mercy and grace...how wonderful is God, who shows us both!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Answers to Questions about Grace - from Grace Church Orlando

Hey, here are more answers to those pressing questions people sometimes have when hearing about Grace!  These are from the people over at Grace Church Orlando.  Their pastor, Clark Whitten, has an awesome book out called Pure Grace, which I am enjoying right now and would recommend to all!

Enjoy being refreshed by these:

7. Is it possible for a Christian to lose his salvation?

The short answer is an emphatic “No!”  The long answer begins with understanding “what” salvation really is and “how” one obtains it.  Understanding those two things is the key to knowing the answer to this question.  In essence, salvation (or to be saved) means to be “rescued” or “delivered” from a place and brought to another place.  As Paul wrote:  “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13) Paul also writes in verse 14 that in this new place, in the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, we receive the complete forgiveness for all our sins (past, present and future) and an inheritance from God Himself.
When we say we are saved we are really saying that God has placed us in His Son Jesus, and He in us, evidenced and secured eternally by the presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).  We are saying that we are in union with God Himself through Christ by the Spirit.  We are also saying that,
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

We are righteous as God is righteous – a gift from God;
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Union with God is salvation, and only God can join us to Himself.  We once were in the flesh, fallen and worldly, but now we are in the Spirit born from above, a “new creation” (Eph. 2:1-10).  As God powerfully brought the nation of Israel out of a dark place of bondage (Egyptian captivity) by opening a way miraculously through the Red Sea and later through the Jordan River into another land, a promised land, a land full of milk and honey; so is our salvation in Christ.
How does God do this?  How do we obtain “so great a salvation?”
We simply believe in Him.  Jesus died for all people so that all people could have their sins taken away in order that God could join all people to Himself by the Spirit.  To be joined to God is life eternal, for He is eternal life itself.  Not all people believe Him and because they do not believe they will die in their sins, but whosoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that His death completely removes all sins of the past, and all sins of the present and all sins not even committed yet in the future, shall receive exactly that:  the complete forgiveness of all sin!  (refer to Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10)
As John the Baptist declared:  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  Simple faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on our behalf is what qualifies us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus union with God and eternal life.  Because Jesus was raised again from the dead He ever lives, and through the gift of the Spirit Christ now lives within the believer.  The ancient High Priestly blessing that was spoken over the children of Israel to “invoke the name of God” had this phrase in it:  “The Lord bless you and keep you . . .”(Numbers 6:24-26) As then, so now.  What God blesses He also keeps and keeps forever!  “He is the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2) and though He did not believe for us, for we must choose to believe Him, once that choice is made to receive Him, He is able to keep our faith strong in Him.  As Paul wrote:  “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until the end.” (2 Tim. 1:12)
That being said, one might ask what is meant by the writer to the Hebrews when it is said, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”  (Hebrews 6:4-6)
This passage is written to the attention of the Hebrews with the first verses of the chapter dealing with the necessity of their leaving the elements of their Jewish faith while choosing Christ as the Messiah.  The writer is saying that if they do retreat back to Judaism after hearing the gospel, all the religious “repentance” in the world will be worthless.  To forsake Christ is equivalent to crucifying Him again; especially if they were to express their repentance in Jewish terms (that being a resumption of animal sacrifice) thereby denying the completed work of Christ on the cross.  This passage in question is therefore not for Christians as is evidenced by verse 9 of the same chapter.
Remember, one can have spiritual experiences and still not be saved.  One can perform religious works and still not be saved.  Salvation is a simple and glorious result of placing one’s faith in Christ and the work of redemption He completed on our behalf.  The result of believing faith is the receiving of God’s promise of salvation, both eternal and secure.

8. Seeming Contradictions to Eternal Security

Contradictions or Weak Exegesis?

2 Peter 2:17-22

In the context of two scripture passages Peter is not speaking of those who have been truly born again.
Vs. 17    “There are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved,”

These people are not true Christians!  They have a measure of enlightenment but are not true believers.  The whole chapter is about false prophets!
Vs. 22    Peter says these people are like dogs that return to their own vomit and like hogs that return to the wallow after being washed.  Notice the language, it is a hog or a dog that returns, not a sheep!  The hog was still a hog and the dog was still a dog.  Someone who walks away from Christ never knew him.
John 6:66-69

The term “disciple” used by John refers to a “learner” or “follower”.  One cannot know Jesus and be born again without being a disciple, but one can be a disciple of Jesus without knowing Jesus.  These disciples did not know Jesus in a manner that is consistent with regeneration.  Peter responded to Jesus’ question, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” by saying, “we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (vs. 69).  Peter was a true disciple and those who left were not true believers.
Hebrews 6:4-8

This passage of scripture is not referring to true believers.  There is a reference to “those who have once been enlightened” (vs. 4).  These are people who had heard the word and the “unfolding of Your words gives light” (Ps. 119:130).  Everyone who is born again must be enlightened but they must receive the truth and believe beyond mere enlightenment.
The reference to “have tasted of the heavenly gift” (vs. 4) only indicates they tasted but did not digest.  In Ezekiel 2:9, 3:3, God commands Ezekiel to eat the scroll and he begins chewing.  The Lord then commands him to “feed your stomach” (Ezek. 3:3).  He means to swallow and digest.  One who is born again must do more than taste, he must swallow and digest.  He must believe and receive.  These who had been enlightened and who had tasted were not true believers but had merely played around with the idea.
Look at Hebrews 6:9“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way”.  This verse indicates that the writer of Hebrews made a distinction between those who had truly been saved and those who thought about it and considered it, but never believed and received.
Hebrews 10:37-39

Some use verse 38 as a proof-text to say a Christian can “lose” that which Christ died to procure for him.  Verse 34 contradicts such a position, “knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”  This refers to salvation and it is abiding and eternal.
Verse 39 also proves the point that the writer of Hebrews is not saying that a true believer can “shrink back” and lose his salvation, “but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
We (true Christians) will not “shrink back” but our faith will continue!
Remember, 1 Peter 1:5, “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  Our salvation is protected by the power of God!

9. What about some who say they are Christian yet continue in their sin?

To begin with, when approaching this subject we must be careful not to fall into the trap of judging one another.  Who can see the deep issues of the heart other than God?
Jesus taught that we were not to try to judge whether or not a person is a true Christian (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37).  Paul admonishes people to judge and examine themselves, not others, to determine if Christ is within them (2 Cor. 13:5).  The Spirit bears witness with our “new heart” which is a result of our being a “new creation in Christ”, and we can know that we are the children of God.  Jesus said to let the wheat and the tares grow together and do not try to determine which is “wheat” and which is” tare”, for in that process the wheat will be hurt (Matt. 13:29).  Jesus said to leave that to Him and His mighty angels who will at the end of time divide the wheat from the tares and the sheep from the goats.
Man looks at the outward appearance but only God can see the heart.  Having said that, sometimes it may appear that a person claiming to be a Christian is continuing in sin with little or no change in their lives.  One explanation may be that they are not yet born of God even though they “go to church” and do other religious or good things.  The best thing we can do for that person is to keep loving them and  telling them about our awesome King who died for them.
Similarly, it may appear that a person claiming to be a Christian is continuing in sin with little or no change in his life, and he really is born of God and thus really is a child of God.  Likewise the best thing we can do for that person is to keep loving him and telling him about our awesome King who died for him.  It’s the same answer and application for both situations.
God made this simple!  His Spirit leads the believer into all truth as we trust Him to do so.  “It is the goodness of God that leads a person to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) – changing one’s mind.  The goodness of God shines brightly through Jesus and enriches us to keep our eyes upon Him, while encouraging others to do the same knowing that everything will go and grow as planned.
Jesus said only one thing was needful in this life.  Only one thing!  He said Mary had found the one thing.  Remember, Mary was sitting, resting at His feet, looking into His eyes and listening to His voice (Luke 10:42).  One thing – resting in Jesus (looking and listening).  He is the one thing.
With these truths in mind, don’t fret about what someone else may or may not be doing.  Just do the “one thing.”  Do you recall when Peter asked Jesus about another believer and he said to Jesus, “What about him?  What about this man?”  Jesus answered Peter and said, “What is that to you, Peter?  You follow Me” (John 21:22).

10. What is the secret to becoming more Christ like?

It is truly a “secret” to the religious mind although God has not intended it to be so.  God desires every believer to understand how to become more like Jesus.  The first thing to consider is that His ways are not our ways.  “As high as the heavens are above the earth so are His ways different from our ways.” (Is. 55:9).  The things of God or of the Spirit are foolishness to the natural man so it takes a revelation from God to see this “secret” (1 Cor. 2:14)Who can know the thoughts of God but the Spirit of God has been given to us that we might know the things that have been “freely” given to us through Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12)
Secondly, one should consider that God works from the inside out, while man works from the outside in.  In other words, God first gives the believer a brand new heart as an act of creation.  The outward manifestation of that new heart will come later and gradually, like a fruit tree bearing fruit.  Paul wrote that in this New Covenant “God raises the dead and calls into being that which did not exist.”  (Romans 4:17) Man, on the other hand, tries to modify outward behavior through fear of judgment or outward pressure or knowledge of good and evil, but that method is not God’s way and it cannot change the heart.
Becoming more Christ like is really a manifestation of what already is.  Did you get that?  That is the key.  A believer is not gradually becoming more and more like Jesus, more and more righteous, more and more holy, etc.  A believer is by an act of recreation made in the image of the risen Christ and inseparably joined to Christ.  A believer is complete in Christ now and nothing is lacking to make him or her fit for heaven.  Physical death, to be absent from the body, will mean the believer is immediately present with the Lord, blameless, complete and in great joy!
In this life it is a matter of the mind being renewed to what is true now in Christ.  As the mind is renewed to the new reality in Christ, thoughts change, words change, deeds change, etc.  Gradually, as the un-renewed mind catches up with what is true in the Spirit, the son or daughter of God produces spiritual fruit which comes forth for all to see – the invisible becoming visible and God is glorified.
The third consideration is that there is a heavenly dynamic which is active in the Spirit during this journey on earth with God.  God’s way in the Spirit is to direct our eyes to Jesus and see Him as He really is, and thereby seeing God as He really is.  As we do, a mysterious thing happens.  As we look to God and behold his countenance concerning us, everything changes.  We begin to see our identity in Him, for we have been created by Him in His likeness as a new creation.  Seeing Him and seeing who we really are in Him releases the power of God to renew our minds.
Paul writes about how Moses’ face began to shine as he simply beheld the glory of God and he writes that this is how it works in the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6-14).  We behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus and are transformed in the eyes of men (although the transformation has already taken place in the invisible – in the Spirit within) into the same image from glory to glory as we put on the deeds of the new man who already is,
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

Paul was telling us that when we behold Jesus as if He is a mirror reflecting back to us who we really are, and that we look just like Him!  As John wrote, “As Jesus is so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
Through the Old Covenant of law came the knowledge of sin, the scripture teaches.  The law can only show us our sin in the flesh, but that sin in the flesh does not dictate the true identity of the believer anymore.
“by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,” (Eph. 2:15) 

We have been cut away from the body of the flesh in a great mystery, a spiritual circumcision, the true circumcision of which the Abrahamic circumcision was but a picture, and have been raised from the dead to experience union with the risen Christ.
“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”  (Romans 2:29)

“The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

That’s it!  That’s the secret.  No wonder they call Him “Wonderful Counselor”, for His counsel is not of man or of this world.  It is full of wonder!  How can these things be?  Because nothing is impossible for Him!  As He says, “Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you know not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Grace Church Orlando 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Questions About Grace - by Grace Church Orlando

Grace Church in Orlando, FL has a really neat article on their website featuring answers to common questions people have about the Grace Message.  The church has graciously given me permission to post the article here on my blog.  I have put it in my Pages section on the blog sidebar, but I also wanted to post the Q and A here. It really helped me to read through these, and I hope this encourages others as well!

Here are the first few questions:

1. Does it matter to God how we act?
Of course it matters. God is a God who starts everything in the invisible for the purpose of manifesting His glory in the visible. As the writer to the Hebrews says,

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3)
And Paul wrote,
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)
God is into bringing the invisible reality into the visible creation. Also Jesus said,
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
It matters to God how we act, but the more important question is: “Does it matter to God how we glorify Him?” God is only glorified when we believe in Him and in the work of His Son that He sent to take away our sins. Without faith it is impossible to please God, no matter how good we are acting.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
God cares about how we act but even more He wants us to know that apart from Him we can do nothing. All our acting or works is but “filthy rags” to God if those acts or works are not the fruit of our union and abiding in Christ Jesus. Jesus said a good tree would produce good fruit. It will happen. In Christ we can rest in the good news that God no longer counts my sins against me because of the death of Christ and that the same Jesus who gave Himself for me has given Himself to me to live inside me that I might bear much fruit and thereby glorify God.

2. Does Grace give us a license to sin?
No, we already had a license to sin from the flesh (an illegitimate license that God does not recognize). Grace cancels that fleshly, illegitimate license and gives us a heavenly permit to be free. Free from condemnation.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
Free from the power of sin…
“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
Free from fear of judgment….
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” ( John 5:24)
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17)
Free to know God as our Father. Free, indeed!
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” ( John 8:32)
‘So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
The law is the strength of sin, the scripture says,
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
But, grace is the strength of Life – His Life living within the believer!
“to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17)
When we sin, we know that “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.”
“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20)
When we sin, we know that sin is not imputed to us because we are not under law, and where there is no law, sin is not imputed.
“for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13)
But this freedom from the dominion of sin, which is at its core the power to condemn, does not lead to more sin. On the contrary, because we no longer serve God after the letter of the law, but rather by the newness of the Spirit where we find the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus putting to death the deeds of the body as we simply walk in the Spirit.
“for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13)
Paul writes simply and profoundly that if we walk in the Spirit we would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)
3. Why does the New Testament say so much about our behavior?
As mentioned above, God desires to manifest His glory in the earth among men and one way that is done is by our words and deeds – by our behavior. But, He also wants us to experience a rich, full life – life abundant and full of joy.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)
God understands that selfish behavior or self-centered behavior (or any behavior that isn’t loving behavior) will make us miserable. It will make us miserable and everyone around us miserable.
True freedom isn’t being able to do anything you want. Freedom according to God’s design for His children is being able to do anything you want, because what you want is what God wants! He changes our “want-er” if there is such a word.
In every case where the New Testament talks about the behavior of the saint of God (you are a saint and not a sinner if you are a believer in Jesus) the message about behavior is always preceded by an awesome message on how God has removed our sin from us through Christ, creating in us a brand new identity (in Christ). We have a new heart, not an evil heart anymore, and as we put off the deeds of that old man who is now dead through the death of Christ, we put on the new deeds of the new man who is alive in Christ.

“Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:9)
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18”
We are encouraged by the apostles to simply be who we already are in Christ. Be the new man that you are in word and deed, by depending on the life of Christ within to live His Life through you.

4. What is the balance between law and grace?
Well, how do you balance death and life? You don’t. What men call balance, God calls mixture! The scripture is clear that we are no longer under law but under grace,

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
that the law is the “strength of sin”,
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
that the law is the” letters of death engraved on stone”
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was” (2 Corinthians 3:7)
(yep, that’s the Ten Commandments), that the law is not of faith, that the law made nothing perfect, that the law was weak, that the law made sin increase, etc.
How do you balance that with “grace” which makes you righteous, that gives Life, that brings you into union with God, that reveals the heart of God , that is of faith? God did away with the covenant of law to bring us a new and better covenant of grace. The law is not the rule of life for the believer, rather the Life of Christ is simply the life of the believer. The writer to the Hebrews says that as long as you try to live under law and grace you will never be established in grace.

“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed” (Galatians 3:23)
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law” (1 Corinthians 9:20)
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
You will always live a life of condemnation accompanied by a sense that you are never measuring up to God’s standards. What does the scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman (the law) and her son (the flesh) and receive the freewoman (the new covenant of grace) and her son (the gift of righteousness and life) and be not entangled again in the bondage of the law. (read Galatians 4:22-f)

5. What role should the law play in the life of a Christian?

It is important to know that the law was given as an intermediary to the advent of Grace. While it revealed an aspect of God’s holiness, it did not reveal His mercy or redemptive plan. Just as importantly, the law did not have the power to change the heart.
When Christ fulfilled the law, and atoned for our sin through His death, the holiness of God as well as His righteousness and purity became engraved upon the hearts of all who would believe (notice the scripture does not say “of all who would behave”).

“Now He (Jesus) said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
The Old Covenant “law keeping” became nullified for the Christian under the New Covenant. We are no longer under the law, but under grace.
Paul said that the law is not for the righteous. He was referring to those who are made righteous in Christ by faith. Paul also instructed believers to consider themselves to be dead to the law.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4)
Thankfully, it is the role of the Spirit living within each believer, not the law, to lead the children of God in their new identity as the “righteousness of God in Christ”. Behavioral changes reflecting the standards required by the law would now be out of a motivation of acceptance and love, rather than a fear of judgment and condemnation for failure.
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7-9)
Where the law says, “thou shalt not kill”, or “thou shalt not steal”, or “thou shalt not commit adultery”, the Spirit not only leads the believer to not commit murder, but to be willing to lay down his life for a friend; instead of stealing, giving; rather than committing adultery, choosing to love sacrificially while receiving one’s spouse in a manner which brings them to a place of security, comfort, and joy.
The law set a standard outwardly that the flesh was simply unable to satisfy. This was not a mistake. God intended for the law to instruct us by means of our failure so as to trust God’s perfect provision for all aspects of life, including holiness and happiness. Christ is our life in all its fullness, living in our hearts by faith.

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4)
Therefore, the law serves to bring us to Christ, while continuing to reveal our utter dependence upon the indwelling life of Christ, serving to make us holy, righteous, justified, and eternally secure before the Father.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4)
When reading and studying the Old Testament, it is important to remember that in order to unearth its incredible wealth and value it must be interpreted through the spiritual-lens of the “finished work of Christ”. It has been said, “the Old Testament is the finished work of Christ concealed, and the New Testament is the finished work of Christ revealed”. It is good to be reminded that we are built upon the foundation of the prophets (Old Testament) and the apostles (New Testament), with Jesus being the “chief cornerstone”. (Luke 20:17)

6. Are there consequences to sin for a Christian?
Yes, and on two levels. In this natural world a Christian will be arrested and go to jail if they are caught robbing a bank. Peter writes that we believers should not suffer as an “evil-doer” by stealing.

“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15)
Paul writes that the courts and police officers are there by God’s design, and that “they bear not the sword in vain.” Natural man must have law in order for there to be a measure of peace in this world and that law is designed to modify the behavior of the unbeliever through fear of punishment. So in this world there are consequences to sin for a Christian if that sin is a violation of the laws of this world.
On another level, in the spiritual world, the believer will experience the corrupting power of sin in spiritual matters as a consequence of a lifestyle of sin. As Paul wrote the Galatians,
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8)
Notice that Paul does not say that if a believer sows to the flesh he shall reap “judgment” – just corruption. There is no judgment from God for the sins of a believer. God’s judgment for all the sins of the believer, past, present, and future, fell fully on Jesus. That is the Gospel in its essence. That, dear saint, is the good news!
The sins of a believer are no longer counted against the believer because of the death of Jesus. But there is a corrupting power that sin, or the flesh, has on the mind of a believer. While the Spirit seeks to renew the mind to unseen realities in Christ thereby releasing the “new creation” in Christ to manifest his righteous identity in word and deed, it is the flesh and the power of sin in the flesh that seeks to corrupt the mind and causes a spiritual “blindness or near-sightedness”. While the “new creation in Christ” can be hindered from manifesting his/her identity by means of sinful behavior, inwardly the corrupting power of sin in the flesh is powerless to affect the inward, invisible reality of the “new creation”.
Bottom line? Sin is trouble! Yet, God has set us free from the power of sin as we are positioned in Christ, and the believer’s new heart desires to be like the Father in word and deed. The believer has been made a partaker of the “divine nature” and that new nature desires to walk in righteousness, not because of the fear of consequence like the unbeliever, but rather from a motivation of love and knowledge of who we really are.
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4)

 By Grace Church Orlando

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who Can Compare (Jesus Culture)

Here's a wonderful song I found recently - noone compares to You, Lord!  You show me the way to Life - You showed me who You are - Love, Grace, Goodness more than I could ever imagine!  You are all I've looked for and there's noone who compares with You!  When others leave, You stay!  When others don't care, You understand!  When others reject me, You accept me!  When I am confused about my life, You are the Way!  When I hear lies from the enemy, You are the truth!  When everything else is empty, You are Life!

Thank you for lifting my head to look into Your eyes and see the love, healing and grace there!  Your eyes are full of acceptance and life!

"Who Can Compare"
 Jesus Culture - Emerging Voices

Who can compare to You, my King
Who can compare to You, my Lord
Who can compare to You, my Friend
I looked and I've found that there's no one like You in all the earth

And You take my hand, and You call me Your own
You show me the way to life
And You lift my head, and You give me hope
You show me the way to life

No one compares to You, my King
No one compare to You, my Lord
No one compare to You, my Friend
I looked and I've found that You're the One I needed all along

You are the way
You are the truth
You are the life
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14