Ready for a Challenge?

Sunset at Cadillac Mtn 031Pure Grace, The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace, is my latest eye-opening find. Clark Whitten, writing with sparkling clarity concerning the gospel and its multi-faceted simplicity, has opened my eyes wider to our glorious Savior Christ Jesus. The brief passages included here should refresh you even as they challenge some mindsets – but that’s a good thing. If you are challenged or encouraged (or both) by what you read, purchase the e-book or the print version to read it in its entirety. You won’t be disappointed.

Sin, for the Christian, is a violation of friendship – relationship – not a violation of the law. Christians are not under the jurisdiction of the Old Testament law. Many believe and teach grace without law is a pathway to sinful behavior. They see grace and law as “balance.” The Apostle Paul saw it as “mixture.” 1

What is salvation? Many would say it is getting me out of earth and into Heaven, but that is not salvation. It may be one result of salvation, but it is not salvation. Salvation is not getting me out of earth and into Heaven; salvation is getting God out of Heaven and into me! 2

. . . the only way to sin against grace is to refuse to receive the grace it cost Jesus His life to give. Our only hope of “putting to death the deeds of the body [flesh]” (Rom. 8:13) is receiving the abundance of grace.3

True repentance cannot be achieved by a response to condemnation. Condemnation has no place in a believer’s thinking. If it is present, you can rest assured it did not come from the Holy Spirit. Condemnation has its source in the kingdom of darkness and is ministered by demons. When a person is born again, that person is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. There is no condemnation in His Kingdom! (See Romans 8:1.) 4

If I am a believer, I am in Christ and there is no safer place to be! I will die when He dies – and He lives forever. I will be condemned when He is condemned – and that is impossible. I lose my position at the right hand of the Father when He loses His position there. I lose my inheritance when He loses His – and that is never going to happen. I am as secure as He is secure. I repeat, there is no safer or more secure place to be than in Christ! 5

  1. Introduction, p.20 
  2. A Grace Reformation, p.30
  3. Receiving the Abundance of Grace, p.42
  4. Like Rats in a Maze, p.108
  5. Saved Completely, p.131-132

P.S. I was not asked to endorse this book, or paid for it in any way.

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The Simplicity of Grace

What happens when you hear or think about the word grace? As frequently as grace is discussed among Christians today, confusion abounds and arguments arise. How refreshing it is, then, to read a clear and simple blog post by fellow writer Eddie Snipes. It is with his permission I share his work of Mar 15, 2014, with you.  He titled it When Grace Becomes a Threat. Be sure to follow the link to his post, where you can find out more about this book and other writings.

People like the idea of grace being a tool God puts into our hands, because this makes us the achiever – which feeds our pride. It’s when you unveil the full teaching of God’s grace, which calls us to trust completely in what Christ has done, that people call grace hyper. People are not comfortable with being completely dependent upon Christ alone. Religious people would rather believe that God is proud of their efforts.

abounding-grace-coverThe truth that the only way we can please God is to trust and receive what He has accomplished is not palatable to religion. God is love, and because of His desire to express His love, God gave the gift of Himself through the promise, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” That is grace. Anything that replaces His gift of ‘all things’ has replaced grace with a cheap counterfeit. This substitute then denies God the pleasure of expressing love, and denies us the joy of experiencing all things. The counterfeit may call itself grace, but it is nothing more than a fading form of religion.

Don’t allow others to turn you away from grace with misinformation. Find out what grace actually teaches. Read Abounding Grace here.

Questioning God, Questioning Leaders

SONY DSCAre you hungry today?  The following words, from Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God by D. R. Silva, are some tantalizing morsels to help satiate your longing.  I offer only a sample, but encourage you to read the whole book if your spirit bears witness with what is contained here.

Never let anyone convince you that God considers it “doubt,” “disloyalty” or “dishonor” if you question Him, or the leaders He has put into leadership positions.  Jesus welcomed and encouraged questions of all kinds (that’s how people learn!).

Never let anyone convince you that faith means to quit asking questions in favor of silent obedience to your leaders.  Not only is that a lie, but it’s blatant manipulation and behavior control.  The only ones who have done that kind of thing throughout history are cult leaders and tyrants who were afraid their followers would learn to think for themselves, because a single question can be the most powerful weapon against fear and tyranny, and one question has the power to topple an entire empire.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a question.

question markYour questions are the greatest weapon you have against deception, manipulation and tyranny; never let anyone disarm you.

If your leaders are trying to teach you to fear them, it’s time to find new leaders.  The only reason they would want you to fear them is so you will do whatever they say without asking questions.  That’s not the church or Christianity that Jesus founded; that’s something else entirely.

Don’t let your leaders disguise fear as “respect” or “honor.”  There is a huge difference.  Respect and honor is something you give naturally, not something you have to be coerced and guilt-tripped into giving reluctantly.

Always line everything up with the person of Jesus.  You didn’t become a Christian to follow me or any other church leader; you became a Christian to follow Christ.  If something doesn’t line up with Him and what His life demonstrated for us (that is, those in the new covenant), you can safely conclude that it’s no good.  And if it’s tested and found no good, you will know not to hold on to it.  (I’ve written an entire book about this subject called It’s All About Jesus.)

. . . Being loyal to me as a person doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to all of my ideas; that goes for every other church leader as well.  If they mistake disagreement with disloyalty, then they have an ego problem.  Don’t let them try to bully you into thinking you’re the problem for not agreeing with them.

 

Up, Up, and Away

Most of you know I am a journal keeper, since journal entries have made their way into an occasional blog post.  Aside from the regular journal, I also keep one specifically for my international adventures.  In it, I pray and prepare for upcoming trips, as well as using it to jot down a few thoughts while actually traveling.

jet in flightWhile preparing for at least two trips, the Lord helped me envision myself in a luxurious jumbo jet – in the comfort of first class seating, no less – while He piloted the craft.  Sometimes, the lesson was in the flight itself.  At other times, we “landed” in places needing intercession before our return flight.  The following journal entry turned out to be preparation and perspective change for far more than a physical trip. Please fasten your seat belts, sit back, and join me on this journey.

Why don’t you climb up here in the cockpit with Me?  You’ll see it differently here than from the side windows.  You might see the why for the what. 

You’ve been graced.  Now you realize the reason things are the way they are is because I have already poured forth My grace so that what was deserved – what should have been – is not what is received.  It doesn’t seem fair because it isn’t – not in the natural world.  But aren’t you glad I do the same with you? 

Now look carefully and you’ll see it’s Jesus I see when I look out these windows – no matter where I look. So, why would I fret about anyone or anything?  It’s not possible, for one thing.  In seeing Jesus, I see the fullness of My justice enacted.  And, I see the fullness of glorious eternity.  All in One. 

Kay, Jesus never was upset by facts, for though He lived among facts, He resided (dwelt) in a higher realm than facts.  He resided in Me.  Yes, He had to suffer agony beyond agony that you will never know.  Yet, He was completely at peace because He was in Me.

That is the life I have for you, Kay, for you are in Me by Christ Jesus.  You dwell in me regardless of facts.  Let Me do the leading – always – and you cannot go astray . . . even if it looks for a time as if you “missed” Me.  Didn’t Jesus look like He messed up when He arrived four days after Lazarus died?

In Me, Kay.  It’s about dwelling in Me.  Yes, this is for your trip, but it’s for so much more.  It’s for your living, real living.

Be Careful Little Ears

The title’s few simple words of a children’s Sunday School song have been sounding over and over in my head lately.  It stems from stopping to consider one key word of our Christian existence – gospel.  After all, it’s what Jesus told His disciples to share with the whole world, just before He ascended to heaven.

Mark 16:15 NIV  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

Just what is this gospel we are to share with the whole world?  In brief, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says the English word gospel denotes the good tidings of the kingdom of God and salvation through Christ and what He did, which is to be received by faith alone.  We don’t have to work to receive or keep salvation.  It is in Jesus Christ and His finished work alone.  This truly is good news!  But, do the messages we hear always sound forth the simplicity of this truly good news?

If the gospel is good news, then it is always totally good news.  The completed gospel of Jesus Christ will stir our faith and bring us into deeper revelation of freedom from condemnation and guilt, with its post-salvation lie of working to make ourselves righteous.  It will always exalt the finished work of Jesus on the cross and expand our understanding of the perfect and unconditional love of our Father for us, which removes all fear.  When what we hear from our pulpits, our fellowship with one another, Bible studies, online ministry, etc., produces anything contrary to these things, we are not hearing the gospel.1  Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly2 – because He paid the price for our sin and unrighteousness already, not because He would help us work to become righteous.

The reality of the gospel needs to be the filter for every message we hear, in whatever form the message takes.  Then we can receive only that which Jesus came to give, and discard that which would draw us back into the place from which we were saved.  Confusion will be greatly diminished, and that peace that passes understanding will be greatly increased.

What are you listening to and receiving?  Be careful, little ears, what you hear!

1 Galatians
2 John 10:10