Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Gospel Is About the Righteousness of God, Not About Man's Sin

For in (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Rom 1:17)

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. (Rom 3:21-22)

In the above two passages, Paul tells us that something is revealed in the gospel: The righteousness of God.

God's righteousness is what the gospel is about.  The gospel isn't about the attempts of people to earn or maintain righteousness through the things they do.  It's about the gift of God's very righteousness.  This gift is given freely to all who believe.

As you look in your Bible, you'll see that in between the two passages above, there are sixty-four verses that essentially tell us about the unrighteousness of man.  These verses are not what the gospel is about!  These sixty-four verses, from Romans 1:18 all the way to Romans 3:20, were written to show us the reason the gospel was needed.  That is, they were written to show us the reason the righteousness of God needed to be given to us as a gift, by grace through faith.  Paul writes about how the wrath of God was "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men..."  He lists all kinds of ways in which the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men has been demonstrated.

As all of this continues into Chapter 2, Paul makes the case to his fellow Jews that it's not only the Gentiles (non-Jews) who have missed the mark, but they themselves are also transgressors of the very law of God that they make their boast in!  In other words, Paul points out that we're all in the same boat in regards to "the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," so there's no room for anyone to judge or condemn anyone else!  All (both groups: Jews and Gentiles) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  "For we have previously charged that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin." (Romans 3:9).  "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10).

The only thing the law of God had done was to reveal sin.  "BUT NOW," Paul writes in Romans 3:21, "the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed... even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe."  The law revealed sin, but could do nothing about it.  The gospel revealed God's righteousness, which we receive as a gift.

Can you see what Paul was doing, by first telling us in Romans 1:17 that the gospel revealed God's righteousness, and then spending quite a bit of time (64 verses) telling us about man's unrighteousness?  Sadly, many in the church have used a portion of those 64 verses to pronounce guilt, judgment and condemnation upon not only unbelievers, but also upon their fellow believers!  But that was never the reason those verses were written.  The reason Paul built this lengthy case for the unrighteousness of man was to show why righteousness could never be earned or attained by our performance.  Only God's perfect righteousness would ever do, and the only way anyone can attain it is to receive it freely as a gift!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Convention 220

I'll be heading to Dallas, TX from March 28-30, for a convention hosted by Andrew Farley.  "Convention 220" is based upon Galatians 2:20, and what many would call the "Exchanged Life."  I'm all about stuff like this, and it's been a while since I've been able to gather together in a corporate setting like this with so many other grace-minded people, so I'm really looking forward to this!

It will be wonderful to meet so many really great people there, including many who I've known online for quite some time, but have never had the chance to meet in person.  The interactive workshops look fantastic, and you just can't beat the lineup of teachers (see link).


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grace Hound


A very good friend of mine, Chris Kimmell, has an excellent site that I want to share with you.  It's called Grace Hound.  You'll find many great grace-based books and other resources on this site.  Books, apparel, Bibles, gifts, etc.  Also check out the Grace Hound Blog.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wages vs. The Gift

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23)

There are those who say that we (so called) "hyper grace" people are "light on sin."  They say that by preaching so much grace, we're downplaying sin and making it out to be of little or no significance or consequence.  They say we give little or no value to the law of God, and that we're giving people permission to run amuck in licentiousness.

These types of accusations are completely absurd, of course, and I'd like to give some reasons to anyone who might be on the fence about this, as to why and how preaching the grace of God does not mean being light on law and sin, and in fact it means just the opposite!  And with that said, of course I also want to contrast all of this with the consequences of grace!

The verse at the top of this blog post is a good start.  By proclaiming grace, we fully acknowledge the severity of the consequences of sin.  The wages of sin is death!  The Apostle Paul, before launching into his extended talk about grace in his epistle to the Romans, first spoke of severity of the consequences of sin this way: "those who practice such things are deserving of death."

Light on sin?  No way!  Paul didn't say that the wages of sin is a slap on the wrist from God.  He didn't say the wages of sin is temporary loss of fellowship with God.  He said the wages of sin is deathThat is pretty severe!

But then see what Paul does next.  He contrasts all this with something.  He makes a huge distinction.  Yes, the wages of sin is absolutely dreadful!  BUT... this is contrasted with the gift of God - eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!  It's in Christ Jesus, through the gift of God, that we've been set free from the wages of sin.  This doesn't downplay sin, or the consequences of sin, at all.  Rather, it contrasts the horrific wages of sin with the amazing and incredible gift of God.  It shows how the gift of God supersedes the wages of sin!

Are we then "light on law"?  Since we preach that in Christ we are dead to the law and not under the law, are we chucking aside the law of God and saying it was never of any value?  Absolutely not!  Please understand this.  We are actually holding the law up to its actual high and lofty position, far more, I think, than most people who say they keep the law.

"The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (Rom 7:12)

Again, we fully acknowledge the utter holiness, justness and goodness of the law.  The law itself is holy, just and good.  However, just as we see the true wages of sin, we must also see the true consequences of being under the law.  Just prior to the above sentence from Paul in Rom 7:12, he talked about the consequences of being under the good, just and holy law:

"But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. (Rom 7:8-11)

Contrary to being light on the law, this shows the full severity of being under the law!  Living under the law doesn't mean that you do your best to try to keep the law. It means you keep it perfectly, or else! Do people who say that we're to keep the law really uphold the law to this standard?

Are we for sin?  No!  Are we against the law?  No!  We're for upholding the law in its proper place.  "The law made nothing perfect." (Heb 7:19). The law could not produce life (see Gal 3:21).  The law is holy, just and good, but the only thing it can do for people is to minister bondage (Gal 4:24-25), guilt (Rom 3:19), and death and condemnation (2 Cor 3:7-9).  Again, by saying all of these things, we are not being light on the law or disregarding it.  It's exactly the opposite of that.  We are actually upholding the law to its high and lofty position and pointing out the true and utter consequences of being under the law!

We're not bashing the law and we're not glorifying sin.  Rather, we're glorifying the gift of God over the consequences of sin and being under the law.  Sin is absolutely horrible.  And "sin, through the commandment, became exceedingly sinful." (Rom 7:13).  "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." (1 Cor 15:56).

But through grace and the gift of God, sin was overcome! Sin was defeated!  "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 15:57).  Grace doesn't produce licentiousness.  Rather, grace produces good fruit.  Grace produces a desire to say "no" to sin.  Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.  Grace teaches righteousness and godliness as the way of life.  (Titus 2:11-14).  Grace is the very essence of life and living in Christ.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When Behavior Isn't About Rules, but Is About Dignity and Worth

God has created us with such a great deal of value. His love, value and acceptance of us is magnificent! He has bestowed upon us great dignity and worth. Psalm 8 says that "He has crowned us with glory and honor." Other scriptures show how God has made us holy and righteous. He has seated us with Him in heavenly places. He has placed an astounding value on us! All of this has nothing to do with our behavior. It's simply how God has fashioned us, through His love and grace. Psalm 8 also says that He has made us a little lower than Elohim. That is, a little lower than Himself! A little lower than God is a very, very, very high place to be!

We are worth a lot. We are highly valuable creations. We have been created by God with much integrity, much grandeur, much dignity, much worth, majesty, significance, beauty, prestige, renown, glory, honor, nobility. We are royalty - children of the King of kings and Lord of lords!

With all of this in mind, along with the good news of the gospel of God's awesome grace, our behavior isn't so much a matter of right and wrong, but it's more a matter of living as the creatures of glory and honor that we have been created to be! When we engage in ungodly behavior, such as sexual immorality, covetousness, deceit, gossip or whatever, it's not that we're condemned or judged or looked down upon by God, but rather it's that we're living below the true worth and value and glory and honor that God has lovingly and masterfully created us with.

Obviously none of us consistently lives as the holy, righteous, beautiful, astounding creatures that God has made us to be, so we have no right to judge one another.  We only judge ourselves when we judge others. But the point is that when we intentionally decide to live in these ways, we are intentionally degrading the beautiful, majestic, noble, prestigious creations that God has made us to be. We are deeming ourselves as worth-less. That is, we are esteeming ourselves as being worth far less than the magnificent value and glory and honor that God Himself has created us with!  We unfortunately view ourselves as so much lower than how God views us, and when we do, we act accordingly. We treat ourselves - and others - according to this low view that we have.

We all fall short in the things we do, and so this isn't about judgment and condemnation. This is about esteeming ourselves as the honorable and noble creations that God has made us to be, and reminding ourselves of this as often as we can so we can rise above the mediocrity of living beneath the reality of who we truly are.  The foundation of who we are - of all that God has truly made us to be, by His grace and not by our deeds - is vitally important to know and understand. It takes away the "law" and "rules" aspect out of behavior and it makes it about the dignity and worth that God Himself esteems us with.

When we realize more and more the true glory and honor with which God Himself has lovingly and splendorously crowned us, we will naturally want to live accordingly - treating ourselves and others with honor and glory, dignity and worth - and we will find the power to do so by God's grace.

(First posted here.)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

More Than Words

Not that there's anything wrong with the words "I love you," but just imagine what it would be like if we couldn't SAY "I love you."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Giving

Giving is a great thing. It's beneficial to others. That's what giving does. It benefits others.

If you want to give away 10% of your income, then fly and be free and do so happily. Just don't expect that God will bless you more because you give 10%. Again, giving is for the benefit of others. If you surveyed all the needs of others around you, you would easily give up 100% of your income to meet only a tiny amount of the needs around you. What's left then, is that you are free to decide in your own heart if you want to give 0%, 2%, 10%, 30% or any other amount. It doesn't even have to be based on a percentage. You simply know how much you've got and you see the needs around you and you freely decide how you want to give for the benefit of others.