School of Grace

Why a School of Grace?

It is possible to write about the benefits of having life rings placed next to rivers, but if you really want to convince people of their necessity, it is better to write an account of the tragic consequences of taking them away.

It has been said that Romans is Paul’s clearest teaching on the subject of Grace, but Galatians is his strongest. If Romans declares to us what Grace is, Galatians declares the tragic consequences when folk are hindered from availing of it.

Grace is the life that enables us to rise from being dead in our sins to being alive to God (Eph.2:8,9)

What Paul’s letter to the Galatians reveals is that to mix Grace with works is to make Grace of no effect (Gal.5:4) for this ‘mixture’ is in fact a perversion of the gospel (Gal.1:7) that brings a curse rather than blessing (Gal.3:10-14).

The opening verses of this letter reveal the importance and urgency the apostle Paul attached to the matter of folk mixing Grace and works and in an age where such mixture has again stripped the church of power, these verses affirm our need to emphasise Grace as the foundational understanding that enables believers to grow in Christ-likeness.

 

Galatians 1

V1. Galatians 1:1 (KJV)
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”

The English word “apostle” comes from the Greek word “APOSTOLOS,” and this word means “a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”). The work of an apostle is a foundational work, to ensure that the proper foundation of truth is laid (Christ alone) and not a mixed foundation (1Cor.2:2, 1Cor.3:11). If our understanding of Grace is faulty, then the foundation for everything about our Christian lives, from our prayer life to our giving is weak. Like a building on a weak foundation, these aspects of our faith will end up leaning in the wrong direction; towards what we can do for God rather than what He has done for us.

 

V2. Galatians 1:2 (KJV)
And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

Note that Paul aligns himself with other like-minded brethren. He was not a ‘lone-ranger’ (Acts 15:28) though at times he appeared to be a lone voice standing against legalism in the early Church (Gal.2:11) His apostleship was recognised and affirmed by the Church (Acts 13:2) Grace teaching is not some new doctrine, it is the original message which has been buried under layers of religion.

 

V3. Galatians 1:3 (KJV)
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Note Paul’s first greeting. “Grace be to you and peace from God”. Everything begins with Grace, even a rebuke as strong as the one he is about to bring! Paul is affirming what John declared in his gospel, that Jesus came to bring grace and truth (John 1:17). Note also that peace follows the acceptance of God’s grace (2Peter1:2,3). A proper understanding of the grace of God will result in peace with God. A mixed understanding will rob the believer of their peace (Romans 5:1)

 

V4. Galatians 1:4 (KJV)
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: Note the work of Christ, the power of His grace is effectual to deliver us from this ‘present’ evil age.

The benefits of God’s grace do not merely relate to our condition after we have died. The power of sickness, sin and demonic oppression were broken at the Cross. What we believe is of the utmost importance as it determines what we will experience (Rom.10:14) The same Greek word used in this verse for “deliver,” “EXAIREO,” was used in Acts 12:11 for Peter’s deliverance out of the hand of Herod and also of Paul’s rescue from death by the hands of the Jews Acts 23:27. Paul is declaring that the Gospel of grace is a “rescue” out of the hand of sin (Romans 8:2) We can live full of grace and peace even in this present evil age.
 

V6. Galatians 1:6 (KJV)
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Normally Paul opened his letters with thanksgiving and prayer for the saints he was writing to, but in this letter he feels so strongly that they are in danger, that he comes straight to the point and it is a sharp point! Rather than open this letter with the customary blessing, he opens with a declaration that anyone who preaches a gospel other than the gospel he has preached is cursed.

Note here Paul statement that they are ‘removing’ themselves from God Himself, (him who called you) In other words Paul equates them removing themselves from the gospel of Grace as a removal from God Himself. No wonder he confesses himself through the Greek word ‘THAUMAZO’ which means astonished, amazed, or marvelled.  

Note carefully how Paul used the words "grace" and "gospel" interchangeably in this verse. The grace of God is the Gospel (Acts 20:24). The gospel is the good news about God’s grace. A School of Grace is nothing short of a School of Gospel. Grace is not just a part of the Gospel, it is the power of the gospel, the declaration that the righteousness of God comes entirely by faith, not from faith to works, but from faith to faith (Romans 1:16,17). Paul was astonished that the Galatians had gone so quickly from faith to works. How quickly did we go in the same direction? How long was it after we got saved that we started to compare our salvation to other believers and think of ourselves as less righteous than them because they appeared to be doing more for God than we were?

Also here in v6 and 7, two different Greek words were used for the English word "another." In Ga 1:6, the Greek word for "another" is "HETEROS," and it means "another of a different sort". That's why the New International Version translates this phrase as "turning to a different gospel". The Greek adjective used in Ga 1:7 for "another" is "ALLOS," and it means "another of the same kind". In other words the Galatians were not turning toward a gospel that was of the same nature to the one they had already received. They were turning to a totally different gospel that Ga 1:7 states "is really no gospel at all" (NIV).

Paul made it very clear in Ro 11:6 that we are either saved by grace or by works, but not by a combination of the two. So, any gospel that combines works of the Law with grace for justification is no longer the same Gospel. In other words, Paul was saying that there is no room for additions or corrections to the Gospel of grace that he preached. It is perfect as presented. Any change perverts it.

 

V7. Galatians 1:7 (KJV)
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

 The Greek word for "pervert" ("METASTREPHO") means "to turn around" the Gospel, not by denying it but by mixing something with it. The Galatians were perverting the Gospel by accepting the teaching that faith in Christ alone was not sufficient for salvation but needed to be supplemented by their own works. There is nothing wrong with the acts involved in observing the law, whether that be prayer, fasting or giving when a believer is trying to be true to the understanding they have.  (Ro 14:1-6). It is when such acts are made obligatory in order to obtain righteousness (justification), that the Gospel is perverted. Different folk in River City Church can hold different attitudes on various subjects such as praise and worship, healthy eating, the celebration of Jewish feasts, or Christmas. That is not a problem until the moment someone takes their view on such issues and ‘mixes’ it with the Gospel message and starts to judge others as being ‘less Christian’ than they. Our righteousness before God has nothing to do with what we are doing for God and everything to do with what He has done for us. The effect of churches continually preaching at people of what they need to do for God, has been to draw their attention off God and onto themselves. We can’t walk the supernatural walk when our eyes are being taken off the sufficiency of Christ (Matthew 14:30)

 

V8. Galatians 1:8,9.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Paul repeated it twice so there would be no misunderstanding. To add even a ‘little leaven’ (Gal.5:9), to begin to entertain the idea that Christ’s work alone does not result in you being as blessed as you can be (Rom.8:32) but that you must add to His work by doing something yourself (regular confession of sin, financial giving, prolonged prayer, church membership ….) will strip the church of the power of the Gospel, for it is the radical unconditional nature of God’s grace that radically changes men and women. Paul went on to warn the Galatians that they were moving back under the curse of the Law (Gal 3:10-14) and challenged them to remember how they started their journey with Christ (Gal3:2). It was by the hearing of faith. The power of the Gospel is the revelation that the righteousness of God is ours from faith to faith, not from faith to works (Rom 1:16,17).

 

The pure Gospel of Grace is able to wash the leaven (contamination) of works righteousness (our obsession with Christian performance) out of the Church. We are determined to preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified as sufficient for all our needs This is not an easy task as many of us have for years been subtly basing our Christian identity and security on ‘our’ faithfulness to Christ.

The School of Grace is in effect a Religious Detox class! Get ready to shed some condemnation, fear, guilt and shame. It’s time to grow in Grace.

LESSON 2

 

School of Grace October 22nd 2014.

True Repentance.

 

Repentance towards GODmetanoia

 

We have heard this word many times. It occurs in numerous places in the bible. Both John the Baptist and Jesus started their ministry by this using this word

Matthew 3:1,2

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Matthew 4:17

 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

For the majority of people, the word repent or repentance is what comes to their mind when they think about church or Christians. In their mind, God is like a judge telling people to ‘repent or the hammer is coming down on you.’ But the way this word ‘metanoia’ has been translated is a complete misrepresentation of who GOD is.

The word Metanoia actually derives from the Ancient Greek words μετά (metá) (meaning "beyond" or "after") and νόος (noeō) (meaning "perception" or "understanding" or "mind")

Many Greek scholars call the traditional usage of the word ‘repent’ for metanoia as a tragedy. This is what some of them say.

 

Reviewing translations of metanoeō/μετανοέω and metanoia/μετάνοια as repent or repentance, the biblical scholar J. Glentworth Butler noted that, in the Greek, there is none of the sorrow or regret contained in the words repentance and repent.[18]

Repentance denotes "sorrow for what one has done or omitted to do; especially, contrition for sin."[19] Repent primarily means "to review one's actions and feel contrition or regret for something one has done or omitted to do"[20]

Therefore, Butler asserts that translating metanoeō/μετανοέω and metanoia/μετάνοια as repent and repentance constitute "an utter mistranslation" that translators excuse by the fact that no English word can adequately convey the meaning of the Greek words.[21]

 

A. T. Robertson concurs with Butler. Regarding the translation of metanoia as repentance, Robertson calls it "a linguistic and theological tragedy."[22] Regarding John the Baptist's call to "repent" as a translation of the Greek metanoeite, Robertson quotes Broadus as saying that this is "the worst translation in the New Testament." Repent means "to be sorry," but John's call was not to be sorry, but to change mental attitudes [metanoeite] and conduct.[23]

 

Other scholars have characterized the translation of metanoia/μετάνοια as "repentance" with similar negativity. Repentance is an "unsuitable" translation.[24] It is "totally inadequate" to carry the meaning of metanoia.[25]

Mark Twain: A Life" "For Sammy Clemens, reading became metanoiac, life changing.”

 

 

Imagine you are standing in a circle of people. In the center of the circle, there is a source of light. But rather than facing the center and the light, you are standing with your back to the light, facing outward. When you stand this way, facing away from the light, all you can see is your own shadow. You cannot see the light. You can only look into your shadow. You cannot see the others in the circle with you. From what you can see, you are disconnected and alone in the dark. Now imagine that you turn around to face the light that is in the center of the circle. When you turn toward the light, you no longer see only darkness. When you turn toward the light, your shadow is behind you. When you turn toward the light, you can now see the other people who are standing with you. You can see that the light is shining on everyone and that you are all connected in its radiance. Making the decision to turn around, to turn away from shadow, to face the light: this is metanoia.

 

For centuries the bible was kept from the common people by church authorities and those were dark days for Christianity. Then in the15th century, men inspired by God, started translating the word of God and bringing it into public light. This brought such a great liberty and again churches started to come out of some shackles and pockets of revivals started to happen with a renewed understanding, of the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Yet even those translations still had biases based on current beliefs and a lack of proper translation tools or the access to original manuscripts. But now with access to original manuscripts and being able to understand what the original Greek meant, the Gospel message is coming back its roots. This is the pure message of His grace.

In the book of Acts, as folks were being impacted by this pure Gospel of the grace of God extended to them, their lives and immediate surroundings were being revolutionized. What followed was a kind of revolution, that’s why they called Paul one of those “who is turning the place upside down” (Acts 17:6) Biblical ‘revival’ was more than people being sorry for their sin. In the book of Acts true repentance led to revolution.

The word ‘metanoia’ on its own does not convey a message, it has no meaning to the listener unlike the word ‘repentance’ which carries an idea of sorrow/regret with it. Because Metanoia itself  is ‘a change of mind’, it must follow somebody or something.

 

How does ‘Metanoia’ towards God takes place?

 

Look at this passage from Acts 26:18-23 (The Message)

 

 “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’

19-20 “What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.

21-23 “It’s because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. They want to keep God for themselves. But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I’m standing here saying what I’ve been saying to anyone, whether king or child, who will listen. And everything I’m saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen: One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead, he would be the first rays of God’s daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing.”

 

The Gospel opens the eyes of folks listening to it, to see the difference. For the first time they are able to perceive and understand who God is. They get the faith to discover Him as a loving Father and are offered a life along with Him though Jesus Christ.

The offer of God through the Gospel is irresistible. Even a King, King Agrippa almost got persuaded when Paul explained his reason for being attacked.

This meta-noia, this change of thinking and mind, is what happens as we believe in the gospel and leads to another meta called meta-morphosis (transformation); a change in form or a tangible difference.

2Cor3:18.

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 by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

The Gospel is glorious, when you believe it you start from glory and go to another level of glory. This is a difference you will feel and it is tangible, in your body and circumstances. This metanoia leads us to a new mindset called the mindset of the righteous. All our actions are controlled by our mind. A mind that is formed by a true understanding of who Jesus is and who God and his love for us, His plan for us etc… is metanoia after truth. This becomes our propulsion.

 

Questions to consider.

Does fear drive you?

What was the desire and goal of Jesus and Paul?

What was the propulsion in Paul life?

Lesson 3

Metanoia to Metamorphosis

 

The word “gospel” (old English God-spell) is a translation of the Greek word euangelion (eu-‘good’, -angelion ‘message’)

The good news that the Gospel proclaims, is the revelation of a truth that runs contrary to the religious traditions of men and “the basic principles of the world”. (Colossians 2:8) A basic principle of man’s religious logic is that God blesses those who deserve to be blessed and so religion across the world, in its multitude of forms, presents man with various requirements/works that he must fulfil to attain God’s blessing.

We could say the common feature of man’s logic is that God blesses ‘good’ people and good people are those who do good things (as opposed to bad/evil people who do bad things). Notice two things about this principle.

1.    People are defined by what they do. They have a works-based identity.

2.    God is defined as someone who agrees with our view of good and bad.

 

This belief system however is built on a lie; that man is able to make himself good. (doing to become)

 

God in His mercy, through the giving of the Law (Old Covenant), has dealt a fatal blow to this lie.

 “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."  (Galatians 3:11)

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”             (Romans 3:20)

 

Man in his self-reliance and pride believed what we could call the ‘original lie’; that he, by himself, is capable of doing something to earn godliness.

“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”             (Genesis 3:4,5)

The lie here is that man can be like God through what he does. But God had already breathed His Spirit into Adam and shared His life with Him. God was the source of Adam’s life and identity. In believing the lie that he could source life and identity for himself, through his own efforts, Adam turned away from looking to God for his life and turned to look at himself for life.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”     (Genesis 3:7)

If man-made religion is man attempting to cover over his own falling short of the glory of God (Romans3:23), then man has continued sewing fig leaves together ever since!

·         Religion’s solution to restoring man to God’s presence is always to look to man’s ability. (Romans 10:3)

·         God’s immediate answer to Adam’s nakedness; to provide a covering from an animal skin (Genesis 3:21) declares that God always saw Himself and not man, as the solution to restoring man to God’s presence. Man would ultimately be restored to the covering of God’s glory; by the shedding of blood. In fact a lamb had been chosen (Jesus) as the solution, even before the problem appeared (1Peter1:20)

 

Man-made religion in all its multitude of shapes and forms, continues to point man to the wrong tree. It says in effect, “This is good and this is evil and now that you know this, you should do good, that you may become good.” The lie in this statement is that man can become like God merely by doing.

The Law, “Thou shalt not…” was given to man to show him that it is impossible for any man to become good apart from God. No man can be made righteous by his own efforts. (Romans 3:20).

 

The Gospel is the good news that God did what man could not do and what he did not deserve.

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son…”  Romans 8:3

God reconciled man to Himself by the shedding of His own blood and gifted him the righteousness that he could not attain himself by doing good things.

“For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.”    (Romans 5:17)

This message, that man’s salvation comes by God’s “wonderful grace” and not by man’s doing good (religion), runs contrary to both this world’s religious traditions and man-made philosophies.

“So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense.” (1Cor.1:23 NLT)

This message of Grace sounds the death knell for all religion, which is why the Pharisees persecuted He who was full of grace and truth (Jesus) and why the religious spirit of man (pride) has opposed the message of grace ever since. (Matt.20:1-16, Galatians 4:21-31)

 

Down the centuries man in his pride has struggled to accept His total dependence on the grace of God. Men from the beginning of the Church age, have sought to mix back in religious tradition and the basic philosophy of this world; that we become by doing, into the Gospel of Grace.

Paul warned the Galatians that to even mix a little ‘doing to become’ with grace, would change the gospel (good news) into no gospel at all. In Paul’s eyes the message of grace was the Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” (Galatians 1:6)

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”  (Acts 20:24)

Paul also warned them that to mix man’s performance (Law) into the message of grace would result in the gospel becoming powerless to change a man from the inside out. He would be left merely trying to change from the outside in (behaviour modification). (Gal.3:5)

Those of strong enough will power to manage to keep rules and regulations (doing to become) can give the appearance of ‘holiness’, but Jesus was scathing of this ‘cleaning the outside of the cup while leaving the inside dirty’ (Luke 11:39). He pointed out that this type of ‘repentance’ produced men who were like the white-washed tombs of the day; clean on the outside but full of corruption and death inside (Matt.23:27)

The pure, undiluted, unmixed Gospel of Grace is a radical message and only a radical message can produce the radical change (heart change) that religion (outer behaviour modification) cannot produce. This is one way we can tell if the Gospel being preached is the Gospel or another; is it producing completely new men and women or merely religious men and women? (2Cor.5:17)

 

Jesus knew that a man’s outer actions are only changed when his heart (what he believes) is changed (Luke 6:45). Because He did not define men as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ merely by their performance, but saw all men as equally in need of the grace of God, He gave Himself freely to all men and for all men. His love for those whom the religious defined as ‘sinners’, was and continues to scandalise man’s religious pride.

The true Gospel is good news not just for the Church but for the world!

 

The gospel of the grace of God is the good news of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is good news to the world precisely because the finished work of Jesus included the sin of the whole world. All sin has been paid for. 

“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,”  (Hebrews 10:12)

God has reconciled the world to Himself through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2Cor.4:19)

 

This message of reconciliation; that God through Christ, has now finished all the work that is necessary for everyone who wants to, to be reconciled to God, is good news for everyone in the world. This is why at the birth of Jesus, the angels declared that the news of His birth would be good news for all people (Luke 2:10).

It is good news precisely because it is not news of God demanding something of man, but news of what God has done for man.

Good news is either good news or it is not.

Other ‘news’ such as the trials and tribulations that befell the Israelites under the Old Covenant is also true ‘news’ but it is not ‘the good news’, not the Gospel. News that anyone who refuses the grace of God, His offer of eternal life through Christ, is choosing to remain apart from God for eternity, is also true news but not ‘good news’.

The good news is that God has provided a way for anyone who wants to be with Him, to be with Him today, as soon as they believe in what He has done for them. (Romans 10:9)

Grace is freely given to all men, but faith is needed for men to receive the wonderful truth, the love of God, His very nature, His Spirit, His life. But even this faith is itself a gift of God, for the Gospel itself carries the power to enable men to believe.

“So belief comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ”. (Romans 10:17. ESV)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

 

What God has done for man is a past event. The Gospel is not “If you will do something for God (repent), only then will He do something for you.”

To infer that anything else is required of you but faith is not good news. That is the manmade religion that Paul declared to the Galatians that they were slipping back under.

“So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:5)

 

We saw in our School of Grace study on ‘true repentance’ that the very word ‘repentance’ itself is not an accurate translation of the original Greek word ‘Metanoia’ used to describe the ‘change’ that the Gospel brings (Matthew 4:17). Unfortunately the poor translation of this Greek word into English as ‘repent’ has led to a diminished understanding of what true metanoia means.

Our common understanding of the word repent and repentance is that it means to feel sorrow or contrition for ones actions, with this remorse leading to a change of action. There is nothing wrong in itself with feeling regret/remorse over sin and a desire to change, but this does not constitute true metanoia, for we can feel guilt and remorse over sin and attempt to change our actions without any revelation of the true character of God, without a revelation of Christ.

Unfortunately this attempt to change ourselves by being ‘sorry enough’ to change, has led many into a hopeless cycle of ‘repenting’ again and again but never finding victory over besetting sin. The problem with this definition of ‘repentance’ is that it focuses on a change of action, but the truth is that our actions are only the fruit. The root is our belief system, what we are believing about God and ourselves.

What Jesus’ ministry and teaching brought about was a change of belief (heart), which led to a change in actions. Without the power of the Gospel to bring true metanoia, the best man can do, is his own willpower and self-discipline. He tries to change his actions, without a change of beliefs and the result is men who have only, as Jesus pointed out to the religious, “cleaned the outside of the cup” (Luke 11:37-40)            

 

Because sinful thoughts and actions are the fruit of wrong belief, you can try your hardest to do good and not evil, but even if by some miracle you stopped ‘sinning’, you would still not have the life of God within you, for what is needed is not a change of action but an exchange of natures (a heart transplant). The root of man’s problem is not what he does, but what he believes, for we are designed to be born of (to become) what we have believed. (Prov.23:7) You can prune a thorn bush back as much as you like but it will never become a fig tree because its roots are thorn bush! So it is equally fruitless to tell a man to be holy, if his whole life is being formed from a root belief that holy is something he is not. The answer to his problem is to change the root of his nature; to gift him a new heart, a new spirit. The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of this exchange which took place at the Cross; man’s sin for God’s righteousness.

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”   (Ezekiel 36:26 27)

 

Yes true faith is seen by its actions (James 2:18), but those actions are the fruit of a changed heart, a changed way of thinking about God and oneself, a paradigm shift in thinking, not just a greater effort to change oneself fuelled by guilt and willpower.

The Gospel of Grace is that God has already done everything necessary for man to share His life and when a person hears and believes what God has done, they will find their belief system (heart) so changed, that God’s way of living life (fruit of the Spirit) becomes theirs, for when the root in a man is a mind led by the Spirit, the life he lives will be a fruit of the same Spirit.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”  (Romans 8:6)

 

In other words the truth itself, about how much God has already done for us, is powerful enough to change the way we believe and so live.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16,17)

 

What the Gospel of Grace reveals is something radically different to what every religion and philosophy of the world has imagined, so radical that our natural religious mind cannot grasp it apart from a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[c] 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”   (1Cor.2:6-10)

 

What truth is revealed in the Gospel of Grace that has the power to change a person’s heart? Look again at Romans 1.v17.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

The startling revelation is that God is not requiring man to become righteous through what he does (doing to become/works righteousness). The Old Covenant pattern of man trying to become holy enough through his own obedience and discipline (the law of righteousness) to merit the blessings of God has been abolished. Our righteousness, a righteousness that is ‘of the law’ is no longer acceptable, as God’s gift of His own righteousness through faith in Christ, is ‘the end of the law for righteousness’.

“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:2-4)

You can’t have it both ways. Either we are made righteous by faith alone in what Christ alone has done (Grace), or we are made righteous by the things we do (Law).

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6)

 

If you are trying harder to ‘do’ better’ to ‘become’ a better Christian, then you have not submitted to the power of the Gospel, the gifted righteousness of God. You may look holy and zealous in your efforts to overcome sin, but your very efforts to become holy are rooted in the same old lie, that you need to ‘do to become’, the lie that God has not united Himself with your spirit and remains aloof and apart from you. But what does the Gospel have to say?

It speaks of what God has done, not of what we are to do, that on hearing of the enormity of what God has done for us, our lives would become rooted in His love and being rooted and established in the love of God, His Spirit of love within us would produce the fruit of His life; His holiness, something that our best efforts can never produce.

“…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what isthe width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

 

The Gospel of Grace declares that our hope is not that we would ‘do to become’ but our hope is nothing less than the living presence of Christ in us. In other words we are saved not by attempting to do something for God, but by resting in (believing), what God has done for us.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.  (1John 4:10)

·         Religion says “Get your life cleaned up for God”

·         Grace says “Jesus IS our life.”

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:3,4.

 

To see Grace through hearing the Gospel, is to see the radically generous nature of God and as our way of thinking about God changes (Metanoia) then we find our very lives are being changed (Metamorphosis) into the likeness of Christ.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed (metamorphosis) into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2Cor.3:18)

 

So let us keep looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) that we may continue this journey of ever-increasing glory. Do not let any preacher pull the veil over your eyes again (tell you to do if you want to become) but keep your faces unveiled (don’t mix law with grace) so that you may contemplate the truth about the Lord’s glory; that Jesus has now done what He told His father He would; He has shared God’s glory with you.

 

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22)

 

·         How would you answer someone who asked you “What is the Gospel?”

·         How much has your Christian life become about “doing to become”?

·         What is the power of the Gospel?

 

 

“If you want to know why there are so many downtrodden, defeated Christians, just look at the message they are being taught; saved by grace, transformed by will-powered performance modification.”  (Ted Nelson)