Monday, August 30, 2010

Grace and Community

"Understanding and acceptance of the grace of God is the best possible foundation for developing intimate relationships, whether it be in the closest of all relationships, that of marriage, in ordinary family relationships, in friendships, in church fellowships, in the relationships between communities, or even in the relationships between races and nations.

The reason given by Peter for husbands being considerate towards their wives is that they are both “heirs…of the gracious gift of life”[literally: “the grace of life”] (1 Peter 3:7).
Their equal value in God’s sight is based on the fact that they are both recipients of his undeserved goodness. And where relationships have failed, it is still grace that can provide healing and hope for future relationships. Rubel Shelley says in Divorce and Remarriage: a Redemptive Theology:

By grace, people who have failed at marriage and who have divorced for the worst or most trivial reasons may be redeemed from guilt. People who have destroyed marriages through their adulteries can be pardoned. People whose hearts and behaviours have been cold, hard, and unfeeling can be made whole. And this is by forgiveness and renewal from above—not through another divorce, not by the penance of celibacy, and not by unringing the bell of harm already done. What law cannot do, grace accomplishes. What law cannot undo, Christ’s blood forgives. What our legalistic interpretations have confused, the redemptive presence of the Holy Spirit can sanctify.

The gospel story, which emphasises that we are all flawed human beings and all potential recipients of his grace, puts us all on the same level. “There is no difference[1] between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24). Jerry Bridges, in Transforming Grace, uses the Grand Canyon to illustrate this theme of “no difference”:

The canyon averages about nine miles in width from rim to rim. Suppose one person could leap out about thirty feet from the edge while another can leap only six feet. What difference does it make? Sure, one person can leap five times as far as the other, but relative to nine miles (47,520 feet!), it makes no difference…Both leaps are absolutely worthless for crossing the canyon. And when God built a bridge across the “Grand Canyon” of our sin, He didn’t stop thirty feet or even six feet from our side. He built the bridge all the way.

[1] Italics mine.

As the saying goes, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”

If there is any place where the grace of God should be manifest, it is in the local Christian fellowship. Churches where the grace of God is proclaimed and practised, where loving, forgiving relationships are the order of the day, are likely to be growing churches where visitors feel welcome and at home. Walter Brueggeman, in his 1989 Lyman Beecher Lecture at Yale University, spoke of the church as a “space for grace” and called the church to be a people who “create poetry in a prose-flattened world”. One organisation from which we can learn something is Alcoholics Anonymous. Philip Yancey, in one of his insightful Back pages in Christianity Today, ‘Lessons from Rock Bottom’, tells how he was struck by an observation from an alcoholic friend of his, who said:

When I’m late to church, people turn around and stare at me with frowns of disapproval. I get the clear message that I’m not as responsible as they are. When I’m late to AA, the meeting comes to a halt and everyone jumps up to hug and welcome me. They realise that my lateness may be a sign that I almost didn’t make it. When I show up, it proves that my desperate need for them won over my desperate need for alcohol."

I found this article at:

God Blessed you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friendship with God

I watched this some time ago and recently came across it again. It just sits so well in my heart that I wanted to share it. So here is the you tube link below. It's a 10 minute clip, but well worth a listen (and a re-listen... and a re-listen..)

For me, the revelation that is contained here is so close to me heart because I have seen the result of well meaning brothers and sisters getting chewed-up and spat-out by a system of religion that is so foreign to the New Covenant, it has often left me just shaking my head in confounded wonder as to how we, and the vast majority of the Church, have been so tricked into a works based religion as opposed to a Love based relationship with ABBA.
Of course the answer to that pondering is that we were lured and enticed away from the ROCK, the Good News of Gods love to us, revealed in the reconciliation of Calvery - and led to a feast of SAND (Sand is made of rock, but is broken down and lost its original identity.)

So satan's plan is to get us to feed ourselves and others on "truth", but its truth that is missing the vital connection to Jesus as its foundation. When we do this, we are building upon sand, and time will reveal a fading glory - guaranteed!!!!
Any Good works that are separate from, and not fueled from communion with the Head - Jesus - is a dead work.
When we get stuck on focusing and teaching on things that Jesus and the Apostles NEVER specifically majored on, we can be sure that the symbol-clanging sound of our works falling to the ground, will be the "off-melody" of satans celebration.

Father did it all - reconciled us and empowered us, for ONE reason..... because of His great LOVE for us.

He Loves us all so much!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bad News for legalists!!

I read this by Andre vdm at:
there are many other really good articles there that will clear your mind-up about the Gospel.

"Many people that still believe they have to live according to the Old Covenant Laws have thrown Matt 5:17-18 at Grace Preachers to try and prove their case. Let us now therefore look at what the Bible really says about living under the law, and if we are still bound to it, because all scripture has to be interpreted by scripture. First off, let’s start with this week’s main scripture:

[Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.]

Peter Ditzel from explains these 2 verses as follows: “Jesus is giving us two either/or conditions here: The law cannot pass until heaven and earth pass OR the law cannot pass until all is accomplished. One or the other can do it. Heaven and earth have not yet passed, so we will leave that aside. But what did Jesus mean by ALL being accomplished? He was referring to what He had just said in the previous sentence: the fulfilling or completing of the law AND the prophets. Once He had completed the law and the prophets, the law could pass. Why is it that so many people who accept that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies have a hard time understanding that in the same way, He fulfilled the Old Testament laws — all of them?”

When you are under a contractual obligation to someone, and you fulfill all the requirements of the contract, the contract is finished & over. But if you simply destroy the contractual agreement before you have fulfilled its requirements, you are not released from its obligations, which is why Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law. But the moment you do fulfill it you are set free from it! In exactly the same way Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but He fulfilled it, see verse 17 above again. Jesus was in all ways 100% obedient to the law for his entire life (isn’t that amazing???), thereby fulfilling its requirements. Let’s look at more verses (and there are many more than the ones below) that prove the law has passed.

[Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.] Because all the righteous requirements of the law have been fulfilled in Jesus, and since we are given the righteousness of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit as a free gift when we put our faith in Jesus, it means that in Christ we have fulfilled the requirements of the law as well, therefore the law has ended for us as well. [Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.]

[Matt 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.] The entire law and the old testament prophets spoke of the coming of the Messiah who would forgive the sins of the whole world. The law was our tutor (schoolmaster), teaching us “right living” until we should put our faith in Jesus and begin to live by faith. Now that we put our faith in Jesus, we don’t need the tutor of the law anymore. [Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.]

[Luk 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.”] This verse implies that if you still preach law-based living, you are NOT preaching the Kingdom, because you are preaching the things that ended with John the Baptist over 2000 years ago – read the verse again. How much clearer can it get??

[Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.] And also [Gal 3:19 What then is the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions, UNTIL THE SEED SHOULD COME to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.] This verse says that the law was given because of transgressions UNTIL THE SEED should come (and if you will read the story of Israel in Exodus you will see it was specifically the sin of self righteousness). Then when the SEED (Christ) came, the law was fulfilled and we are not under it anymore.

[Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.] This verse says that if there were such a thing as the “court of heaven”, that the law & prophets would have stood up as witnesses, pointed their fingers to us who put our faith in Jesus and said: “This person is righteous!”

We are now not under the law anymore, but instead we live by faith. And here is a shocker, something that will no doubt shut the mouths of those who still try to be justified by obeying the law. Lets look at 2 verses first: [Gal 3:12 And the law is not of faith…] and also [Rom 14:23b … for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.] Can you see what it says when you combine these 2 verses? Can you see it??? Since the law is not of faith, and since anything that is not of faith is sin, then it means that those who try to be justified by their own good works and try to live up to some moral code (the law) are actually living in sin!!

Lastly, look at what Jesus said just after this week’s 2 key verses: [Matt 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.] The scribes & Pharisees prided themselves in how well they kept the laws of Moses, it’s what they did for a living! These laws included all the rituals & daily sacrifices, not just the 10 commandments. In fact most people who try to live up to the Law of Moses today would pale in comparison against your average Pharisee. No, the righteousness that Jesus was talking about was not about us trying to live more obedient or more holy, He was talking about a righteousness that comes from God, given to every believer as a free gift at the point of salvation when we put our faith in Jesus, the exact same moment where Jesus is given our sin & transgressions and we are given His perfect righteousness: [2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.]"

Friends, don't believe people who would have you believe that "that old Law vs Grace debate" is just another distracting talking point!!
This really is a matter of life and death!!
The Law (according to scripture) is a ministry of DEATH and CONDEMNATION, and Grace is a ministry of LIFE, PEACE, and FREEDOM.

Im certainly not saying that we need to always get caught up in arguments with leagalists, but we must all be convinced of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. It honors Father when we live in His Gift that He FREELY Gave us - Jesus - and not die in the shadows of the Old Covenant.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, therefore don't go back to that old yolk of slavery and bondage. His yolk is easy and His burden is light.
Lets drink down the revelation of this unending covenant of peace like there is no tomorrow!!

Jesus loves us all so much!!