GRACE, AGAIN. (part 2).
In this blog, I continue the thoughts about the Grace of God, how we understand it, versus what the Bible teaches. (please see below for part 1)
COMING TO GRIPS WITH GRACE
Romans 8:1 :"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit."
JESUS, THE TRUE VINE
Read this passage twice:
“ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“ I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
In MeI want you to notice two things:
1) the phrase "in Me" is in this passage 6 times;
2) 5 times it is preceded by the word Abide.
The true key to our Christian life is in this passage in a nutshell: We are to abide in Christ. To be grafted in the vine means that the vine has to be cut in order for the graft to be inserted. The graft then has to take on all the nutrients that flow through the vine to assure its survival and ability to bear fruit.
If you have ever had a go at grafting, you will have found that sometimes a graft doesn't take. The graft then has to be removed because if it doesn't it will draw unnecessary nutrients from the vine that will not benefit the graft and may cause damage to the vine. Once the graft is removed, it is destroyed.
Note also the warning that Christ gave in verse 2: "Any branch IN ME that does not bear fruit, He (the Father) takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may hear more fruit"
In this verse I see judgement and grace.
In Me means grafted. No fruit means no change. No change means the Father cuts off that branch and throws it away. This is judgement.
Bearing fruit means that God by His Grace prunes us: SO THAT WE MAY BEAR MORE FRUIT. Grace makes up the shortfall. God wants us to be fruitful, and then he prunes us (takes away the stuff that holds us back) so that we may bear more fruit!
I saw a great definition of grace on Facebook the other day: "Grace: God's divine power exerting Influence upon the heart of man. Grace doesn't grant us permission to live in the flesh, but the power to live in the Spirit." Col Stringer.
GRACE: WE DON'T DO THIS ON OUR OWN
Let's look at this next scripture:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
You know what? Life isn't easy. Doing things God's way can be tough! But God gives us the instruction manual AND His Holy Spirit to help us and guide us. And the great cloud of witnesses are cheering us on!! God knows the pitfalls and downfalls of this life. Jesus walked this earth and experienced all the troubles, problems, challenges and temptations that this world offers and He overcame. We too can overcome. The Bible says in Revelation 12:11; " by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." hallelujah !!
GRACE, SHEEP, AND LITTLE CHILDREN.
I want to pull one more scripture about grace out and present it to you. It is the parable of the lost sheep.
Jesus talks in Matthew 18 on the subject of who is the greatest in heaven. Basically He says that unless you become like a little child, you can't even get into the kingdom of heaven! (vs3)
He then likens greatness in the Kingdom to the humbleness of a little child. Ok keep that thought in mind as you travel to verse 12 & 13:
Parable of the Lost Sheep
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety- nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety- nine that didn’t wander away!"
This is a great passage on God's grace. Jesus will come looking for you when you become lost! And before you think about grace applying to people in rebellion, I want to point out the Jesus is still talking about little children. Little children are easily trained and corrected and when lost, they want to be found.
When thinking about the sheep I also think of the passage in John 10:27-29
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand."
Don't you just love Grace??
I hope this study has helped you as it has me get a better understanding of the Magnitude and the Magnificence of God's grace. I pray that you don't abuse it, and that you learn what it means to abide in the Vine.
If this has helped you, or if you disagree, please drop me a note.
Sorry it is such a long subject, but I think we are far from finished with the discussions and the discoveries of this thing called Grace.
Have a great week!