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vivmeeraj
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Joined: 2012/5/26
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 Are we balanced in grace & truth?

Everything from salvation to eternal life was made possible, according to the will of God, through Jesus Christ. Salvation came free by Thy grace as a gift of god.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;

Further to this free salvation, there is a path for the follower of Jesus, which is set by truth, Jesus Christ Himself. He is the way, the truth and the life.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

The way is what He showed in His earthly life, a life of self denial, humility, love and sacrifice and most importantly, doing His father’s will. He gave us the truth to prepare us for abiding by the rules of the kingdom of god. And when we believe and follow Him, we have eternal life. Note ‘in Him’ in the following verse, we have eternal life when we abide in Him.

John 3:15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

The above facts make it very clear that it is important to know Him, His will and His way in order to follow Him. How do we know the will of god, unless we look into the truth, the word of god itself?

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

As part of the truth that He has given us, He gave us His grace too which helps us to abide in Him or abide in truth of the highest standards. Righteousness independent of grace is nothing but human and hence far inferior from the righteousness god gives us. So let us seek this true righteousness.

Matt 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses {that} of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The righteousness of Pharisees was external, based on their rituals, traditions and the Law. When Jesus came to fulfill Law through grace & truth and the ultimate sacrifice, He gave us a New Covenant which demands only to acknowledge this sacrifice on the cross to be part of it. The ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to take away the sins of the world took away my sins and your sins. There is no other sacrifice needed anymore. So what do we have to do now? We need to do the will of God.

Matt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven {will enter.}

Unless we know the will of god, how do we seek grace in areas where we need it? A meditation of sound doctrines is the first step to know Him and His will. Of course, He further reveals to us through prayers, fellowships, visions etc. But meditation of the word of god is important in order to understand what is right in the sight of God, what god wants us to do or abstain from.

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

There is a way one ought to take to follow Him. There is correction, consolation, teaching, training etc in the word of God. Unfortunately, most of the churches today focus on consolation and promises only to keep the believer happy and in false hope. False hope, as promises do not come without inheritance according to the word of God. Secondly there is an undue focus on material blessings which is not the focus of the New Covenant. What we see in a vast majority of the churches today is projecting sound doctrines as old fashioned, unnecessary and false teaching. They keep the believers entertained and self justified following certain rituals and practices. A deeper look into the word of god makes it very clear that it is about denying self, taking up the cross and following Him.

Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

We just saw that there is a salvation which came free and there is a call for self denial, taking up the cross and following Him. Similarly, there is grace which gives us the capacity to be detached from the world and its lusts. Without grace, no believer can abide in truth. Grace & truth are two fundamental aspects of faith life that cannot be separated.

John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Jesus was a perfect example for grace & truth. The principles and teachings of His truth were beyond comprehension for the people who were under law. They were superseding the Law as the truth and the teachings of Jesus were much higher above Law.

Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law {comes} the knowledge of sin.

For example, when the New Covenant teaches lustful look at a woman amounts to adultery, a law on adultery, punishment etc becomes irrelevant. For a New Covenant believer, abstinence or action is only based on the will of God which is triggered by a relationship with god.

This relationship gives one the grace to have victory even in thought life. This is the ultimate experience of a believer, to be in grace. The absolute truth that was in Jesus never made Him look down at people. He looked at us with His amazing grace, expressed through His mercy and compassion that sinners and tax collectors were extremely comfortable in His presence. This compassion of Jesus is what made us (and still does) go to His throne of grace in repentance when we fall. How many times have we fallen since we knew Him and how many times have we been restored? Oh, His amazing grace is sufficient for me.

2 Cor 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

One point we need to ponder here is whether we extend this grace to others? I am afraid not. We know God is Holy and we oftentimes forget that God is love too. Let us change our attitude, let us stop judging people, and let us seek more grace to be gracious in the family, in the society, in the ministry, in every role that we play.

Coming back to the topic, when one sees truth revealed through the word and realizes how inadequate one is to lead a victorious life, there is His amazing grace that is poured upon a person who humbles down at His feet.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore {it} says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

Truth leads us to a realization of god, His ways, His will and His likes and grace makes it possible to do it. What Law could never achieve, a relationship with God achieves. Law could never make a person righteous inside even when he abides by the law. Jesus came to give us His spirit and power through which victory is a natural outcome and not something achieved by human efforts.

And god would never be pleased just by looking at the external state of one. God, in spirit dwells in our hearts and that is where one has to cleanse with the precious blood of Christ. Let us look at a few instances on the importance of inner life.

Matt 23:26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

There is a great need to cleanse the inner man – the old man, the self, will – whatever be it. There is very little spoken about this from the pulpits these days.

To make it a little more clearer, let us look into another incident where Jesus demonstrates what is important for Him.

Mark 12:43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;

Jesus said, the widow who put only two small copper coins had out more than all the others. He never looked at the amount but her heart and saw her wholeheartedness in the act. This is one verse which has always challenged me. The way Jesus looks at things is totally different from the way the world does. Let us have the right attitude.

Law was on a physical realm and had physical and material rituals, offerings, blessings etc. But when Jesus gave us truth, it was at the spiritual realm and about matters concerning the spirit of god which Jesus wants us to have.

Unfortunately, even today, many are stuck under Law and never able to come back to the freedom available in the New Covenant. We see from the above instances that we cannot please god by what you do if it is not with the right attitude. But today, we often find believers trying to please god with sometimes the right things too but unfortunately with the wrong or incorrect attitude. We can see people fasting for the wrong reasons, paying tithes with the wrong idea etc. Jesus explains how to balance these in the following verse.

Matt 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

So before we move on to the subject, I thought an introduction about the right attitude was necessary. Many have fallen prey to traditions. They have been taught to pray in a particular way, sing praises in an emotional way to please Holy Spirit, fast for certain material needs etc and NEVER taught to come to the stage of denying self, taking up the cross or following Him.

That is the TRUTH Jesus gave us, through the word of God. If we carefully examine our inner self, our attitudes, our prejudices, self centeredness etc and truly desire godliness, we will come out victorious. Satan, the great deceiver would always commend on yourself when you are actually in a deceived state. But TRUTH will speak to you on the face and expose the inner man’s sins and hypocrisies. It has done so in my life and when I accepted it and cried out for god’s grace, it was granted! Hallelujah. We are all called to experience a higher life, abiding in Him, walking with Him and doing His will. But often this call is not received by the world and the people of it.

John 14:17 {that is} the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, {but} you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

And the word of god which was there in the beginning, was sent to us, He is revealed through the word.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Now if one says he loves Jesus, how serious one has to be in meditating this word with an earnest desire and submission to obey Him as word was god and sent to us in flesh (Jesus). The reason why many believers are stuck in the Old Covenant even now is for not getting a revelation of Christ. We need to know Him, the truth.

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

We need to know the truth that is to set us free. It is nothing but Jesus Christ who is revealed through the word of God. The closer we stay to pure word of god, the better our chances of guarding ourselves spiritually. Now what is this truth in the word of God? It is the spirit of the word in its entirety. Paul mentions of the need to teach sound doctrines so that one realizes the truth.

Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

This sound doctrine or a careful study of what the Lord wants us to understand and then act upon, will lead us to practicing the principles laid out and not just hearing and expanding in knowledge. The result of thus meditating, accepting and practicing the word is getting closer and closer to god, and finally abiding in Him.

What is the spirit of the word of God? There is an invisible thread in the word of god which has woven together all the verses or teachings in the bible. If one understands this invisible spirit in the word, understanding the word or knowing god will be easy. It is the Spirit of God and hence I believe it is written,

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

Be it Paul, John, Mathew or Peter, what is written in the word of God is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. The proof, there is a central theme for the word and there are certain central characteristics. The purpose of god for mankind was forgiving of sins, salvation, abiding in Christ as His bride which is to be taken away on His second coming. What are the characteristics of this central theme of the word of God? It is the desire of God for man to be transformed into His own image, to be transformed into His character.

Luke 10:27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

The whole Law is contained in these two, loving God and loving one’s neighbor. If we look deeper into the word, we can see that every command is aimed at either one of these two. Hence it is written

Gal 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the {statement,} “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

What I am trying to say here is, that we can see Jesus and the apostles teaching and encouraging us to practice the following with utmost care.

Love, humility, servants attitude, concern for others, sacrificing oneself for others, denying self will and living holy, loving AND worshipping god along with these. In short it is about loving god with all the heart and loving the neighbor as oneself. Unless one grows in this area, one cannot please god as the central purpose is lost. Unless we have this central theme as our goal too, we may do a lot of things in the name of Jesus without His approval, without His seal on it. Be it the biggest ministry in the world, if this is not the central focus, it is not God’s.

This is why preaching of sound doctrine is so important. People do not seek this as there is a price to pay in practicing sound doctrines including denying self will, privacy, comforts, pleasures etc.

2 Tim 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

Truth is a very rarely spoken and practiced principle in Christendom today. It is difficult to comprehend as truth is against the rules and systems of the world and hence completely ‘impractical’. But for a disciple, it is the ultimate way which gives him peace and hope. So let us seek and pray for that.

Now there could be a problem when one gets too engrossed in truth, tilting away from grace. One can become judgmental by every word that is written and finally be completely out of God’s will even when practicing the highest forms of purity etc. If your truth makes you judgmental, unloving, uncompassionate, stubborn, proud etc, the truth is lost as gods truth is given in grace, you cannot separate them.

Here, we see that we have forgotten the fundamental character of God which is love. In many cases, people forget God is holy, in other cases people forget He is love. Let us have the right balance. Despite being truth, Jesus manifested grace by depending on the Father and never did anything on His own.

John 5:19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless {it is} something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

We can see often Jesus spending solitary times in prayer, in communion with His Father above, seeking His will and denying Himself all the time, even at the last hour prayer.

Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Jesus was full of grace and full of truth. This is why a balance in grace and truth is so relevant.

The subject question popped up at me in the last few days and to my dismay I found I am also not balanced like most of the believers. We have all experienced His mercy and grace though in varying degrees. Further to that, we have been guided by truth though levels of understanding truth could vary.

But the question to each of us is, ‘are you balanced’? God spoke to me and also gave me the solution. The ONLY way to have a balance in this area is to ABIDE in HIM. The moment we move out of Thy presence, our ‘self’ starts working and that would lead us out of balance. The result is a spiritual state much similar either to that of a Pharisee (legalistic) or a careless believer who takes things for granted. How horrifying for a disciple who seeks Christ likeness. Let us examine ourselves and GO BACK to our only secure abode – in Him.

For a person who is tilted towards grace at the cost of truth, grace is only an excuse. Everything is by grace is what such believers say. When you speak of humility, they may ask, our god knows we are weak, how can we be holy? His grace is sufficient! God is not pleased by these utterances that sound spiritual. God has given us a free will. To be humble, one has to lay this will at the altar and seek more grace. Excuses come from those who are not surrendered and only pretend and talk about grace.

Only salvation is free, for everything else, we have to pay a price. We have to deny ourselves. But the fact and assurance is that if you are unable to deny yourself, God gives it free in the form of GRACE, if you really seek it. Let me repeat a verse that was mentioned earlier.

2 Cor 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

I honestly believe that being in grace is an even more difficult task than realizing and accepting truth. The reasons are the basic self centered, selfish, self justifying and proud human nature. Oftentimes we find even some of the most zealous, sincere men of god lacking in grace. We may have many theological interpretation of grace. We know it is simply the power of God in us to stay holy or Christ like. If you do not add Christ like here, the problem is, a righteous man would say I lead a holy life. And holy life is not just abstaining from sin. One’s own holiness without Christ, is only human and at a very low level compared to the holiness of one who is abiding in Him.

I guess the problem for many of the self righteous people is that they never had experienced or ‘needed’ grace as they ‘were doing well’. The problem is that when one is content with one’s own righteousness, what he loses is the justification by faith. One is either self righteous or righteous in front of God. I would rather be righteous as He has made me so.

Let us look at a few examples of His amazing compassion and grace for the mankind. Though Jesus was full of truth, He was extremely comfortable with sinners and tax collectors. Only by grace one can behave so godly –despite having a much higher standard. Only by grace, Jesus could make a sinner comfortable in His presence even though He was not compromising His standards. Some of the very important aspects of a godly character are seen below.

Matt 9:10 – 13.Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining {at the table} in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw {this,} they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard {this,} He said, “{It is} not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

See the attitude of Jesus towards sinners and tax collectors. He had compassion for them and hence was not judging them. He was comfortable with them despite His holiness.

John 8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center {of the court,}

John 8:7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him {be the} first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:9 When they heard it, they {began} to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center {of the court.} John 8:10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” John 8:11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

Here we can see the Pharisees bringing a woman to ‘justice’ according to the law. One thing many legalists do not realize is that Jesus is above all laws.

Mark 2:28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

And He desires mercy and not sacrifices as we had seen earlier.

Secondly, we see another nature of Jesus, though He knew everything about the woman, He never gave her a sermon or quotes from the word or warned of the dire consequences. He just saw her, had mercy and only asked her not to sin anymore. Do we have this attitude? How would we have behaved and spoken in such a circumstance?

So the message is, even when we know all the right ways for people to behave, act, speak believe etc, there is a compassion that should surpass all that. Only then one can present Jesus Christ through own life. If not, what one presents would be self and not Jesus Christ.

Truth is revealed to us in the form of the word of god. We need to meditate, strive to practice it and lead a holy life. The Holy Spirit empowers us for this. As a result of meditation of sound doctrines, a godly character is to come out. This is what one should pray for. This transformation actually happens when one becomes united in Spirit with God. When one attains that standard, there will not be any difference in His will and self will. Jesus was an example of that. Imagine the godliness that would be manifested through such a person who has completely died with Jesus and also resurrected with Him.

Hand in hand with this truth is the grace of god which gives us the power to stay holy, to do His will and move forward. In fact, grace is perfected in truth and truth in grace. The two keep us godly by not letting us become judgmental on one end or loose on the other.

Let us look at the invisible thread or the spirit in Jesus, in the word of God, in the teachings of the apostles and ENSURE we have unison with the same spirit. Everything outside this would mean nothing to god. Whatever one builds, one has to build within this true spirit. God would be pleased by one’s faith, love for others, humility, servant’s nature etc more than the best work of a self righteous man. Again, let us hold on to grace and truth with the right attitude. Let us not tilt towards grace or truth at the cost of the other. Let us seek a perfect balance which comes through a total dependence on God.

Praise and glory to god.


_________________
Rajesh

 2012/6/24 2:10Profile





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