IS GRACE A PERSON?
Some object to calling grace a person because they hold to the view that grace is an “empowerment” making it impersonal and a “force” received by God to enable us to do good.
Here are some verses to contemplate:
John 1: 14,15: ”The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ ”) for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
The essence of the Son is fullness of grace and truth.
He was and is full of God’s underserved, unearned, unmerited favor demonstrated throughout His entire life. Extending Himself towards all those that turned to Him with life, healing, and salvation. No one deserved it. He freely gave of Himself; therefore He is the essence of grace representing the Father accurately who “so loved the world” that He sent (extended) Jesus into the world to die in our place.
His life demonstrated God’s grace; His undeserved favor towards mankind.
The “empowerment” folks make the erroneous argument that grace cannot be unmerited favor because Jesus was full of grace and did not need unmerited favor from God.
They deliberately create a circular argument around the definition without the practical application realized in the fact that grace (unmerited favor) of God “CAME THROUGH” Jesus Christ; meaning He is the one who provides us with grace and truth not that He needed God’s unmerited favor.
As the Son of God, He was grace (favor) being extended to us by His Father, as undeserving as we all were.
Jesus is grace personified.
Another verse for consideration is the following:
Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of Grace?”
Only a person can be insulted, not an “empowerment”. Here it clearly states that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace.
In the text it refers to someone rejecting and trampling on the Son of God and considering the blood of the covenant; Jesus’s blood as profane.
This is a direct rejection of the free gift of God’s grace; unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor offered in place of our own works to make ourselves righteous before God.
The Jews, who this was written to, were caught between two opinions; to stay under the law based on their own efforts to please God, asking for His help no doubt, to “empower” them to do so or to receive the underserved sacrifice for their sins through the blood of Jesus.
The fact that they were vacillating between these two opinions put them on the edge and dangerously close to “insulting the Spirit of Grace”.
This is a clear illustration of self-righteousness versus Christ-righteousness as a free gift of His grace. Truly, self-righteousness is the ultimate insult to the Spirit of Grace.
Here’s what the Apostle Paul said about this:
Galatians 5:4,5 “You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”(as a gift) (6.)
Galatians 5:18 “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.”
So if the work was finished by Jesus Christ on the cross, and by his one offering, as a free gift, He has perfected us forever, why do we think we can add to this or improve upon His work by our self-efforts without insulting His sacrifice and the Spirit of Grace?
Adding to His finished work by changing the meaning of grace to “empowerment” to do what God commands is insulting to the true meaning of grace; that being God extending Himself though Jesus His son, towards us who could do nothing to save ourselves and doing all that was needed to reconcile us to Himself. It puts the focus on ourselves to do what God commands “with His help” and us back under the law.
This “new” meaning for grace, in my opinion, is in the neighborhood of insulting the Spirit of Grace.
What is needed is true repentance, (metanoia) to change our minds and accept the free gift of God’s grace as our only means of salvation and to maintaining a growing, vital, living relationship with Him; supernaturally by and through the indwelling Holy Spirit who alone can produce His fruit in our lives.
THE PROBLEM WITH MIXTURES
Christianity as a whole today is a mixture of Grace and Law. Mixture breeds confusion. It is one or the other; either we are as the Word says already perfected forever or we must achieve our sanctification by our own efforts. It cannot be both.
Our attempts to add anything to the finished work of Jesus is a statement that what He did was not enough and something has to be added to it to maintain it by our own efforts.
CONFESSION OF OUR SINS
Even the idea of our confessing our sins in order to maintain “fellowship” with God is in error if it means that we have to do this to maintain our side of the relationship and consequently our eternal life.
It has absolutely nothing to do with receiving His forgiveness. The forgiveness of our sins was accomplished on the cross by the blood of Jesus paying the ultimate price and penalty for ALL of our sins.
Our relationship is intact by the blood of Jesus, not by our confession of sins. This is an eternal covenant of God the Father with His Son through His blood for the forgiveness of our sins. We had nothing to do with it.
All we have to do is to believe it and receive the free gift of salvation through grace alone. We are then the purchased recipients of Jesus sacrifice and the beneficiaries of His covenant with the Father.
We can add nothing to this completed and finished work because it is finished… period.
My wife and I may have a disagreement. My coming to her and seeking her forgiveness may give us a sense of restoration but I promise you, I was just as married to her before the event and during the event as I am when I seek her forgiveness. My behavior did not alter the covenant.
How much more with the Covenant of the Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, nothing and no one can separate us from Him and the Father; that includes you and me and our sin. (John 10:27-30)
THE DEAL JESUS MADE WITH THE FATHER
The New Covenant is not between us and God. It is actually an Eternal agreement between God the Father and Jesus His Son, witnessed by and administered through the Holy Spirit.
This Covenant was actually made before time began and before the creation of the world; or another way of saying this is it was made outside of time and therefore it is Eternal. We all have a hard time grasping such an idea and I’m sure even Paul may have wondered at the revelation he received directly from Jesus about this. Understanding of this truth only comes through revelation by the Holy Spirit.
Here is what Paul said about it in Ephesians 1:3-8 “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
So before the foundation of the world, before time as we know it began, God the Father chose us in Jesus to be holy and blameless in His sight.
He loved us so much that He asked Jesus to come, enter time and our world, as one of us, and die in our place so that we could be holy (set apart for a noble purpose) and blameless before Him and all this before time began. They knew in advance that we would need a savior. Our sin was not a surprise.
In other words Jesus said, “Abba, as for the people you will create through me that you love and adore; I will take the blame and the responsibility for all that they do that falls short of Your glory. Put it on my account. I will pay for it all with my life, as one of them, with my own blood as the purchase price.” Abba said, “Done deal.” That was the deal they made before time began and before the world was created.
All we have to do is by faith receive His grace; His unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor and we receive all the benefits that Jesus paid for with His blood. Forgiveness of all our sins, freedom from sin through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, healing and wholeness while remaining on earth and an Eternity to look forward to ruling and reigning with Jesus in His Kingdom. What a deal indeed.
WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE WILL EVER NEED
The truth is through this Eternal Covenant, Jesus has provided everything that we will ever need for life and godliness; everything means “everything”. It is all ours by the blood of Jesus; the Covenant maker on our behalf.
2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has ( past tense ) given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
There is absolutely no place for any of us to take any credit for our salvation or our sanctification. It is all been provided through Jesus by grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. We only have to believe it.
Jesus is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our redemption. To know Jesus is to have the fullness of all He is. As He is to the Father so are we in Him now and forever.
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” I Corinthians 1:30
But what about the sins I commit today or tomorrow?
All sins were in the body of Jesus when He died on the cross and according to God’s own Word; He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 10:17) All, means all; past, present and future.
That by the way, was written before any of us were born. It predates our lives and consequently our sins. Now all we have to do is come to believe this in order to receive the benefits of it. We had nothing to do with securing the New Covenant and we therefore have no ability to keep it or destroy it.
Our responsibility is to respond to His ability.
Coming into agreement with God when we fail is simple repentance; “metanoia”( changing our minds). We come back into agreement with the truth of God’s grace and the truth that by it we are the righteousness of God in Christ as our true identity. This restores us instantly to a place of peace and rest and freedom from the lies of the enemy and any remnants of condemnation; supernaturally.
The Holy Spirit always shows up to confirm and reinforce the truth about our righteousness standing with God by the blood of Jesus alone. It is His responsibility to “convict” or convince us that Jesus is our righteousness. (John 16:10 & 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is our responsibility to believe this is true.
It is always a good thing to thank God for His forgiveness and grace when we repent but it is not our repentance that earns our forgiveness. We are forgiven not because we repent but because Jesus took the penalty for all our sins in His body on the cross and paid the price for each one by His own blood. Repentance happens as our minds are renewed according to the truth of who we are in Christ.
THE FALL OF MAN AND FALLING FROM GRACE
When Adam and Eve fell from a perfect state of grace they did so by believing a lie that they lacked something and that God was holding out on them. That there was something they had to do for themselves to be complete when in reality they lacked nothing. They were already as much like God as they would ever be.
The enemy deceived them into doubting their true identity that already reflected the perfect image of God. He did this by first getting them to doubt God and His Love and provision by suggesting that they should question God’s motive for prohibiting them from eating the forbidden fruit.
The enemy uses the same lies today. He gets us to doubt our true nature and identity in Christ or he gets us to doubt God and His love, grace, and provision who has already given us “every spiritual blessing in the heavens”. All of Heaven’s blessings are already ours, here on earth and that is the truth.
We can become deceived into believing there is something we must do to maintain our relationship with God by our own efforts to gain His favor and Heaven’s blessings. We become self-conscious rather than Christ –conscious; focused on Him and all He is and all He has done for us. When this happens, we have “fallen from grace” and put ourselves back under the law.
The weight of the law (self-effort) negates the freedom and blessings of grace and it only leads to death.
We only become more like Jesus when we look away from ourselves and behold Him in all His glory. We are then transformed from glory to glory into His image and this by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is a process of discovering and believing what is already true about us. (2 Corinthians 3:17,18)
We really need to step back and consider what we believe about grace and our response to it.
It is a critical juncture in our life journey that presents two paths for us to choose from.
One path leads to life and the other to death. It is that important.
My prayer is that you choose grace; God’s unearned, unmerited, undeserved extending of Himself towards us through Jesus and the life that flows from it in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Here’s what Paul said about this choice:
“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh ( of human origin “self-effort”) desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18
“We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
When we understand that our self-effort puts us under the law and results in the opposite of what we want, “so that we don’t do what we really want to do” and grasp grace in all its fullness, Jesus life will be produced effortlessly in us, by faith, as we rest in His gracious finished work.
We need no further empowerment than the indwelling power of the Spirit of Grace who alone produces the fruit of the nature and character of Jesus in us.