The more you understand God’s grace, the more you will enjoy it and experience it. Faith is not something hard to attain. It is be the effortless response of a heart saturated by God’s grace and goodness. You begin to see the invisible and do the impossible. Sin loses its attraction and you will become more and more passionate about him.
The Holy Spirit is bringing us a new revelation of grace to us in these days. All over the world, there are signs of a fresh grace message being preached. God is giving us new light on this much-neglected topic. What was once a teaching received by the intellect alone, is fast becoming a new revelation impacting our hearts. We need a new understanding and a fresh experience of God’s grace now more than ever.
We know that our society is under the judgement of God. He has shown us signs of this judgment – the bomb at Hammersmith Bridge, the disaster relating to London’s drainage system and the fire in the City of London, were all signs I prophesied in 1998 of the judgement of God coming to London and the nation (see March 09 issue of Revival Times). This judgment calls us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy and grace as never before and to recover the original preaching of the gospel of grace that Paul spoke of,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone believes.” (Romans 1:16)
The gospel is the message of the pure grace of God received by simple faith.
We are in a season of fruitfulness, and we know that we can only bear fruit by the grace of God. The grace message is not a justification for lazy believers, but it is a powerful motivator to serve God and to work for him more and more effectively. Paul says,
“I laboured more than them all; yet not I but the grace of God in me”. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
We have a call to become the most effective disciple-making centre in London. To saturate our city with effective cell groups of believers committed to winning and discipling others. This takes both commitment and effort. But, it can never be achieved in our own, natural strength. We must, like Paul, know the fruitfulness of effective work motivated and empowered by grace. Without that, the cell vision becomes as demanding and as impossible to fulfil as the Law of Moses!
We also have to face the many religious challenges to the gospel of grace. These challenges come from both inside and outside the Christian faith. The legalists of modern day professing Christianity are everywhere. They tell us that grace-through-faith is not enough. We are told that there is always something we have to do to make our salvation complete. They say it takes more than simply trusting the finished work of Christ. They try to get us to add works to our faith in order to be accepted by God, to be sure we are accepted by God or to keep on being accepted by God. This form of legalism has robbed us of our glorious liberty in Christ, and also saps the strength of our motivation to serve him out of a pure conscience through love not law, through grace not works and through Holy Spirit power not human effort.
Our society is also susceptible to the false teaching of other religions like Islam, which play on the pride of human beings teaching that we can be saved by our good works. These religions of law tell people that will get to heaven if our good works outweigh our bad works. And so, the message of grace is lost.
That is why the Holy Spirit wants us to rediscover the power of God’s grace in our lives in a time of judgement: to bear much fruit, to see our nation saved and to combat false religion.
But what is grace? We talk a lot about it, but do we really understand it? Grace is God’s unmerited favour. It involves God’s mercy and it results in peace, the shalom of God. When Paul wrote his letters to Christians (we call these the Pauline epistles) he usually begins with the customary greetings. But, these are not given merely out of politeness or etiquette. He fills the traditional greetings with Christian content and with divine revelation. In 1 Timothy 1:2, he writes to Timothy:
“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2)
Paul reveals that these three amazing gifts come from God through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Here, mercy means, “not receiving what we deserve from God” – that is, judgment. Grace means, “receiving what we do not deserve from God” – that is blessing. And, peace is the result of his grace and mercy. It means, “receiving his shalom” – his life, his health, his peace, his well-being and his prosperity in life. All these things are the glorious benefits we receive from God by faith. And, they all have their root in pure grace. This is his free, undeserved and unconditional favour. We do not work to gain it, but receive it by simple faith. Christ has so completely fulfilled the requirements of God on our behalf and his blood has so completely paid the debt we owe to God, that all we have to do is to receive and enjoy his grace. This is what it means to “reign in life” through the grace of God.
The Bible teaches that, when Christ was raised again from the dead, we were raised with him to a life of victory, freedom and deliverance. Not only that – we were also made to sit together with him in heavenly places. Right now, the grace of God has placed you with Christ, seated on the throne of the universe! Now that is something we could never have done ourselves. It is all of God. It is all of grace.
Speaking about this in Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul describes first what we were – without Christ. And, then, he describes what God has done for us in Christ. He says that, before, we were dead in our sins. We were in bondage to the ways of this world and to the ruler of kingdom of the air. We were disobedient to God gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. We were, quite simply, by nature objects of wrath. Then came the grace of God:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ, even when we were dead… and raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
All this comes to us through the grace of God. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything, good or bad, that we have ever done, or ever could do. It depends entirely on what Jesus has done – what he has accomplished for us! And, because Jesus has accomplished it, his work is over. That is why he is seated at the right hand of the Father. His work is finished. And, we are seated with him in the place of perfect rest and perfect accomplishment. No wonder Paul says:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
But, the blessing does not end there. Paul goes on to say:
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
This means that we have not just been elevated to a new position. We have a new creation call on our lives. God has recreated us in Christ to do the good works that he has prepared for us. Now these good works have nothing to do with making us acceptable to God. We do not do good works in order to get saved, but we do good works because we are saved.
The difference between these two statements is vast. There is a world of difference between doing good works in our own ability to try and measure up to God’s standard and serving him out of the loving gratitude inspired within us by the Holy Spirit because we have been accepted freely and unconditionally by his grace.
Let me ask you a question: where are you right now? I don’t mean physically. But, where are you in relation to your new position in Christ? Are you truly occupying that seated position in Christ. Are you really enjoying taking up that place of security and authority? I will help you answer these questions. If you believe that God is just putting up with you, or that he is waiting for you to convince him that you are worthy, then you have not taken up your place of total acceptance in Christ. Are you struggling to get God to notice you? Do you believe that you have to do more and more to get him to bless you? Do think that you have to pray more, fast more, believe more, or do more righteous acts before God will bless you or make you fruitful? Then let me make your day! There is nothing more that you have to do to earn God’s blessing or to walk in his favour. He has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. He has already given you everything in giving you his Son. As Paul says,
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Why don’t you decide today to occupy your place in the heavenlies. That’s where you belong. It’s your true position. Occupy your place of freedom and authority in Christ. You are totally accepted by the Father through his Only, Beloved and Eternal Son. His blood has made you worthy of his blessing. In yourself, you are nothing. But he is your everything. Take time now to accept these truths, fully embrace them, by faith. Declare to yourself, right now, “I am seated with Christ in heavenly places.” Tell him, out loud, “Lord, I am going to occupy that seat reserved for me in the heavenly realms!”
Begin, from this day on, to sit in your true place of acceptance, freedom and authority before God. Enjoy it. It’s yours!
This truth will change your life. You will begin to realise that God’s grace is sufficient for your every need. You will stop begging God to bless you. Instead, you will enjoy his blessing. You will stop trying to get God to give you fruit. You will start bearing fruit. The more you understand his grace, the more you will enjoy it and experience it. Faith will not be something hard to attain. It will be the effortless response of a heart saturated by God’s grace and goodness. Your will begin to see the invisible and do the impossible. Sin will lose its attraction and you will become more and more passionate about him.
God’s grace alone can drive guilt and condemnation out of your spirit. Only when you are living in the blessing of his grace can you show grace to others. Only by knowing you are forgiven can you begin to forgive those who have offended against you. This is what real freedom is about. Reigning with Christ in life is the highest expression of your freedom.
Once you have fully accepted God’s grace, you will serve him with a new-found freedom. His will becomes acceptable and pleasing to you. Sin and the desires of the flesh lose their appeal. You learn how to surrender to power of the Holy Spirit as you rely on God’s grace rather than on your efforts. In this way you become more fruitful that you ever dreamed possible. Prayer becomes a delight, not a drudgery. Your mission in life to be a disciple-maker is the natural overflow of your life liberated by the grace of God. Your assurance and your confidence before God attract his blessings and open your heart to receive his very best provisions – material, emotional and spiritual. People will notice your joy and be attracted to it. You will become a positive encourager and not a negative criticiser. And most of all, you will bear abundant fruit for the Master.