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What is Grace?
Holiness, Journey to God
Go & Sin No More
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What is the "Grace of God"?

 

What is the "grace of God", anyway? The two major doctrinally distinct sides of the body of Christ--Torah observant (whether Messianic or Sabbatarian) and the new covenant "faith in Jesus is totally sufficient" group--have a wide difference in how they define the grace of God. But there is a real and very strange phenomenon found within both groups. There can often be found within both groups--many Holy Spirit led and inspired members living the same identical Christian lifestyle! How could this be? Next logical question you might ask--"How could I come to such a conclusion, and how do I know my conclusion is accurate?" This would be the honest and logical question any Christian leader might ask me. Well in order to make such an observation, I would have to have been in a good position to observe a good quantity of believers in each group, and to have done so over a sufficiently long period of time. I have been in just such a position. I spent 25 years in a Torah observant Sabbatarian Christian church [called a legalist church by many], and the last ten years in churches (both Messianic and Gentile Christian) that come from the "faith in Jesus is totally sufficient" group. If I can observe believers in Jesus Christ from both groups, all living the same basic Christian lifestyle, then I can safely say that both groups have definitions of the grace of God which are deviating from or at variance with the reality of what the grace of God really is, as spelled out in the Word of God. That is my conclusion. How dangerous is it for a group of Christians to have a false or insufficient understanding of the grace of God? It is very dangerous. Why? Because very sincere believers can be led into wrong Christian lifestyles by following wrong or insufficient teaching on the grace of God, and those wrong lifestyles can then quench the Spirit of God in those believers lives. In the final analysis, this can spiritually weaken and sabotage a whole denomination! So where would I look to find a proper Biblical description of grace? The grace of God is not an easily perceived doctrine that is clearly spelled out in Scripture, like some other doctrines. So I would look for a Holy Spirit inspired man who sees the doctrinal errors and misconceptions that each group has in their understanding and definition of the grace of God. I have found just such a man. Funny thing is, I wrote an article about the grace of God before watching John Bevere's video "Holiness, Journey to God's Presence". Basically--and here's the amazing thing--we agree in our definition and perspective of what the grace of God really is, 100 percent! My article is basically at a school child's level of understanding. His is at the college level. My article is titled "What is Grace?" His is titled "Holiness, Journey to God's Presence", and is a transcript of his video by that same title. John's ministry is basically non-denominational, just like mine--one of those ministries inspired by the Lord to help strengthen and unify the body of Christ across denominational lines in these perilous times we live in. Both groups I have described above have fallen into their own particular doctrinal "ditch" in their misunderstanding and teaching of what the grace of God is. Each "ditch" can and does hinder and seriously endanger the spiritual growth of the believers within that group. Learn how by reading the articles in this section titled "What is Grace?". Your very spiritual existence and future eternal life may be at stake here, it's just that serious. So, what is the grace of God? You'll have to read the articles in this section to learn and get a true perspective on what the grace of God is. It'll breathe new life into your walk with Jesus and your whole Christian life! So don't hesitate. These articles will re-enforce some of what you understand and remove some of the false concepts that hinder your spiritual growth and walk with Jesus. To remain in either ditch is dangerous. Find out what those "ditches" are, to the left and right of the road of "God's grace."

Sincerely,

the editor

 

“THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PERFECT

 

A lot of times, people, especially Christians, are prone to say, “I thank God we’re not under law; we’re under grace”; and there is that tendency to sort of put down the Law of God. The Law of God is good; it is righteous; it is holy. The Law of God is the right way to live in your relationship with God and your relationship with other people. This world would be a much better place if everybody lived by the Law of God.  It could be a beautiful place if everybody lived by the Law of God.

 

There is nothing wrong with the Law of God; we should seek to keep the Law of God.  My faith in Jesus does not release me from the necessity of seeking to keep the Law of God.  But the Law of God cannot make me perfect. That’s where people make a mistake---in seeking to be righteous by the Law of God or in seeking to have a righteous standing by keeping the Law of God.

 

Keeping the Law of God will not make you righteous. We are made righteous through our faith in Jesus Christ, apart from the works of the Law. But by coming into this relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the subsequent infilling of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit within my life gives me the power to do what I could not do in my flesh, that is, to obey the will of God [and the will of God for us is found in the Law of God]. It’s not that God has set aside His Law or abrogated the Law or has now a whole new standard for us as Christians; the standard of God is still the Law.  The power now to keep the Law is given to us by the Holy Spirit.”

 

[Written comment of Pastor Chuck Smith, quoted from page 616 of “The Word For Today Bible, New King James Version”. Pastor Chuck Smith is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa, CA.  Calvary Chapel is a very Grace oriented denomination.]

 

To read an excellent article which makes the various covenants of God clear and easy to understand, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm

 

Three Types of Churches

 

1. A liberal church says you are welcome here and you do not have to clean up your life. (most of the older Christian denominations have become liberal.)

This group of churches tend to be made up of the older Christian revivals-turned-denominations, ones that are from 200 to 300 years old, Lutheran, Episcopal (Church of England), Congregational, Methodist, and many of the Baptist churches, although some of these fall into the next category. Many of these revivals-turned-denominations started out alive and spiritually healthy, and as Charles Stanley said, “the churches became more filled with born-into the church, rather than born-again members of the church.”  This is the normal life-death cycle of most large Christian revivals-turned-denominations, they turn liberal and thus licentious.

 

A friend of mine pointed out the he’s met some real Christians working at a downtown Christian rescue mission, and also a homeless shelter run by one of these denominations from some of these older revival-turned-denominations.  What would Jesus recommend?  What Jesus said in his letter to the church of Ephesus would apply here, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:4-5a) So for those who are still really with-it spiritually and are attending one of these older revivals that has become liberal by the above definition, who have fallen from their first works, how would you follow Jesus’ advice in Revelation 2:4-5a?  You would seek out and start attending a church/denomination that is a young revival-turned-denomination, one that is spiritually vibrant, yet balanced and teaching the Word of God.  See category 3.  

 

2. A legalistic church says you are not welcome here until you clean up your life. The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God tend to be legalistic, and won’t baptize people until they’re obeying to their satisfaction the laws of God, and adhering to their own doctrinal understandings (many of which may be correct, it’s just they’re placing the “obedience cart” before the horse).  There are many other legalistic churches out there as well. Some Torah Observant Messianic Jewish congregations fall into this category, while other’s don’t. As the Book of Acts brings out, baptism and the laying on of hands, which for the early Church brought the Holy Spirit into one’s life, was instant, once a person accepted Christ as their Saviour. Delaying baptism until a high degree of obedience is evident in the person’s life is spiritually counter-productive to the life and growth of these churches as well as for the individual, for it is the Holy Spirit that enables real deep, from the heart obedience (cf. Romans 7 verses Romans 8).  These churches tend to be run by ministers that crack the whip and demand obedience from the pulpit, instead of leading people to Christ, who then through the Holy Spirit enables obedience.  In that sense, these ministers tend to usurp the job of the Holy Spirit through their demands for obedience externally, instead of guiding their flocks to seek the Holy Spirit that enables internal obedience, from the heart. Thus, they tend to be cattle-drivers and not shepherds over God’s flock which has been entrusted to their care. Many of the fundamentist churches are legalistic, although some of them are not. Now don’t come to a wrong conclusion about legalistic churches, especially the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, as many within their congregations have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God do have a very good understanding of God’s Word, the Bible, and many Bible doctrines.  It’s just they have the cart before the horse in their understanding of law & grace, and their concepts about ministry are a bit off (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm).  Amazingly enough, the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are the very descendants of the original Judeo-Christian churches of God in both Judea and Asia Minor up to around 300AD, before being persecuted and driven underground by the proto-Catholic church under Constantine, so don’t be too hard on them. These Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, historically speaking, have endured and survived great persecution over the past 1700 years, and are to be admired for staying the course (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm).  The persecution over the centuries forced these churches to turn inward, becoming exclusive, seldom becoming powerfully evangelical as the early churches of God were during the period of the Book of Acts. Jesus’ advice for them would be similar to that which he gave the church at Ephesus, “remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” What were those first works? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  Pastors, stop usurping the job of the Holy Spirit, baptize immediately, let the Holy Spirit do its job, and gently teach and shepherd the flock of God Jesus has entrusted to your care.  You have a rich heritage of survival against all odds. Move forward in these areas.           

 

3. Jesus says you are welcome here and I will change your life from the inside out (cf. John 8:11-12; Romans 8:1-16; John 14:15-17,21; John 16:13-14)  (this category is filled with the Grace oriented churches, they understand the proper balance between law & grace.)  Calvary Chapels, are a denominational group that is most definitely grace oriented, having a proper understanding of law and grace, although their doctrinal explanation about “law & grace” can be somewhat lacking, as they show an aversion to mentioning the word law in their explanations about law & grace. They are keeping the Laws of God, 9 out of the 10 Commandments, to the level that can only be accomplished by the indwelling Holy Spirit, thus Spirit-level obedience.  There may be a good number of properly grace oriented churches and congregations out there. The Calvary Chapels are the only denomination that comes to mind as a whole denomination in my own personal experience, so I am using them as an example (to learn more about them and when this Christian revival started, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm).  Many Messianic Jewish congregations are properly grace oriented, and fall into this category as well (I attend one). One Messianic Jewish pastor/rabbi, Marty Cohen, who claims his congregation is Torah Observant, but in reality is very grace oriented said this, “Keeping to Torah is not a prerequisite for being saved, but it’s the evidence that you are!” The Calvary Chapels have been called legalistic by the liberal churches, because they adhere to and live by the Word of God, including 9 out of the 10 Commandments. They are not legalistic though. They quietly keep the laws of God as they are enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, while reaching lovingly out to the sinners in the world through their good works.  This is and should be the evangelistic approach of all grace oriented churches and denominations.  Oh, by the way, the Messianic Jewish revival which started to go full-steam around 1970 onward, has seen about one-million Jews come to Christ, by some estimates. Jesus has truly restored the Jewish branch of the Body of Christ, which originally was under the apostle Peter in Judea (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm).  

 

related links:

 

1. Why would I say the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are descended from the Judeo-Christian churches of God in Judea and Asia Minor?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htmand then follow the trail, make the comparison historically, and to do that, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm

 

2. How should God’s pastors shepherd God’s sheep? See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm

 

3. Both the Calvary Chapel Christian revival and the explosive revival of the Messianic Jewish movement started around the same time, 1969-1970.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm

 

4. If you’re a believer or a new believer, and trying to decide where you should attend, you’re in the process of choosing a church/denomination, and asking ‘Where would it be best for me to attend, what church/denomination would do the best job of nurturing and establishing me and my family spiritually?’ you need to make a wise choice and consider some spiritual factors. To help you do this, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm

 

5.  You may find this hard to believe, considering the divided and fractured state of the Body of Christ, but Jesus Christ (as the pre-Incarnate Yahweh) has directly and emphatically called for unity within the Body of Christ. See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm

(and scroll to the section on Zephaniah 2:1-3)

 

 

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