Let me begin by saying at the onset From what i can gather and from what i am hearing all over the place - listening to "key note" speakers and reading there materials. The "message of the hour" seems to be that of (the grace of God) Well So we are told! Indeed The message of "the Grace of God" along With an emphasis upon (walking in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ) which was modeled to us-- whilst on the earth! Seems to be the beckoning call of the hour. And a veritable word in season!
The Bible: However The scriptures (the word-of-God) do have a lot to say on the subject of Grace! And to ignore this truth would be to deny an essential element of the whole bible! So that being the case and that in mind: One would have to conclude that THOSE who are preaching and communicating this theme are indeed BANG-ON-TARGET! In fact: You will get no argument or resistance from me on that part. Forasmuch as it is "A VERY POWERFUL TRUTH AND ONE INTRINSIC AND CENTRAL TO EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR" about the Gospel message. Indeed Without God's grace and forgiveness where would we all be??
But that said: There are SOME that would pervert the message! and distort it from the roots up. And the proof of this is seen (in the fact) that some radio ministries of late have cancelled and culled them percieved to be polluting the message (taking them off the air) and accusing them of perverting grace.
No surprise actually: Because: As Jude himself warned there would be some who (creep in) and would TURN the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into that of lasciviousness. Hence no surprise that some are being told by "radio station management" -- that there broadcasts and no longer wanted, nor welcome...
But having said this: The message of God's grace is so relevant and so valid! And MOST contemporary to the church. And one in which i will in no wise reject, spurn, or refuse.
But the message i bring to you today is on the eight things i SEE as lacking (in the grace of God) So without further delay i want to look at those (8) things and address them!!
NO 1."The inseperableness of Grace and Truth"
( These are twin towers and pillars )
Johns' gospel correctly and rightly informs us that Jesus was full of (Grace and truth). Now personally i think over the last 100 years there has been a glut of truth that has come forth to the church ( in fact we are inundated with books, tapes, dvds, commentries, sermons, colleges ) ecet. Although in saying that i recognize fully that NONE have arrived or apprehended! But to me the issue hasn't been that the people of God (have not had truth) or been jealous FOR truth - but the issue has been? people lacking in the grace of God and failing to walk in that grace! Paul also warned in the book of Galations that we recieve NOT of this grace in vain! We need both grace and truth! And we need to be tempered by both spiritual ingredients! As One without the other will put us (off balance). Today we have alot of people who are fat-on-the-word of God and can quote you a pelethora of scripture verses - and can "out debate" most of there fellow peers Ecet. Debating in fact until there blue in the face! But where in all this ... is the grace of God, to go with that truth? (i ask) Grace and truth is what followed the Lord Jesus! He had them both! We need them both! and we need to be diligent to make sure -- that we walk in it (Amen!) Indeed knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth!
No2. People who have to be RIGHT about everything:
Personally i find it uncomfortable to be in the presence of people who insist they always HAVE TO BE right about everything! ( the supreme dogmatist ) Is there really any place for them who with (bigotry and dogma) close out all other views contrary to theres!! But what i am seeing and hearing of late - is them who concede to only knowing a little bit! and confess there own need for apprehending! For who among us who among us in the past HAS not had a measure or degree of error in their doctrine? Whose interpretations of scripture have been infallible? (Not that we shouldn't strive for accuracy or to divide up his word correctly) However: That said: No one is immune from deception or from being decieved! Hence Jesus himself warned "take heed to YOURSELVES that no man decieve you". But Some insist there opinions and interpretations are always right! ( Now that's posturing ) And there is little room for contrary views! These are (the ones) who have to be RIGHT about everything. And you will find such hardly concede error or mistakes, or confess faults, let alone acknowledge the recieving of bad or incorrect information. Well Apollos conceded to being in error, and to not knowing that way - more perfectly! Hmmm.
No3. Telling other people HOW to LIVE there lives:
Over in the book of Galations we find some very interesting commentry from paul about certain ones who constrained and compelled gentile converts to be circumcised after the manner of the jews! Also in time they became known to called the "concision" (The Abrahmic covenanant of circumcision) which marked one as a Jew.
Paul told them to ignore THESE commands and refuse there compelling(ness). God's way is not the way of FORCE AND/OR manipulation! People who over meddle and insist on telling other people how to live their life is contrary to the principles and teachings given to us by God's word about "choice" (whosever WILL, LET HIM take of the water of life FREELY) IT'S ABOUT "choosing" AND NOT CONTROL! Adam and eve chose to disobey, they chose sin and they chose the forbidden tree. (It was a choice) and that choice was not enforced upon them. So then what's up with this thing of trying to tell other people how to live there life? Now let me be crystal clear i am not teaching passivity nor am i saying we DON'T warn people OF the broadway and widegate that leadS to destuction. Ecet. But God respects man's freedom of choice without the control element - TO IT. He gave us His word In order that we would make "right choices" and choose life and not death! he (GOD) does NOT encroach - upon man's will! People who truly posture are them with toxic attitude declare it's my way (or) the highway. Society itself today...secular society frowns upon know-it-alls and arrogant people! how much the more should we seek to eradicate this conduct from our own?? I ask?
No4. The DISHONOURING of other people:
I don't know about you? But i was brought up to respect other people and be courteous and polite! regardless of wether i held to their opinions or not. That did not mean i had to ACCEPT, believe or embrace there VIEWS! only that i should still treat them with respect. And i can say in all truthfulness - that To this day (my own policy) has been to personally thank the minister, the pastor, and preacher - after he is done preaching usually seen with the salute of a warm handshake afterwards. Its just polite and couteous to do so. You say: what even if the message was chock full of errors? Yes i still thank him for labouring in the word of God all that week! Now if it were a matter of serious error or heresy...then i might raise questions or confront him. But still i would not be mealy-mouthed or disrespecting (even then) For U see that is not part of my personal make up -- to be that way! Unfortunately Some today mistakenly believe disagreement IS there entitlement OR right to attack another point of view! Over in John chapter eight the Jews confronted Christ accusing him of being both a samaritan and of having a devil! The response was: I have NOT a devil! But i honour my father, and ye, DO dishonour me. Paraphrased (my way) "you seem to have no qualms whatsoever about dishonouring me in public and accusing me falsely. The Truth is i honour God! But you find it easy to dishonour and that in public, and U do this without compunction or regret.
No 5. " The perenial fault-finder "
And it is here we turn our attention to Matthew chapter seven (as it is written) "Judge NOT that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye METE out to others, it will be measured back to you"
And why BEHOLDEST the speck in your brothers eye when behold (there is a plank) in your own eye (You hypocrite ) first remove the mote from your own eye ... and then you shall see more clearly (to be able) to remove specks from other eyes.
Strong and reproving words from the master here! And one which i feel we fall from grace OFTEN (continually erring and relapsing) But the perenial "fault-finder" is one who picks apart others people messages and dissects opinions and critiques even general commentary: (what's with that?) They nit-pick and find fault! They don't expect to recieve anything from the article they have just read! or TO contribute anything positive to it! they participated only for the PURPOSE AND reason of diminishing and undermining the content (in effect seek to gain-say it) and set it at nought...
No 6. When To and when NOT to - rebuke??
Again It seems like we have become good at this thing of going about everywhere and rebuking one another in the body of Christ ( fellow memebers of Christ ) and setting them - straight! Whilst it's true we are admonished in scripture to contend for the faith by reproving, rebuking, and exhorting - this is not licence to go around destroying one another! and grinding them to powder! And dashing them to pieces with words! Personal rebukes if not handled correctly and in the RIGHT spirit can totally crush and DESTROY fellow believers. ( But you say but i don't care ) So you don't mind having that on your conscience then? Paul cared about weak consciences, and of offending, and making people to stumble!! This thing of "I don't care" or not my problem seems to be contrary to this passage of scripture? "who is offended and I BURN not" Jesus said leave your gift at the altar if you ought against ANY? seek conciliation (first) God wants to see attempts made to patch and smooth things over. Now that is true Grace!! What attempts are we taking? who is offended? and was offended? And more importantly did U burn?
No7. " The finger of accusation "
The finger of accusation is usually the first one to pick up a stone to stone the adulterous person caught in the ACT of adultery. Paul had this to say THOUGH at corinth " And having in a readiness to REVENGE ALL dis-obedience WHEN your own OBEDIENCE is fulfilled " evidently christ was not all that interested in the pharisee's great discovery of a woman caught in the very ACT of adultery! As he continued ON as though he had not heard them - JESUS STOOPED AS THOUGH HE HEARD THEM NOT! And began to write things in the dirt with his finger ( It seems as though Christ had some dirt on them - by the look of it) by way PERHAPS of a "word of knowledge"? And concerning there own deeds! In the end there own conscience convicted them with none of the accusers left to cast a stone! And all left one by one so that none but Jesus and the woman were left standing " woman were are thine accusers" hath any man condemned thee? No Lord! neither do I condemn thee! However: Go and sin no more. What a lesson here: how can we judge sin if our own obedience is not fulfilled? and secondly God ultimately is the judge of all mankind (not us) But that We neither condone nor condemn sin is veritable truth! But remember in order to pick up that first stone (being both Judge and JURY) we must have our OWN obedience fulfilled. Jesus wasn't at all (interested) in their mudraking and mudslinging adventure (that day) especially seeing there own lives were NOT TOGETHER or wholesome. (Footnote) if love covers a multitude of sins then surely it must be hate and hostility that seeks to uncover and air DIRTY LAUNDRY! JUST A THOUGHT ( And as though they had no sins themselves ) they also make God A LIAR! as 1ST JOHN DECLARES " if we say WE have NO sin we make Him a liar " There is only one judge and one lawgiver " who art thou then o 'man that judgest another??
No 8. "Dividing over non-essentials"
Again Paul warned in Galations not to dissemble with dissumulation (OR) be carried away by legalistic jews that still hold to the past! worse still compelling gentiles to LIVE AS do JEWS. Paul was grieved by their actions! Dividing up Christs' body over things considered NOT important! seeing THAT the the wall of partition between jew and gentile was (smashed). Scriptutre teaches Christ is One -- and that CHRIST and his body are NOT DIVIDED. UNITED WE STAND - BUT DIVIDED WE FALL. THAT THE WORLD MAY SEE THAT WE ARE "ONE" is not yet a reality must surely be over THIS reason OF dividing the body (over non-essentials) of doctrine. Who cares wether the sabbath is saturday or sunday? Man o man! PAUL SAID some folks don't esteem any day at all to be holy ... for that matter (romans thirteen) but we CONTINUE to divide and dissemble over non-essentials. The bottom line is we need to be united on the essential things, but grant grace and liberty over (non-essential) things and thereby avoid destroying another brother for whom Chist died. Paul told them flat out (at Galatia) that dissembling was not the answer or the solution to the problem. Be constructive: And be part of the solution (and not part of the problem) Don't make problems out of problems.
"Closing remarks and summation"
There is doubtless many more issues and topics that could be addressed and brought to our attention today! I have touched only a few! Not to be negative! nor to beat-up or beat down on anyone, nor to assume a position of higher moral ground than others. I speak after the mannner of men after the weakness of the flesh! There was only one perfect man in the world and in the end -he died the death of a common criminal (as a malefactor) yet he did no sin!!!
No one is posturing: nor making claims of apprehending in delivering the message today! suffice to say brethren: If you can but recieve it? If we do free ourselves up from these things that hinder the flow of God's grace into our lives we will see an insurgence not only of truth but of undefiled grace! And renewed spiritual power. Peter said grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord and saviour. If we grow in grace and aspire to (spiritual maturity) we MUST put of childish things. And if i can borrow a line from your (now new) president of the united states (who said these words) " And in the words of divine scripture themselves, the time has come - for us all, to put away childish things" And Grow up in christ in all things!! becoming stable and anchored in the faith. And not led astray by charismatic con men or slick orators Or even "star struck" by great communicators. There are no short cuts to instant spirituality! Christians have long been chasing experiences or new books or dynamic speakers to follow! Who promise instant maturity. But In order for us to get of this merry-go-round and treadmill of following the next "big thing" we need to grow up in him - who is the head! that in turn we might begin to comprehend with all saints what is the height, depth, and breadth -- and be filled with all the fulness of God! Jesus was full of grace and truth. Let that be our testimony and witness! May we not recieve the grace of our Lord jesus christ, not in vain! And may that grace always be sufficient! And may we abound in it ! And may we not give in as DO others to perverting THE message! Shall we continue in sin? ... that grace might abound (GOD FORBID) HOW SHALL WE WHO ARE dead TO SIN, LIVE ANY LONGER THEREIN?
Some im afraid to say: Are distorting and twisting the message of grace. Stretching and pulling verses out of context and alignment. May we forever resist anything that would pollute the message of grace!! (For by grace are ye saved and not of yourselves! It is the gift of God! and not of yourselves, lest any man should boast)