Message of the Month
Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8, John 1:17, Romans 5:15-17, Ephesians 1:6-9
Hello, my beloved! It brings me great joy to bring this subject to our teachings. This revelation of Grace that the Lord has given us is radical and life changing. I am a little hesitant to discuss it here because this short teaching cannot do the subject matter justice, but the Lord has instructed me and so I am happy to obey.
Here is the opposing dichotomy that we, as a church body, have struggled to reconcile:
“I have been taught all of my church life that I have to live holy, tithe, fast, pray and all of the other Christian duties in order to receive from God. I have tried, at times, to do all of these things but I still did not see the power and victory that the New Testament proclaims. What was I doing wrong?” The problem being we can see in the scriptures thousands of references requiring us, by God, to live a holy life. So we try to limit our exposure to sin in order to receive blessings and power from God. The other problem being we can never get there because the harder we try to be holy the more we see our failures. Sounds like Romans 7 where Paul has this same type of discourse. So… what are we doing wrong, or is God not doing His part?
There are many variations on this question, and I put the facts out there pretty bluntly… but if you were really honest with me, you would agree that this question or problem has come up in your Christian life. The words may differ, but this is one of the most common struggles of all Christians that I deal with.
Let us define the different graces I referred to in the beginning. This is what I mean by “Church Grace”. You do this _____ (fill in the blank… tithe, pray, fast, etc…) and then God will do this _____ (heal, deliver, prosper, give peace… etc…). The reason I know that this struggle takes place on the inside of you is because it was a part of my daily life for decades! I was seeing some victory in some areas but I struggled to see God as faithful every time. After many thousands of teachings, meditations, word studies and sermons I was still struggling to see the truth. It is a long story but the end result was I was ready to give it all up. In this time, at my lowest and most spiritually dry, was where I got it. The whole problem, the whole time was me. I kept getting in the way of “God’s Grace”.
It took me many months to understand the fullness of what I had learned but I was at least on the way. Praise Jesus! This is going to sound simplistic and maybe a little elementary, but it is radical and life altering if your heart can open up to receive it. God’s grace is given to us, without measure, because of what Jesus had done for us, not because of ANYTHING we have done for God. Radical. You cannot earn grace.
Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
The most appropriate definition I know for grace is this: God’s favor on you when you DO NOT deserve it. Or getting God’s favor INSTEAD of what you deserve. This scripture reference in Romans 11 is saying that grace is given freely, otherwise it is not grace. If it was given to us according to our works then it would not be grace, it would be “earned”. The problem is we are incapable of “earning” anything from God. The debt Jesus paid on our behalf was infinitely greater than any “payment” we could ever make. When you begin to understand that God loves you because He is love (1 John 4:8 and 16) and not because you are lovely… your whole religious world is in for upheaval! If you are already there then pardon my discourse but I strongly believe this message cannot be over-taught.
This revelation is the entire purpose for Paul writing the letter to the churches of Galatia. There were minsters that had snuck in under the radar of the local leadership and started to subtly teach the “law”. Specifically the right of circumcision and holy day observances. If you thumb through the letter you will see that Paul was very adamant about rebuking this idea. In fact, his language was the strongest and most pointed of all his epistles. He actually was concerned about their salvation (4:11), because this teaching of the “law” will destroy the reality of grace in a person’s life and walk.
This is also the truth that Jesus was crucified for. This was the message that the religious zealots so forcefully rejected, to the point of killing the messenger (Jesus). Look at Galatians 2:21 – 3:5…
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 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?”
Can you see how fervently Paul is making his point. He is asking elementary type questions, asking if they are “bewitched” or under the power of witchcraft, pointing out basic principles in a nearly sarcastic way, and basically calling them stupid or “foolish”. All of this because they were starting to observe the law. How could observing the law cause this type of reaction from a former Jewish leader? Paul’s great revelation of Grace given to him directly by God made his message what it was. I am going to roughly and overly simplify for a moment but please bare with me. Every epistle and sermon that Paul gave was based on the same principle… Grace. To quickly recap all of Paul’s teachings: Grace is God freely giving you all things because of Jesus, in spite of you. To receive all you need to do is believe it in your heart.
I know this sounds too simple but God never was involved with complicating the Gospel… that was all man’s doing. And how great of a job we have done!
This is the revelation that radically changed my life and put me on my current path of ministry. I had realized that my actions were not going to get me there but I also recognized the importance of purity and holiness. When I finally got what God had been trying to show me for so long it made everything come back into focus. That focus was Jesus. I no longer “try” too please God with my actions, now I just love God, and my actions line up with that fact. We have all known this in our heart but we have been so polarized by the “church grace” principles, the knowledge never had the opportunity to grow and flourish in our lives. If we would have boiled this down to love in the first place we would have never been so far off course. Let me give you an example that God used to help me understand.
One day I was organizing some things in my room and I was putting some of the past anniversary cards away and I was reflecting on how much Kay loved me. I came across one from a few years back when I was not living the life a christian and especially a christian husband should. She so lovingly and sincerely was expressing her magnitude of love for me when she KNEW that I was struggling in life, marriage, career and everywhere else. How could she love me so purely when I literally deserved to be out on the street, alone? I had not “earned” that love from her, she just chose to love me that way, in spite of what I deserve. Amazing… When I deserved separation from Kay I received unconditional love. When I deserved hell and destruction from God I received His grace and unconditionally love. Kay hoped in God’s type of love accomplishing in me what rules and law could not. Love never fails. This is how God treats us as well. He has faith that his love and grace towards us will produce a genuine and fervent love in us that the “law” could never attain. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12). Radical! He showed us through Jesus Christ what His true nature of love personified, and grace boundless is, then established His presence in our hearts to personally carry the revelation with us forever. Our God is unlike any god. He gives us boldness in our relationship with Him so that we can obtain this grace (Hebrews 4:16). He has even given us His faith so that we can believe these promises and therewith obtain them.
This is our part… believe it. His grace is flowing towards us endlessly ready to be obtained and enjoyed. What stops us from experiencing it endlessly? There are many factors but the main one is unbelief. We simply, oftentimes, to not really believe that God is trying to get His love, blessings and grace to us. This is where it is your turn to act. Do you believe that God really wants you to “prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” as 3 John 2 states? Do you believe it enough to stop all other thoughts of failure from taking root in you? You must put the Word of God into you in abundance in order to uproot the negatives that choke your faith (faith comes by hearing the Word of God). Galatians 5:6 says that faith works by love. If you are having a faith problem you are actually having a lack-of-understanding-God’s-love-for-you problem. When you see your heavenly Father as a good Father who takes good care of His children the “struggling” will stop and the resting will begin as Hebrews 4 talks about.
Believe God, my beloved, and start to experience His boundless grace operating in your life and circumstances. He has desired his children to live victoriously in THIS life, but we have to take Him at His word and walk it out. But what an exciting journey that is!
Thank you again for your time and openness to these words.
In the Love and Grace of Jesus,
Pastor Steve Cassell