What’s Grace Got To Do With It?

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” –Hebrews 4:16

What is grace anyway? Grace is Yahweh’s unmerited favor. It is Him withholding judgment (mercy) and extending blessings even though we don’t deserve it. It is His work for our good, even though we don’t deserve it. Grace flows out of Yahweh’s love. He is love and everything He does for us is by His grace.

Why do we need grace? Oh wait…it’s because we sin…which is not following the Law of God…which makes the need grace…which is needed because we sin…which is not following the Law of God…which makes the need for grace…which…Well, you get the picture.

In all seriousness, I have been meditating on grace…a lot…and I have come to the conclusion that grace has EVERYTHING to do with it. Not that I didn’t already know that, but what really brought it home for me was when I began studying the whole word of Yahweh and seeing His grace from the beginning.

You see, even Adam and Eve received grace from Yahweh. As a matter of fact, they were created in a state of grace by Yahweh. They walked with Him and talked with Him face to face, lived in paradise with Him, rested on the Sabbath with Him, had access to the Tree of Life…before they sinned. And Yahweh chose to create them with a free will…He gave them choices…to live His way or their own way…and they chose to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They sinned…they acted against God’s command…and because they chose to disobey Yahweh, they received His judgment. They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and cut off from the Tree of Life. But Yahweh was still a God of Love and Grace…He foretold of the coming Savior…Yeshua…and the way back to eternal life (Genesis 3:15).

And He continued to extend grace to those who sought Him…Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, David, Hezekiah, Esther…and the list goes on and on. Read the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11. All of these and more received grace and mercy from Yahweh. What did all these heroes of the faith have in common? They sought Yahweh. They loved Yahweh with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength. They obeyed Yahweh.

And this grace is available to all today who truly seek the Most High God, who accept the atoning blood sacrifice of Yeshua, the Messiah. We NEED the grace of Yahweh…for our salvation and eternal life…for our daily walking out our salvation…for daily strength to obey Him…for becoming all that He has called us to be.

Grace has EVERYTHING to do with it!

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

How to Spot a Goat

Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read an article with the intriguing title “How to Spot a Legalist.” The article begins by discussing how “legalists” will tell you that salvation comes by grace and then adds to it by telling you a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. The author then goes on to say, “21st Century Pharisees have replaced circumcision and keeping of the law with a more accepted evangelicalized list of do’s and don’ts. These pious sounding party poopers are getting Christians to doubt their salvation, get discouraged in their salvation and trying to prove, keep and/or earn their salvation. They are robbing believers of the joy that was once theirs in Christ and replacing it with the heavy yoke of legalism (Acts 15:5-11)” One of the problems I have with that statement is the only time that following the commands of God become a heavy yoke and therefore burdensome is when people keep the commands for their salvation. The Scriptures clearly and explicitly tell us that the Law is a delight (Psalm 1:2, Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 40:8, Psalm 119, Romans 7:22) and His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). We are saved by grace through faith…a faith that leads to obedience and good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). After all, we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), the precious atoning blood of our Messiah. We are sternly warned against trampling the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:26-31). And, I will reiterate my point from previous posts Law vs. Grace and Law and Grace Collide, that it takes both to fully and totally follow God.

The next thing the author does is to write a list of 10 ways to spot a legalist. Well, I got to thinking and pondering about that and I thought about the wheat and the weeds and how they grow together. “He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30) And, I also thought about how Jesus will separate the sheep and the goats and how they are both believers…but judged by their works. (See Matthew 25:31-46).

Then, I came up with a list…How to spot a goat.

  1. They cheapen grace by saying it doesn’t matter what you do; you can go to Heaven because you’ve said a prayer. But the bible says believers are called to good works (Matthew 5:16,  Romans 2:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14, James 2:26 just to name a few!)
  2. They’ll say non-sensical things like, “Salvation is free and you don’t have to conform your life to His…you can keep on living however you want to live.” But the bible says believers are called to conform their lives to His (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18); believers are called to die to self (John 12:24-26, 1 Corinthians 15:31, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24 etc.).
  3. They give their stamp of approval to everyone, even if their fruit stinks. But the bible says believers are called to hold each other accountable (Proverbs 27:17, Ezekiel 33:7, Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 4:25); and to recognize good and bad fruit (Matthew 7:16-20).
  4. They focus on things like salvation without repentance. But the bible says believers are called to repent (which means to turn completely away from sin; change your heart and your mind) (Matthew 4:17, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38).
  5. Their “gospel” teaches it’s okay to sin because grace covers a multitude of sin. But the bible says believers are commanded to, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11, Ephesians 4:22-24)
  6. They let people run amok with too much grace and not enough justice. But the bible says believers know God loves them unconditionally (Romans 5:8), but that He is also a God of justice (Psalm 33:5, Acts 17:30-32), and they will be held accountable for their actions (2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27).
  7. They conveniently leave out the entire Old Testament (which is the foundation) and then James, 1 John, and any other books or verses that tell us we have to do something after we’ve been saved. But the bible says believers are called to obey God’s commandments (John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13, Hebrews 5:8-9, 1 John 2:3-6, 2 John 1:6).
  8. They discard any verse that opposes their viewpoint and say, “Well sometimes the Bible contradicts itself.” But the bible says believers are called to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). God’s Word never contradicts itself (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:16-21)…however, our interpretation of scripture can be contradictory.
  9. They concoct a grace alone recipe that holds fast to the traditions of man and leads people to the wide and smooth path that leads to Hell. But the bible says believers are to enter through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).
  10. They cheapen grace and cause nonbelievers and believers alike to steer clear of Christianity because of the hypocrisy that goes on day in and day out. They honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.  (Matthew 15:8-9). But the bible says believers are called to be ambassadors for Christ and therefore represent Him wherever we go (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The author then goes on to state, “But grace that cannot be abused is no grace at all.” Uhmmm…excuse me…doesn’t God’s Word say in Romans 6:1-2, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

I absolutely agree that salvation comes by grace alone. It is undeserved mercy. We don’t deserve to get out of Hell, but Jesus paid that price for us. It’s what we do with that grace that matters. Are we going to take it lightly and trample the blood of Jesus to continue to live our very same lives? Or are we willing to give up our lives, crucify our fleshly desires and follow Him in all the ways He walked? Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us as believers to transform us into His image? Are we willing to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age? Are we willing to be slaves to righteousness? Are we willing to stop cherry picking which verses we will follow and submit ourselves to the whole word of God?

Choices………………………..and eternal consequences.

 

 

 

Stier, G. (March 16, 2013). How to Spot a Legalist. The Christian Post. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-to-spot-a-legalist-92015/.

Grace and Law Collide

You’ve heard the story…

The woman taken in adultery

The woman taken in adultery (Photo credit: gwilmore)

“At dawn He went to the temple complex again, and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8:2-11)

I would like to take a closer look at verse 11 where Yeshua says, “Neither do I condemn you, go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

Hmmm….”Neither do I condemn you.” Sounds like grace to me. She deserved death. After all, she was caught in adultery. But, wait…Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Grace … unmerited favor…undeserved mercy. However, He goes on to say, “Go and from now on do not sin anymore.” What? That can’t be right…don’t sin anymore? Wouldn’t that be following …………wait for it………the Law? I mean if sin is transgressing the Law (1 John 3:4), then wouldn’t it stand to reason that not sinning would be following the Law? (1 John 3:7)

And then…why would Yeshua tell someone to go and sin no more if it was not possible not to sin? Just some food for thought.

Walk This Way

Footsteps

Footsteps (Photo credit: Admean)

But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked—1 John 2:5-6.

How did Yeshua walk? Well, scripture tells us that He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15). It also tells us that sin is transgressing God’s Law (1 John 3:4). So, that should lead us to the logical conclusion that Yeshua followed God’s Law…to the letter…so He wouldn’t sin and could be our atoning sacrifice.

So if we are to walk…just as He walked…shouldn’t we follow God’s Law…Genesis to Revelation? Shouldn’t we be willing to give up our ways and the traditions of man to obey our Father who has adopted us and called us into His glorious kingdom? (Mark 7:8-9; Ephesians 1:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10) Shouldn’t we be willing to walk in the footsteps of the One who gave His life for us so we could overcome sin? (Psalm 119:9-10; Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 5:8-9) Shouldn’t walking as our Master did be our joy and privilege? (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 19:7-11; Romans 7:22) … not for our gain, but because of all He did and continues to do for us … because we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

In the end, I would rather give my all to following in the footsteps of Yeshua and pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and strive to go through the narrow gate and stay on the difficult path (Matthew 7:13-14), and work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), than to have Him say on that day, depart from me you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).

In John 12:44-50, Jesus tells us, “The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (John 12:44-50)

What standard are we going to be judged by?

Law vs. Grace

So which is it you ask? Law…or grace… So here is my opinion, take it or leave it. I believe the debate/argument about law and grace is the most useless, unprofitable, and worthless debate going on in “Christian” circles today. So there it is, and here is why I believe what I believe.

But…before I proceed, I just want to unequivocally state that I firmly believe no one can be saved by works of the Law. That was never the purpose of the Law…ever. We are saved by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9).  If we try to obtain salvation through works of the Law, we become legalistic which is strongly cautioned against by the church today, and rightfully so. However, many have become so caught up in anti-legalism, anti-Law, that the “church” has swung on the pendulum way too far in the opposite direction.

So, now here it is…why I believe what I believe. The Holy scriptures themselves tell us in several places that the Law of God is eternal: Ecclesiastes 3:14, “I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him.” Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” Matthew 5:18, “For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.” Luke 16:17, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”

The Word of God also tells us that when the Messiah came there was a change in the priesthood.  And Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well.” Hebrews 9:11-14 then tells us, “But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come in the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” This was a change in how the Law was manifested, not an exchange of one set of laws for another or to abolish the Law. Messiah’s words in Matthew 5:17 reiterate this point, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Here is an example. The Law of sacrifice is still in effect today. The death of Yeshua on the cross did not cancel the sacrificial law. It is true that because of Him we do not need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sin. Yeshua took care of that once for all. However, there is still a definite need for the Law of sacrifice to be in effect today. Romans 12:1 commands us to, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” The manifestation of the Law changed…i.e. animals to humans…dead to living…but did not cancel the Law. God’s Laws are eternal.

What about the “Law” of celebrations…Feasts of Yahweh? Some say they are for the Jews only. Some say they were done away with when Yeshua fulfilled them. Well, both of the arguments are not scriptural. When the feasts are commanded by Yahweh he states very clearly they are eternal, permanent statutes throughout the generations. He gave those eternal statutes to the Israelites, the people, that if we claim to be believers in Yeshua, have been grafted into (Romans 11:17).  Not only that, He did not say they were for the Jews, the Christians, etc. They were His feasts, His appointed times (Leviticus 23:1-2). Divine. Godly. The New Testament even shows us that the feasts were kept after the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us, “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Yeshua is our Passover. So much more depth and spiritual meaning are added to Yahweh’s appointed times in light of Yeshua. Again, our observance of these biblically appointed times are not a matter of salvation. They are a matter of worship; a time of remembrance and reverence for what He has done for us and is continuing to do. (For more on Yahweh’s feasts see Holy Days vs. Holidays.)

What about the dietary laws? Following them does not lead to salvation, however they are proven to be healthy guidelines to follow…the proper way to treat our “temples of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The bottom line is science can confirm the health benefits of following them. God gives us His Law for our health and benefit.

One of the purposes for Yeshua’s sacrificial death was to change the heart of man, not abolish the Law of God. Ezekiel 11:19-20: And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God.” Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

James 2:12 tells us, “Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom.” I have heard this verse used to “prove” that we are free from the Law of God. The reality is that this verse is speaking entirely to our freedom from sin by the mercy and grace of Yahweh. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2).To develop a theology that is based solely on grace and nullifies the Law of Yahweh is to commit a gross misunderstanding of the scriptures. To develop a theology that is based solely on the Law nullifies the sacrifice of Yeshua. The conclusion of the matter is this: There is no such thing as law versus grace. You must have both. You can’t have one without the other. It is law and grace.

All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. – Psalm 25:10