Cheap Grace

The Christian journey is meant to be a turn from selfish pursuits to selfless sacrifice. While Christian maturity doesn’t happen all at once, salvation is a definite turn from one to the other. When Christianity is merely status it is not what Jesus intended it to be. Jesus did not intend following Him to be comfortable. In Luke 14:26 He said His followers should “hate” father and mother and even their own lives. In Luke 14:27 He admonished potential followers to think seriously about the cost of following Him.

Culture influences how people think about God’s Word. Too often culture shapes people’s concept of who God is and His expectations for them.

Christianity is not about a list of dos and don’ts. It is not about a name but a relationship. It is not a declaration but a transformation. Jesus made it very clear about what He expects from His followers who seek status, who are halfhearted, indecisive, irresolute, tepid, uncommitted.

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold,  I will vomit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16-17

Jesus rebuked five of the seven churches John wrote to in the Book of Revelations. He strongly disagreed with the idea that Christians need never again to repent. Far from believers being unaccountable for their sins, they must answer to Jesus for their disobedience.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. II Cor. 5:10

As Jesus was preparing to go back to Heaven He promised that the Holy Spirit would come and that He would teach believers all things and remind them of everything Jesus had said to them (John 14:26). Why would the Holy Spirit remind Jesus’ followers of His words if they were no longer necessary? In fact, in Mark 13:31Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”

I John is a brief letter to believers. I John 1:9 begins with the word “If”.

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We confess and repent to establish and maintain an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father and His only Son, Jesus.

The idea that one can have Jesus as Savior but not necessarily as Lord is a concept of carnal Christianity. As long as one makes a profession of Christianity, obedience to Jesus’ commands to live a life of holiness is unnecessary. Those who advocate for carnal Christianity distinguish the call to salvation from a call to discipleship.

However, salvation is a call to discipleship.  One cannot have Jesus as Savior without also acknowledging Him as Lord.

The New Testament uses the word for “Lord” (kurios) 748 times, and 667 of those times it is used in reference to God or Jesus (e.g., “Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 1:4). In contrast, the New Testament uses the word for “savior” (soter) only 24 times. It seems clear that the emphasis in the New Testament is on Jesus Christ as Lord, not as Savior. Now in saying that, it is not meant to downplay or denigrate the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. What a glorious and gracious provision God has made for His people in providing Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice who thereby guarantees salvation and eternal life for those who believe in Him. Jesus Christ is most certainly our Savior, but this cannot be separated from the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, and as Lord, He commands and we obey.

Jesus told a crowd of listeners that salvation and obedience go hand in hand: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).

Jesus’ Frightening Warning

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does (present tense; speaks of direction not perfection. Speaks of obedience as a servant would obey their “master” or adonai) the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many (not just a few!) will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ (Notice He does not dispute their claims) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart (present imperative) from Me, you who practice lawlessness (present tense).’ (Mt 25:41; 2Th 1:8, 9, 10)

 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is so much more than simply mouthing the words “Jesus is Lord.” We are saved by a living and active faith (James 2:14-26), a faith that manifests itself in repentance, obedience and love of God and our neighbor. Salvation is not a transaction; it’s a transformation. Paul says it best when he says we are “new creations” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is nothing “cheap” about grace!

Honoring the Bible

When the Bible is not honored, as in American institutions of higher education, there are strongholds of racism, gender bias, extreme competition, dishonor of life (abortion, euthanasia), dishonor of marriage (sexual perversion), etc.

Where there is NO Bible, all of the above exist in addition to diseases of filth, violence in the streets, filthy social and personal habits, lack of sanitation (flies,  fleas and lice, vermin), illiteracy, hunger from poor farming practices, demon possession, mental illness, misuse of personal, social and political power.

Faith in God the Creator and prayer to Him sanctifies a nation. The most Christian  countries in the world are also the most advanced. That includes both Israel and the United States of America.

Those who have traveled abroad have had the experience of searching for a clean toilet, clean food, gasping for air in crowded conditions, observing the mentally ill thrashing alongside busy roads, fortune tellers sitting along sidewalks doing a good business, meeting people who fear authorities who misuse their power for their own purposes, etc. I have seen all these things while living and working abroad.

From her infancy the Christian church has experienced constant attack. But political and physical persecution failed to stop or even slow the rapid increase of converts. However, with acceptance politically and socially, the church began to encounter attacks from within of division, worldliness, heresy, and pagan religions. That condition continues down to the present, but external persecution is realizing  a resurgence as well.

The answer to this situation is not to abandon one’s faith but to increase one’s  respect for God’s Word as the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament admonishes. It is deeply gratifying to observe the ground swell of new passionate believers following Jesus. The increase of believers ministering healing both physically and emotionally, working miracles, signs and wonders is exciting. Being on the receiving end of some of these events beggars description!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews 10:35-39 urged believing Jews to not abandon their faith in Jesus when persecution came. Compromise is to lose one’s intimate relationship with Jesus and still possibly not escape persecution.

Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not  delay. But My righteous one [the one justified by faith] shall live by faith [respecting man’s relationship to God and trusting Him]; and if he draws back[shrinking in fear] My soul has no delight in him. But our way is not that of those who shrink back to destruction, but [we are] of those who believe [relying on God  through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by this confident faith preserve the soul.

 On the other hand, Jesus will never abandon His followers. Hebrews 12:1-4 (AMP).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

Encounter with My Bridegroom

I have been having moving encounters with my Bridegroom. They are intensely intimate and I am reduced to streaming tears. What does my Beloved have in mind? We stand before each other totally vulnerable with not so much as a silk scarf between us. We have no boundaries – either of us. If I come into His presence with anything on my mind other than Him, we can’t enjoy intimacy. He is supremely Lord or the relationship is suspended until I come into unity with Him. He reminds me that He wants a Bride that is without spot or wrinkle. That is not negotiable. He will not be unequally yoked with His Bride.

Today when He came to me, I was wordless, overcome with His majesty, gentleness and self-restraint. I was reduced to weeping and trembling in His loving presence. At last, unable to resist His fervor, I slipped into a peaceful sleep for a couple of hours although it was still morning.

Fully His Bride

As I allow Jesus to help me surrender my earthly identity, the Holy Spirit opens  my eyes to what God sees me as. In a vision I saw myself as His Bride. I was small and no light came from within me. But as Jesus prayed for me and loved me  passionately but oh, so gently, I began to grow. I gained trust in Him as He poured Himself into me day after day so patiently and respectfully. He treasures me! Our relationship was sacred to me as I honored Him as Lord of lords.   At last I  stood fully His height and a blue light shone out from within my breast, purely and spotlessly His equal. My body was transparent, glowing in glory, beauty and dignity.

The scene shifted. What an incredible sight as I gazed at her, His Bride, as described in His Word (Rev. 19:8). The Bride’s gown appeared to be pale blue linen which billowed gracefully as she moved to greet her Beloved.

Jesus will never be unequally yoked. But as we obey Him, He will continue His  miraculous creativity in bringing us to Himself in holiness and the most  thorough purity.

He Who began a good work in you will continue developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Phil. 1:6

See Transparency of the Bride October 29, 2017