The Grace Issue

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 5:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Believe Him” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 1 (NIV):

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory…

Holy and Faithful

This letter is addressed to God’s holy people, the faithful in Christ Jesus. To be holy means to be set apart for God and for his service, as well as it means to be righteous, godly, pure and faithful. Faithful then means to be truthful, loyal, devoted, committed, trustworthy, dependable, and constant (continuous, persistent and/or relentless). So, how do we become holy and faithful people in Christ Jesus? The key phrase here is “in Christ Jesus.”

We cannot do this in our own flesh, willpower, human strength, or wisdom and reasoning. None of us can even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to him. As well, not one of us will ever be good enough in our own merit to be holy and faithful people to God. It is only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, that we are even able to enter into such a relationship with God, i.e. with Jesus Christ. Our salvation is a gift, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. He paid the price (the ransom) so that we can be set free from slavery (or imprisonment) to sin and the ultimate punishment for sin – eternal damnation.

So, how do we come to such faith? First of all, it is a gift from our Lord God, but it is a gift we must receive by faith. On the subject of faith, the Bible has much to say, for even the demons believe in Jesus, and they shudder. So, mere intellectual acknowledgment of Jesus Christ and of what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins is not saving faith. A true understanding of faith knows that it basically involves cooperating with God in allowing his Spirit to transform us into new creatures in Christ Jesus, so it is a yielding of control of our own lives over to the control of our Lord (master) Jesus Christ so that “I” (my flesh) no longer lives (is in control), but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith.

We are chosen by God/Christ to be holy and blameless. Again, we cannot do this in our own flesh or of our own merit. Not one of us, in and of ourselves, could ever be holy and without fault. We just can’t do it! That is why Christ died on the cross for our sins. Through his death and resurrection he made the way possible for us to have his holiness and his blamelessness charged to our account. And, he set us free of the charge of sin which stood against us – this is forgiveness! We just have to say “Yes” to Jesus and allow him to do his work of righteousness in our hearts. And, he will save us, forgive us, cleanse us, and make us into new creatures in Christ Jesus for the praise of his glory!

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his self-life or flesh nature), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Christ. We don’t do this in our own strength or willpower. It is the Spirit who works this within us as we cooperate fully with that work. We can choose to yield to our flesh or we can choose to yield control to the Spirit of God, and to allow him to work his righteousness in us. We don’t become puppets on a string when we believe in Jesus. We still choose daily to either yield control of our lives to Christ or to follow our own way of thinking and reasoning. Turning from sin, being transformed in heart and mind, and walking in faithful obedience to Christ are all the working of the Holy Spirit within us as we, by faith, yield control of our lives over to the Lord and we submit to and surrender to his grace.

Every Spiritual Blessing

For those of us who have come to Christ with such faith, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Amen! God doesn’t put us out there and then just leave us hanging. He gives us all we need to live for Jesus Christ while we still live in these flesh bodies. He already conquered sin and Satan, so “in Christ” we also are able to have victory over sin, our flesh and over Satan’s and sin’s control and dominion over our lives. It is no longer a question of who will win. Satan already lost! Amen! We just have to live like we believe that – “in Christ” and in his power, wisdom, understanding and strength within us. We don’t fight off Satan’s temptations and attacks with carnal weapons, but with spiritual weapons of faith, truth, the word of God, our witness for Christ, salvation, righteousness (of Christ), etc. And, we only have these spiritual weapons “in Christ.”

The Purpose of His Will

As I read through this passage of scripture, these words jumped out at me: “every spiritual blessing;” “in love;” “in accordance with his pleasure and will;” “the mystery of his will;” “his good pleasure;” “he purposed in Christ;” “chosen;” “predestined;” “according to the plan of him;” “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will;” “we might be for the praise of his glory;” “marked with a seal;” “guaranteeing our inheritance,” etc.

God’s sovereignty (having supreme authority and power) over all things is predominant in this passage of scripture, as well as is his awesome love, grace and mercy! He did not save us just so we could go to heaven one day, as wonderful as that will be. He had a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives even before he created us. He ransomed our lives so that we would be free of slavery (imprisonment) to sin. This does not mean we will be sinless, but that sin should no longer have dominion over our lives because Christ is living in us, and he conquered sin and Satan! Amen! We just have to live like we believe that – in Christ! He chose us to be holy and blameless and faithful to him. This is his plan and his purpose.

He also planned and purposed that we should walk in his love, grace, mercy and freedom, i.e. that we should have daily communion and fellowship with him, listening to him speak, obeying what he shows us, being his hands and feet to those he brings into our lives, and sharing his gospel in word and in life so that many more can come to know him, too. And, he planned and purposed for us that we should walk in his peace, trust, faith, wisdom and understanding, love, compassion, passion, and with an understanding and acceptance of his sovereignty over our lives; i.e. that all things that come into our lives are for his purposes and his glory; for our spiritual growth; for our perseverance in our walks of faith; for his character to be revealed in us; and for us to be used of him in the lives of others; etc.

Life is not always going to make sense. We may encounter times of confusion when things in this life just don’t add up. Life may not seem fair at times, and we may face many difficulties, temptations, attacks of the enemy, heartaches, persecutions and even abandonment. Sometimes we may feel all alone in this world, especially if we have chosen to come out from the world and to be separate. We may long for our heavenly home, for when our salvation will be complete, and for when we will have reached perfection and we no longer are tempted, troubled or feel pain and suffering. Yet, it is then that we must remember that God has a purpose and a plan for everything in our lives, even those things that hurt us or that don’t make sense to us. And, so we yield control once more.

Sometimes in life we have questions for which we don’t have answers. Sometimes we pray and we can’t hear God speaking, i.e. he seems silent concerning our requests. And, so we cry out for him to hear us, even though we know he does, and for him to answer. Yet, he doesn’t always give us the answers we desire, nor does he explain all of his ways to us. He just says “Trust me.” “Believe me.” “Rest in me.” And, he reminds us that his ways are greater than our ways and his thoughts greater than our thoughts, i.e. he doesn’t think and work like we do. He has purposes for what we go through in this life beyond our human comprehension. We may even desire the right things, but he may have planned for us to go through injustice or heartache, and so he asks us to just trust him that he knows best.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Pr. 3:5-6 (NIV)

Believe Him / An Original Work / July 15, 2013

My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.

“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.

“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.

“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”