Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Sin
that God's Grace Cannot Reach

In words that are both true and yet disturbingly shallow, God’s grace is defined as God giving us what we could never earn and will never deserve. That definition is actually a verbal doorway that leads to an infinite expanse of expressed love by the Creator to His creation. God’s grace has become a truth that is attacked by many projectiles, all of which have their roots in legalism. And legalism is just manifested self righteousness.
So much of the church has taken God’s grace and burdened it with a set of rules that must be followed to warrant or at least substantiate the presence of God’s grace in a person’s life. Grace is an ethereal truth that is both rugged and stalwart but yet delicate and exquisite. Its very essence can withstand the vilest of sins and yet shrinks at the slightest hint of good deeds. Grace is so unlike us that we can barely embrace it without some addition, some refinement, or some minor assistance.
Grace can cover all of our sins, past, present, and future. It scope is timeless as well as comprehensive. It strips us of our insatiable need for significance and role, and it disarms our oft presentations of exculpatory evidence on our own behalf. Good deeds are irrelevant and bad deeds are never entered into evidence. In a world of competition and comparison, grace has forever leveled the ground beneath all human feet. There are no laws that govern this grace regardless how many men attempt to create. Justice runs from grace; love rides upon its wings; condemnation melts from the heat of grace; mercy introduces grace; and punishment is swallowed up in the fathomless ocean of grace.
If you don’t see God’s grace as “too good to be true” then you do not understand it; it is too good but it is true. And if you ascend to the millionth level of grace and believe you’ve reached its zenith, then look around, your journey lies further than your mind can apprehend or even appreciate. God’s grace, covered in blood, is the only door to eternal life. It cannot be purchased; it is only given. Those who deserve it cannot have it and only those who are unworthy can receive it. Grace searches out those who can offer nothing, and grace circumvents those whose religious hands are full.
Give your mind a rest and send in your heart. God’s grace seeks sin, and finds its mission in the presence of any sin or sins. Our sins conspired to kill us, but grace burst through and served death with an eviction notice of life and life eternal. Please do not pull out your purse and attempt any pitiful remuneration. Grace is offended by any payment other than that which has already been paid. The price for this grace was way beyond our pay scale, and in fact our wages only added to its extravagant cost.
But there is one, and only one, sin that grace cannot reach. It is not homosexuality and it is not adultery. It is not murder and it is not rape. It is not child molestation and it is not greed. The only sin that can avoid God’s grace is the sin of unbelief. And it is within this sacred truth that grace is uncovered in all its breathtaking majesty along with its profound pragmatism. Exactly what am I saying, here? Am I suggesting that God’s eternal and unmerited favor can be gained simply by faith? Is grace activated personally and eternally just through an act of faith?
I realize that our carnal minds are drawn to religious ceremonies and acts of human compassion in an effort to at least be included as ancillary in the awarding of God’s grace. Of course we do not demand top billing and we give God the glory due His name, but surely God must appreciate our attempts, however feeble, to please Him and gain His favor. But friends, not only does God not appreciate them, but He rejects them. Our good deeds, whether viewed individually or collectively, can never penetrate the aura of God’s grace.
Receive it by faith or reject it by works, God’s grace can never be earned. Every sinner who has experienced the life changing grace of Almighty God entered into that grace by faith and by faith alone. As difficult as it is to believe God loves us, when we realize that He offers His redemptive grace freely by faith we are overwhelmed. And this knowledge sometimes leads men to infiltrate the gospel with human additions, sometimes slight and sometimes colossal. Since we are so selfish, it can be so easy to reach out and help God in our redemption. But without faith, God cannot be pleased.
The sin of unbelief takes many forms. Most forms of unbelief do not shout “I don’t believe!” No, most forms of unbelief are much more subtle than that, and many times unbelief hides within professions of faith and belief. And in full disclosure, all of us have areas of unbelief in our hearts and lives. But the sin of unbelief as it pertains to Jesus Christ and His gospel stands alone as the one, unmovable bulwark that thwarts the effectiveness of God’s grace. God is willing and ready to apply His grace to any and all sinners who accept it by faith. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
This has many implications as we consider the evangelical landscape. There are times where I believe that most evangelicals are not born again, and then there are times where I see God’s grace as expansive, but that knowledge is His alone. What I do know is that faith in Jesus Christ is the exclusive path to eternal life and that is not something that ever should be challenged or altered, as well as something that no one should take lightly. It is a life and death issue. So when you hear someone mix works with saving faith you can most assuredly reject it and reject that messenger.
Suggesting that any works, regardless of how righteous and humanitarian, can lead to eternal life is a bold faced lie and possibly the single greatest deception of all time. There is only one sin that God’s grace cannot reach.



mrs k said...

"... grace has forever leveled the ground beneath all human feet."

A call to humility for those of us who walk after Jesus. May we see everyone in our path with His eyes.

StephenT said...

It's all about belief, or lack thereof

I savor but surrender not.
I behold without embrace.
The scandal of this cornerstone.
The enormity of grace.

Good news is one thing.
Sinners welcome a lowered bar.
Good News too good for our trust to contain,
Now you've gone too far.

Now to find the life I thought was mine,
Striving won't obtain.
Now walking by the best of sight
Is, all in all, in vain.

Even small unbelief becomes the leaven of each day,
Equipping every fleshly fiber to resist another Way.

There must be something I can try.
"Oh that Ishmael might live", I cry.
The answer, "No", preserves far more,
Even the substance of things hoped for.

The promise, as foretold, surpasses Adam's flaw.
True bread sustains a new creation, forever dead to law.

It's one thing to declare, desire, denounce and do.
(The accuser would have me believe a lie.)
It's quite another just to come,
Naked, of my own free will, at His cross to die.

In Him alone, resurrection bound,
(purchased more than found)
Living water is offered, with this relief...
no less to him with last request,
"help my unbelief."

by StephenT, October, 2008

Rick Frueh said...

Good poem, Steve. Do you have a cache of poems on your blog?

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the good poem, Stephen. Thank you. But I must contend with you that it is NOT ALL about belief. See James, especially James 2:19.

It is about discipleship, that is following, that is doing, that is obeying.

There's a long-standing contention between over emphasis on orthodoxy, by the magisterial reformers, at expense of orthopraxy. Apostolic saints were known by how they lived more than by what they "believed."

Cherie said...

And so to us that are getting mixed messages about faith and works the debate continues. Trying to walk in His ways I keep stumbling over people.

Do any of you realize what this does to those of us who have been lied to by the church system, who are looking for truth? We seek the Lord, read His Word, but still have a need for fellowship and Pastoral guidance and with that need risk turning the wrong way. Most of what Jesus says is being ignored too.

When the rich man asked Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life what did he say? Become humble and follow me. Give all that you have away (money was his very essences) and follow me. To me, and I am going by the words on the page not some great revelation, it means to leave yourself behind and go with Jesus. Literally lower yourself and be like Him. Now does that mean I have to observe the Sabbath? I don't know because he doesn't mention it. God said He would write His laws upon our hearts.

I believe what the Word says about Pastors, teachers, Elders etc. but we still need to "search the Scriptures", and "work out our own salvation". That means to me that the Holy Spirit will guide us in Truth if we continue to seek His Will and His Wisdom by asking.

Thank you for reading. Just saying because of the direct opposite opinions posted here. Pastor Rick, I will hear your preaching but remember, you know what the Bible says about your position within the church.

Thank you for not leaving entirely your Pastoral position. God Bless.