Tag Archives: grace

Sunday Sermonette

Sanctification is the opposite of conformity.

There is a danger we face when we turn our backs on legalism: it’s the temptation to to lean on grace so hard that we eventually become indistinguishable from the world in which we live.

Our freedom in Christ should never be used as an excuse to be conformed to the world; it should release us to be different.

“I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:15-17 (HCSB)

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christianity, grace, legalism

Hope for the Dead

Sometimes we encounter people who give every impression that Hell will be their final abode. With bombastic, hate-filled, vulgar declarations they condemn the idea of a Creator and swim deeper into the sea of their depravity.

However, because of His love and mercy, God draws men and women while they are yet immersed in their sin. Therefore, the hardest, vilest, deadest sinner you know might be the one closest to new life in Christ.

Never assume; just keep praying.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! – Ephesians 2:4-5 CSB

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Filed under Christianity, grace, salvation

The Simplicity of Grace in all its Complexity

This morning it’s my privilege to introduce you to a new guest contributor, J. David Peever. David blogs at Live 4 Him, so go check him out when you are done here –  and let him know I sent you 😉

Guest Post by: J. David Peever


I understand what grace means but I have to admit, I am not sure what it looks like. I know that grace is unmerited favour but I fail to fully grasp the resulting actions. It is possible that I am the only Christian that finds the scope of grace and the accompanying behaviours difficult to define and the only pastor who feels inadequate when it comes to this. With these shortcomings I hope you are willing to extend a little grace to me or it might as well be the end of this post.

Unmerited favour must be more than letting me off the hook.

I celebrate the grace I have been given. I bask in the thought that someone could do something for me based not on what I have done or deserve but on how much they love me. In my human weakness I miss the breadth and depth, the width and height of God’s love-motivated, unmerited favour. My small mind focuses on the fact that I am forgiven even though I have done nothing to earn that forgiveness. I limit God and His actions to the function of letting me off the hook without paying the price for the sin I have committed which would best be described as unmerited forgiveness. Unmerited favour seems to be much more than that.

Unmerited favour can’t mean out of sight out of mind.

People like to say God forgives and forgets as if He suddenly comes down with a case of memory impairment or experiences concussion like symptoms. This is not the biblical premise behind the way God treats our sins. When we sin we create a deficit in our perfection. God, because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, looks at the deficit in the Christ follower’s perfection as paid, the debt is forgotten and perfection is restored. The debt may be forgotten, but the sinful action is not. I know this sounds like bad theology but bear with me.

Unmerited favour is more than unmerited forgiveness.

I have taken a juvenile attitude toward my salvation for far too long. In my immature approach I have viewed God’s grace as taking care of my need for forgiveness and sending me on my way as if nothing happened. A drop of Jesus’ blood here and piece of broken body there and all is forgotten – wow, so simplistic, so incomplete. God’s grace is much more than my rich dad paying yet another one of my debts. His unmerited favour is the perfect example of the actions a loving father takes when he desires the best for his children.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

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Filed under grace, Guest Posts

Jesus Paid It All and Your Payment’s No Good Here

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Two Religions

Aside from the obvious non-religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.

The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion:

  • Some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven.
  • Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven.
  • Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians.
  • Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.

On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:

Jesus Paid It All and you Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way

But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.

In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.

Ephesians 2:8-9For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That verse is really fairly self-explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.

Only Grace

We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.

Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.

We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.

We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.

We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.

Our Rituals, Sacraments and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.

No sacrifice of any sort can ever save us.

What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

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Filed under God, grace, Guest Posts, salvation

Christian Tyranny

The following is a guest post by David Robert Fuller. David blogs at Christian Consciousness, so go check out his stuff…but only after you read this and share your thoughts in the comment section. There’s a lot worth discussing in this post, the least of which is his use of periods and quotation marks 😉 First let’s talk Christian tyranny, then we can see who’s a grammar Nazi.


Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. – Galatians 2:4,5

I am concerned about one of my Christian brothers. He is a prominent member of my church, well known to everyone in the congregation. He says that he loves the Lord and is devoted to the Faith, yet he seems to experience some profound struggles in his Christian walk. It is not his struggles which most concern me, however, nor is it the fact that despite all the special consideration given him by his fellow Christians, no one seems to have a desire to see him grow beyond his spiritually immature state. What concerns me most is that I have the distinct impression that he doesn’t want to grow. He seems content to maintain a state of affairs in which he can play the role of a kind of Christian tyrant.

If there is a sin, this man struggles with it. Lust, drunkenness, immorality, drugs, gambling, smoking, swearing, and even occult practices are among the things that littered the former life of this dear brother. And he is apparently having an extremely hard time excluding these things from his life as a Christian, since everything he sees or hears reminds him of one or more of these things. He just can’t get away from it all. What’s worse, when he’s reminded of his former life, instead of being filled with the joy of his deliverance, he is rather filled with a desire to return to the very things he supposedly hates!

This unfortunate state of affairs has caused him to create a situation for himself similar to the famous “boy in the bubble”, who, due to the weakness of his immune system, was forced to spend every moment of his life within the confines of an artificial environment. In much the same way, this brother has devised a system for filtering out “impurities” and allowing only that which is “pure”.

For instance, all “secular” media is harmful to him. He can only be exposed to “Christian” music, television, magazines, books, and the like. He frequents only those events which are spiritually “edifying” (church functions mostly), and limits his business dealings to Christian merchants whenever possible. He cultivates friendships with Christians exclusively, since “bad company corrupts good character”. Even some “Christian” elements are filtered out, because they have the “appearance of evil”. He is very careful, because he knows that “…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

The upshot of all this is that special procedures must be observed by all those around him to avoid unintentionally short-circuiting his filtering system, which is so elaborate that it cannot be maintained by himself alone. This is where the tyranny starts.

I call it tyranny for three reasons.

First, tyrants manipulate facts to support their own cause. This is done by forcing others to conform to his standards by repeatedly quoting a couple of verses in the New Testament, which he conveniently takes out of context. He tells them that Romans 14:21 forbids them to do anything which he finds “offensive”, and 1 Thess. 5:22 prohibits anything that even “appears” to be evil, ignoring the fact that “…to the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1;15), or that Jesus Himself commands us not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24).

Second, tyrants typically impose fear on other people. This is accomplished by saying it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck, than to make him stumble; in effect, threatening their eternal life if they don’t do what he wants,when he knows that “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12).

Third, tyrants are self-serving. While they usually claim to serve some nebulous “greater good”, in this case “the things which make for peace”, it is really only an excuse they use to bully others into bowing to their own personal self-interests, however good and right they may believe those self-interests to be.

While I repeat my concern for this brother, let me hasten to add that I have serious reservations about passing judgment on someone whom I don’t personally know. I have never personally met this man, although he has been a church member for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t even know his name, because no one ever uses it when referring to him; maybe it’s because they don’t know his name either. Usually, everyone refers to him as, “the Weaker Brother”.

 

© 2017 David Robert Fuller

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, legalism

Jesus Paid It All and You Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way (Part One)

For the next couple of months Wednesdays will become “Wally Wednesdays,” because on each Wednesday through most of this summer we will feature a guest post from my fellow blogger and friend, Wally Fry.

So, welcome to our first Wally Wednesday


Guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Jesus paid it all.

That is a very simple statement, with very profound implications.  Today begins a multi part series on Jesus’ payment. A good starting point is for us to discuss exactly what Jesus paid for. We will end with a discussion of why we really don’t want to make that payment ourselves.

What did Jesus pay for?

Well he paid the necessary payment for our sins, of course. That seems fairly simple, yet the vast majority of the world fails to truly understand exactly what that means. The non-believing world, as well as a large part of the “Christian” world totally fails to really understand what the Bible teaches about this issue.  Of course the non-believing world simply dismisses the issue completely; and within the “Christian” world there are so many perversions and misunderstandings about this issue that they simply cannot be counted.

This series will be a close examination of some of the truths contained in the simple statement, “Jesus paid it all.”  In this first part, we will simply discuss the nature of both our sin debt and the payment Jesus made on our behalf for that debt.

Let’s talk about sin. 

In its simplest meaning, sin is the breaking of God’s law. By God’s Law, we aren’t talking about the Old Testament Law, such as dietary laws and so forth. We are talking about the moral codes of behavior which God has laid out for us to adhere to. God’s law comes out of the aspects of the nature of God. For example, God considers a lie to be a transgression of His law, because God himself cannot lie. God’s Law reflects His character and His Holiness. To not love others transgresses God’s Law, because God is love. God’s Law is not just some arbitrary list of rules, but a reflection of His character, holiness and perfection.

Do we sin? Well of course we do! The Bible teaches that clearly. Romans 3:23 is the most famous scripture verse on this issue, stating that 

All have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God

Not only do we all sin, but we were all born into this world as sinners. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all mankind has inherited a sin nature. Romans 5:12 teaches us that,

 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

But let’s get more specific. It’s easy to toss out the general idea about how we are all sinners by nature and by choice. But we should actually discuss some particulars of our sin. Most people would agree that the Ten Commandments are a major source of a great number of the specifics of God’s Law. We should give ourselves a test. By the way I fail this test miserably!

Have you ever told a lie? Any lie, small or large. Any lie, whether a little white lie or a big black one? What is a person who tells lies called? A liar of course

Have you ever stolen anything? Big or little. Have you stolen a pencil at work? Run copies on the company printer? Have you cut in line? Then you stole that person’s spot. What do you call someone who steals? A thief of course.

Have you ever used God’s name in vain? This doesn’t even have to be the most obvious one where we actually use His name as a curse word. Have you called Him “the Big Guy?” Any use of the Holy name of God in a flip way is considered blasphemy by God.

Ever looked at a member of the opposite sex with lust? Of course we all have, unless we like the same sex. Jesus taught that to look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery of the heart.

We really have not gotten through all of the Ten Commandments, which are His moral law, and we have established that for the most part we are all lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterers at heart! (Thanks to Ray Comfort for that little test by the way)

So, the only question that remains is: Someday when you stand before God will you be found innocent or guilty? Based on our test, the answer obviously seems guilty is the only possible answer. To really get this, we have to understand and try to look at the issue from God’s perspective. We might look at some of those things and just not consider them to be a big deal; however, God disagrees. The real issue is this: Do we get to rate ourselves, so to speak, against our own human thoughts about right and wrong, or are we subject to the evaluation of a Perfect and Holy God?

Coming up…Part 2 How God hates sin

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Guest Posts, salvation, Theology

Would You Pray With Me? 

Dear Lord, you know who I’m praying for at this moment. You know who she is, her name, everything she’s going through, and even her real hair color. Father, you even know every hair out of her head, as you said in your Word. Now, God, I’m coming to you, along with all those who will pray with me, and interceding on her behalf.

Lord, she says she doesn’t believe in you, But so often that’s nothing about a denial of the truth. She knows you’re there, she just doesn’t want you to be there. God, soften her heart, break her heart, do whatever you need to do to open her eyes to the truth. You were there, and you were waiting, draw her to Yourself.

Lord, I know of many people who have been hurt by those who call themselves Christians. I know this young girl has been hurt, too. But I also know that there have been many who you have broken through the hardness of the walls they have built around their hearts. Break down the walls around this young woman’s heart. 

Jesus, I know you are glorified whenever anyone gives his or her heart to you. Lord, I pray that you would be glorified when this young woman turns from her sin, repents, and gives her heart and life to you.

Continue, or God, to break our hearts for the lost!

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray this, amen.

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Filed under Faith, grace, Love of God, Prayer