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Peace And Freedom Through Grace
by David Keyser
09/23/13
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The writer to the Hebrews, whom I believe to be Paul [1], says that “it is a good thing for the heart to be established with grace.”  [2]The Grace of God is a very big and a very important subject.

 

Without taking anything away from what will be developed by Paul in Galatians, it would be good at this point to present and partially develop some highlights about Grace. First and foremost, it is important to understand that to receive the grace of God we must first acknowledge both with our minds and our hearts that we are totally dependent on God. This is the first big problem. Today in Western culture we are taught that independence and self-reliance are the most important virtues that we can possess. In religious circles we are taught that we are dependent on God for our salvation because we are sinners and desperately in need of the help and deliverance that only he can provide. This is true. But in the teaching of this we are so often left with the impression deep down in our beings that the dependence is because of our sin alone. This is not true. We were originally designed to be dependent on God. Adam was given great power to be in charge of the entire natural world. But he had this power in dependence on God. He lost this power when he took his life into his own hands. Jesus said that he did not do anything that he did not see the Father doing.  Jesus walked in total dependence on God. Dependence on God is not wrong. Dependence on God is good. When our sins are dealt with by the cross of Christ we are free from the consequences of them. But we were never supposed to be free from God.  He wants us to draw from him continually. He delights in meeting our every need. The life of faith is an adventure with god meeting every need, even anticipating our needs and arranging the supply before we ask. This is healthy Christianity. To walk in grace, when we can only stop our sinning by degrees, requires us to be willingly dependent as a lifelong lifestyle. Only after we embrace this can we truly understand grace. Many earthly dependencies have unwanted side effects.

 

Dependence on God has no unwanted side effects. The unwanted side effects of drugs, for example, are that they can in themselves be damaging to a person. Also, they will lead to a dependency which will take a person away from the good things in life. And, last but not least, the supply of the drug may be interrupted or stopped and painful withdrawal will result. A dependency on God will not lead to any of these consequences. God is not damaging to the person.  His goal is to free the person and help that person to realize all his or her potential. A dependency on God will not take us away from the good things in life.  Rather it will bring us into a complete fulfillment of the good things in life like health and love and relationship and joy. Finally, the prospect of not being able to receive God or the blessings of God at any time in the future is not possible. At least not from God’s side of the relationship. God is always available to us and always will be in this life and in eternity. This dependency does certainly imply relationship. We are to live in a living relationship with a living God. This is not a book of rules. The rules, called the Law, were added because of the growth of disobedience. But rules have never been the object of God’s relationship with his people. A religion of rules is not the Christian faith; it is not the faith that Paul teaches; it is not the faith the Jesus teaches. They teach relationship with the living God. Sometimes it is easier for people to learn to walk by rule than by relationship. Sometimes people prefer rules to relationship. “Just tell me what the rules are and I will do it.” Relationship is harder than rules because there is a living being on both sides of the issue. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of relationship. Rules lead to death, relationship leads to life. They say that the three most important things in Real Estate are location, location and location. The three most important things in the Christian life are relationship, relationship and relationship; relationship first with God and then with our fellow human beings.

 

The peace of God that accompanies grace is a special peace. The peace of God is not dependent on circumstances. Circumstances can be difficult and we can still have the peace of God that comes from walking in relationship with him. The peace of God passes or goes beyond understanding. Sometimes, this makes Christians look irrational. This is not because they do not understand rational conduct but because they have been enabled to live beyond the rational when necessary.  Most of the time they will probably live within rational guidelines and understanding.

 

Paul said in Galatians 2:19 “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” Because Paul could not make himself righteous or acceptable to God through obeying the law – the law itself had shown him that since it was too hard for anyone to keep – he had given up trying to keep the law, or as he says, he had died to the law, he no longer tried to respond to the demands of the law. When a person is dead to something he no longer responds to its demands. Because of this being dead to the law Paul is not free to live to God. Jesus supplies the will and the energy to live as God would have him to do. [3] This is living by faith. This is real. I shall probably mention again in this book the idea that many people because they believe that God wants them to be good will seek the help of the Lord in being good so that God will in turn accept them and love them. God does not want this. God does not want us to seek good. That does not work. God wants us to seek God. Remember is it relationship, relationship, relationship. Even with God’s ‘help’ we can not be good enough to please God. When we seek God Himself we automatically get better without hardly noticing it. That is the easy way.

 

The object of the whole thing is for us to change. In order to change we have to have life-changing power in our lives. Grace, outrageous grace, accomplishes just that. The secret is that we as believing Christians never get what we deserve. If we believe that we get what we deserve then we are locked into a never-ending loop of frustration and failure. Even if we seem to improve and then fall back again we are again locked into the loop of failure. With outrageous grace - which is the same as amazing grace or just plain grace, it is just that we have to realize the amazing and outrageous nature of just plain grace - the loop is broken. We get only what Jesus deserves, which is the very best of favor and goodness from God. When we fail and sin we get what Jesus deserves not what we deserve which is condemnation and punishment. We have to root this out at the deepest levels, or rather the Holy Spirit has to root this out for us, but we need to realize His task and try to cooperate as much as possible. Our repeated failures are what defeat us more than the occasional ones. We feel that we deserve to be punished by God. Sometimes we actually feel like we want to be punished then we can feel that we have earned the return of God’s favor. But we can not play this game with two sets of rules. It is one or the other. If we try to change the rules away from outrageous grace then the failure loop is in place again in our lives.

A loop, just as in computer usage, just brings us back around to the same place to start over again and again. There is seemingly no escape unless this loop is broken. The loop of condemnation and guilt only brings about more failure in us because we are expecting failure and we do what we expect. If we believe that we deserve failure then we will no doubt fail. We will not measure up to God’s desires for us or our own desires to please Him. Grace breaks the loop every time. Actually in God’s eyes it broke the loop once-and-for-all when Jesus finished his work in the flesh and it broke the loop once-and-for-all for you as an individual when you accepted His work the first time. But the flesh re-establishes this loop again based on our experience of failure upon failure to measure up to our own expectations of growth and holiness. The person who does not want to please God has less of a problem here. I say less of a problem because his or her goal is not set to please God. But deep down they still know that they are failing their creator. But the sincere believer is constantly faced with the record of his or her own failures. So we abandon outrageous grace because we reason that it did not work. In truth it is just not done working. We are not giving it long enough to work. How long does it need?  As long as it takes. As long as it takes to change us. Never mind how long that is. It is not your job to decide when it should be done. God is not worried about whether it will work or not. He designed the system and has sent Jesus and then the Holy Spirit to make it work. Failure is not part of God’s vocabulary. God has never failed. He has “all the time in the world.” Time is not a problem for Him. God is master of time just as He is master of all other things as well. We cannot set the limit for when grace should be finished working in our lives. So when you find the condemnation loop reactivated in your life, the guilt loop, the failure loop, the punishment loop, the only thing to do is to break it with the power of grace realized. You can not reason your way out of this loop. You cannot manipulate your way out. You cannot shout your way out. Only grace can break it.

 

Be convinced that you ALWAYS get what Jesus deserves. He got what you deserve. He nailed it to the cross and allowed it to kill Him and then rose from the dead having conquered sin and destroyed the works of the devil. Even if you do good consistently you will not get what you deserve but only what he deserves. In other words, you can take no pride in personal growth since it is His work in you but you do not have to take the blame either. The object of the game is change. You will change, you are changing by the power of grace. The thing is once you do change you do not see it clearly because if you are really walking convinced of outrageous grace you are not seeing yourself but Him. That is why both the sheep and the goats in the parable do not remember their own works. The goats do not remember what they failed to do because they never got the original message in the first place. The sheep do not remember what they did do because when they actually managed to do it they were so changed that taking credit never entered their minds. This is what it means by losing your life in order to find it. For too long this teaching of losing your life as been understood or misunderstood as the need to make painful and artificial sacrifices in order to please God. It is not just an initial doctrine of grace and then a miserable life. It is grace working in your life throughout your earthly existence. It is outrageous. It works. It actually brings about change. You may think that it is taking you a long time to get better, but it is not too long for God. He knew how big the job was when He took you on.

 

 

An often quoted favorite from Paul is Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and   gave himself for me.”  Here is the secret in summary.  Because Christ has been crucified in our place, taking what we deserved, we are in God’s eyes crucified with him. And we should be so crucified in our own eyes. But the best thing is that because Christ has been raised from the dead he is living his life over again in each of us by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. So the life that we live we are not actually living. He, Christ, is actually living it in us. Because he overcame sin when he was tempted he can do it over and over again in our lives. [4] I take issue with this otherwise very good translation here. It is not by faith in the Son of God that we live this life or goodness and victory but “by the faith of the Son of God” as the Authorized or King James Version translates the original Greek of the New Testament. It is in the genitive case. It is actually Christ’s faith which was and is a perfect faith that is working in us to cause us to live a life that is pleasing to God. And it is the love that Christ has for each of us which was shown in his great sacrifice of his life on the cross that proves it. It not only proves it but in actuality it made it possible. Someone had to take the carnal human life, sometimes called ‘the flesh’ by Paul, to the cross and kill it. Jesus took the flesh so that he could conquer it. He never sinned although he was tempted.  He was made a real man when he was made flesh. He resisted the flesh to the end even when they wanted to make him king without the cross. And finally he crucified the flesh and they raised himself from the dead as God to be the eternal God-man. He lives in us. We must abandon ourselves to His living in us and this great secret of Paul’s gospel will work in our lives.

 

Galatians 2:21 says “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness

come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  Paul considers that to act in any other way than to absolutely depend on Jesus to live in you and through you is to go against the grace, the free favor, or God and to revert to trying to earn our salvation and favor from God. Paul knows for certain that this will not work. And Paul knows that to revert in such a way would be the same as holding that that there was no reason for the death of Christ on the cross. What a magnificent and freeing position.

 

© 2012 David J. Keyser PhD

 

http://www.davidjkeyserphd.info/

 





[1] Paul was the apostle to the gentiles not to the Jews.  He was hated by many of the Jewish community. A Jew would always put the very mention of God before anything else. So Paul starts Hebrews with “God” and not “Paul.” But the teaching of Hebrews is Paul through and through with his extensive knowledge of Jewish history and beliefs. It is doubtful that any one else living in New Testament times could have written Hebrews with the depth and clarity of Paul. And Paul’s mention of Timothy is a personal reference indicative of Paul himself. The King James translators entitle Hebrews as the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews.  Those contemporary scholars who attempt to explain this away by the style of the Greek on other devices merely outsmart themselves.



[2]  Heb 13:9  Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.



[3]  Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.



[4] Luke 4 1-13.




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