The Doctrine of Grace as a catalyst for Spiritual Awakening.
I am still stuck on the doctrine of Grace in my personal life. I know some of this is going to be repetitious from my previous blog on the subject, but bear with me. These are the notes for the class I teach on Wednesday nights. This is what I was intending to share with my college ministry before it was decided the group was going on a break.
We all try to draw closer to God. There are many disciplines by which we achieve this; Fasting, worship, prayer, studying the word, etc… However these alone by themselves do not make us closer to God.
To ignite the Spiritual Awakening within us, we need to truly understand, and live in, the Doctrine of The Grace of God. Pastor Stovall Weems defines grace beautifully in his book Awakening. “Grace is the practical working of the Goodness of God in the life of the Believer.”
If we are not actively living in this grace, then all of our spiritual disciplines are worthless because they are works of the flesh and vain human effort. You could fast 21 days straight but, if it is not done with the Goodness of God enabling you, it is for nothing. When we live in the Grace of God, there is an empowerment to grow.
Many people have a distorted view of Grace. They view Grace as a license to sin. It is not. Grace was never given so that you could sin. If you need proof, remember that before you were saved and living in the grace of God you were a sinner. Lets look at Rom 5:8 NASB “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Grace instead becomes the enablement to live the life of holiness. We need to connect Grace with the fruit of Love. We have discussed the Jewish Shopkeeper in Jerusalem a few times, but I love his worldview. “When you love someone you want to be a better person, you desire to better yourself to please them more.”
The next “enemy” of grace is the Law. Most people fall into legalism. They fast a certain amount, or pray a number of hours a day, because they have been taught that is what we must do. We focus on the Commandments, especially the Ten Commandments. We get lost in a system of rules, regulations and strategy. However this was never the purpose of the Law.
Continuing to think about what Pastor Stovall has said, he shows three purposes of the Law.
- It helped to keep Israel under Guard
- Gal 3:23 NASB “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.”
- The Law was given to show us our need for the Saviour. It points us to Jesus.
- Gal 3:24 NASB “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”
- The Law shows us the Justice of God. God has to punish sin, because he is Just. The Law shows us the consequences of Our sin.
However the grace of God is the solution to this. Lets look at one of the most beautiful passages in scripture. Found in Hebrews Chapter 8. Here God explains the technical side of the New covenant.
Heb 8:10-12 NASB 10“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. 12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
I love this passage of scripture because it shows us the true nature of Grace. Not only does he forgive us from our sins, but he goes beyond that. He takes the time to write the law upon your heart, and enter it into your mind. This is a harkening back to the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The writer of Hebrews here is quoting from Jeremiah 31:33. Also, it is a reminder of the words of Psalm 199:11, where the writer of the psalm says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
The new covenant is the Grace of God erasing our prior sins and putting the Law in our hearts and minds. The purpose of this is to renew the covenant that God spoke four times in the Old Testament.
Obviously we have seen it in Jeremiah 31:33, but it also appears in Leviticus 26:12, Ezekiel 36:28, and Ezekiel 37:27. God wants us to be his people, and he wants to be our God. This is the covenant. Both the old and the new covenant were to this point. Jesus was the one who bridged the two covenants so that all might experience this Relationship with Abba God.
So, when God forgives us of our sins it is not so we can keep doing it, it is so that we can move on; so that we can draw closer to him. The thing about the doctrine of Grace is that we live it fully when we first get saved. How do I know this? Look at a newly saved person, they have life, and vitality, and energy, and exuberance, and Joy. They know they are screwed up, but they know that God’s grace is fully at work in their lives and that grace is going to change them. It takes a little while before this wears off. Why does it wear off? Religion creeps in. Legalism creeps in. The lies of the enemy and the lies of other Christians creep in. What do I mean when I say this? I mean you start off living fully under grace, but then people come at you with the do’s and do not’s of the Christian life. They give you the systems that they have that are supposed to help you grow. But often times these systems just make you start working for it.
When you live in the flowing Grace of God, its not a work. Its an act of Love, and when that religious, legalistic, works mindset comes in and tries to take away the grace of God, that is when It becomes hard.
I have good news for you. THIS GOSPEL IS NOT HARD!! In fact it is the easiest thing in the world. It’s so easy that Children at the temple in Jerusalem were able to see the Messiah for who he is. This is not a hard thing to be doing. We need to just rekindle the flame of Love within our hearts. We need to remind ourselves of the Grace of God, and we need to ask God to make that Grace living, breathing, and active in our lives. If we have that grace in us, then everything else will become easier.
You want to get closer to God? You want to be able to pray more, and talk to him more? You want to be able to fast and draw closer to him? You want to worship him so much that he can’t help but come to you? You can’t do that on a works based system; you can’t do that with religion. You do it with the Grace of God.
He helps you to fast, and pray and read the word, and worship. You ask him to teach you, to woo you, and to draw you deeper. That is what living in the grace is all about.
The question however, is this; “How do we get the Grace of God active and living in our daily lives?” Once more referring to Pastor Stovall,
- Be Intentional
- Ask God to lavish his Love and His Goodness upon you
- Be focused
- Begin the day by focusing on the Glory, Goodness and Grandeur of God
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Recite the prayer, but not just to say some words, think about all that each word and phrase means, and how it affects your life.