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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Recently I have been reading articles where people believe hell, as eternal torment, was not mentioned in the bible. Some believe that all people will be saved through God’s love and no person will be left apart from our Father even though they do not choose him or believe he exists.

Love is the main theme of God. God is love. I am not sure I am ready to say that hell does not exist or that God saves everyone apart from their choice but I do know that no matter what, God loves us all.

LovelikeJesus1

True love is how Christians should be known. God loves everyone and has made a way for everyone to receive the gift of salvation. Yet I personally do not believe God will force this gift on anyone and those who choose not to take it may one day have to accept the consequences whether it be eternal torment, temporary punishment or a complete act of forgiveness.

Now, is hell a real place of eternal torment or was it a dumping ground near Jerusalem that has nothing to do with punishment? There is a very real debate over this issue and I certainly do not have the answer. The thing is, trying to get people saved with the threat of spending eternity in hell is not the way to do it. People are truly changed by God’s love and by God’s people living out that love to everyone they meet.

God does not want anyone to spend eternity in a place of torment. He has provided the way of escape if there is a hell. But we want to focus on the fact the God loves us all and we want to accept and enjoy his love, not just escape the thought of eternal punishment.

When we love someone, we want to do things that please that person and make them happy. Same with God, we want to be pleasing to Him and do things for Him. We do not do these things out of obligation or because of rules and regulations. That is law. We do them out of love and that is the way we should help lead others to Christ, through love.

As it mentions in Colossians 3:12-14 as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Rather than being so quick to judge and condemn people for what they do, who they are, and what they believe we need to stop and re-read what God has said on the matter.

We are not called to be God, we are to be people who allow God to live in and through us. We are in Christ. Our lives should be in the process of being transformed into the life of Christ. Basically, we are to be Christ’s body on earth today. We are The Church, not a building we go to once a week but His body living in love day by day.

Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. God is the judge, we are called to love others.

LoveOthers

Romans 13:8-10 spells it out pretty clear, owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

To love others is to fulfill the law, wow, seems so simple yet so hard to do.

The Old Testament law was given as a guide to show people that they could not measure up to pleasing God. If anyone could keep all of the law then they were perfect. Unfortunately, we humans cannot live a perfect life. The law showed us that we could not do it.

When Christ came in bodily form and lived on earth he lived a perfect life. He became the perfect sacrifice that would once and for all make a way for us to be considered perfect in God’s eyes and to be restored to fellowship with him.

When we live in love we are fulfilling the law. We no longer do things out of obligation or out of a need to earn God’s love and favor. We no longer have to keep the ten commandments to earn our salvation. Salvation is now a gift given to us. When we love others with the love of God our lifestyle will be one that actually fulfills the law by the way we live and love.

Am I saying that we should not try to live by the 10 commandments? In a way yes. We cannot do so. When we live in love we will be living a life that is pleasing to God without trying to live by laws and regulations. If we are depending on the law, regulations or doing things to earn God’s love we are wasting our time. Only by living in love for Christ and our fellow human beings will any difference be made.

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Most of us who are Christians want to be known as followers of Christ. We want to be known as good Christian people, yet many of us seem to go about this in the wrong ways.

Many feel that if they can be a pastor, evangelist or missionary and tell others about the gospel message they will be known as good Christian people.

Others feel if they can give regularly to their church or to programs to help the poor and do good in society they will be known as good Christians.

Many will base their identity in Christ on their works and all the good things they can do to show that they are good Christians.

Others think they can show how good of a Christian they are by condemning those who are not Christians, by pointing out the mistakes of others or by standing their ground with those of different beliefs.

A-LoveOneAnother

The thing to remember is that we are saved by grace. It is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

The only way that Jesus says we are to be known as His disciples is by the love we have for God and for others. Jesus tells us to ‘believe on the one who God sent’ and ‘love others as you love yourself’ (1 John 3:23).

When we try mixing New Testament grace with Old Covenant law we get away from the true gospel of grace. We get caught up on works, doctrine and law rather than resting in the grace of Christ and loving others with the love of God.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2: 8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

We christians usually focus on pleasing God and living for Him by trying to obey the ten commandments and trying to do the right things.

We will go to church every time the doors are open, tithe our 10 percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we will look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we think is right to do as christians.

The truth is because of grace we do not have to be trying to keep the law at all. We do not have to try to do good works to earn our favor with God.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and good works, not Jesus and avoiding certain things. We are saved through faith in Christ and we no longer have to do any of these things to be a child of God. We have freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This freedom does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want. There are consequences in this world for doing things that are not good for us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 10, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good but that of his neighbor”.

We have freedom from the Law because of the grace of God. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow any law.

Stop putting your faith in trying to follow all the rules and regulations of the old covenant law. Stop forcing the law on others thinking that will make them better people. Jesus fulfilled the old agreement and began a new agreement, an agreement of love and grace.

We no longer strive to please God through the law, but we do what pleases him because of love.

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Be Holy

1 Peter 1:16 –  because it is written, “you shall be holy, for I AM holy.”

I used to read this verse and think of it as a command. I thought God was telling us we had to live a holy life. Hearing this made me wonder how that could ever be possible.

As I became more aware of God’s grace and what all it means, I found my answer as to how to be holy.

God’s grace is a gift. Our sins were crucified with Christ when He died on the cross. Our old sinful nature was buried with Christ and we were raised up as a new creation.

You are Holy

Because of God’s gift of grace our spirits are now made perfect. Our hope is fixed completely on the grace brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We no longer have a spirit that is sinful. We are a new creation in Christ.

Our soul has been made perfect by the grace of Christ. Does this mean we are perfect and never make mistakes….no, our body and our mind are still in process of being transformed. As we allow the spirit of Christ to change and transform us, our body and mind will start to come in line with our spirit. Of course, that will take a lifetime to complete.

I now realize this is not a command but a statement. We are holy because God is holy. Now that Christ has given us the gift of grace we do not live a holy life by works, but God sees a perfect and holy spirit within us because we have been redeemed by Christ.

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Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We were created in the image of God. This means we were created by a perfect, loving God and we were good in the sight of God. We are made in the likeness of God, that is, three in one, spirit, soul (mind) and body.

Unfortunately evil entered the human race and we lived under the curse of the law because of the fall of man through Adam. Our spirit, soul and body were then subject to trying to earn salvation by following the law which we could not do, eventually leading to death.

Because of the fall of Adam and sin entering the world we lost the fellowship with the Father that we were intended to have. That does not mean that God stopped loving us. That does not mean that we became terrible people who were seen as nothing but sinful and incapable of doing anything good. Yet the fellowship between our loving Father and the human race was broken and needed repaired. Something we could not accomplish by good works and effort.

The answer came through Christ and the grace He provided. Because of the work of Christ we were made new creatures in Him. Our old sinful spirit was crucified and buried when he took our sins to His cross.

We now have a new righteous spirit within us and our fellowship with the Father has been restored. We still have a soul (mind) that needs renewed and an earthly body that will one day be changed into a spiritual body, yet at this moment God sees us as the righteousness of Christ who lives within us by His Spirit. The goodness and fellowship with the Father that we were originally created with is restored, not by anything we can do but because of the love of the Father for each of us.

Naturally speaking we will never be perfect on this earth, but because of the grace of Christ God sees us spiritually perfect already.

This does not mean we should do whatever we want because there are earthly consequences for our actions, but now we live for God and do what pleases Him out of love and not out of obligation. We now take up our cross daily and follow Him allowing Him to increase as we decrease.

We now have a restored fellowship with the Father that was intended from the day God created the human race. When you make a mistake it is covered. We do not have to repent each time but we can acknowledge we made a mistake and thank God for His grace that covers it.

I have found a good thing to do after allowing my mind or body to take control is to verbally or mentally confess ‘I am the righteousness of God’. Doing this will help us to remember God’s gift of grace and get us focused on our spiritual position in Christ.

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To follow up on the last article ‘The Law is a Curse’, I want to point out that we are no longer required to follow the law.

Romans 3:20-24 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. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

SavedbyGrace

To me this cannot make it any clearer that trying to keep the ten commandments, doing good works such as church attendance, prayer, bible reading, witnessing to others, helping the poor, tithing, taking part in communion or any other ‘good work’ you can think of, will make a difference in being declared righteous in God’s sight.

Just in the same sense avoiding things we consider wrong or bad does not make us any more righteous either. We are declared righteous by faith in Jesus, the gift of grace freely given by him.

The law only makes us conscious of sin and our need for Christ. Once we believe his righteousness is freely given by grace and the law is no longer needed and actually becomes a curse. Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” We know that none of us can keep every law that was given by God to the jews, of which there were 613 laws including the first ten which we call the ten commandments.

Good works are not wrong, in fact they will result out of love for God rather than out of obligation for earning his love. Yet because of the grace freely given by God we no longer need to worry about the laws and keeping them to earn the love of God and the forgiveness of sins he provided.

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Galatians 3:10-13: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

LawisaCurse

Today many Christian people seem to live in two worlds. Not only the spiritual world and the earthly world, but the Old Covenant and New Covenant world. The problem with the Old and New Covenant combination is that we already know we cannot live a perfect life and keep every law God gave. We are told that trying to following the Law is living under a curse.

The Law was given to the Jews, yet we can see that is was used as a tutor and guide to show us that on our own we cannot measure up. We cannot live a life acceptable to God and the perfection He desires in our own strength. Righteousness does not come through the Law, and if it did then Christ died needlessly. Jesus came into this world born under the Law, and He lived and taught it for the first 33 years of His life. When He died the Old Covenant came to an end because Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Old Covenant. When He rose from the grave the New Covenant began, which is a covenant of grace.

By accepting the grace He provided we can live a life pleasing to God by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We now have fellowship with God through Christ and we are now counted as holy and righteous in His sight because of His work. The Law is no longer needed for those saved by grace. We are free because Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We now live under the New Covenant, one that is a free gift provided to us by Christ. We now live by Christ’s commands to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves.

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