Revealing the SIMPLICITY that’s in Christ

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"Grace 101, part 2"


 

The blue underlined Scriptures used throughout this lesson are web links that will take you to its web content. This is to enhance your study. 

 

Notice this verse in Eph 4:15 — “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” To grow is to advance, develop, or expand; it’s progressing into the knowledge of Christ. So in a nutshell, our growing comes from knowledge. But if we're learning the wrong kind of knowledge, then we may be growing intellectually, but it won't affect our spiritual maturity and growth in Christ. Growing up into Christ comes from learning God's Word in the knowledge of grace and truth that’s realized in Jesus Christ (See John 1:17 (NASB), and the context of what Paul said in Eph 4:14-16).


Now look at Heb 13:9 — Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (or teachings). For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” To be “carried about” is to be moved away from God’s truth in Christ and go into another direction. We are plainly told that if we have grace established in our hearts, then we will not be CARRIED ABOUT with other teachings. What were these other teachings that the writer of Hebrews labelled as VARIOUS and STRANGE? They were the teachings from the Old Testament (he mentioned one of the many teachings from the Old Testament, which regarded what they could and could not eat, see Lev 11 as a reference). He used the word various, because as we very well know, there are many of them floating around in our churches. Having grace established in our hearts is having it influence particularly, what we believe and the way that we think, keeping us on point with God’s truth.


Now look at what Jesus said in Matt 12:25 — “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” It’s not hard to see that Jesus is talking about division and how it brings damage. When one tries to balance 2 covenants — like Old Covenant (Testament) verses and the New Covenant (Testament) verses — it brings desolation to his life. The truth is that if we don’t know what to STAND for, we’ll FALL for anything that sounds good or “spiritual”. So if we’re not solidly standing in Christ (having His grace established in our hearts), then we’ll agree with other “good” sounding and moving messages (See how Paul addressed this in 2 Cor 11:3-4). This is because people basically see Scriptures one of two ways — they either see them without grace being established in their hearts, being gullible to various and strange teachings, or they see them with “grace-glasses” by having grace influence the way that they look at them. I know that I used a lot of repetition here, nut it was to get you to understand how important it is for us to have grace established in our hearts. This is why we’ve gone back to the basics regarding grace (If you would like to revisit the first part of this lesson, click HERE). 


Look at this from Heb 13:20-21 — “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Do you see where God’s grace is in that passage? It is God working in us what is well pleasing in His sight. Isn’t that wonderful? We don’t have to be focused on doing what is pleasing to the Lord; He does it! Also notice how God, by His grace, makes us perfect and ready for every good work. Today, I want to give you 4 great descriptions of God’s grace, so that you can wrap your mind around it and see how important it is to our lives.


* Grace describes God's help. In John’s Gospel, 4 times Jesus called the Spirit that came to live inside us our COMFORTER or HELPER, see John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7. Usually, when we use the word HELP or HELPER, we’re asking someone to come add his effort to our efforts. But this is the wrong image about God being our helper, because He’s not there to add to what we are doing; He is the HELP and He doesn’t want us involved at all! Look at the verse in Heb 12:1-2 — “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. The way that we lay aside weights and sins is not by trying to work harder, but it’s by looking UNTO Jesus. As we look unto Jesus, we are laying aside those things. The operative word is the little word UNTO; not TO or AT, but UNTO. For instance, if I was drowning in a swimming pool and I saw the lifeguard on duty, I would look UNTO him for help. I may look AT him or TO him when I came to the poll, but now that I need his help, I’m looking UNTO him. This is what I mean by God’s help. So, whenever we see the word GRACE in the New Testament, see it as the words HELP and we’ll better understanding what God wants to accomplish in our lives. God’s grace is His help and more than that, it describes His willingness to give us His help 24/7/365!

 

*  Grace describes God's ability. When the Bible (particularly in the New Testament letters) speaks about grace, it’s speaking of God’s ability, His strength and power that’s available to us, see Eph 1:19. We all know about the omnipotence of God; that He is all-powerful. That’s all well and good, but we need to realize that because we are new creations in Christ, that same resurrection power is now inside of us. If we would ever understand this reality, we would never again feel the need to run back to any kind of standard to find out what we need to do — because God’s ability within us is more than enough to inspire and empower us in life! 


We have probably heard this verse many times, but let it become a living reality to you — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The verbal tense of the word STRENGTHENS is a present tense. That means that the action is ongoing to empowering us to do the things we need to do (Also see 1 Cor 15:10). This is the job of grace, not us. This means that through His grace, we have His continual flow of power inside of us! Now that, in and of itself, is excitingly powerful!


* Grace describes God’s provisions. When I speak of God’s provisions, I’m  speaking of our inheritance inside of us. Notice this prayer from Paul in Eph 1:17-18 — “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ… may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him… that you may know... what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Paul thought that this was so important for us to know and understand that he incorporated it into his prayer for the saints (us). Without knowing this about grace, that it’s God’s inner provisions, verses like this go unnoticed because of our ignorance — “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Everything that we will ever need in life, to life the quality of life that God has designed for us to live, has already been given to us when we became new creations in Christ. The key to all of this is to learn to live our lives from the inside, where those provisions are. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about living from the Spirit as the source of what we do, and not to be living our lives by responding and reacting to what’s happening in the world around us (There’s much that I could say about this, but I’ll leave it there). This is exactly what Jesus meant in John 10:10 and living life more abundantly. We can only live this way by faith in His grace, but we must renew our minds and have grace established in our hearts. 


* Grace describes God’s faithfulness. This description of grace is much like the one that we just discussed, but it’s a little different. What I mean by God’s faithfulness is supplying our every need. Look at what Paul said about this in Phil 4:19 — And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Simply put, our needs are our wants and desires and when I talk about them, I’m referring to the new set of wants and desires you have because you have a new kind of heart (I realize a lot of explaining needs to be done on that, but I won’t do it here — Psa 23:1, “the Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not WANT”). In context, Paul was referring to our physical needs. Paul didn’t say that “God may or may not supply your needs; we just don’t know.” He didn’t say “If you’re good enough and deserve it, He’ll supply your need.” But Paul said that He most certainly will supply it — that’s grace!


Notice where the supply comes from, “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. God supplies our need ACCORDING TO His provisions inside of us. Much more can be said about God’s faithfulness, but I’ll end it here. In conclusion, whenever grace is mentioned, God’s faithfulness is being mentioned: the 2 are inseparable!


Notice the importance that Peter put on the message of grace in 2 Pet 3:18 — “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” When God's grace is mentioned in the Bible, know that it is talking about His help, His ability, His provision and His faithfulness. This is what we are to be growing in. If we would understand the message of grace in this way, then people would gladly welcome its message. Can you imagine the growth that would erupt???

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