Christianity 201

February 11, 2014

From Law to Grace

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

12 …For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 54:4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
10 Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

We usually do straight teaching and study pieces here, but don’t want to minimize the power of a story that puts those teachings in context. Such is the case today. Greg Stubbings is a friend of ours who shared this just a few days ago…

When I was ready to attend a certain church in 1970, I couldn’t find their address. So I wrote to their headquarters. They sent a pastor and his assistant to “screen” me. They wanted to know if my hair was the right length. It wasn’t, even though I had it cut for the interview. They wanted to know if I smoked. I had quit smoking cigarettes, grass, hashish, and opium. They wanted to know if I was “shacking up.”  I had recently split up with my girlfriend. So, I seemed suitable if I’d cut my hair. I asked them if my friends could come. But they’d have to go through the same process. No way that was gunna’ happen! These pastors were looking for “fruit worthy of repentance”. It seemed as if I had to walk perfectly in the flesh before I could walk in the Spirit. This church didn’t want sin creeping in.

But the church I attend now isn’t looking for those they can disqualify. The pastor doesn’t stand at the door, seeing if he can smell smoke on someone. Or say, “Look, that couple isn’t wearing wedding rings”, or “Don’t you think those two guys are standing too close to each other? I wonder…”. No, when I walk in that church, I’m like the apostle Paul, who said “In me dwells no good thing”. Sin comes in that door full-blown. I am accepted as I am. My pastor knows that it is only the goodness, and love, and favor of God that can change me, not laws and regulations.

With my new understanding of grace, you can only imagine how angry I was when a radio preacher said if I wanted to get right with God, I had to list all my sins and go before Him to confess them. No wonder Christians think God is angry with them. But Isaiah prophesied that, after Jesus would be punished for me, in chapter 53, God swore he would never be angry with me (chapter 54). Furthermore, He says He will remember my sins no more (Hebrews 8:12). The Greek there is a double negative and should read, “I will remember your sins never, not ever again.”  And God repeats Himself in Hebrews 10:17.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.

Hebrews 10:17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
    I will remember no more.

So for me to go before God’s throne, rehashing my sins, where the ark of the covenant is, I would have to remove the lid of that ark, the box containing the two stones that list the Ten Commandments. The lid is called the mercy seat, representing God’s favor towards me. Why, even Indiana Jones had more sense than to remove that lid. And for me to remind God of my sins would be like slapping Jesus in the face, saying “What You did wasn’t enough.” To go back to the law is to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). No, I no longer want to attempt to justify myself by my law keeping. Instead, I am obedient to the faith that Jesus is the end of the law (Romans10:4). He perfects my conscience (Heb.10:14). He clothes me in His righteousness (Rom.5:19).

Thank You Lord!

Here are some of the scriptures Greg mentioned today:

Galatians (NLT) 5:4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

Romans (Voice) 10:4 But Christ makes the Law no longer necessaryfor those who become acceptable to God by faith.

Hebrews (AMP) 10:14 For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.

Romans (NASB) 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

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