4 times a week i have the privilege of ministering to a broad range of inter-denominational groups across different villages & townships. One common thread I’ve noticed is that there is a gross misunderstanding of ‘grace’ in today’s body of Christ.
Yes it is true we don’t earn grace!, and it is also true that it is freely given to the believer! John 1:12. But what is largely overlooked is that Grace isn’t actually free! Someone paid a price for it! And that same someone has an expectation of returns that His sacrifice ought to yield to them who it has been freely given to; and rightly so!!
“for unto whomsoever much is given: of him much will be required” Lke 12:48
Grace is the most expensive free gift ever given, because the highest price ever paid in the history of creation was paid for it. The very life blood of Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God.
It is important to make this clarification because we be-little the price paid for us believers by Christ when we oversimplify grace to mean just ‘Unmerrited Favor’.
So What is Grace?
God created man for His divine purpose (pleasure), but that purpose was sabotaged when man fell into Sin. 2 immediate problems that created:
Sin made man the enemy of God and meant we were deserving of His wrath and punishment.
Man could no longer fulfill divine purpose because He no longer had free access to God’s presence from which he drew his enabling ability to fulfill divine purpose.
Christ’s incalculable sacrifice for believers at the cross solved these 2 challenges in 1 fell swoop:
- He redeemed us from the eternal judgement & wrath we deserved.
IT ALSO opened the way for a more intimate relationship with God (who now comes to dwell in us), allowing us to walk progressively with Him, and through His divine presence with/in us, supplies us with His enabling ability to live as He wants us to live and do what He he has foreordained us to do, and be whom He has created us to be.
There is a widening gulf between point #1 & #2 created & selfishly propagated by false grace teachers which is entrapping an ever-increasing number of believers today.
Why Does This Matter?
It matters because when we embrace Step #1 (the salvation element of grace) and sidestep Step #2 (the empowerment element), we end up with a Christian life which is self focussed and whose inevitable end point is fruitlessness at best or an abominable product at worst!! (Such as the Moabites & Amalekites which Lot’s life produced)
Either way, the totality of Christ’s sacrifice would have been in vain for us.
When Grace is wasted: The Story of Lot.
Recommended Reading: Gen 18:15-38
The old testament story of brother Lot offers a teachable typology of how God’s most expensive gift of grace freely given to a believer can be squandered!
In our previous discussion on Building & Dwelling in the Plain, Lot’s carnally driven choice to settle & build His Christian life in the plains of Sodom is typical of a believer who runs a ‘self-driven’ race laced with spots of compromise & daily stained by the scum of the mixed-multitude.
In Gen 19:15-16, God being the merciful God that He is, reaches out to forcibly remove lot & his household from the ruin & catastrophe which his carnal choices deserved. Having divorced himself from divine purpose and progressive relationship with God.
Vs 15-16 show the mercy and grace of God unto salvation for brother Lot.
16. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
Fulfilling point #1 dimension of grace.
In vs 17 we see the 2nd leg/dimension of grace at play encapsulated in the divine instruction to “Flee the plain…. escape thou to the mountain”.
17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed
God’s instructions are infused with grace (enabling ability) to do his will for those who are prepared to walk obediently.
Having delivered us from wrath, His declared will & intention made known unto us through His Holy Spirit and His word also give us the ‘enabling ability’ to live above the power of Sin daily, to live Live for Him according to our overall purpose & finally just as important it gives us the power not to look back (to our vomit & past life)
We Compromise, Because we love our flesh
19 “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast mangnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: “
20. “Behold now, this city is near to flee unto: and it is a little one: Oh, Let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live”.
Lot’s ‘negotiation’ out of God’s perfect will into God’s permissive will is the way many of us Christians now live our lives.
We gratefully accept the Salvation afforded us by Christ’s gift of grace but we wiggle our way out of surrendering unto His Lordship which the 2nd leg of grace aims to produce in us.
We ultimately end up with a Christianity without Jesus when we do this.
The most expensive gift of Faith which is freely given to us believers is not given to us on ‘our terms’ but on Christ’s terms.
God’s intent was not to deliver us from the Sodom of worldliness only to have us settle in the Zoar of lukewarmity & religion.
Many of us today we negotiate our way out of denying ourselves daily & taking up our cross to follow Christ. We rather settle for a less painful & sacrificial ‘experience’ of Christianity in Zoar where we practice on our terms and our way.
In Zoar we find a comfort zone where we clothe ourselves with the ‘form of godliness’ but deny the power of the same grace to transform and conform us via the mountain experience.
What are our common excuses?
Perfection is impossible, so why try? After all God knows I can’t be perfect.
God is merciful, once saved I’ll always be saved as long as i do good and avoid evil I can keep on living for myself as I please.
Didn’t Christ die that I might have life more abundantly? That should mean the focal point of my life is to live my best life now.
Perhaps the proof of our inordinate love of self is best expressed in our conscious or unconscious choice to seek out a church & place of worship also built in the plain which affords compromise, is soft on Sin and is centred upon the exaltation of Self.
The Inevitable result is that we produce believers fully settled in Zoar who:
Profess Christ but regularly take bribes in the office and enrich themselves at the expense of their employer.
Profess Christ but still dabble in fornication, adultery and lewdness.
Profess Christ but still drink, smoke and engage in revellings.
Profess Christ but reject the ‘quaint idea’ of submitting to their Husbands, supposing that their service and “good works” justifies them.
Profess Christ but also worship (whole heartedly give their heart’s over) to other reigning gods of the day such as football, fashion.
All of these are just some of the consequences which the devaluation of grace is producing in our and the church.
You may look at all of this and say like the rich young ruler: “I don’t fall into any of these categories”….good for you…
But there’s just one more thing…..
Imagine for a moment you are destitute, homeless and utterly bereft of all Hope. Then suddenly a sympathetic passerby takes interest in you, and writes you a cheque of N10m, then leaves you with His accountant who he tasks with training you and counselling you for a time . When your benefactor returns 5 years later to see how you’re doing what would you suppose his expectation would be?
The Final Matter:
You are a Christian who has received Christ’s free gift of salvation many years hence, How much have you utilized the grace to increasingly grow in your knowledge of Him? And conformation to His image?
Were Christ to visit you today, would he find bountiful fruit (return on His investment) or would he meet only leaves?
Peace be unto you.