Revealing the SIMPLICITY that’s in Christ

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"So, what exactly is grace?"


What exactly is grace


These next few lessons that I'll be teaching on are about growing up into Christ in all things. As I've observed for many years in the church, for many when it comes to spiritual growth, they have the idea that it's about how much scripture and doctrine that they know and memorize. But did you know that spiritual growth has little to nothing to do with how much scripture you may know, or how you could memorize and quote your denominational beliefs backwards and forwards? True growth is Christ has to do with allowing Him to reveal to you the Redemptive work that He's done for you and has wrought inside you and do it in a very personal and unique way that's tailored just for you. One of the yardsticks that we have for us for spiritual growth and how it's accomplished in our lives is Ephesians 4. Without getting into the whole chapter, which we may do at another setting, let's look at Eph 4:14-15 - “(14) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (15) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”.


 


We can understand from v.14 above that children — a believer who's spiritually immature — are tossed to and fro and carried about with, NOTICE — EVERY wind of teaching that man comes up with by his tradition, not from the truth. See for most believers when it comes to spiritual growth, they're all over the map in their Bibles and think that they're accurate because after all, it's God's Word! They take scriptures from Genesis, some from Psalms, some from Zechariah, some from the Gospel writings and then some from Paul, James, Peter and John. Then they may also mix in some scriptures to their teachings from the book of Revelation (I know very well, because I use to be one of them!) And then the ministry wonders why their flocks are still confused.


Before we proceed by looking at what Paul said in v.14, look at something else Paul told a bunch of believers that many have taken “with a grain of salt” (Gal 1:8-9) - “(8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Paul was being straightforward here in what he said, for he even said it twice, back-to-back! We understand then that he preached the gospel of grace. It's the gospel of grace that is the standard for the truth and for all true spiritual growth! This means that every scripture that is read and taught and believed in your Bible has to be filtered through the gospel of grace — anything else outside the gospel of grace, LET IT BE ACCURSED!


Now going back to Eph 4:14, I want you to notice Paul's wording about children being tossed to and fro and carried about with every other wind of teaching. He used the words, “by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”. Notice that their teaching is BY the trickery or magic of men that keeps children unstable. I don't think that Paul is blasting these people that teach incorrectly outside of the gospel of grace, as much as he's drawing an allusion of what's happening when people teach incorrectly — it's like magic tricks. Think about this for a minute with me. How do magicians perform magic tricks? It's by what we call “optical illusion” — meaning that it's an experience that one has to what the magician is doing, where something appears to be real, but it's really not. That my friends, is a good definition of what fear is. 


Also notice that his teaching is IN the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. In other words, it's as the minister personally received it for themselves (the optical delusion), so they taught it to others. It's interesting to note here, that the Greek word that Paul used here for “cunning”, is a noun referring to one playing with dice. Paul also used the word “craftiness”, which implies one’s skill in playing dice (Like one does when he uses a bunch of scripture from one end of the Bible to the other — he may be skilled in knowing the scriptures, but lacks skill in knowing the message of grace). Also notice in v.14 how Paul underscores all of this by using the words, “deceitful plotting”, showing you the real source of the error, which is the enemy's involvement.



Why did I bring this out to you? Because we've made the truth line up with our own perceptions, doctrinal opinions and denominational beliefs, instead of allowing the truth to line up with Jesus and the Redemptive work that He's done (which is the word of His grace). There are basically 3 kinds of people in this earth when it comes to them processing information to perceive the truth: 1) visionary thinkers; 2) auditory thinkers; 3) logical thinkers. This is important to understand, because these are 3 different ways that one gathers his “truth” — either good or bad (This is the way God has made us, the human race. It also explains why people have so many different opinions and beliefs over the Bible.) 


Now we come to the simplicity of spiritual growth in v.15, “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him”. I like the word BUT there in that verse, because it's like Paul saying to us, “Instead of being unstable children, become stable sons and speak the truth in love, so that we'll grow...” The TRUTH IN LOVE is the gospel of grace! So to speak the truth in love is to speak the gospel of grace, so that we may all grow up into Christ in everything! But in order to speak (teach) the gospel of grace, we have to know the gospel of grace. There’s a lot of teaching on grace and many have formed their own opinions about grace and what it is — some good and some bad. 


Let’s then answer the question — “So, what exactly is grace?” Like the picture above says — some will say “It's more than we deserve!”, while others will say, “It's greater than we can imagine!” Which “camp” is right? They both are! Grace is more than anyone could deserve, but it's also greater than we could ever imagine! However, both of these responses, although they're correct, are vague and vagueness always leads into miscommunication of the gospel message — hence, all of the different denominations in the Church. In these lessons, I never want to come across as if I have all of the answers regarding the gospel of grace, but my endeavor is to show you the simplicity that's in Christ, see 2 Cor 11:3 for more details. This is the message of grace!


For the next few weeks, I want to give you 3 acronyms for the word GRACE, so whether you're a visionary thinker, a verbal thinker, or a logical thinker, you'll have a better understanding of what grace is. These acronyms won't cover everything about what grace is, but they will surely help you to grasp its reality in your life!




GRACE meaning #1


G - God’s

R - Real

A - Attitude (answer)

C - Clearly

E - Expressed


Look at what the Lord told Paul in prayer one day after he had been seeking Him for an answer to the inner turmoil that he kept dealing with and to understand why he kept having great persecution and affection everywhere he went to preach the gospel (2 Cor 12:9) -“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Probably just like with a lot of you, this didn't make much sense to Paul when he heard this. He was probably thinking at the time, “Well Lord, I'm already weak because of these things that keep happening to me. I don't know if I could get any weaker. And besides Lord, if I'm in your will doing what you want me to do, then why are these things happening to me?” But then the third time that he sought the Lord about it, Jesus opened his eyes to see what He was saying. Then Paul saw what the WEAKNESS that the Lord mentioned to him really is — it was the weakness of his submission to the ability of Christ inside him! He understood that his submission to Him causes the His strength to be perfected in his life — for this is how the sufficiency of grace works! 


This is why Paul, in his testimony here in 2 Cor 12, went on and said - “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities (weaknesses), in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” To the man on the outside, it appeared that Paul was weak, but actually, he, through submitting to the grace of God, was stronger than ever!



Whether it's the bondage of sin, needing mental or physical healing, or believing for deliverance in your present circumstances, what the Lord told Paul is the “cure-all” for your given situation. See in Christ, grace has given you everything that you will ever need to live the overcoming, outstanding, victorious, successful life of the Kingdom — for the reality of grace causes you to walk just like Jesus walked in this world! Whatever you're dealing with at this time, God’s attitude towards you and it, is clearly expressed in the grace of Jesus Christ! Grace says that because of Jesus, you're an eternal winner and says to the enemy that he is an eternal loser!


To further grasp this message of grace from the Lord in 2 Cor 12:9 and its relevance to your life, it's important that you see how Paul arrived to the position of hearing it — because it took him 3 times in seeking the Lord before he hear from Him. (Just a side note here. What do I mean that Paul had to be in POSITION to hear the Lord and receive this grace message from Him? Think of a wide receiver in the NFL. He could be the best athlete on the field, but if he's not in position to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback, he won't be able to catch it.) So going back to Paul, one would think, “Why didn't the Lord tell him the first time that he prayed?” The answer is that the Lord wasn't able to (But even though he couldn't hear his answer from the Lord until the third time, I'll guarantee you that the Lord assured him of His love. For if you really hear Him, in whatever situation of life you may be in, He'll always assure you of His unconditional love!) I know that may sound strange to some, but the truth is that Paul wasn't ready to hear it yet. Why wasn't this preacher of grace ready to hear his answer? It was because he was hearing other things and what he was listening to, kept him out of position to hear the right thing! 


This is why in his testimony, Paul called this situation, “a thorn in the flesh”, which, he specifically said it was, “a messenger of Satan to buffet me”. The thorn was a message to his flesh. See he was listening to what the enemy, Satan, was doing through the affliction and persecution that was going on against him. And that message kept beating against his flesh and keeping him from really moving forwards in spiritual matters. It was because he was listening to those wrong messages, that kept inspiring him to try to get out of them by his own efforts. So I believe that the main reason why Paul shared this testimony with us all, is so we could learn from his mistakes. It wasn't so Paul could brag about the great revelation he was getting. It was so that we could learn from the adjustments that he made, so that grace’s sufficiency may operate in our lives. 



Did Paul  grasp this message of grace after he heard it? We know that he did! Look at what he said in another one of his letters about this same thing - “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Not only did he learn this grace lesson of God's attitude, but he even started allowing the things that came against him, to work for him “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”, see 2 Cor 4:17-18


So just think about all of this for a moment, when you allow God’s strength to be manifested in your life through your submission to His grace inside you, it does not matter what’s happening to you on the outside, because on the inside your heart, you're soaring with wings as eagle’s! What's in your heart? You are flooded with the strength of His peace and joy and on top of that, inwardly, you're already enjoying the answer of deliverance from the power of your breakthrough! So you know that your OUTWARD deliverance — the part man sees from the outside  — is surely about to happen at any second! 


See the Lord wants you to rest is the perfect, finished and complete work of Christ, because this is God's real attitude clearly expressed towards you in everything you'll ever face in life! So let the revelation of His grace empower you to take your hands completely off of every situation, as the power of His favor works it out for you! 


I hear the Lord saying these words to you:


“You must know that all of heaven is open — for this is your portion, says the Lord of grace! Do not be distracted anymore by what man may do. Do not allow anything cause you to take your eyes off of the throne of My grace. Your authority is there! Your blessings flow from there! Your provisions stream from there! Your every answer is found there! Your high priest is there and you're in Him! So keep walking in My love and you will not be derailed in seeing My glory manifest in your soon deliverance! I am your wisdom and I give you the strength of understanding to overtake the problems that come against you. So stand fast. Know that My favor is working to bring harmony among those with whom your heart is knitted to and you will see swift deliverance, healing and restoration in your midst!”



the final words of the week


Look at what Peter said in 2 Pet 1:2 - “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. Peter wants you to know that grace and peace are multiplied in your life by GROWING, not DOING, see 2 Pet 3:18. And it's growing in the knowledge of God as your Father and of Jesus as your Lord (the term LORD implies the Redemptive work that He did, that by it and through Him, you reign in life)!

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