About Grace: Part 1

Grace has been given a lot of bad press lately, and for good reason. Like all revelations or moves of God, we humans insist on pushing the pendulum of sanity to extremes once we take hold of a word and run with it. For a time, being saved by grace wasn’t even in the vocabulary of most Christians. Then Martin Luther came along and told everyone that doing penance and earning your salvation was a farce. Today, that message has swung so far past sane that it is said to excuse all sin without the need for repentance. This, of course, is another lie.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as hyper-grace. I know this because of the rule of opposites. If there is an up, there is a down; a left, then right; an in, then out. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for [you].” (KJV) Well, if it’s sufficient, then it can’t be insufficient. If it can’t be less than we need, then it can’t be more than we need. It is EXACTLY what we need and nothing more. Continuing with the rule of opposites, that means there is only true grace and false grace.

In his opening salutation to the Romans, Paul says that we receive grace for the purpose of being obedient to the gospel of faith. He later shows us the other side of that statement in chapter 6:1, 2, when he says, “What…shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” (KJV) Paul clearly shows us what grace is and what it isn’t; what it’s for, and how it is abused. The true and the false.

Grace is God’s way of enabling us to live within the gospel. It isn’t a license to sin. Some say that mentality is bondage and that we have been made free from the law of sin and death. This is a twisted view of scripture because, without the law (and a healthy respect for it), we wouldn’t know what grace is.

Picture a vast, featureless landscape for as far as the eye can see. No distinguishable landmarks, borders, or unique features to help you determine your location. Are you on your property? If not, how do you know which way to go to get back? How can you tell others how to find you? You can’t. Now, imagine the same area with a fence and a gate. You now know where you are and can navigate to any location with an absolute certainty that you could get to where you need to be.

The law is the fence, Jesus is the gate, repentance is the passport that gets us inside the fence, and grace is what stays God’s hand from revoking our citizenship when we decide to wander outside of His kingdom.

 

Return tomorrow for Part 2 to see how grace trains us to live by faith, not works.

About Discernment

When I sat down to write the other day, I thought I knew what I wanted to say. As I stared at the blank screen, I found myself turning inward to listen to the voice of God. As I did, I heard that discerning His voice is what He wanted me to discuss.

Now, there are a plethora of teachings out there about how to hear His voice, so I don’t intend to reiterate what has been exhausted elsewhere. Rather, I want to add clarification to the subject and touch on the supernatural a bit in the process. Before I proceed with the former, let me qualify the latter by saying that communicating with God is a supernatural process, and as such, a certain stigma surrounds it.

There are those who are staunchly opposed to Christians delving into the supernatural to any degree because one opens oneself to the demonic. This is true. It is undeniable. More importantly, if you dip a toe in these waters, it is unavoidable.

Let me say that again: It is unavoidable.

This, however, is not a reason to ignore it.

Imagine, if you will, sitting in a crowded restaurant with your friends, coworkers, or family. People are laughing, eating, drinking, clamoring for attention, and speaking in a cacophony of tones. You see service workers taking orders, delivering food, seating patrons, and filling beverages all around you. You didn’t come here to talk to the guy five tables away who is arguing with his wife. Nor did you want to hear the woman behind you tell her colleagues about the stock trade that finally made the boss take notice of her. You want to enjoy the meal you ordered, but the smell of the fajitas at the next table is overpowering your senses. As the dessert tray passes, it bumps your elbow, and you notice a slice of cheesecake with your name on it. Can you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch it all?

The only way any of that background noise prevents you from focusing on your meal, your companions, and your time there is if you let it distract you. You can’t kick everyone out just so you can enjoy yourselves. You can’t tell everybody else to shut up so you can hear your spouse say they love you. Neither can you exhaust the smell of all the other food out of the room to make it easier for you to savor the aroma of your steak.

This is what it’s like when you open your spiritual senses. You can’t choose what you want to hear, see, smell, taste, or touch. It’s all there. Virtuous and venerable. Righteous and wretched. Demonic and divine.

What you must do is concentrate on the holy; at least for a while, anyway. Sometimes it behooves us to see what the enemy is up to, but if you are new to this, you better learn to discern the deific like the back of your hand before you try your hand at devil recon.

To that point you also need to know who is speaking to you from the heavenlies: The Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is a distinction to their voices, and it will help you appreciate each of them more once you learn to hear the difference. When you can do that, it is easier to filter out what isn’t heaven-sent.

First off, God the Father is the Creator of all things. So, when He speaks to you, His voice is prophetic and proclaims His plans for you. Now, since He is the Creator, that means that when He speaks, it is backed by His perfect faith. Because of this, He doesn’t talk to you about sin, judgment, or your problems. If He did, they would become permanent.

The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus is the only one worthy to open the books of Heaven’s records, so He is the one who talks to you about where you’ve been and where you are right now. His blood paid the price for your sins, so He is the only one who can discuss them with you. As hard as that may be for some to believe, it is recorded fact. You can come to Jesus and discuss anything with Him. He cleanses you from all sin and takes it upon Himself so that you can approach the Father.

The Holy Spirit, as the promised Helper, is the one who guides you from where Jesus rescued you to where God has called you to be. He will tell you what to do, how and when to do it, and where you need to go to fulfill your calling. He will also guide you to people who need help and give you the words to speak to comfort them.

All three members of the Godhead are actively involved in your life on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, second-by-second basis. The Father declares His plans for your future. The Son talks you through the pain of where you are. The Holy Spirit speaks of the journey between. When you get to know their voices, all of the distractions blur into the background as your senses focus like a camera lens on the pious.

Yes, you will experience things that may frighten you. I see terrifying stuff on the road every day, but it doesn’t stop me from driving. Don’t let fear prevent you from pursuing a supernatural, intimate relationship with God. He has great things in store for you.