Of junk and fake grace (13)

Grace brings you all the time to the foot of the cross. There is sufficiency in grace. Jesus called it his grace, adding in his conversation with Paul that “My grace is sufficient for you.” His grace is enough. He also told Paul, my strength is made perfect in weaknesses. His grace is His strength, not your joke.

You don’t need to add anything to what is sufficient, not you misunderstanding, not legalism, not your reductionist view of it. It’s enough. And what freedom that brings, what hope, what life. Christ emptied himself to fill us, not with an idea but with the substance of his grace.

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Love

John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (ESV)

There should be no presumption in love, it should be followed by action. In the case of Jesus, he said your love for him is manifested in obedience to him. There is no sentiment in the matter. You need to walk the talk.

Right from the first chapters of the bible, the battle has been about obedience. Adam and Eve faced it and they failed (Genesis 3). Jesus faced it and he passed (Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus said that he must do the work of him who sent him (John 5:1-5). For him, being on the earth was about doing the will of God, following his mandate, embracing his purpose in every way.

That should also be your own stance. Jesus sent us to the world, the way the father sent him (John 20:21). Let that be the basis of your life.

Obedience is an exercise of the will, and God wants to empower our will to choose and do his will, uncluttered by fear, ignorance and distraction.

The empowerment comes by the Holy Spirit coming into us to pour the love of God into us, so that it becomes our default to obey, breaking into light, and we sense the grieving of the Holy Spirit in us when we are merely thinking of disobeying (Ephesians 4:30).

Heir of all things spiritual, physical and of the soul

hawks-215052_640Hebrews 1:2: but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (ESV)

Jesus is the heir of all thing but we are joint heirs with him (Romans 8:17). But can you imagine the one who is the heirs of all things having to pass through the ignoble death of
the cross?

Jesus in a parable referred to himself as the son of the owner of a garden who was beaten and killed by those to whom were trusted the garden, in reference to the Pharisees (Luke 20:1-16).

Jesus the heir of all things was beaten, he was crushed, because he is not just the heir of all things but through him the world was created. It was for the purpose of generating the new creature those who will reign with him, that motivated by love, he shed his blood.

It was necessary for him to do that because according to what he said himself: except a grain of seed falls to the ground it abides alone but if it falls it will bring forth much fruit (John 12:24-25). From the sacrifice of a grain you have many.

The heirs of all things is also the creator of all things. The problem with this old creature was that we became infested with sin and Jesus had to bear our sins as the creator, to make the way back to God not clear for us. Jesus is therefore our all in all. He is the wisdom of God, our righteousness, our sanctification (1Corinthians 1:30). He is the embodiment of the divine I Am.

Remember that Moses asked God: who I should say sent me when I go to tell the children of Israel that someone has asked me to lead them out of bondage to Pharaoh to bring them a glorious land?

God told him: tell them I Am sent you (Exodus 3:14).

I am what?

The completion of that was embodied by Jesus who is the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9), the manifest depiction of the unseen God.

So Jesus said: I Am is the door for the sheep to go in and out and find pasture.

I Am the way the truth and life,

I Am the shepherd that lays his life for the sheep (John 10).

I Am the light of the World (John 9).

He is God, he is the Word. He has endless greatness. The bible says to the increase of his kingdom of peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7).

That is the force of his person. The limitlessness of Jesus is reflected in the name. He has been given a name that is above every other name, and at the name of Jesus everything must bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, of things in heaven, on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:5-11).

The death of Jesus was so that he can come into us, and in a day thousands of people can become new creatures becuase now Jesus is a life-giving spirit (1Corinthians 15:45), having been the firstborn from the dead, to lead us all from that bondage of death, from the judgement of death into life. He said that those who believe in him have passed from death into life, taking us into his unlimited realm (John 5:24).

All things can be divided into three: things physical, of the soul and spiritual, of which he is heir of and we are joint heirs with him.

Physical

Paul asked: God who did not refuse to give us his son, how much more will be together with him, freely give all things to those who love him (Romans 8:32)? He also said that godliness has a promise of a life that now is.

It was in the wilderness that the devil tempted Jesus with the ownership of the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:1-11), but after his death and resurrection Jesus said: all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).

Also all the physical things that were made, he made them. We read: in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God, and through him was everything made and without him nothing was made (John 1:1-5).

In Christ are not just the things spiritual but also physical. Paul prayed that God will supply some people’s needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

When he said that the disciples should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and they imagined he was hinting at them not bringing food along, he reminded them about the time he multiplied a few loaves of bread to feed thousands, twice, telling them that things physical are not beyond his ability to make available (Matthew 16:6-10).

Of the soul

There are things that pertains to the soul which Jesus can provide for us, and which are ours because we are joint heirs with Christ.

Jesus said we should come to him so that we might find rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). His word also has the power to convert the soul. The soul speaks of the will, the emotions and the mind, and Paul wrote that God has not given us the Spirit of fear which primarily casts its influence on the soul, but the spirit (a definition of spirit is “unseen influence”) that God wants to influence us is the spirit of love power and sound mind, affecting the emotion, will and mind respectively (2Timothy 1:6-7).

Spirit

There are also spiritual things that are Christ’s. We share his Spirit (Romans 8:9), we share his father’s house (John 14:1-3). As the heir of all things, Jesus is the landlord in heaven and through faith as we come into him we have what he has, we become co-occupants of heaven.

He said he was going to come back so that where he goes we may be also. He said: In my father’s house there are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you. It is his father’s house and we share his sonship of the father when we become believer.

We also share his purpose. He said: as the father send me, I also send you (John 20:21). By the connection he brought us into with the father and the Spirit, making us children of God and having the Spirit upon and inside us, we have access to some spiritual gifts, to walk in the supernatural on the earth, expressing mercy, teaching God’s word, revealing mysteries. In all these, we share the ministry of Jesus. Purpose speaks of identity and mission, which we share spiritually with Jesus.

Humility

rose-419079_640Matthew 18:4: Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Paul wrote to the Romans about how humility is related to renewal of the mind, being an outflow of the transformation that emanates from that process (Romans 12).

He said that the path of the renewal of the mind will establish them in the will of God. He hinted at the fact that the mind is not truly renewed unless we do not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. Humility or pride is rooted in how you think of yourself, especially in relation to others.

Then he listed the gifts operational in the body of Christ, which is different from one person to another, which we should use to serve others. The disposition to serve another is an indication of humility.

And there is another side to that. Since all the gifts are not domiciled in an individual, it means that the other person is better than you in some way. Think about that. It means the other person can offer you what you cannot offer yourself. Paul puts it this way: think about yourself with humility. You are not all in all, you are limited.

With regards to the operating of the gift through us, Paul said we need to recognise that they are manifestation of the measure of grace and faith that we have received.

Therefore there is no allowance for boasting. When we recognise our limitation, we live our lives like an arrow, sharp and on point, not dissipating energy on activities that we do not have the supply of ability from God for, and we do with the exertion of the flesh. Paul said that he does not fight as one beating the air (1Corinthians 9:24-26). It is humility not to think you can everything.

Paul said that we should have the same mind of humility that Jesus Christ possesses, because though he was God and without limit, he humbled himself to take on the form of humanity (and the attendant limitations) and to suffer death on the cross, in obedience to the father (Philippians 2:5-11).

He first humbled himself to take on humanity, and he further humbled himself because he needed to pay for the sin of humanity by going to the cross, which was “pain and death.”

A life of obedience to God is a life of humility. And Jesus being an example of obedience expressed great humility. Paul said we should have the same disposition like Jesus, who was not defined by the exterior but by the inner content. He did not try to prove himself to others but was content to be what God has called him to be per time.

And God raised him up, lifted him up and made him to become all there is to become in spiritual height. But he first humbled himself as an example for us all of what the key to divine elevation is.

Jesus also said the greatest in the kingdom is the servant of all (Mark 10:35-45). Again humility is about service and service and greatness are intertwined in the mind of God.

Note that before Paul associated humility with the expression of spiritual gifts, he talked about being living sacrifices. That means we die to our ambition, our own personal intentions, it is in that context that we can fully express the spiritual gifts which were released when Jesus ascended to heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10).

Paul wrote: he ascended on high and gave gifts to men. He had served us in the death on the cross and he wants us to serve one another, hence the gifts he gave us. And he is he still serving us now. The bible says that he ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). The gifts are testimonies of the ascension of Jesus. They are testimonies of the resurrection of Jesus, of the resurrection life at work in us, through faith and by the gift of God’s grace. They are the fruit of the humility of Jesus in our lives.

Peter talked about humility as a major qualification for God’s lifting, saying his “default setting” is to resist the proud, while giving grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5).

Humility is both in relationship to God and to others. It is regarding others more highly than ourselves and it is submission to God.

Saul showed his proud heart when instead of obeying God, he found it convenient to modify the instruction he was given. And he fell from grace because of that. He should he could not submit to God.

Humility for Adam and Eve would have been to obey the word of God in the face of temptation from the devil, rejecting any other opinion for God’s word (Genesis 3).

God said that he associate with the one who trembles at his word (Isaiah 66:2). So how you regard the word of God is an indication of your humility or lack of it. Jesus said that it is not about calling him lord but doing what he says (Luke 6:46).

Humility towards man involves submitting to leadership, and recognition of authority figures giving them the due regard (Romans 13:6-7). Paul wrote of the need to render to others what is due to them, for example, we should respect constituted authority and not become social misfits. He also said that we should submit one to another, expressing the humility of Christ to others (Ephesians 5:21).

The wife should submit to her own husband, as the church is submitted to Christ, giving him respect. The children are supposed to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).

Pride and rebellion go together. We read that he who is commonly corrected but does not yield will suddenly be destroyed and without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Humility is seen by the words we speak. In the book of Proverbs we read: let another man praise you and not your own mouth (Proverbs 27:2). Paul said if we realise that we do not have anything that we have not been given then we will not boast (1Corinthians 4:7).

Hidden in preparation

beautiful-16736_640Isaiah 49:2: And he made my mouth like a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand, and he made me like an sharpened arrow; he hid me in his quiver.

Preparation is always in the secret. The potter makes the pot in secret and then showcases it in the public, when it is ready to be admired and stand the rigour of use by those who purchase it.

Everyone used by God had a time of preparation in an obscure place. John the Baptist is a prime example in his. The bible says that he was in the wilderness, in high-level preparation, before he was manifested to Israel (Luke 1:80).

The more important the role, the more intense the regime of preparation or the time one needs to be hidden before being manifested. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, in a place of difficulty and temptation, as part of his rigorous preparatory regime.

Preparation is role specific, it’s targeted at bringing out our specific potential and burn off any impediment to achieving our life goals. It is to ensure that we are well cooked before being served to our generation in any service role.

We should not short-circuit preparation by unduly seeking prominence, and positions, refusing to submit fully to the process. If you are properly cooked you will not taste well (Hosea 7:8).

Paul was adequately prepared; at the end he was described by even his distractors as someone who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

He was a one man army that bulldozed away the works of the devil. When he showed up in Ephesus, he disrupted the longstanding arrangement of the worship of idols and was a threat to the trade of the idol makers. In his work, the bible says that so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed (Acts 19).

Commenting about his ministry, he said that he laboured more than the other apostles. His adequate preparation showed in the impact of his life, and his consistency. He was not someone who flip-flopped in spiritual knowledge but held firmly to his convictions even in the face of grievous persecution or pressure from others. He said: I know whom I have believed (2Timothy 1:12). He was deep, and all because of his preparation.

Paul was prepared in different ways. He was intellectually prepared as a Pharisee and as a well-read person, who was also a son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

He was prepared by long time association with other believers at the highest level after he became saved. He was prepared by being baptised in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9). He was also prepared by adequate service. He was in the church in Antioch as a teacher when he was called to be separated together with Barnabas for an independent work (Acts 13:1-3). He was prepared by prayer offered by and for him, and he continued to ask for prayer to be offered for him throughout his life.

Prayer is part of the preparatory process. Jesus said men ought always to pray and not to faint. If you do not faint in the place of prayer, then you will not faint in life (Luke 18:1).

Learning new things is part of the preparation. Before Elijah appeared before King Ahab to declare that there would not be rain in the land for some time, the bible says he prayed fervently. He was prepared in the presence of God, prepared in fervent prayer. The place of prayer is the place of preparation (James 5:16-18).

James while commenting on what Elijah did, said that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much, makes tremendous power available.

Prayer, as defined by Jesus, is something done in the secret for God to give a public reward. In the place of prayer is the place of God’s quiver, it is the secret place of the Most High (Psalm 91:1). It is the place where people do not see but God sees (Matthew 6:5-6), it is a place for the exchange of our little strength for God’s mighty power, the place to know God. And the bible says that those who know their God will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32).

If you short-circuit the process of preparation you will short-circuit the process of manifestation. If you are in a haste to manifest, it means you are not submitted to God. And the bible says we should submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he will lift up in due time. The due time is determined by God (1Peter 5:6).

The place of preparation is where you are not noticed. David went through many years of preparation. After he was anointed by Samuel as king in Israel, he discovered that the road to that end is paved with persecution and difficulty.

He had opportunity to force himself to the throne, by killing King Saul his prime persecutor, but he did not do that. He was not in a hurry to be king, not in the hurry to end his own misery. Though he was called to be king, he humbled himself under the mighty has of God till the time of his lifting, after years of running away from the king Saul, who has threatened to kill him. He waited for God’s timing and so was adequately prepared to be effective as a king.

God said: I have found David my servant and with my holy oil have I anointed him (Psalm 89:20). And he added that he will do all his will. And coming to the New Testament the bible says that David fulfilled the will of God in his generation (Acts 13:36). That is the result of adequate preparation.

Moses sensed the call to be the deliverer for Israel from bondage in Egypt and he thought the people was going to recognise his calling, but they did not (Acts 7:20-44). He tried to assert himself by killing an Egyptian single-handedly, but the people still rejected him. And thus he started a journey for forty years of frustration because he was in haste to get the will of God done, not knowing that the will of God is done in God’s time and God’s way. Adequate preparation drums that into you. And eventually when Moses was asked to deliver Israel, he felt genuinely inadequate and needed the assistance of his brother Aaron.

Jesus needed the Ministry of John the Baptist his cousin to introduce him to Israel. If the ministry of John did not start, the ministry of Jesus could not, based on the divine arrangement. Adequate preparation for Jesus therefore meant to be submitted to the ministry of John (Luke 1-4). Jesus received the help of Jesus. We need to be humble enough to receive all the help we need on our journey of preparation. We need others, just as Jesus needed John.

After he was baptised by John, Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was driven there by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit therefore supervised his preparation, and was the initiator of his manifestation.

An active cooperation with the Holy Spirit is therefore what we need to be fully prepared. Jesus wanted his disciples adequately prepared, he therefore said that they should wait in Jerusalem to be endowed with power from on high (Acts 1:8). If you cannot wait to be prepared, you are not ready to walk with God.