What Benefit Did You Reap?

Jesus painting close up

What I hear a lot of is this:

Jesus did his part but now we must do ours.

I used to believe this.

I used to believe this – in the way that many Christians believe it today.

But what we’re actually saying is this:

Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t good enough to cleanse us from our sin.

The blood of Jesus wasn’t powerful enough to destroy sin.

Jesus did not die to sin “once for all”, as Hebrews tells us.

It wasn’t ‘finished’ as Jesus shouted, pouring out His blood, from the cross.

No.

Jesus did his part but now we must do ours.

Brilliant English theologian John Stott says this:

We resent the fact that we have no part to play in our own salvation, so we stumble at the stumbling block of the cross.

– The Cross of Christ.

You see, either Christ ‘did away’ with sin on the cross or He didn’t.

But He did.

Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

– Hebrews 9.26

Paul tells us how.

He made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.

But this is a little confusing.

What does it mean exactly?

I like this translation:

GOD’S WORD.
God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin.

However we phrase it, when Christ died, our sin died with Him.

All of our sin – past present and future.

This is great news!

This is the gospel!

On the cross, our sin died with Him.

But Paul goes further:

Anyone who was baptized into Christ was crucified with Christ. We were therefore buried with Him, through baptism, into death…

and

If we were united with Him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.

If we are not yet a believer, we are still living with ‘sin.’

And, as Paul says:

The wages of sin is death.

But – and this is the good news – if we are in Christ we died with Him.

Crucified on the cross.

But, Paul says:

If we died with Him we believe that we will also live with Him.

– Romans 6.8

and

If the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit who lives in you.

– Romans 8.11

It is only in Christ that we can rise from the dead.

We will rise as He is risen.

This is the good news!

It is nothing to do with if we mess up, make mistakes, or ‘sin’.

And –

Where sin abounds, grace super abounds!

– Romans 5:20

Super-abounding grace!

We are free!

“But that means we are free to sin!” I hear someone say.

I answer with Paul’s words:

What benefit did you reap from those things you are now ashamed of?

– Romans 6:21

Really, what benefit did you reap in the past from your wrong doing, from your selfish, destructive behavior, from your mistreatment of yourself and others, and from your unwise choices?

I know what benefit I reaped: shame and soul-destroying guilt.

Sin has terrible, life damaging consequences.

And…

The wages of sin is death.

But…

The law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death.

– Romans 8.2

We have been set free from sin and death.

In Christ we have life!

Eternal life!

In Christ we have everything to live for!

This is the gospel.

The true gospel.

The amazing gospel!

Amen!

Steve Edwards

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Be Holy for I am Holy. Or else.

For it is written: “Be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:16

Often we’re taught we should ‘be holy’.

God is holy, so we should be holy.

But this is impossible. No one can be as holy as God.

That was The Law.

So, what does ‘holy’ mean?

We are sometimes taught that the Hebrew word for holy – quadosh – means ‘set apart’.

But set apart from what ?

The Bible Hub website says ‘holy’ means to be set apart from human impurity.

Set apart from sin.

Amen!

But who sets us apart?

Check this out in Hebrews:

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, once for all.

– Hebrews 10:10

It is Christ who has made us holy. Christ who has set us apart from sin.

So, what does Peter mean by “Be Holy for I am Holy.”

Is it possible for us to ‘be holy’ by demand ?

If not, why demand it of us?

Isn’t he quoting a law that was impossible to keep?

And wasn’t The Law only given to show us how much we need Christ?

Here’s something we don’t hear in church often:

Be Holy for I am Holy is NOT a command – it’s a promise!

Check out this translation from the Greek:

Holy you will be, for Holy I am.

Holy you will be, for holy I am.

That’s completely different from “Be Holy, for I am Holy.”

It’s not a command, but a promise!

And we are children of promise!

Here’s something interesting. Remember when God said to Moses:

Go and tell the Israelites I AM has sent me to you.

Exodus 3:14

Remember this verse? When Moses asks God His name and God replies: “I am who I am.”

Well, the Greek translation of God’s name I am is

ego eimi

Now, check this out: when Jesus says his seven I am statements:

I am the bread of life.

I am The Good Shepherd.

I am the Gate for the sheep.

I am the Light of the World.

I am The Way the Truth and the Life.

I am the True Vine

and

I am the Resurrection and The Life

– his words I am are translated in the Greek as ego eimi.

The name of God!

‘I AM has sent me to you.’

I am.

Like when Jesus says:

Before Abraham was, I am.

– John 8:58

The Hebrew words are –

Ehyeh asher ehyeh

– which literally translates as:

I Will Be Who I Will Be.

And just as

I am who I am

can be translated

I will be who I will be

so –

Be holy as I am holy

can be translated as

Holy you will be because holy I am.

So you see God isn’t commanding us to be holy.

He is telling us we will be holy because He is.

And God doesn’t mean we will be holy at some random point in the future.

The tense of the verb gives a sense of now and forever.

We are holy now and we will forever be holy.

Our holiness is ongoing – now and forever.

Amen!

Paul also teaches us that –

Christ Jesus is…our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

– 1 Cor 1:30

So, to sum up, Hebrews teaches us that Christ has made us holy.

Peter teaches us that we will forever be holy because God is.

And Paul teaches us that Christ is our holiness.

Being holy has nothing to do with our own effort to overcome sin.

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

– Hebrews 10:10

Christ did it all.

It is finished!

So what does Peter mean when he tells us:

Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

1 Peter 1:15

Peter’s reminding us to behave in a way that reflects who we already are.

Just as Paul said:

Let us live up to what we have already attained.

– Philippians 3:16

Christ made us holy by His sacrifice.

Christ redeemed us.

Christ paid the price.

Christ took our punishment.

Christ served our sentence.

Christ did everything for us.

“Worthy is the Lamb. Not worthy is the Lamb and me!”

(Thanks Joseph Prince for that one!)

To conclude, then, it is Christ who has made us holy.

Holy you will be for holy I am.

We could never be as holy as God so He made us holy.

What a God!

This is the amazing wonder of grace.

So, finally, Peter isn’t commanding us to be holy.

We have already attained holiness in Christ.

Check out this verse from Paul:

But The God of peace shall make all of you perfectly holy.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Who makes us holy?

God does.

Through Christ.

Because He loves us.

He loved us in the past.

He loves us now.

And He will always love us… continuous, ongoing, now and forever.

For –

God is Love

Amen!

Related posts:

Be Holy, Hyper Grace StyleHis Grace is Enough – Simon Yap 

If We’re Holy, Why Does God Call Us To Be Holy? Escape to Reality – Paul Ellis

What Does God Mean When He Asks Us To Be Holy? Christianity Today – Joel Scandrett

Steve Edwards

You are not a sinner.

You know what, you’re not a sinner.

That’s not how God sees you. He sees you as righteous and holy.

He sees you as perfect.

By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.

(Hebrews 10:14)

He sees you as His glorious, beautiful child, they way He intended you, because Jesus cleansed you of all of your sin on the cross.

Sins, yesterday, today and forever.

His sacrifice was once for all. 

For we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

(Hebrews 10:10)

Our righteousness is a free gift, by grace.

Even if we sin, grace keeps on flooding out. That’s what’s so amazing about grace. That’s the gospel. 

We are free forever.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

(Galatians 5:1)

I know how terrible sin can make you feel.

If we could only grasp the wonder of seeing ourselves how God sees us – as beautiful as Jesus – then we could truly start to walk in freedom.

If we could really grasp how much He loves us, how the sacrifice of Jesus cleansed us once for all.

If we could really believe and accept that !

Lord, help us to see ourselves as you see us, adorned with your beauty and majesty, dressed in garments of salvation, as Isaiah says, and draped in a robe of your righteousness!

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Happy New Year!

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been since the day you heard about it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

– Colossians 1:6

Wow! Even in Paul’s day the gospel was growing and bearing fruit all over the world. 2000 years ago! How about now?!

The problem is, dry theology has poked and prodded the life and grace out of the gospel, resulting in dead churches, services with people praising God with hands in pockets rather than shouting and crying tears of joy; people murmuring words as if they are praising a loaf of bread for rising, not praising God for sacrificing His Son, for us – JESUS.

And why was Jesus sacrificed? Paul tells us in Ephesians:

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.

– Ephesians 5:25

Why?

To make the church holy.

Who makes us holy?

Do we make ourselves holy by being good? By doing good works? By doing righteous acts?

No.

Christ made us holy, once for all.

And we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

– Hebrews 10:10

Friends, join with me as we explore the Gospel of Grace throughout 2014 that this amazing truth may sink deep into our hearts, that we are righteous, perfect and holy in God’s sight, and that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, that God will never turn His anger towards us, that He will never, ever, ever count our sin against us ever again, that we are absolutely, completely, amazingly free. Oh amazing grace!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

Galatians 5:1

Amen?!

So, in 2014, let’s pursue righteousness, as Paul tells Timothy.

But what does ‘pursue righteousness’ mean? Surely that means we should try to be righteous in our own strength?

No! The original Greek meaning of the word ‘pursue’ meant to ‘set into flight’ !

In 2014 let us set into flight the righteousness He has given us, as a free gift, that we may reign in life!

For if, by the sin of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

– Romans 5:17

Happy New Year!

Let’s make 2014 the year to understand God’s Grace in all its truth!

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Gaze on Him

But we with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. This comes from the Lord, who is The Spirit.

(2 Cor 3:18)

As we gaze on Jesus and how beautiful He is, we become more and more like Him.

I love the way Paul says it’s like looking in a mirror. We simply reflect His glory by looking at Him, by focusing on Him, by resting in Him.

That’s why I cringe when I hear preachers tell us we should try to ‘be more Christlike.’

We cannot be more Christlike in our own effort. We become more Christlike by gazing on Him. As we spend time with Him, we reflect Him.

We are the fragrance of Christ, as Paul says.

Trying to be more Christlike in our own strength – i.e doing good works – is self-effort Christianity, which Clark Whitten, author of Pure Grace, says is ‘a lie that has demoralized and defeated the Church for centuries.’

We cannot please God by obeying the law.

He gave us His righteousness as a free gift, which comes through our faith.

In Philippians chapter 3 Paul tells us  he considered himself faultless according to the law, yet when he discovered he had been given God’s righteousness as a free gift, he considered his own efforts ‘rubbish.’

…more than that, I consider everything rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD…not having a righteousness of my own which comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. A righteousness that comes from God and is by faith!

Paul couldn’t believe it. He was righteous by faith. No work involved. Simply by believing! Could it possibly be true? No wonder he couldn’t stop banging on about it! Him and Isaiah:

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God, for He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness!

(Isaiah 61:10)

We cannot become like Christ through our own self-effort. The only self-effort God requires is the effort to gaze on Jesus, and that takes no effort at all once your realize how beautiful He is. Does gazing at something beautiful take effort? Gazing at a flower, a face or the amazing beauty of the eyes of your lover?

The amazing thing is, when God gazes at us He sees us as beautiful as Jesus. Because of the cross, God consumed all of the sin that separates us from Him – once for all – so He is able to see us the way He made us. We are the creations of the One who created the galaxies, rainbows and supernovas. To God, we are intricately as beautiful. We are the icing on the gateaux of creation. We are the apple of His eye.

We are beautiful Princes and Princesses, children of The King of Kings.

Our self-efforts to achieve righteousness – I must do this, I must do that, read my bible more, pray more, be more holy – puts the burden on us, whereas the gospel says:

By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.

(Hebrews 10:14)

His sacrifice has made us holy, once for all.

We cannot make ourselves holy.

He did it.

If we could do it ourselves, why did Christ have to die?

If we think we can add to our righteousness by our own good work, we are stripping the glory from Christ, taking His prize, saying His suffering was for nothing, because we could have done it on our own.

Pharisee.

In the movie 127 Hours young Aaron learns a tough lesson, that if he hadn’t been so selfish, if he hadn’t believed he could do everything ‘on his own’ he wouldn’t have to endure the extreme suffering he goes through.

Yet, unlike in that shocking biography, thankfully God didn’t leave us to endure extreme suffering on our own – even though we deserved it.

Jesus suffered for us. He experienced eternal hell for us.

Saying we can achieve righteousness ourselves says Christ’s suffering and sacrifice wasn’t enough.

It’s Christ, plus us. 

Self-effort Christianity.

As John Stott says:

“We are offended at the idea that we have nothing to contribute to our own salvation, so we stumble at the stumbling block of the cross.”

(The Cross of Christ).

But we have nothing to add to the blood of Christ.

We have no eternal suffering to endure.

He did it, and all the praise and glory goes to Him.

Without Him we can do nothing.

He did it.

He has made us holy by His finished work.

And as we gaze on Him He changes us.

He changes us. We do not change ourselves.

This comes from The LORD, who is The Spirit.

We are always right with Him.

When God revealed to me how we are adorned with His beauty and majesty –

You Are The Beauty & Majesty of God!

– it was mind-blowing. I didn’t know this before.

Grace has removed the shades from my eyes. Jesus knew I was being mislead. The Anglican church’s creeds had kept me in bondage. I didn’t come in and out of right standing with God by my sin. I did not have to repent and confess to be made righteous again. I did not have to be purified by the blood of Jesus for every mistake. That is, as Hebrews says, treating the blood of Christ like the blood of bulls and goats, offered again and again for the sins of the people. Christ had cleansed me once for all – on the cross.

By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.

– Hebrews 10:14

We are always right with Him, because of what He did, not because of anything we do (or don’t do).

Nothing we do can stain our holiness or perfection, because we have Christ’s holiness and perfection.

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.

– 2 Cor 5:21

Nothing can separate us from God’s love, says Paul.

Nothing in all creation.

‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ says Jesus. ‘I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.’

With this revelation of ‘grace’ I discovered a whole new Jesus – a Jesus who sees me as amazing and beautiful all the time – even when I sin.

Thank you, Jesus!

This is why ‘grace’ is so amazing.

The word ‘grace’ used to have no meaning to me.

Now it means everything.

Grace and Peace,

Steve.

Is sin more powerful than His blood ?

All this focus on ‘sin’ ! How about we focus on the righteousness we have received as a free gift from God – a righteousness that is not dependent on what we do or don’t do, but is dependent on Christ’s love and grace alone.

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God, for he has dressed me in garments of salvation. He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness!”

(Isaiah 61:10)

Can our actions subtract from the righteousness He has given us? The glory we have in Christ? The beauty and majesty He has imparted to us through Christ? Is our sin more powerful than God’s majesty? Than Christ’s blood? Christ’s blood consumes our sin, supernaturally, into His body on the cross. Those in Christ are forever free. If we are not, His blood is of no effect to cleanse us.

If we can continue to sin after His blood has cleansed us, if we can go to hell after His blood has cleansed us, then His blood is weak, has limited power. But His blood is not weak. His blood has the power to cleanse us of ALL our sin past present and future. His blood has the power to save us; has the power to make us Children of God; has the power to make us a Royal Priesthood; has the power to make us a Spotless church, without stain blemish or any other wrinkle. His blood alone.

Not our good works. His blood. And only His blood.

His blood has the power to make us:

1. Righteous (Romans 5:17)

2. Holy (Hebrews 10:10)

and

3. Perfect Forever (Hebrews 10:14).

Come on church!

Will someone give me a good AMEN?!