The tears flowed freely. Not with sorrow but with inexplicable joy.
“My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine”. As Josh whispered these familiar words his mind was drawn back to those earlier years of futile, frustrating endeavour that had constantly left him feeling inadequate and bewildered. But this was different.
Having grown up in a church environment Josh had heard countless sermons, attended numerous youth rallies, participated in all night prayer meetings and was constantly aware of “doing the right thing.” He was well aware that “God is a God of love” and that he is “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb”, however, after all those forty plus years of being a hearer of the word his redemption was implied to be dependent on his personal effort, good works and by complying with the demands placed on him by his peers, family and church. This was always a huge obstacle for him as he felt like a desperate man clinging to a precipice by the tips of his fingers with someone stomping on his hands forcing him to let go, sending him tumbling into the all familiar abyss of despair, pulling the plug on his spiritual respirator.
Instead of the usual one step forward and three steps back Josh experienced God’s presence supporting him, lifting him over the edge.
As his eyes cleared he focused on what he had been reading during his evening quiet time.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV.
Josh planted these words firmly within his spirit and there was something persuading him to recall something that he had recently read about a “new covenant”. He opened his journal and there it was in Hebrews 8: 8-13. Josh had highlighted these verses in his Bible with some personal observations.
The Old Testament covenant with the Israelites was based on keeping the written law and dependant on man’s efforts whereas the new covenant is based on what God “will do,” as stated three times.
The Levitical Law itself was not the problem, it was man’s inability to comply. Josh had also added another note; If God thought that man could keep the law why would He initiate the need for sacrifices?
Josh was not sure of his theology, it didn’t bother him, he humbly believed in the simplicity of the Gospel, which after all is the good news of salvation through that ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The realisation that his redemption was not dependent on his own efforts or performance, was an enormous moment for Josh as he now understood that the key to spiritual victory is the new covenant of blessings as a result of God’s unmerited favour, as confirmed by the Apostle Paul, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23,24 NIV.
Josh was taking secure, confident spiritual steps and his family and in particular his church family had noticed the difference. His defeatist attitude was replaced with a contagious confidence and contentment. When asked to explain what had happened he boldly responded.
“Read the book of Romans as it is the clearest presentation of theology found anywhere in all of literature, including the scriptures”, he emphasises his love for Paul’s writing, “because it declares grace”.
Josh summarised it this way.
Chapters 1-5: Saving Grace. We need a Saviour.
Chapters 6-11: An invitation to grasp the immense outworking of grace. We have access to God through Jesus our Saviour.
Chapters 12-16: Teaches us how to walk, live and respond in grace, explaining how the body of Christ needs to relate to each other and the world. Our lives and love can mirror the Saviour’s.
Josh’s life has been turned around, the restrictive chains are off and he always challenges others with the following.
“Where are you today? On the precipice or taking grace steps? Remembering that our covenant is to believe that he will be merciful and gracious towards our sin and that He will remember them no more”, stressing that, "not as a result of my efforts, but by His grace."
Don’t allow personal perceptions to interfere which biblical truth.
Release your faith to believe you are the righteousness of Christ.
Take steps to live “from” victory, NOT, “for” victory.
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