1 Thessalonians 2:12… “That ye would WALK WORTHY of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.”
I hear with relative frequency among the religious brethren, a term of degradation to grace teaching, such as what I write; that term is “cheap grace” and/or “easy believism”. As if the grace teacher/believer somehow holds the grace of God in low or “cheap” esteem, using it as an excuse to sin willfully. (As if a naturally sinful man requires an excuse to sin.) While I cannot speak for all grace teachers/believers, I will certainly speak for myself. Therefore, forgive me a short rant against the legalist preachers and believers who makes such claim; as Paul instructs our “worthy walk” to the absolute contrary of the concept of “cheap grace”:
Titus 2:7-8… “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part MAY be ashamed having no evil thing to say of you.”
Those legalist preachers and believers who deny the power of the grace of God to change a man from within (and apply liberally the bondage of the law externally to the supposed “glory” of the flesh) are instant to point out that the grace doctrine we teach “condones sin” in the believer, and is therefore “inferior” to the “higher standards” to which they hold themselves (and so become “superior” to the grace believer – ain’t religion grand!). By the above verse it seems nothing could be further from true, and to those who do make such claim, shame WILL be involved. I sharpen my focus toward the preacher and away from the believer because the believer is trusting what the preacher says. Let’s put a fine point on that:
Romans 6:15… “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
Sorry legalist preacher, read what Paul says. You keep your “flock” under the bondage of the law whether you say you do or not. I know why as well and so does the Lord. Instructing the congregants that they must behave in certain ways to achieve God’s “blessing” is robbing them of the knowledge of all God in Christ has done on their behalf. Grace indeed frees ultimately the individual to realize the infinite goodness and forgiveness of God “in himself” AND “toward others”.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15… “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
It is the love of Christ which constrains the believer, not the bondage of the law. It is the internal awareness of what Christ has done for the believer that motivates the man to even “no longer live for himself” but unto Him which died on his behalf and rose again. It is Christ that died (not the man) to destroy forever sin (and thus death itself) in the believer.
Romans 6:6… “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Those who are dead to sin by being judicially crucified with Christ through belief (all truly saved men) ARE dead to sin. Sin is NO LONGER an issue for that man. His flesh, no matter how “refined”, can in no way make him any “better”. His flesh IS sinful but Christ took sin completely away. What happens to the believer who places himself once again under the Law to attempt to “control” sin in himself?
Galatians 1:18… “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
That believer is attempting to revive in himself that sin essence (guilt) attached to the flesh which Christ died to destroy. By the Law shall NO flesh be justified as by the Law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). The Law demonstrates that we are sinful and causes the guilt that drives us to our knees in search of the Savior. This is the purpose of God giving the Law in the first place. Saving grace teaches that we are to reckon ourselves completely DEAD indeed UNTO sin, as that is what our Savior accomplished on the cross. How then does placing the believer again under the Law help with such reckoning? It does exactly the opposite. It makes us once again a transgressor and renders the grace of God to no effect!
Galatians 5:4… “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Romans 11:6…”And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Grace stands alone as the sovereign, precious and sacred gift of God to man. As men saved by grace, we no longer live unto ourselves as we were bought with the most valuable price in creation, the atoning death of the Creator Himself.
1 Corinthians 6:20… “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.”
Do these grace verses “condone” sin, preacher? God forbid. Does the religious bondage you preach help those under your trust learn what God has done on their behalf? In no way, shape or form… it does just the opposite. It causes the revival of the sin and guilt Christ died to forgive and whom we were crucified with.
Galatians 2:20-21… “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
We are to glorify God in our body and spirit (which ARE Gods) and in our daily conduct, as we are His ambassadors in this fallen satanic world; and it is the FULL ASSURANCE of GRACE and FORGIVENESS of ALL SIN which motivates and empowers that man to do the same. The religious preacher/believer who denies Gods ULTIMATE grace, ultimately denies Gods ultimate sacrifice, and thereby demonstrates his own fundamental ignorance of all God has indeed done for man. Such a one WILL BE ashamed at the judgement seat of Christ and is HIGHLY encouraged to study Gods Word to shew himself approved; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
That was necessary and refreshing at the same time; as I despise legalism in all its forms… thank you for your indulgence. Onward…
Now we understand the “why” of the worthy walk (we have been given a responsibility – see part 1), “how” then is the saved man to walk in this world?
2 Cor 4:1-2… “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
First of all, we do not quit (faint). Come what may (and plenty may well come from religious men against the man of God teaching free grace, right preacher?) we continue to speak with those we have opportunity to speak with; the word of reconciliation which is the gospel of our salvation, the simple gospel of Christ as found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. That is the ambassadors ultimate message. The ambassador should know his song well before he starts singing. He should sing with the attitude of Christ in Paul. We don’t quit because we don’t see results (God gives the increase – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7); we don’t quit because this is what God would have us do; come what may. We are to be faithful to that which we have received, as this is not done for our own increase in any way, this is for the One who made us who and what we are in Christ; God Himself.
We renounce the hidden things of dishonesty (the legalistic bondage of religion) and handle the Word of God as He would have us handle it. Honestly, rightly divided between what is for “Israel and the Gentile nations” and what is for “the body of Christ” which is neither Jew nor Gentile. We DO NOT compromise the simple TRUTH of the gospel of Christ. We present the truth as simply as we are able under whatever circumstances we find ourselves. We manifest the truth of Gods final revelations to man as given to the Apostle Paul. We live in today’s world, this dispensation of free grace, and honor those responses from man which God now honors… simple belief and trust in the atoning death of His Son.
We preach truth, establishing, instructing and edifying others that they can go and do the same, as Paul instructed his son in Christ, Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:2… “And the things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
This is how the message of grace has propagated itself throughout human history since God saved the Apostle Paul. From faithful man to faithful man. The relative few honest grace teachers among us in comparison to teachers of religion, is a sad testimony to the number of men faithful to the message of free grace in the world. It is little wonder the church finds itself in the fractured condition it is in. Paul was witness to this falling away in his own day:
2 Timothy 1:15… “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”
But Paul was NOT ashamed however and never compromised the message of absolute grace that God gave him to demonstrate to the world at large and committed to Holy Scripture in 13 epistles after the death of His Son.
Romans 12:1-3… “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may PROVE what is that GOOD, and ACCEPTABLE, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” this is only accomplished through learning, study.
Let us look one more time what is that “GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and perfect will of God” for mankind that we may PROVE in this dispensation of grace…
1 Timothy 2:3-4… “For THIS is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE in the sight of God our Saviour; who WILL have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Our “reasonable service” then, our daily and “normal” walk as ambassadors for Christ is (as much as is in our control – Romans 1:15) to be NOT conformed to this world, the inevitable course it is on; not to think very highly of ourselves but to think soberly (logically, clearly) to the extant to which we have learned of Gods grace toward us through study; it is to testify the gospel of Christ to those with whom we come into contact. As Paul says:
Ephesians 3:9… “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
It is NOT the gospel which was NOT hid; the gospel of the circumcision – Galatians 2:7. It is NOT the gospel of the Kingdom prophesied, spoken of, since the beginning of the world. It is the gospel committed unto Paul and Paul alone by the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. The hidden, secret gospel of the free grace of God through Jesus Christ, NOW made manifest to ALL men in the completed canon of scripture.
Galatians 1:11-12… “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Romans 1:16… “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
To sum this post up as best as I currently can, examine carefully and internalize to yourself these last two verses.
2 Timothy 4:5… “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Afflictions will come. Endure… knowing what has been accomplished on our behalf.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10… “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
Afflictions will come. Nevertheless…
1 Corinthians 15:58… “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
If we labor correctly the gospel committed unto Paul, our labor CANNOT be in vain. Since it is for His sake we labor and not our own, we can endure all things this fallen world can throw at us.
2 Timothy 4:3-4… “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
This is the condition of the world today. Yet Paul, knowing full well what God in Christ had accomplished on his behalf, soldiered on, as should we.
Acts 20:24… “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
How did Paul have such joy in all this affliction? Why was he such a faithful soldier? There was a reward waiting for him.
Next post: “Walk Worthy, part 3 (Rewarded)!“