Truly Amazing Grace
"Now God has us where he wants us,
with all the time in this world and the next
to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.
Saving is all his idea, and all his work.
All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.
It's God's gift from start to finish!"
(Ephesians 2:8 The Message)
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If there be one stitch in the
celestial garment of our righteousness
which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost, but this is our confidence,
the Lord who began will perfect.
The debate over law and grace has been raging for centuries. In fact, I actually believe it's been raging since the fall of Adam.
Some Christians believe salvation is entirely up to God. Others believe in the finished work of the cross but also believe that sanctification rests in man's hands. I agree with Charles Spurgeon. "To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other . . . If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do."
I believe in man's participation in God's plan, but it is 99.999999% up to God. I am only using these numbers figuratively to make a point. It's amazing how difficult our .000001% is, especially when it is only our surrender to the irresistible grace of God. When you think about it, surrendering in brokenness to God and clinging to Him is the great struggle of every believer. I'm so grateful I serve a gracious, long-suffering Lord.
Because this struggle has raged since the Garden of Eden, I certainly will be unable to resolve the age-old debate over law/grace. It is the major theological conflict of the age. It is, however, resolved for me. I have a child-like faith. I will try to give a simple view of grace without being simplistic. Grace is far too precious to do that.
Grace is first and foremost
the person of Jesus Christ.
What is Grace?
1. In this first answer the question really is, "Who is Grace?" Grace is first and foremost the person of Jesus Christ."For the Law was given by Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17 NAS).Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. "Realized" means "brought into tangible existence". In other words, Jesus was and is the personification of grace and truth. Understanding and knowing Him is understanding and knowing grace and truth.
2. Grace is God's undeserved favor, not just in the beginning of our walk with God, but all the time. Anytime I think I can do something to earn or deserve anything from God by my own choices or will power, I am walking in the dead works of the law. This viewpoint is death and enmity toward God."For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it it the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:15-16 NAS).Even our faith does not arise out of our own initiative. It is a gift of God.
3. Strong's Concordance says that grace is the divine influence upon our hearts, and the manifestation of that influence in our lives. Grace and only grace can produce eternal results. God changes the heart and the behavior follows with us hardly noticing.
Grace Looks at the Heart
The opposite of grace is legalism. Legalism is an over-focus on things outside of ourselves. Under legalism we judge ourselves and others according to outward appearance and behavior.
God's focus is always inward, on the soul, on the thoughts, intentions and driving forces of our hearts." . . . the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).Years ago my then two year old grandson walked into the kitchen proudly clutching a fist full of prize tulips. He smilingly handed them to me saying,
"Here, meemaw. For you."
My first reaction was to fuss at him for destroying a part of my flower bed. The look on his face told me though how much he loved me. He knew nothing of prized flowers or beautiful landscaping. He only knew he wanted to please his meemaw. I reached down and swooped him up into my arms and gave him a huge kiss.
Legalism would have looked at the gaping holes in the flower bed and sternly rebuked this precious little boy for making a mess. Grace looked at the intent of his heart. Grace looked at an innocent heart who did not know he had done anything wrong.
Grace looks at the thoughts,
motives and intentions of the heart.
If I had previously instructed my grandson not to pick flowers from the garden, then some kind of discipline would have been appropriate, but for my two year old grandson, it would have been a simple re-enforcing of his understanding of respect for meemaw's flower beds.
The heart is the true indicator of who we are and why we do what we do. This is how Jesus can love and be compassionate toward sinners. He is intimately acquainted with the heart of every living soul. He knew each of us before we were in our mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He knows what makes each one of us tick."O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attained unto it" (Psalm 139:1-6).As we mature in the grace of the Lord, we are more able to see as Jesus saw—beyond the crusty exterior most of us wear. This x-ray vision enables us to find the pearl of great price beneath the human shell. Underneath every thorny facade is a great treasure . . . a precious human soul. As the log is removed from our own eye we become much more able ministers of the gospel of God.
The Tongue is not the Real Problem
The heart is also the source of all we say and do. Even though Proverbs and James speak of the power of the tongue, all sin in thought, word and deed originates in the heart." . . . out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).No one can tame the tongue (James. 3:8). It cannot be tamed until our heart is changed, and that job can only be done by the Spirit of the Lord. Most of us have a measure of control over our tongues, but the Lord is the only one who can transform our hearts. He's the only One Who knows the things hidden in its every nook and cranny.
" . . . those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:18-19).
God is not a genie in a lamp,
nor is grace a magic potion to fulfill our agenda
or our perception of God's agenda.
Grace is A Process—Not a Magic Potion
The condition of our heart does not determine whether God has work to do, only where He is working now. The progressive process of grace is lifelong. There is always work for the Lord to do in us, for the old man dies reluctantly.
Legalism is a yoke no man can bear (Acts 15:10), yet the old man clings to his cantankerous ways. Our legalism places demands upon ourselves, our friends, our world and upon our God. We read the Bible and see God's promises. Secretly or out loud we wonder why we are not walking in all God has for us. Some of us are angry with Him, even though we may not realize it. Many more of us are discouraged and miserable, all because we do not understand the ways of God in grace. We forget that His discipline is grace too.
Many of us are taught, "If God's Word says it, God has to do it. RIGHT NOW!" The truth is, if God's Word says it, it is true. But God is not a genie in a lamp, nor is grace a magic potion to fulfill our agenda or our perception of God's agenda. He is our Father. And He is God. He knows what is best for us. When, like a two year old demanding chocolates before dinner, we demand that He give us what we want, He opts for what is best for us.
God will do what He wants, when He wants, no matter how much we cajole or demand of Him. And it will always result in His best for us. We may even be able to create some blessings for ourselves, but if we do, they will only turn to nothing in the end. Grace is the divine means of accomplishing God's will, and His will is first and foremost to transform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
Our demanding legalism and the demands of legalism upon us load us down with burdens we were never meant to carry. We either don't know we are carrying them or we don't know how to lay them down.
A few years ago some friends stayed with me for a few weeks. They have a little girl named Christine. She was about eighteen months at the time. One day we were in the kitchen. We watched as Christine stopped to pick up a small bag in the middle of the floor. She stood silently for a few seconds and then began to bawl her eyes out. Even though we kept telling her to put the bag down, she continued to hold it while screaming her head off. This saga went on until her father walked over and took the bag from her small hands and put it down.
Most of us are a lot like Christine. We are weary and heavy laden. We do not know how to put our burdens and legalistic expectations down. In His grace, our gracious Father takes them from us and sets them down. Only He knows when we are ready to let them go.
We are weary and heavy laden.
We do not know how to put our
burdens and legalistic expectations down.
The process of grace's transformation manifests in us like a light shining more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). We grow from grace to grace (John 1:16), strength to strength (Psalms 84:7), faith to faith (Romans 1:17), and glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), little by little (Exodus 23:30).
God's ultimate plan for us in this life is the transformation of our souls into His likeness. Little by little as we mature, we simply walk into more and more of His promises. We don't have to wrestle Him for them two falls out of three. We simply need to trust His goodness, His wisdom and His love for us. He freely gives us all things (Romans 8:32). And He has given us His Spirit so we may know those things He freely gives us (1 Corinthians 2:12). The journey is not easy, but the destination is rest for our weary souls.
God's ultimate plan for us in this life
is the transformation of our souls.
The journey of grace is evident throughout Scripture. We can learn alot about possessing the promises of God by studying Israel as they possessed the Promised Land. In Exodus 23:30-31, God told Israel, "I will not drive them [the enemies] out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the [promised] land". The same can be said about inheriting the promises of God. We will inherit them little by little. We simply need to trust the Lord of the journey.
To further illustrate this truth, Ephesians 4:l6 speaks of the body of Christ as increasing, maturing or growing up. In 1 John 2, John refers to believers in all stages of maturity: little children (infants), children (half-grown boys and girls), young men (youth—up to forty years of age) and fathers. We grow physically and mentally from infants to adults. We also grow spiritually from babes to mature believers. God did not give Joseph rule over Egypt the day or even the year he dreamed the dreams from God.
Fruit begins with a seed. It takes a long time to become a tree. Years later, it bears fruit. The tree can do nothing of itself to produce the fruit. It can only be a tree. We can do nothing of ourselves. We can only believe that God will accomplish His purposes in a humble and contrite heart.
We grow from grace to grace,
strength to strength,
faith to faith, and
glory to glory,
little by little.
The Lord operates in two realms at once—the eternal, heavenly realm of positional reality (it is done) and the temporal, earthly realm of manifested reality (it will be done, it is being done). Positional reality includes everything Jesus did for us in His birth, life, death and resurrection. Because of His faith and grace at work in us, every promise in the Bible is "yea and amen to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
We are clothed in the righteousness of God the moment we are born again.
We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthhians 5:21). We receive it by faith and even our faith is a gift of God. It is God who gives seeing eyes and hearing ears (Proverbs 20:12, Luke 24:13-35). It is He who opens a heart to believe."Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Galatians 3:6)."And being found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9).The righteousness of God is not only ours by faith, but sanctification is ours by faith as well.'This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Galatians 2:2-6).This is all part and parcel of positional reality. And it has been ours from the foundation of the world."Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:3-4).To "bless" in the Greek means to invoke a benediction upon, to prosper. It also means to speak well of. The above passage is saying that God has been speaking well of us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm from the foundation of the world! There are few things that have blessed me as much as knowing God has been speaking well of me from the foundation of the world. This is the powerful message of Jesus Christ crucified. This is positional reality. WOW!
When the Word of God says such things as: we are dead to sin and the law, we are crucified with Christ, or we are new creatures in Christ, this too is positional reality. Even though it may not be worked out in our lives, in the eternal, heavenly realm it is counted as done.
There are few things that have blessed me
as much as knowing that God
has been speaking well of me
from the foundation of the world.
The step-by-step transforming process of God in fulfilling His promises is manifested reality in our lives here on earth. It is conditional upon two things
. . . our humble surrender to the mighty hand of God and our utter dependence upon Him. He doesn't cross our names out of the book if we don't surrender. He lovingly and relentlessly pursues and woos us until we do. Sometimes he has to wrestle us down and throw our hip out of joint like He did Jacob, but He never gives up on His plan of transformation for our lives. In His love and relentless pursuit of our hearts He will chasten and discipline us along the way, even when we are surrendered, for our blind eyes do not see what His see.
Jesus said, "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:44). One way or the other, if we are His, He wins and when He wins we win big time. We have a choice. We can be broken now or we can be broken later.
To learn more about brokenness, be sure to click on the link "Tears" before you leave my site.
At some point along our journey.
His mercy and His will slip
through the smallest cracks of our stony hearts,
and we bow our knees forever.
At some point along our journey the distinctions between life and death and love and law, become clearer. His mercy and His grace slip through the smallest cracks of our stony hearts, and we bow our knees forever. Some of us whisper it, some of us shout it from the rooftops. "Yes, Lord! Yes! Not my will but thine"."So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16).The law cannot accomplish God's will. The letter of the law is written on tablets of lifeless stone. Grace works through a relationship with a living Lord. God in His grace responds specifically to the needs of our individual lives. We have different histories, purposes, callings, giftings, personalities, desires, needs, hurts and expectations. Some of us grow faster than others. He knows our abilities and our limitations. His grace moves us along at the pace He knows we are able to grow. He works in the areas of our need, especially those hidden from our own understanding. All of these things are unique to each of us. We are one of many sons, and one of many because of One Son. Jesus. In some precious way, however, as He works in our lives, it is as if we are each His only child.
We are one of many sons,
and one of many because of One Son.
In some precious way, however,
as He works in our lives
it is as if we are each His only child.
The Process in the Lives of Abraham, David and Lot
Abraham, David and Lot were three distinctly different men. All three experienced many failures, yet they remained under the watchful love and care of God. Abraham and David both walked into more of their inheritance than Lot, yet they were all counted righteous by the Lord. Their stories are excellent illustrations of how God's grace works. Through their lives, scripture has given us excellent examples of positional reality and manifested reality. My favorite is the process of Abraham. I will begin with him.
James gives us an especially excellent clue into the mystery of positional reality and manifested reality. Before you read beyond the verses below, put on your detective's hat. Can you find the clue?"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:20-23).What were the works of Abraham? He believed, even in his unbelief."And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).Righteousness was imputed as a positional reality to Abraham in Gen. l5:6. According to James 2:20-23, righteousness became a manifested reality when Abraham heard and obeyed God's voice and he offered up Isaac (Genesis 22:1-3, 9-11). James wrote that Abraham's faith for God's imputed righteousness was fulfilled at that very moment. Abraham no longer put his own desires and fears before God's will. Because of God's grace and faithfulness, even through Abraham's failures, his faith had grown into reality. We know nothing of the anguish of his heart, the thoughts and questions that were whirling through His mind. We only know that he set out to worship the Lord in whatever way pleased God. He had become God-like. God-ly. Self was no longer on Abraham's altar. It died somewhere along the way and God's character was molded into every fiber of his being."And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him" (Genesis 22:1-3).
Isaac represented the future blessing
of Abraham's family.
He also represented the future blessing
of the entire world.
Isaac represented the future blessing of Abraham's family. He also represent- ed the future blessing of the entire world. The promised Messiah was to come through him. It took a level of faith not in me yet for Abraham to raise the knife to thrust it into the heart of his beloved son. This was his only son, begotten of the promise. But Abraham believed God was able to raise him from the dead. He passed God's test."By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the death; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Hebrews 11:17-19).There was easily a span of over thirty years between the imputation of righteousness to Abraham (positional reality, Genesis 15:6) until righteousness was fulfilled (manifested reality, Genesis 22, James. 2:23). In those thirty years, Abraham was quite imperfect. He failed many times, but God ultimately did a mighty work in His heart.
Romans 4:19-21 says more about Abraham's positional reality."And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able to perform" (Romans 4:19-20 NAS).This passage was a head-scratcher for me. Of course Abraham wavered in unbelief! How could the Bible, which does not lie, say such a thing? How? Because Romans 4:10-29 speaks in terms of positional reality. The many instances of unbelief and disobedience in Abraham's life indicated positional reality had not yet become manifested reality in his life.
The many instances of unbelief and disobedience in Abraham's life indicated positional reality had not yet become manifested reality in his life.
First there was Ishmael
Of course Abraham wavered in unbelief, else Ishmael would never have been born. Paul says in Galatians 4:21-31 that Ishmael was born of the flesh. It was not just Hagar's flesh. It was mostly Abraham and Sarah's flesh. And the flesh is death and hostility toward with God"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so" (Romans 8:6-7 NAS).Oswald Chambers' says taking shortcuts to the realization of our highest goals, even God's goals for us, is one of the greatest temptations we face. The flesh tries to help God fulfill His promises. This is exemplified in the reference above.
"And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived. . . " (Genesis 16:2-4).
Abraham's mind was ultimately was set on the Spirit. As he walked up Mount Moriah, he was walking in life and peace. The righteousness of God in Him was a manifested reality.
Taking shortcuts to the realization
of our highest goals, even to God's goals for us,
is one of the greatest temptations we face.
Galatians 4 speaks of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in New Testament terms about law and grace, flesh and spirit. Paul wrote that Hagar and Sarah represented the two covenants. (It is interesting, isn't it, that both the old covenant and the new covenant came through Abraham?) Ishmael was a child of the flesh (v. 23). His mother, Hagar, represented Sinai, the old covenant, the law, and physical Jerusalem (v. 25). Children (fruit/results) born of the flesh (by our own efforts) are slaves of the law (v. 24).
Isaac was the child of promise, not of flesh but of Spirit (v. 23). He was not conceived in the timing of Abraham and Sarah. He was conceived in God's timing. Sarah, the freewoman represented the new covenant and heavenly Jerusalem. Her children are children of grace. They are free from the law of sin and death. In this context Paul admonishes us,"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [the law]" (Galatians 5:1).
Abraham and Sarah laughed in the face of God.
More Unbelief—Abraham and Sarah Laughed in the Face of God
After Ishmael was born, God came to Abraham and Sarah to confirm they were indeed to have their own son. They laughed . . . at God's promise!"Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed. . . " (Genesis 17:17-19).Abraham laughed mockingly and questioned God in his heart. He expressed his unbelief openly.
Sarah laughed too when she overheard the angel of the Lord saying to Abraham she was going to have a son. She then lied when God asked Abraham why she laughed."And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life: and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age: and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, when I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not: for she was afraid. And he said Nay: but thou didst laugh" (Genesis 18:10-15).Is this not blatant unbelief? But surprise, surprise. The Lord's plans were undeterred by Abraham and Sarah's sin and unbelief. True to His promise, Isaac was born one year later.
Children are fruit of the womb. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin, Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were a few of the many fruit born of grace and promise. The mothers of these men did not wake up one morning and say, "I'm going to conceive now". They were barren for many years and only conceived when the Lord opened their wombs. We cannot bring forth spiritual fruit until the Lord opens our spiritual wombs.
We cannot bring forth spiritual fruit
until the Lord opens our spiritual wombs.
There is still more about Abraham's unbelief.
Abraham lied in two separate incidents—once to Pharoah (Genesis 12:10-20) and once to Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-18) by denying Sarah was his wife. Each time he lied because he feared these men would kill him in order to take Sarah for themselves. Abraham did not trust God to protect him or Sarah. In both incidents, Abraham's unbelief and lies brought God's judgment upon Pharoah and Abimelech. God relented of His judgment against them when it was revealed to them that Sarah was Abraham's wife. If Abraham had told the truth, God would have protected him. Sometimes our sin brings judgments upon others. Abraham was a poor witness! But the Lord remained unruffled.
Abraham was a poor witness!
But the Lord remained unruffled.
Like the rest of us, Abraham stumbled through the grace process. Yet God does not mention Abraham's failures in Romans, nor does He condemn him anywhere in Scripture. Instead God says Abraham staggered not because of unbelief nor was he weak in faith (Rom. 4:19-20). He even called Abraham His friend (James. 2:23). Why? Because of his positional reality. He believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. God's Word says,"He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:10-12).Abraham's sins were no longer in God's memory bank.
In spite of his many failures, Abraham walked through the process of grace to a powerful fulfillment of God's plans. It was not by any wisdom or will power of Abraham's, but by God's. His faith did not become manifested reality until he heard (obeyed) God's voice requiring the most difficult act of his life.
In spite of his many failures,
Abraham walked through the process of grace
to a powerful fulfillment of God's plans.
The man who could not trust God to protect him and Sarah from Pharoah and Abimelech years later trusted God with the life of his only son (Genesis 22:12).
God did not choose to hide the sins and failures of the great men and women of the Bible. There is a reason for this. He wants us to understand His sover- eignty and His unconditional love, mercy and grace. He wants us to know it's mostly Him. It's mostly NOT us.
Am I saying, "Ah, go ahead and sin. God will forgive you"? Absolutely not, for there are consequences for sin. We will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8). I am simply saying we all fall short of the glory of the Lord. It is important to understand that the crux of sin is not morality or immorality. It is our claim to our right to ourselves that is the sin problem. God is working on conforming us to His image! So REST! Rest in His love, grace and mercy. Rest in His desire, power and ability to get the job done. He works ALL things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He works all things for good to transform us into the image of His Son.
He is working on things
we don't even know exist in our lives!
Acts 13:22 states that God gave David the testimony that he was "a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will". This is another verse which caused me to pause and think. How did David fulfill all of God's will? What about the adultery with Bathsheba, I ask rather indignantly. How about the conspiracy to have her devoted husband and his devoted servant, Uriah, killed? And what about the baby who died because of their sin? Listen to David's own testimony from the Old Testatment to the power of God's grace."But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Romans 4:5-8, Psalm 32:1-2).Under the law, sin is imputed to us and righteousness is not. Under grace the reverse is true. Righteousness is imputed to us and sin is not. David was an Old Testament man who walked in God's grace.
David was an Old Testament man
who walked in God's grace.
Another one of the mysterious men of faith is Lot. 2 Peter 5:7-9 calls Lot a righteous and godly man. This is the same man who had to be torn away from Sodom by God to be spared the judgment that fell upon that city (Genesis 13:5-11). This is the same man who fathered Moab and Ammon. Both were conceived in a drunken stupor while having incestuous relations with his two daughters.
Grace covered Abraham, David and Lot with the righteousness of God by His sovereign will and His gift of faith. Grace also worked in them to will and do according to God's good pleasure in their lives, in spite of their escapades. As David wrote centuries before Christ's birth,"Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered and to whom He does not impute sin" (Psalm 32:1-2).Anne Murchison
Though I am not in the Hebrews Hall of Fame, I am another one who is totally convinced that I could not save myself nor can I keep myself saved. Neither can I conform myself to the image of God, for goodness is not god-likeness, though I could not even claim to be a good person.
After coming to Christ at the age of 35, I set out to serve God, teaching the Bible, giving my testimony, hosting Bible studies in our home, leading many to Christ, tithing my money, doing all I could do to obey God. I worked hard at being a good witness.
Then my son became ill with an incurable neurobiological disorder. My mother died, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal neurological disorder and he had to take bankruptcy while he was dying. We lost everything we had.
Because my husband was the founding owner of the Dallas Cowboys Football Team, the story of our lives was splashed across the pages of the nation's news media. His bankruptcy reverberated around the world. Every detail of my husband's bankruptcy and illness was made public. It was my dark night of the soul.
I became enraged at God. He let me down. I had done everything I could to please Him and my life was falling apart at the seams. Every day my anger escalated as I shouted my pain out to God. "Get out of my life, God. All you do is hurt people." My heart was flooded with terror. "Just send me to hell NOW God. It can't be any worse there than it is here."
A still small voice whispered
from God's mouth to my ear,
"Come unto me"
In the midst of my insanity, a still small voice whispered from God's mouth to my ear, "Come unto me". "Come unto YOU! I screamed. Why would I want to come unto YOU? All you do is hurt people?" The still small voice persisted, "Come let me love you". I raged back in the face of God, "Let you LOVE me! If this LOVE, I want no part of it. Get out of my life!
Much to my surprise, God did not get out of my life. After several months of ranting at God, one morning I heard the Lord speak in my heart, "Come get in my lap and let me hold you".
Something inside me broke wide open. I began to weep in brokenness and repentance, and I have never been the same. From that day forward the Lord began to reveal the truth of His sovereignty, His grace and His love.
My legalism only drove me away from God. It was His love that broke my heart and turned my life around. This prodigal daughter came to grips with the truth of God's providential forgiveness, mercy and grace.
Our sins and iniquities are not merely forgiven and covered. They are not imputed to us at all! Rather they are completely forgotten."For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12).This is why the Word of God can say Abraham wavered not in his faith, that David was a man after God's own heart and that Lot was a righteous man. This is also how God could invite a rebellious daughter to climb up in His lap and let Him love her. His great love broke my heart and drew me to His breast. My sins were remembered no more. Thanks to the finished work of the cross in the heavenlies, it is done.
God sees the end from the beginning. Even though it gets messy down here on earth, He patiently works to will and do according to His good pleasure in our lives. Positional reality and manifested reality are two different realms with the same result. Manifested reality is conditioned only upon our willingness to be broken and to depend upon Him. And if we are not yet willing, He will see to it that we are.
What happens on earth in our flesh is "remembered no more." This is truly amazing grace. This is the good news! There is nothing more powerful than this. I can hear that great cloud of witnesses which surrounds us all. They are cheering louder than a crowd at the Super Bowl. They are giving praise, honor and glory to the Lamb of God who made it all possible. Abraham, David and Lot are among them, and they are cheering us on.
Heavenly Father, I am in awe of your humility and boundless love for me. Your grace astounds me. Your mercy abounds to me. How can I ever thank you enough, praise you enough, worship you enough? The answer is I can't. The one thing I can do is surrender to your will for my life, clinging to you as though my life depended upon it, because it does. I surrender, Lord, and cling to you with all my might. Because of your amazing grace, it is not my will but thine, O Lord. In your Name I pray. Amen.
Amazing Grace (c) 1997
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