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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Awake oh sleeper…grace abounds!

I feel sorry for Dr. Michael Brown of Charisma Magazine. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t grasp the glorious truth of God’s amazing ‘grace’ that is sweeping the world. This is grace as it is supposed to be. Not grace-mixed-with-law, not luke-warm grace, but hyper-grace or super-abounding grace.

I feel sorry for Dr. Michael Brown because on the amazon blurb to sell his book Hyper Grace: Exposing the Dangers of The Modern Grace Message, he says this:

At a time when the church needs an urgent wake-up call and a fresh encounter with Jesus, the hyper-grace message is lulling many to sleep. 

OK, Dr. Brown, let’s break this down.

First, you say the church needs a wake-up call and a fresh encounter with Jesus.

Yes!

This is exactly what God’s new ‘modern grace’ message is doing. When God revealed this message to me via Joseph Prince’s ministry it was like discovering a whole new Jesus. Jesus says:

Behold, I make everything new!

– Revelation 21:5

The modern grace message is the wake-up call.

It is the fresh revelation of Jesus.

It’s like Dr. Brown is a Jew waiting for The Messiah, but when The Messiah stands in front of Him his mind is blinded and he can’t see who He truly is.

He came to those who were His own, but His own did not recognize Him.

– John 1:11

Paul talks about this:

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the gospel of Christ.

– 2 Cor 4:4

Of course I’m not saying Dr. Brown doesn’t believe in Jesus. It’s clear he does. However he doesn’t believe in the gospel the modern grace preachers are preaching – which we believe is the true gospel of the glory of Christ. But he doesn’t believe in God’s super-abounding grace. He does not believe that Christ’s work was finished. That Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin.

This grace message is the glorious gospel of Christ. Not just that Christ died for us and gave us a place in Heaven, but that we can never, ever be punished for our sin, ever again. To only believe Jesus saved us from our sin pre-conversion, is to only believe half of the gospel, and that is no gospel at all. The fact is, Jesus saved us from all our sin, past, present and future, once for all, forever.

What Dr. Brown believes is a mixed grace gospel – grace mixed with law – exactly what Paul warns the church against:

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace!

– Galatians 5:4

Paul is clear that the righteousness he received is not from obeying the law, but through faith in Christ. We cannot achieve righteousness ourselves. Or holiness. It is all a gift. It was all achieved for us, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ.

John goes further still. ‘Those who are born of God,’ he says in his first letter, ‘cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.’ (1 John 3:9). And ‘It is impossible for those who are born of God to continue to sin’ (5:18).

Strong word, impossible. How is it impossible? We know we mess up every day. It’s impossible because we are covered in Christ’s blood. Just as it were impossible to save your firstborn from the Angel of Death unless you had the blood of the lamb on your doorpost, so it is impossible for us to sin if we are covered in the blood of Christ – the Lamb of God.

Jesus promises He has released us from the prison of sin. (Luke 4:18).

Now, if Christ has released us, can we lock ourselves up again? If so, then Jesus’ blood was weak and we are all damned, for all of us fail to live up to God’s moral standards every day. But Christ’s blood was powerful enough to cleanse us from all of our sin, once for all.

This is what the writer of Hebrews is getting at when he says:

Now, at the end of the ages, Christ has appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

– Hebrews 9:26

And Paul:

He cannot die again. Death no longer has power over Him. The death He died he died to sin once for all.

– Romans 6:9

Once for all.

Now, it was either once for all or it wasn’t once for all. And I believe it was once for all.

So, what is the difference between the old grace message as traditionally taught by the church, and the all-new, all-singing, all-dancing, modern grace message? Well, the old grace message says that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, has given us the power to live holy and righteous lives, whereas the modern grace message says Jesus did it all. That ‘We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10) and that our righteousness is a free gift (Romans 5:17).

Essentially, the old grace message says Jesus did his part, now we must do ours. Hyper-grace says Jesus did it all. There is nothing left for us to do, except ‘believe in the One He has sent.’ The old message is the law, it is up to us to overcome, up to us to obey the commandments, up to us not to sin. The new message says it was all up to Jesus and he fulfilled the law for us. The old message says we must do it. The new message says Jesus did it. Past tense. Finished action. It is finished!

And ‘lulling many to sleep,’ Dr Brown? LOL. The opposite! It is waking us up from our sleep and revealing a whole new Jesus to us, full of grace and truth! Ask anyone who has had a new, modern revelation of grace. It is spirit-filled, filling us with a new love for God and a Holy Spirit empowered dynamism the Western church hasn’t seen since Lakeland or Toronto. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you can see!

This is a revival which God is orchestrating. He has had enough of the grace-mixed-with-law message, keeping His people bound in chains of sin which can never be broken. God wants everyone to know that He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to take our sin from us, crucifying it in Himself on The Cross. To say less than this happened is to take the victory away from Jesus. He cleansed us from our sin once for all. He has made us righteous. He has made us holy. Him Him Him.

As Joseph Prince says, in Heaven it will be ‘Worthy is the Lamb,’ not ‘Worthy is The Lamb and me!’

I pray, LORD, that Dr. Brown asks in prayer for a fresh revelation of grace, that he can receive the revelation and awakening he desires for the church, so he can begin to preach to his wide audience the wonder of this new revelation of God’s amazing grace. The true gospel.

If you’re wondering what this modern grace message is all about, read Paul Ellis’s article How Well Did I understand Grace Before I understood Grace?

Also, listen to Joseph Prince’s podcasts on itunes.

Check out Creflo Dollar’s article  and see my blog roll for other brilliant, charismatic modern grace teachers, including Chris Kratzer, Bas Rijksen, Simon Yap and Phil Drysdale.

For old school ‘modern grace’ preachers, see Martin Luther, D.L Moody, Spurgeon, and St. Paul !

Grace be with you!

Steve Edwards

 

Is ‘grace’ a simple concept?

Yes, grace is a simple concept, that we have been forgiven and made righteous as a free gift from our amazing, bountiful God whose name is Love.

Yet it is also sublime.

The cross is the most deeply profound event in the history of the world, therefore scholarly dissertations are valuable and welcome, yet even then we will never, ever truly understand it (until, perhaps, we are with The LORD in Heaven).

However, to be saved and made holy, to be brought into His eternal family, we don’t need to understand it, just believe it, and come to God as little children, receiving the gift of righteousness, by faith, through grace.

We need do nothing, simply enter His rest, and receive His love.

He does all the do-ing !

From the deep root of His love our love for Him will grow producing fruits of thankfulness, good deeds and obedience, not because we have to, or because we need to, but because we want to… motivated not by fear of punishment or fear of hell but motivated by love.

Once we have put our faith in Christ, The LORD forgives us and purifies us of all our sin, once for all, forever.

We have nothing to prove.

Our Heavenly Father accepts us as we are – because we believe in and have put our hope in His beloved son, Jesus Christ.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.

Romans 5:5

steve-edwards.jpg

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.

Our Inheritance is Guaranteed.

People who attack the so called ‘hyper-grace’ movement usually believe we can lose our salvation. But what is ‘hyper-grace’ ? Actually there is no such thing. There is only grace. And grace is hyper. It has to be. It is all consuming. Grace says that Christ washed our sin away at the cross. All of our sin. Sins past, present and future. Jesus says he has set free the prisoners of sin. Paul says we died with Christ, and everyone who has died has been freed from sin. We simply are not under the law of sin anymore. We are under ‘grace’. What puts us under ‘grace’ ? Our faith.

Our faith sets us free. When we believe in Jesus we accept and believe that the fire of His love consumed our sin in the cross. When he died, our sin died. How much of our sin? ALL of our sin, the bible says. We have been set free from sin. Indeed, even if we do wrong in our own eyes, to God, we are completely perfect, righteous and holy, because Christ washed us of our sin on the Cross. If we continue to do wrong, we will reap consequences in our life on earth, but to God, we are perfect, righteous and holy.

How so? Because that is the ONLY WAY he could save us. If he gave us a Royal Pardon for absolutely EVERYTHING we have ever done wrong and ever will do wrong.

Opponents of the grace message say ‘Christ set us free from our sin ‘pre-conversion’ but any sins we commit after that, we have to reconfess and repent because they are new sins. Some even say we are putting new sins on the cross and crucifying Jesus all over again.

Oh, really? So, Jesus is still on the cross, is he? He didn’t die ‘once for all’ as the letter to the Hebrews says?

Fact is, Jesus Christ appeared once to ‘do away’ with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. We are no longer bound to the law of sin. We are under the law of grace. We have been absolutely, utterly, amazingly forgiven of EVERYTHING forever.

But this is too good to be true, surely. The Good News can’t be that good. You mean God will never count my sins against me ever again? We are completely, absolutely, unimaginably free?

Yes!

But doesn’t that give us freedom to just carry on sinning then?  If God has forgiven me of everything? I can basically do what I want and there will be no consequences. God will turn a blind eye.

If that is what you want to do, if that is the way you want to live, try it, and see how you feel. It is impossible to keep on sinning when you are covered in the blood. Jesus will never let you. As soon as you know you are free, when you have tasted true freedom in Christ, the desire to sin melts away, and the greatest pleasure comes in living a pure and blameless life.

Yet, even if we do something wrong, and fall, God doesn’t count it against us. He forgives us. Because of His great love for us.

This is grace.

This is what’s so amazing about grace.

And, to those who say we can lose our salvation if we keep on sinning, I give you Paul’s words:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard The Word of Truth, the good news of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…”

– Ephesians 1:13

Our inheritance is guaranteed. The Holy Spirit is our deposit.

Grace and Peace.

Soap is My Washpot

After a divine revelation of  Grace through Joseph Prince’s ministry, a little digging into the Greek text and a spatter of commentary thrown in and I realize that what the church has been teaching me for years about the bible were lies, keeping me bound in chains of erroneous doctrine.

‘Church’ teaching has embraced the opening chapter of John’s letter, that we are to ‘confess’ our sin over and over again to be purified daily by Christ – treating the blood of Jesus like a ‘bar of soap’ or, as one writer points out, like the blood of bulls and goats, without telling us that this section of John’s 1st letter was written as a warning to the ‘unsaved’ Gnostics who believed they were in Christ but that they had no sin.

This together with the failure to explain to us that the original meaning of ‘confess’ had no meaning of asking for forgiveness attached to it (see article) seems like an initiative to keep the Body of Christ bowed low and feeling unworthy ‘We are not fit to eat the crumbs from under your table’ etc) rather than worshipping our Lord with arms held high in thankfulness, awe and praise.

So a never-ending doctrine of repentance has been set around this verse 1 John 1:19, yet another of John’s verses has been completely ignored, devalued, and emptied of its power:

‘Those who are born of God cannot sin because God’s Seed is in him. He is not able to sin because he has been born of God.'(1 John 3:9)

“This is obviously not true,” the grace-aware-less preacher says. “John must mean something else, because we do sin, every day, week, month etc.” But the truth is God no longer sees us as sinners because we are in Christ and Christ is in us – and Christ is holy.

We were made completely holy, righteous and justified, once for all, at The Cross.

“And we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)

Sadly for the church new and erroneous meanings have been given to ‘confess’ and ‘repent’. These two phenomenons happen within because we are in Christ and, what’s more, it’s not by our will, but by His will. The Spirit of Christ is doing everything for us – he is sanctifying us, changing us back into His own image by His Spirit living in us.

“True change in your life happens when you just let the Holy Spirit inside you transform you.” (2 Cor 3:18) – Joseph Prince.

The Holy Spirit is not an option!

“Jesus doesn’t offer the Holy Spirit as an optional extra for those personalities or churches who happen to like that sort of thing. Jesus’ followers are expressly told by him that they need to be clothed with power from on high. The believer who refuses to be filled with the Spirit is a disobedient Christian.”

– Rob Warner, ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT

Holy Spirit.