Simply Grace (chapters 2 and 3)

For the Prologue and Chapter 1, please visit    https://servinggrace.com/2015/09/17/simply-grace/

option 4.1

Chapter Two

Salvation Grace

(Titus 2:11-12)

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

 Notice in the above verse that the grace of God has appeared to all people to offer salvation. It does not say, “To some of the people.” No, it is available to each and every person.

There is a teaching that had diminished for some time but is resurfacing at an alarming rate which implies that God picks and chooses those whom He will save. This type of teaching is not only false but dangerous as it produces four major levels of thought concerning salvation.

The first major group is the prideful group. Because they view themselves as the “Heaven bound bunch,” they believe they are more precious in the eyes of God than others. On the complete opposite side – the second major group – there are those walking in fear believing that they do not measure up to God and will be on the list of those doomed to hell. The third and fourth major groups of thought are those who say, “Why bother, God has made up His mind anyway,” or “Hey, I’m saved, I can do whatever I want without fear or repercussion.” In Chapter 10, the fourth group of thought will be discussed in the section pertaining to the perversion of grace. However, for the first three major groups of thought, the Word is much too clear concerning God’s love and His desire for all to be saved. Consider the following verses:

John 3:16,17 (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 (NIV)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people… 

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

These are but a few of the many verses establishing God’s desire for all mankind to be saved. Christ Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world (John 3:17). Unfortunately, not all will accept this gracious offer of salvation.

Looking back at Titus 2:11, we see that salvation grace is offered to all mankind. However, it is up to us as individuals whether or not we will accept this eternal gift.As unbelievable as it may sound, some people just do not want to be saved. Some even joke about the wild parties they will hold with their friends while in hell.

Jesus said that if we know Him, we know the Father. From the Word of God it is easy to see that Jesus was available to whomever cried out to Him, but never once did He force Himself upon them. God will not force His salvation on anyone who does not want it. Through His Holy Spirit He will reach out to us, but ultimately the choice of whether we want to walk in fellowship with Him is totally up to us.

The Word of God unto Salvation

Before we can fully understand any aspect of God’s grace, it is necessary to first learn the relationship between grace and the Holy Scriptures. They go hand in hand and cannot be separated. To do so would cause the student of the Word to walk in error.

We are living in a period of time when more and more ministers are preaching messages that tickle the ears of the people in hope that they do not offend anyone. Sermons are becoming more watered down and as such are void of any power. Instead of using the Word of God as the source for their messages, many are using some ‘Five Steps to Feeling Good’ lecture or other self help courses.

The Apostle Paul made clear the importance of the Word of God in winning souls to the Kingdom. In Romans 1:16 (MKJV) he said, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Try as you might, your words alone will never convince anyone of their need to accept Jesus as Lord. Your words must be backed by the power of the Word of God. This is made clear in the next verse. “For in it (the Word) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”

Notice that the Word reveals God’s righteousness in a manner that is from faith to faith. This indicates that there is a learning process that must take place. In the beginning a newborn child of God has the faith to accept God’s free gift of salvation, yet he has little faith for anything else.As he learns more and more of God’s Word, so increases his faith; he spiritually goes from one level of faith to another. Again, apart from the power of the Word of God, a person’s faith level cannot be increased. Faith comes by hearing and this hearing by the Word of God, (Romans 10:17). It is a combo package.

The Meaning of Salvation

The Word is the power of God unto salvation. The Greek word for salvation is ‘Soteria’1 which includes healing, deliverance, and preservation. God never intended to just save us and then let us fend for ourselves. No, He wants to deliver us from all evil, preserve (guard) us, and to heal our bodies.

Psalms 121:5-8 (The Message)

GODs your Guardian, right at your side to protect you—Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. GOD guards (preserves) you from every evil, he guards (preserves) your very life. He guards (preserves) you when you leave and when you return, he guards (preserves) you now, he guards (preserves) you always.

 It is so unfortunate that many Christians walk in doubt concerning God’s will for them to live a life of health and preservation. Yet, that is their very request each time they recite what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). “Our Father which art in heaven, holy is Your name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” Notice the request – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If there is no sickness in heaven, should there be any question concerning God’s desire for us to be healed here on earth?

“Give us this day our daily bread…” By this request, we are asking that He preserve us and nourish us. “…deliver us from evil…” We are praying for deliverance. If Jesus taught us to pray this way, shouldn’t we believe what it is that we are praying?

So often I hear people claim that God made them sick to humble them or teach them a lesson. How sad that they would think such a thing when the Word clearly tells us that Jesus, out of the abundance of His love for us, bore our sickness, pain and suffering on the cross.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

He  was  despised  and  rejected  by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 

Matt 8:17

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our  sicknesses.

 Jesus took all of our negatives and turned them into positives so that we are able to run our own individual race in complete victory. Our salvation was not just a rescue mission from eternal death, but the provisions necessary to be successful in our earthly walk.

How sad that significant portions of the Gospel are ignored in lieu of teachings that stress the, “Sweet by and by,” mentality.As such, many Christians are walking defeated lives in the here and now. This is a point brought out by Andrew Wommack in his personal commentary:

“…the truths of the gospel are not commonly preached or understood in many churches. This is the reason that so many Christians are not walking in all the benefits of their salvation. They don’t have the power of the gospel working in them.” 

“If a person needs healing, it’s in the gospel. If deliverance is needed, it’s in the gospel. Prosperity, answered prayer, joy, peace, love; they are all found through understanding and believing the gospel.”2

Accessing Salvation Grace

Apart from the Word which is the power of God unto salvation, what does it take to access this salvation grace? That is simple. It takes nothing more than an open heart that is willing to say “yes” to the call of the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Romans 10:9,10 (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Notice that! If you believe in your heart…This is rhema knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit which bypasses your brain and is implanted in your heart. It is from the abundance of what the Holy Spirit has planted within your heart that you are enabled to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; you know-that-you-know.

Surely more is required to be saved…that is much too simple? Nope! That is the beauty of God’s plan for our salvation. He totally removed us from the equation by making Jesus the surety of our salvation (Hebrews 7:22).Furthermore, it is with your heart that you are justified, or made in right standing with God. The word ‘justify’ means being made righteous. The moment you made Jesus Lord of your life, God no longer saw you through the filth of sin but through the pure blood of Jesus which washed you white as snow.

A Clean Slate through Salvation Grace

To be a surety means to take the responsibility of the debt off the one and put it on another. That is what Jesus did on the cross; He paid the penalty for our sins. As a result of His amazing sacrifice, He has absolved us from all sins past, present, and future. Jesus became the propitiation (satisfier; atonement) of our sin debt. Let’s look at the following verses:

Romans 3:25-26 (The Message)

God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.

1 John 2:1-2 (The Message)

I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s. 

1 John 4:10 (NLT)

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

A Special Note

To those who would argue that I’m teaching “Greasy Grace” by telling people that God is totally accepting of us living life any way we desire, please see Chapter 10 dealing with abuse of grace. I would never subscribe to such a despicable lack of respect for our Heavenly Father and His loving grace; such behavior is a perversion of God’s grace.

1  Soteria; Biblesuite.com; Strong’s Greek #4491

2  Andrew Wommack Living Commentary 2008

              Chapter Three

Empowerment Grace

Apart from salvation grace, there is another side to grace which is, in many cases, greatly misunderstood or unknown by the Body of Christ. This side of grace is known as empowerment grace. Unlike salvation grace, which is used to rescue those living apart from God, empowerment grace is only available to the child of God; it is not available to the world.

Empowerment grace is a special endowment of God to not just make it through life until we get to heaven, but to empower us to do what He has called us to do. We each are created unto good works through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). This means that God wants us each to join with Jesus in the works that He does, not so that we can earn or hang on to our salvation, but because of what He has done for us.

Empowerment grace is that special grace that helps us to stand firm when the world is seemingly falling apart. When chaos, panic, or grief is the order of the day according to the world’s standards, God’s grace will usher in peace and calmness in the midst of the storm.

Empowerment grace defies all common sense by the world’s standards. Empowerment grace is seen in the soldier who stands in the midst of a battle and says, “A thousand may fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it shall not come near me,” (Psalms 91:7). Or, it may be the business man or woman facing a seemingly insurmountable task who boldly proclaims, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13).

Have you ever witnessed a person, whom you knew was born again, go through some type of crisis situation with a strength that seemed unnatural? You might have been thinking, “I could have never done that myself.” How about the parents who forgave a murderer for taking the life of their child…or, the mother who lost not only her child but other family members to an accident, yet had the strength to carry on with life and be a blessing to others? This is empowerment grace.

I am well acquainted with God’s empowerment grace. Not too long ago, my family and I witnessed my Dad having a major heart attack in which he died twice on the operating table before finally being resuscitated. Despite all negative reports of long term disabilities, our family refused to turn away from God’s report. The full account of God’s miracle working power is recorded in my first book, Great is Thy Faithfulness. 1

Despite all negative reports of long term disabilities, our family refused to turn away from God’s report. It is because of the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father that I am able to write this book with such confidence. His amazing grace flooded my entire family. Through empowerment grace, we were able to pray for and stand with other families who also had loved ones in the intensive care unit. We were able to bring laughter to several who moments before were full of sorrow.

According to worldly logic, we should have been as many others in the waiting room who were exhibiting a myriad of emotions. Yet, what they witnessed was exactly the opposite. They saw in us an explainable peace and calmness. However, once they talked with us, they knew exactly Who the provider of our peace was.

Empowerment for Everyday Life

So far I have used crisis situations to illustrate empowerment grace, but this grace goes so much further than just having supernatural strength to make it through rough times. Empowerment grace is that grace available to us to help us accomplish everyday ordinary tasks. It is that grace that helps us operate in the gifts that God has bestowed on us. It is that grace that is leading me to write this book.

To illustrate how faithful God is to empower us, I will use myself as an example. To begin, my profession is that of a Firefighter/Paramedic.Along with this great profession, God has given me the gift for teaching the Word. I have been given the honor of being an instructor for the Word of Life School of Ministry in Shreveport, Louisiana.Also, for about nine years, I taught weekly to a group of men who were incarcerated at a nearby prison.

I love to share with groups of people the message that God has placed in my heart. I receive great joy when I see the eyes of the listener light with understanding as they discover a truth that was moments before unknown to them. However, each time I stand before a group there is always a huge obstacle looming over me…threatening to suck the very wind out of my sails. That obstacle is called, “Fear of public speaking.” You may be a member of the same club.

When I was a young child in grade school, this fear gripped me so tightly that I struggled to even speak one on one with my teachers. I was terrified. As I grew older, I learned to use humor to try and hide some of those feelings, but the anxiety never left.

Years ago, I had to make a decision. Was I going to let fear stop me from doing what God has called me to do, or was I going to stand firm in the knowledge that I was called to teach? Thank God I chose to trust Him and to allow Him to empower me to do what I don’t necessarily want to do in the natural.

For those who feel the same way concerning public speaking, I will tell you my secret for overcoming this fear. Before I stand before the group, whether it is a few or many, I remind the Lord that He called me to teach and that I am just the voice delivering His message. Several times I have said, “Well, Lord, if I look ridiculous, remember that You told me to do this, so You get to look ridiculous right alongside of me.”

To some that might sound so irreverent, but it is not intended that way. It is based off something the Lord placed in my spirit when I first began teaching. The Lord reminded me that He chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He was not calling me foolish, but was simply telling me to not worry about how I appeared because it was not about me in the first place.

So, each time I speak before a group of people, I suck it up and force my feet to go. True to the faithfulness of God, barely does a minute or two go by before the anointing (empowerment grace) comes over me. At that point I could care less how many pairs of eyeballs are staring back at me.

This same empowerment grace is available to you. Whenever you feel that you are called to do something that goes beyond your own strength and your own abilities, know that you are right where you need to be. Never forget that the gift God has placed in you is not about making you look good, but is about letting others see the goodness of God through you. Just be obedient to the call and enjoy the journey as you watch God move.

Never forget that the gift God has placed in you is not about making you look good, but is about letting others see the goodness of God through you.  A great example of this is found in the Bible in the Book of Zechariah. The account involves an ordinary man by the name of Zerubbabel who was thrust into an extraordinary situation.

The time period is around 538 B.C. and the Jewish people are under the rule of the Medo-Persians who had just recently defeated the mighty nation of Babylon. Having a more humanitarian style of rule than the Babylonians, the king of Persia allowed waves of Jewish prisoners to return to their homeland to rebuild their cities. Of the first wave was a man named Zerubbabel who was appointed as governor by the Persian king to oversee the affairs of Judah. Accompanying him was a high priest by the name of Joshua.

Zerubbabel was most likely born in captivity and never had a chance to see his homeland, much less see the glory of Solomon’s temple. However, there is little doubt that he heard great tales of the magnificent structure and of its demise.

After a long journey of around 500 miles, Zerubbabel and Joshua arrived in what was left of war-torn Jerusalem following the wake of the Babylonian surge 70 years earlier. From Biblical and historical accounts, the Babylonians laid the city to waste. Despite all that needed to be done, the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple was top priority.

At first the rebuilding process went well but it was not long before Zerubbabel was met with opposition from Samaritan settlers. Due to this opposition he only managed to restore the foundation of the temple during a two year period. Soon afterwards construction was halted by Persian leaders and was not allowed to proceed. For seventeen years, no further work would be done to rebuild the temple.

During the seventeen year period with no progress being made towards the completion of the temple, God raised up two prophets by the name of Haggai and Zechariah. Together, they spread the word that the house of the Lord would be rebuilt and that it was time for Zerubbabel to get back to the task of rebuilding the temple. I can only imagine the anxiety and fear that Zerubbabel was experiencing. Through what we see in the Word, it appears that he was feeling overwhelmed and was in definite need of encouragement.

One night while Zerubbabel is sleeping an angel woke him and gives him a message from the Lord. The angel said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts,” (Zechariah 4:6). In today’s vernacular we might hear, “Zerubbabel, it has nothing to do with you. It is not by your might that the temple will be rebuilt but by the Lord’s. It is not by your strength, but by the Lord’s. Zerubbabel, it is by My Spirit operating in you that this temple will be rebuilt.”

The angel was not through. Speaking in the authority of Almighty God, the angel spoke to the obstacles standing between Zerubbabel and the completion of the temple, “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” (Zechariah 4:7 NIV).

Wow! Can you image the boldness and the faith that must have risen up in Zerubbabel? Prior to the angel speaking, the obstacles before him may have appeared insurmountable, like a mighty mountain. After the angel spoke, the mountain gave way to level ground. Suddenly Zerubbabel could see beyond his own abilities and could now see through the sufficiency of God’s grace working in and through him.

After empowerment from God, Zerubbabel had the faith and the strength to boldly go forth and rebuild the temple. Forget the opposition! Forget the hurdles! Forget the struggles! Zerubbabel had God’s word and that was enough. Praise God! “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts,” (Zechariah 4:6).

The same applies to you and to me. Although we may have never been awakened by an angel, the Lord is just as concerned about our day to day affairs that He has tasked us to do. The one major difference is that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to continually guide us whereas Zerubbabel did not.

God’s Grace Gift to You

Never think that God must have bypassed you when it came to the handing out of gifts and the empowerment to fulfill the calling in your life. Chances are you are walking in that gift at this very moment and don’t realize it because it just seems so natural.

For instance, I no longer work on the fire line for my department but have gone into the EMS Division (Emergency Medical Services). At the time I went in, I had no clue about computers, organization, or many of the tasks that are related to operating in that division.

One day my boss, who has a wonderful gift for strategic planning, had an idea but did not know how to make the idea a reality. When he told me of the idea, I immediately set to the task of making it happen. Having never dealt with certain computer programs, I taught myself. In no time I had a working model of what my boss wanted. What I learned that day is that I have a gift, in certain situations, for making other people’s ideas a reality. I did not think of the idea on my own, but I instinctively knew how to make the idea an actuality.

You may be doing something that comes so easy to you that you think, “Anyone can do this.” Then you look at someone who is struggling in the area that you find easy and you wonder what is wrong with them. On the flip side, you may be struggling with something that others around you are not. I would love to be able to play the guitar. I have tried several times, but quickly become frustrated because it is so difficult for me. For some reason my fingers just don’t seem to want to conform no matter how hard I try.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NIV)

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”  God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

 Our Heavenly Father has a place for each of us. As the body of Christ, we are many parts making up the sum of the whole. For us to operate as a single body, each body part must do its assigned task to ensure fluidity of movement.

As with the natural body, the body of Christ has those parts which are more visible than others, but that does not equate to importance. For example, when dealing with our biological body, connective tissue is the most abundant tissue in the body. If you compare connective tissue with a major body part such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc., then you might be tempted to say it has no real value. If that is the case then you would be wrong. If it were not for the all important connective tissue, the body would have no support, anchors, or the ability to connect various parts of the body to the other. In other words, without connective tissue, the body falls apart and will cease to exist; it would die.

In Ephesians chapter four we are told that God has placed, within the body, apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, and teachers (five-fold ministry) for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry and for the building up (edifying) of the body. Yes, they are the most visible of the body but that is where the separation ends. Notice that their responsibility is to prepare you and me for the work of the ministry.

Somewhere along the way many Christians have become skewed in their thinking believing that the pastor of the church, or those in the five-fold ministry, are the only ones qualified to speak into the lives of others. Not too long ago, a woman came to me upset that her pastor did not personally come to the hospital to pray for a sick friend of hers. My question to her was, “Why did you need the pastor? Why didn’t you pray for her?” After a moment’s thought she agreed that she had just as much spiritual authority to pray for the sick as did her pastor.

Besides the sick, there are people that only you will be able to reach with the Good News of God’s Word. If I were to try to approach them with the Word they might shut down and not listen. Often times it just comes down to them liking one personality over another or just simply trusting one person over another.

It is our responsibility to learn from the five-fold ministry so that we may go into the world proclaiming the name of Jesus. We are the connective tissue of the body of Christ. Without us doing our share of the workload, the body is not able to function as well as it should.

Ephesians 4:10-13 (The Message)

He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with His gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

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