There are several things pressing on my heart right now. Most of the time, when things press and press like this... I feel very prompted to share them here and then peace comes. I wait for confirmation that it is time to share... then I do so. I am so thankful for this avenue to share my heart as well as the way God continues to work in our lives, stretch us, refine us, reveal to us, and transform us.
Our family has made several changes in our life over the past few years that are in contrast to our culture. The love for the LORD and our desire to please Him has made these changes pretty easy and have already blessed us more than I could have imagined.
We understand and very much accept that people may not agree with what we have done and will continue to do. While we are saddened at many people's response, it does not change our hearts, mind, or desire in any way. We extend to them the very grace that God extends to us daily.
But there is one thing that I can not stand and that is "grace" being misused to condone the modern christian climate. NOWHERE in scripture do you see Jesus, God, Moses, Paul, or any disciple saying, "Do what you want... don't worry about it... you got grace!" I am infuriated at how the very precious and most sacred gift of "grace" has been exploited to fit into people's lives. I am also saddened to the core at how OVER "graced" our churches are today and how little anything else is taught. THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who look just like the unbeliever they live beside. THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who sound like the unbelievers they work with. THIS is the very reason why the churches today are full of people who act just like the unbelievers they walk beside. They are taught it is ALL about grace and that is it. THIS, too, is the very reason so many "christians" fall away from the LORD and their faith because nothing in their life ever changed and they no longer see the need to "try" or go to church or believe. And they certainly don't see any need to obey... because grace trumps all. It is one of the largest crimes of the modern day Christian church and the enemy could not be happier.
Grace is almost indescribable. It is bigger than big. Deeper than deep. More beautiful than beautiful. Fuller than full. Yet it is not the only part of a Christians life. It is the most saving part. It is the most undeserved part. It is one of the most beautiful parts. BUT IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates HIS OWN LOVE TOWARD US, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, WE SHALL BE SAVED FROM WRATH THROUGH HIM." Romans 5:6-9~
"For if by one man's offense many died (death that came to man after Adam sinned in the garden) much more THE GRACE of God AND THE GIFT BY THE GRACE of the One man, Jesus Christ, abound to many. And THE GIFT is not like that which came through the one who sinned. (Adam) For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned through the one (after Adam's sin...death reigned until Christ came), much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:15-17~
It is by the grace (undeserved favor) of God that Jesus was sacrificed for OUR sin so that we could receive the GIFT of GRACE... righteousness. We can NOT obtain righteousness. There is only ONE who is RIGHTEOUS and that is Jesus Christ. When we believe (in our hearts) in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, confess this belief with our mouths, and are baptized into His name, we die with Christ (on the cross) and are buried with Him (in our baptism) and are resurrected with Him (coming up out of our baptism) into NEW LIFE. (Romans 6) We become new creatures. Christ comes to live inside us and we begin to be transformed. Because Christ comes to dwell inside us, when God looks upon us, He sees the righteousness of Christ since we have been covered by His blood. We receive the promise of salvation that we receive by faith. THAT IS NOT ALL. THAT IS NOT ALL THAT IS WRITTEN OR SAID ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN... A NEW CREATURE... A CARRIER OF CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
If we die to ourselves and the life we were living, (on our own power, with our own thinking, in our own will, in our own ways, with our own ideas, in our own understanding, with our own rationalizations, with our own customs and traditions) won't the NEW LIFE we walk in look somewhat different than our old one if it is being led by the HOLY SPIRIT and Christ who resides inside us? If all we had to do was grab grace and keep running, why in the world would we have to die? If nothing needs to change after becoming a believer, then why in the world does Paul write letter after letter after letter to churches who are already getting it wrong, falling back into old habits/rituals, and sinning like crazy? Paul is still among them. Jesus has only been gone a short while... not hundreds of years and they are already falling away from their faith and their walk. And Paul (and God) obviously has a problem with it. In the book of Revelation, God sends letters to the churches in the end times and it is a clear signal/sign/warning that God is not pleased with just anything. It is not what we think about something or what it means to us! It is all about what God thinks about something and what it means to HIM!
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. For if WE HAVE BEEN UNITED TOGETHER in the likeness of His death, CERTAINLY WE ALSO SHALL BE IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.... (12) Therefore DO NOT LET SIN REIGN in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And DO NOT PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS INSTRUMENTS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS TO SIN... (16) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of OBEDIENCE leading to righteousness." Romans 6~
It is clear, here, and many other places, that being saved and "covered by grace" does not mean we can disregard God's commands, what pleases Him, and what doesn't please Him.
"If you love Me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you. (the Holy Spirit)" John 14:15~
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. THIS IS LOVE FOR GOD: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:1-5~
Believing in Christ is what saves you... by your faith and by God's grace. BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE. It's like getting married. You make a vow. You promise to stay together in that vow. Through the good times and the bad times. Through rich times and poor times. Now, what kind of marriage is a couple going to have if they say.. "Yep, we are married, we are bound, that's it." That is a no brainer. The marriage may be a "marriage" and they may be married but there won't be a relationship, there won't be many blessings, there won't be much power, there won't be much love, and there won't be many people looking at them and saying, "I want that." Actually... what you will have is pretty much what we have... a divorce rate that is saddening the LORD and the soul. Destroyed families, broken people, and wounds that affect generations.
That is pretty much what has happened to the Christian life. Grace. Accept and roll in grace. And that's it. Oh... some actually ask you to tell others about it. And that's it. And what do you have? People wondering what in the world this whole "christian thing" is about and living their lives just like they did before... bound in Satan's lies, schemes, tricks, and traps. Broken families, broken marriages, empty and wounded lives and people yearning for more. And no power.
The lie is that grace is all you need. It may save you from hell... but that doctrine robs you of the fullness of life Christ says He came to give you... NOW. It robs you of the power of the Holy Spirit given to you in the name of Jesus and by His death and resurrection. It robs you of a transformed life. It robs you of blessings! Frankly, the promise of salvation is not enough for me. I want the FULLNESS. I want the INTIMACY. I want the relationship. I want the power. I want the Spirit. I want the joy. I want the peace. I want to please the LORD... not to try and earn my salvation... but because I adore Him and am on my face in thankfulness for what He has done and continues to do for me daily!
And of course, because I have tasted more, I have tasted the fullness, I have witnessed the power and been used as a vessel, I want that for my friends and family. Of course, I want to run around and scream... there is more, there is more, there is more!!!! And it is good and sweet and beautiful! It's like the door being opened in the "Wizard of Oz." The Christian life can be lived in color! It is right there for the taking. And yes, to flow in those blessings, to be in that deep intimate relationship, and to see His glory NOW... it may mean walking away from some things in your life that do not please the LORD. And it TOTALLY TAKES fully surrendering to Him, seeking Him with all your heart, communicating with HIM daily, and being in His word... it takes trust and obedience. AND IT IS SO SO SO worth it! Of course I want to share that. Not because I am trying to convince anyone of anything. Not because I am judging others or think I am holier than they are, or better than they are... BUT BECAUSE IT TOTALLY ROCKS! God is awesome. And a relationship with the living God is sweeter than anything on earth.
THAT is the intent behind the next few posts. Sharing because it totally rocks... because the FULLNESS of God is right here for the taking and He is waiting... so ready to unleash Himself upon you and transform your life!
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22,23~
What does it mean to put off your old self? What does it mean to be made new in the attitude of the mind? What does it mean to put on a new self? What does it mean to die with Christ? What does it mean to obey? How does that fit in with grace?
I'll share about that next.
Much, much love, Dawn