(There are sections from the book Grace & Law: Life & Death by Tim Hackett mixed in with today’s teaching.)
I want to start out by looking at both sides of the coin of “right believing“. Clearly we see in the following Scripture that God Himself frustrated and nullified, and brought them to nothing “those who did not believe”.
1 Corinthians 1:18-20 (AMP) “For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing.
20 Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world’s wisdom?”
Somehow this hasn’t stopped the die-hard self-righteous from attempting to do their own thing concerning justification. (Romans 10:3)
However, The Apostle Paul had this to say about frustrating and nullifying God’s grace which makes you righteous:
Galatians 2:21 “[Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]”
It is impossible to undertand with our finite minds the reasoning behind a God Who would do what He did to not only save us, but help us stay saved! No matter how much you try to reason it out, in the end it must simply be received by faith, and that not even by your own faith, for your faith is not big enough to lay hold of the magnificence of this finished work of God through His Son! We must access it by “the faith of the Son of God” Who is the only One able to help us grasp it.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I find it interesting that the CJB/Complete Jewish Bible, also says it this way: “When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, I WAS TOO;
so that my proud ego no longer lives, But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”
Under the world’s standards, when something is reported to be “too good to be true”, it usually is. But, not so with God’s grace toward mankind. My husband Mark and I love to refer to it as “the too-good-to-be-true Gospel of Jesus Christ”, for it really and truly is the answer to man’s dilemma and, “the power of God unto salvation….to those who believe.” Romans 1:16
Perhaps that is why Isaiah asked this question: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
There is a key word in that Scripture that we will touch on as we go through this teaching: BELIEVE.
Do we truly believe? Ahhh! There’s a question to give us pause for consideration. Many would quickly say yes, but we have met more unbelieving believers as we have obediently shared the deeper truths of the gospel of grace than we have true believers. Before anyone gets offended, let’s take a further look at what I mean by “unbelieving believers”.
Faith in God and the power He offers will quench each fiery missle that God’s arch enemy launcehs at us in our fight with Satan’s armies. If we will listen to God’s strategic plan and rules of engagement, the Lord Himself will teach us how to live Christianity out of its intended power – Christ in us, our only hope of Glory!
Colossians 1:27 (KJV) “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Many who know me have heard me say something for many years that I believe should have SELAH stamped beside it. SELAH (say “Say-lah”) means “to pause and calmly think about that.” SELAH was used many times in the writings of the Psalms when a truth about God was expressed that once again was “too good to be true”.
Therefore, I’m going to repeat what I have said numerous times with SELAH in front of it so that you will do just that – pause and calmly think about that!
SELAH – “Since Jesus Christ was the ONLY person ever born who was able to be tempted in all ways yet lived his life without sinning…then I TRULY BELIEVE, AND AM FULLY CONVINCED, that He can be trusted to do the same in me as I ALLOW Him to live His life in and through me by the same faith He exercised when He lived as the Son of Man on the Earth.” (Jeanie Kunerth)
Tim Hackett said it this way in his book Grace & Law–Life & Death:
“You and I can learn to stand against temptation in the strength of the Man Who never sinned!” SELAH
All of us get alarmed when we see sin attempting to re-establish its work of bondage in our lives. We “know” that according to the Bible, God has granted us immediate forgiveness when we confess to have sinned, but our deepest longing is for something more than just forgiveness after the transgression.
I wanted nothing less than absolute liberty from sin’s ability to influence and control my actions. However, while attempting to gain that liberty by my own efforts, I recall collapsing in a heap of despair on the hearth while cleaning house one day.
I had been saved for 10 years. I started out free, but had become entangled once again with all the requirements I was being told by legalists (those who believe salvation is gained through good works, and judge people’s conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws) that I must fulfill in order to walk out a successful Christian life! I had failed to keep my freedom, as Paul instructed the Galatians in Chapter 5:1 –
“We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again.”
I had, by my own efforts, frustrated and nullified the work of grace in my life and had unwittingly forced God to resist the proud. (James 4:6 – 1 Peter 5:5) Uh, that was me then…and it’s you, too, if you have done or are now doing this!
I was trying to earn what He had so freely given. Grace was extended, and I had not received it! (Matthew 10:8b) I was frustrated and exhausted, and I cried out, “I can’t do this!” And He said, “I never asked you to. I came to live my life in and through you, not the other way around!”
Say what? This was not at all what I was being taught by too many “preachers and teachers” in the Christian community.
The Lord kindly began to show me that He Himself has granted us victory in this quest, making it available to us through applying His Grace to every circumstance of our life.
He showed me that a car cannot go very far without the engine.
Therefore, we must consider grace the driving force of our Christian life.
If our heart’s cry is to live free from the activity of sin, God will patiently teach us to take hold of the extraordicary power He has made available to us in Christ’s substitutionary work, and to release it into our own situations. If we will cooperate with Him, He will show us daily how to tap into His ever-present, all-sufficient supply of grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ERV)– “But the Lord said, ‘My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.’ So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV) – “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
What Jesus did works for everyone, and the only condition to accessing this sufficient supply is that we believe and receive! Access means “to be able to make use of”, and remember, we are able to do so by the faith of the Son of God.
The Lord gave me a picture right here of a person standing in front of the vegetable stand in need of vegetables and saying “I NEED TO GET MYSELF SOME VEGETABLES” instead of just reaching out and laying hold of the provision that is right there for the taking!
How foolish it would be to do that, but it is exactly what 98% of the church – those who call themselves true believers – are doing.
I would personally love to know exactly what it is they “truly believe” about Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection?
The answer has always been and always will be grace! Grace empowers us to walk in freedom and stay free because of His indwelling presence. He will never leave or forsake us, by the way, so we have no excuse. That’s why He is our advocate as well when we forget that truth. (Hebrews 13:5 I John 2:1-2) Here’s how it works:
Galatians 5:1 (Amp) “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free……
(What freedom? The Finished work of Christ at Calvary which is His Freedom through Grace)
……[and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].”
Romans 8:2 (KJV)
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:2 (ERV)
“That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free. It made you free from the law that brings sin and death.
These verses do not say that “someday” the new life I had in Jesus would make me from from sin, they say that this new life in Jesus had (past tense…..indeed, has already, right now) made me free from sin and death.
Sadly, the greater majority of the people we meet who are struggling in their Christian walk do not realize they are fighting the wrong enemy: Their old dead man as opposed to Satan. They are so busy trying to accomplish what Jesus has already done! (Romans 4, 5, 6,7, 8….)
I have compassion for them because, again….I’ve been there, done that and have a plethora of T-shirts to mark the pathway of my failed efforts to this end!
When I came to the revelation of God’s precious Spirit, something happened.
I so believed that my new nature in Christ was free of sin’s persuasive ability, that grace found a new and dynamic relevance in my life.
(1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18, II Corinthians 5:17-21)
From that point on, when temptation presented itself, I would remind myself that the law of the spiritual life in Jesus (the New Birth) had made me free from the law of sin and death (spiritual death) and its ability to influence.
Ya wanna know what happened? I immediately began to receive a regular victory over sin!
Not only that, my heart, soul and spirit found REST in believing that Christ had truly FINISHED and secured victory over sin FOR ME!
I believe that is why Matthew 11:27-30 in The Message version is so beautiful to me:
“Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. ‘The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I love verse 27!! Jesus makes it very clear that He desires to reveal to us how we will be able to enjoy this relationship with the Father in the same way He did if we will “walk with Him, work with Him and watch how He did it and is still doing it”.
The key to living powerfully as a believer is to BE like Jesus: He was our example of what it looks like to live as a man in right relationship with the Father!
The best thing we can DO for God is embrace what The Lord Jesus DID for us!
Let me tell you, everything changed when I got the revelation of truth about the power of His grace at work in and for me. I came to truly believe that I was a new creation (not just a new spirit) in Christ and that old things had indeed passed away – old desires, old lusts, old drives. The old man was dead!
(II Corinthians 5:17-21)
I discovered the liberating truth of Romans 6:14 – “For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].”
The contrast between Law and Grace in this verse is deliberate, for what law cannot do, grace can. It is impossible to break the mastery of sin and Satan through the Law.
Grace, and grace alone, is the solution to sin and its various effects. In addition, the same Grace that purchased our salvation provided for our healing and all things pertaining to life and godliness as well. (2 Peter 1:3)
What a deal! God’s not enough – He’s too much! 🙂
The Law always existed in God, and only found it’s expression on Tablets of Stone when the Israelites refused to draw near to him in relationship on Mount Sinai. If the Law is your go to for right living, then I would lovingly ask you if you also have refused to draw near to Him like the Israelites? Do you prefer a list of rules to abide by and follow, rather than following the One Who abides within?
The Law was never intended to be the strength of the Church, His Body or His Sons and Daughters! Grace has been God’s plan from the very beginning, and still is: Man walking in perfect unity and intimacy with the plural Triune unity of God – holy, righteous and free of the power and dominion of sin through the power of His Grace!
The Law mirrors the character of God, which is found in Jesus Christ alone because HE IS THE LAW and HE IS GRACE. (John 14:9)
Grace is truly defineable in the person of Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) He is the Grace of God: The total sum and size of it. Through Jesus Christ comes the All-sufficient answer from God to the believer.
You see, this born-again life – Christian life – saved life – new life in Christ is not just about who I am in Christ, but Who He is in me!
It is the strength of Jesus released inside of the believer that constitutes grace: It’s an inside job! 🙂
When we invite Jesus to come and dwell in our hearts, we have given Him permission to reposition the Law. He did so by destroying the external stone tablets of the Law, and wrote them on our hearts instead so that the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit could keep them and order our lives accordingly by the grace of Jesus Christ.
That, my friends, is the only way possible to live the Christian life successfully, because it is His Way – The only way to the Father!
(John 14:6) “Jesus said…I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”
God must have laughed out loud in Exodus 19:8 (AMP) when “….all the people answered together and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.”
If I was God my response would have been, “Really? Get down with your bad selves!”…because your old sinful nature within you is against God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will.”
That’s why God had to crucify us with Him on the Cross, bury us in the waters of Baptism and raise us up brand new creations with His nature in us in order for us to live sinless, holy and free!
(The Book of Romans – Especially Chapter 6 – as well as I John 3:9, I John 5:18 and a plethora of other Scriptures. Study my friends!)
Christianity’s strength is the grace of God! When Christians are willing to believe & receive this grace, they find God’s ability resident and working within them! Grace is the spinal column of the Body of Christ. It extends from the Head and carries His Strength to the rest of His Body, individually as well as corporately!
According to Romans 6:14, under the law the dominion of sin remains essentially unchecked.
It is only under the dominion of grace that sin and its effects become powerless!
I am going to say something that may startle you. That warning may be coming a bit too late, but in any case, here it is:
GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO GOVERN OUR LIVES WITH HIS LAW!
He wants to govern our lives with His Grace –Why?
Because GRACE IS THE MORE POWERFUL OF THE TWO!
The Law is dependent on the flesh, but Grace is God’s power made available in us.
Romans 8:3,4 “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: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
His Grace will grant us His approval and His ability because of The Finished work of Jesus on our behalf.
That may come as quite a shock to those who think we come to the Cross to get saved but we leave there having to keep ourselves saved! Let me just warn you in advance from my own experience: That is definitely an exercise in futility!
His law will discover and expose our weakness –
His grace will readily grant us His strength.
The law limits us from beholding and becoming all that He desires us to be –
His Grace living on the inside will transform us to BE what He has destined for us.
Grace is God’s offering of His divine ability to fallen man. In God’s ability there is no need for the “do’s & don’ts.”
Grace SO enables us that there remains no need for the restrictions of the law.
It is our continual reception and belief of God’s grace that will lift us up into this higher Kingdom lifestyle His Way.
There are a lot of “God’s people” who need to stop singing that old song “I did it my way!”
The law alone could never accomplish this transformation, not even God’s Law.
Furthermore, if God’s Law couldn’t bring about this transformation, how could man’s law?
Galatians 2:21 (ERV) “I am not the one destroying the meaning of God’s grace. If following the law is how people are made right with God, then Christ did not have to die.”
HIS GRACE WILL BRING US SUCCESSFULLY UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF HIS LAW!
News Flash: God does not have the Ten Commandments posted in a conspicuous place in Heaven as a reminder and guide for His actions.
God’s character finds no place for law.
God lives above and without law.
God is a government to Himself.
God is love.
Love needs no one to regulate its actions or expressions.
Love is above and greater than the Law!
Love will not violate the rights of others or what is “right”.
Love can be trusted to order my life far better than my adherence to any law by my own efforts!
The Law left God’s people marred by their own attempts at making themselves right, but God is refining for Himself a Love-Bride whose beauty has been restored by Jesus’ Finished work at the Cross.
She is a glorious bride undefiled, unspotted, unwrinkled and unblemished by striving and struggling to become. She comes dressed in her brilliant gown, shining bright with His Glory that defines His Bride: The result of a pure Love relationship with Him!
She allows no other “lover” in Her bed. It is Him and Him alone on Whom She relies! He is Her Source for all things, for He alone is able to make her beautiful, powerful and free!
Ephesians 5:27 “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
There’s just one problem: Until The Bride knows she is a Bride — believing and receiving her identity & truly believing Who He has made Her to BE in the power of His might – She will not BE the powerful force on and in the Earth that He intended Her to BE. (Ephesians 6:10)
It is time the glory of God’s Bride is restored fully and legally by the Power of His Truth & Grace! The cover of my friend Susan Dewbrew’s book depicts this truth so well: CROWN HER A KING – Restoring God’s Glory To The Bride Of Christ.
(By the way: I highly recommend this brand new, powerful book. It has been 12 years in the making, but I am thrilled to announce it will be available sometime between August/September 2014.)
I close with this reminder from Shelbye (Kunerth) Gingerich:
“Without our identity, which is found in Grace, we are nothing more than a fugitive living under the alias of a free man.”
Grace & Peace,