Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Caveat Called Grace
Jn.1:14 - And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
t is remarkable that He who is complete and full of all divine attributes is described as full of grace and truth. Why those two? Well, without truth there is nothing but moral and spiritual guesswork, which is always full of fallen human reasoning. So truth is foundational, and in fact, Jesus said He WAS the truth. But the Spirit also mentions grace alongside of truth.
I will not bore you with the same anemic definitions of God’s grace which are insults rather than revelations. But grace is the truth in which the human race has hope. All other hope is fleeting, temporary, and false. We live in such eye-gate bondage that often we miss the glory of eternal truth and grace. The tree in our front yard seems more real to us than God and His grace. But we must labor to be conscious of the surpassing spiritual truths which have and will continue to transform us until we are like Him.
But stop and think for a moment. Think of a friend or acquaintance or loved one who is outside of Jesus Christ. Or even think of someone famous who is demonstrably antagonistic to Christ. Look all around as you drive and in the marketplace and see the masses as they make their way through a dark and fallen existence. Indifferent to eternal realities, they embrace their earthly lives with vigor. The situation seems hopeless for millions.
We all know people who are living lives of debauchery and self destruction, and we have long since written them off. We no longer pray for them with any urgency, and we have lost any vestige of hope. But in the midst of penetrating darkness there is one caveat that can turn around a hopeless situation and rescue a sinner who is completely dead in his sins. That caveat is God’s grace. There is no sin too great and powerful that can resist God’s grace when called upon in faith by any and all sinners.
The situation looks hopeless, but grace is the caveat. The sin is overwhelming, but grace is the caveat. This wickedness is so powerful, but grace is the caveat. The lifestyle is so perverted, but grace is the caveat. This sinner seems so careless, but grace is the caveat. The demonic forces are so active, but grace is the caveat. You see, as long as this age of grace exists there is always a caveat to any and all situations.
His name was Mel Trotter. He was a hopeless drunk who left his home and his family for weeks at a time during drunken binges. The Trotter family hardly had enough to eat. One day his two year old little girl became sick, and instead of purchasing medicine for his little girl Trotter bought booze. Days later he returned home only to find his little girl in a coffin at the wake being held in his home. Although he felt it was his fault, Trotter noticed that someone had bought the little girl a pair of new shoes in which to be buried.
Trotter slipped the shoes off of the corpse, sold them, and went out and bought more booze. Homeless, drunk, and shoeless Trotter stumbled into the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He listened as the director gave his own personal testimony as how God’s grace found him and delivered him from a life of hopeless sin. Trotter went forward and believed on Christ. He became a mainstay at the mission and eventually Trotter became a powerful evangelist for Christ. Did you hear what I just said? Trotter was as disgusting a sinner as could be imagined, and yet the caveat was the grace of Almighty God! Halleluiah, what a Savior!! Not only was God’s grace sufficient for a sinner like Trotter, but it also used him as a vessel for preaching the everlasting gospel. Now think again of that loved one or that friend who you might believe is beyond the reach of God’s redemption. Think again.
The caveat is and always will be the grace of God. You think there is no hope for the Rosie O’Donnell’s of this world? The Barney Frank’s? The Vladimir Putin’s? The Rachael Maddow’s? The Sandra Fluke’s? Your nasty neighbor? Oh no my dear friend, do not limit the grace of God, and when we become overflowing vessels of that grace God can and does touch lives that we might consider outside the vicinity of redemption.
Let me take you a step further. I was a drunk, a drug addict, and a violent sinner. I rode a motorcycle and used a van as a mobile station for promiscuity. The adjective “debauchery” is far too timid for the life I lived. A few of my friends and myself discussed robbing a certain bank and killing the guard as we entered. We were not willing to go to jail for the 20 year minimum at that time.
But I was injured in a street fight and had to recuperate at my atheist aunt’s house. And one night I watched and listened as Billy Graham warned that Jesus would return some day. I had never heard such a thing. And one cold night in March of 1975 on top of Garret Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey, I was born again. You see I was lost, and after I was healed of my injury I intended to return to my former life. But the caveat was God’s grace. I climbed up the face of the mountain a lost sinner and I descended a saved sinner.
No one who knew me could believe it, and when I went to court due to my last drug charge the courtroom almost snickered when they saw me. No longer was my hair down to my back; no longer did I wear my bright red dog collar with gold studs; no longer did I have a roach clip dangling around my neck; no longer did I wreak of alcohol; and no longer was on high on amphetamines. I was notorious in the community, but many people thought I was just putting on a show for the court. I wasn’t.
Thirty-seven years later I still have absolutely no righteousness of my own. In my own flesh I am no better than I was back then. But God’s grace intervened and became the eternal caveat that changed my earthly life and my eternal destiny. And I say with the Apostle Paul,
But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Do not discount the power of that grace. Do not consider yourself so sophisticated and Biblically literate that God’s grace seems like child’s play. It is by that grace and only that grace wherein we all stand. We have nothing - NOTHING- with which we can boast except in His matchless grace. So look around again, and see people as disgusting as Mel Trotter or Rick Frueh and think how God’s grace is just a mustard seed of faith away from transforming them forever. And when we embrace the reality of that possible narrative, let us all dedicate ourselves to be vessels of that gospel grace.
A final praise to God’s glorious grace. While I was studying for the ministry I became a cook at the Brown Derby restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. My personality is bigger than life, and I am 6’5” and I used to weigh about 275 pounds. I draw a crowd. I witnessed to everyone in that restaurant, and because of my size everyone, including the head manager, called me “gorilla”. I saw several people come to know Christ, including one 18 year old young man named Steve who worked in the salad department. Steve had a sister who was a waitress at that restaurant, and when he became a believer she was very disagreeable about his conversion. She wanted nothing to do with Christ.
After several years I left for a full time pastorate. I lost track of everyone there. Years later after serving as an associate pastor in New York City, I returned to Florida. The first Friday in Florida I was riding around trying to decide which church to visit. I saw a large building in Clearwater and stopped in for a brochure. The receptionist called for a staff member to come to the lobby. A young woman in her twenties came out with a brochure and handed it to me.
She looked at me and asked, “You’re Rick Frueh aren’t you?” I said that I was. She told me that she was the sister of the young man named Steve, and because of my witness she had become a believer after I had left. She was now a staff member at an evangelical church. You don’t believe in the grace of God? Someone the likes of me can be used to lead others to Christ? Oh my! If a sinner is still breathing his life is not yet fully written. It may be headed in the absolutely wrong direction and seemingly without hope.
But the caveat just may be the grace of Almighty God. Praise Him forever!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Rick!
I will keep praying for the lost in my life - and the lost that come to mind that are out in the world.

There is a woman named Julia that has been involving herself with the occult. I don't see her anymore but know her thru a mutual friend. At one time I witnessed to her and shared with her my experiences with the occult - as a warning to her to turn to Jesus to be free of it. That was a few years ago. She is still very much involved now - she can "hear the dead speak". I know that a demon is communicating with her but she thinks she has a special gift from God. Our mutual friend recently told me that Julia has "melt-downs" and I'm sure having this or these demons in her are too much for her to handle. Please pray for her. I was praying for her for awhile and then just forgot for a couple of years. Apparently she's having a worse time of it than before and I don't think she'll listen to me if I talk with her. Anyone reading this - please pray for Julia's deliverance and salvation!
Thank you, Rick.

Paul said...

What a testimony of being changed from darkness to light! Praise God. I appreciate your writings. Keep up the good work.

Shannon said...

I appreciate reading your testimony of how you came to salvation.
I was wondering of your explanation of Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned".

Many believe they are sinners because they sin...In fact, we sin because we are sinners from birth. I thought this article entitled "Do We Become Sinners When We Sin or Are We Born Sinful?" very helpful on this subject:


Rick Frueh said...

Shannon -

Rom.5:14 - Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Adam’s sin was imputed to the entire human race, just like Christ’s righteousness is imputed to all who believe. Two sinners can only give birth to sinners. If an unborn baby is sinless, then none would die in the womb since death comes by sin. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.

Steve said...

We must be thankful grace is in God's control !! The American Church, following its political deceivers, increasingly denies grace to those it dispises: illegal aliens, Muslims, "liberals," the unworthy poor, etc.

If Jesus really means it, that "blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy," the Church is increasingly making itSELF unfit for His mercy.