It may sound slightly presumptive to say “another grace revolution”, but the last big revolution about Grace (after Paul) was back in Martin Luther’s day, 500 years ago. “Revolution” does sound like a strong word to use to use in the context of Grace. However, in light of the need of ‘governmental shift’ or a change or even overthrow of the ‘old regime’, it is an appropriate word to use and at least I may have your attention. We do need to push Grace back to the forefront.
UnfailingGrace: Encouraging a ‘revolution’ about how we see Grace
Grace is not new. It came when sin came on the scene. God chose to forgive and grant much grace to those who had fallen. God has always had grace as His foundation of re-connection with mankind. The Old Testament is full of stories about God’s mercy and grace. God chose to not to give us what we deserved as a consequence of sin. Unmerited favor. Nothing new here.
So, what is new?
What’s new in the history of grace is that Jesus arrived with a new Grace, a Grace that was not ‘unmerited favor’. Jesus had committed no wrong and therefore deserving because of the presence of power (full of the Spirit) in His life. What’s new is that that Grace is also available to us who believe in Jesus. His empowering presence – GRACE – is also available to us.
In the past, before Jesus, grace was indeed ‘unmerited favor’. Now, it is the empowering presence of God through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. Now that the Holy Spirit has come there is a totally new and powerful dimension about Grace. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10:29) and when He indwells us He provides all we need for righteousness, righteous behavior and the empowerment and authority to do and minister as Jesus did. Good news indeed!
It also means that Jesus is now in charge with all authority and it also means that Old Testament Law, Torah or Mosaism, is not in charge anymore. Salvation, righteousness (both justification and sanctification), the ability to ‘do the works’ of Jesus and reflect Him brightly (2 Cor 3), all come through faith in Jesus. Exclusively! We do not need Law to govern our behavior, neither do we need Law to assist us with dealing with sin. It is ALL accomplished through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Seriously! The New Testament, particularly the Letters of Paul, is full of teaching about the all-sufficiency of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Without the Holy Spirit, we need Law. However, when the Holy Spirit is present, we not only not need Law, it is an act of unbelief to use Law to undergird what the Holy Spirit is fully capable of accomplishing all by Himself.
Most Christians haven’t learned to navigate to this position of faith. They still believe that we still need the Torah (or at least some part of it) to teach us about righteousness. This is where a REVOLUTION is required. Our belief and faith need to grow to the point where we know that we no longer need the Law to supervise us, and we trust implicitly in Jesus’ capacity to ‘teach us all things’ through the Holy Spirit.
It is an issue of full and exclusive faith in Jesus. Is our trust in Jesus alone, or do we need to add ‘keeping the Law’ to the mix? Any addition to faith alone can’t be faith
Do we need another Revolution?
Grace, at least from a New Testment view, is a brand new government and brand new constitution for believers. Paul calls it an “Administration of Grace”, a new governmental authority (Eph 3).
I am of course talking about the need to totally let go of the authority of the Old Covenant and give exclusive loyalty and allegiance to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we at least need a reformation in our thinking and in the way we live our lives in partnership with God. Jesus’ announcement that the “Kingdom has come” was an act of revolution. He announced that another authority that would now rule the world had indeed come. Jesus’ rule would demolish the authority that Satan had and it would also take over from the authority of the Old Covenant. Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets) handed over all authority to a transfigured Jesus. (Matt 17)
We have no difficulty whatever in accepting that Satan no longer rules and that every believer has authority over him. We may still have a problem accepting our position in Jesus and the authority we now have but we totally understand (or should) that Jesus is the only authority over all the earth.
We have had difficulty with the transition from Old Covenant rule to New Covenant authority.
We readily accept that Jesus is now in charge and that the Holy Spirit is His power and presence in us and therefore on the earth. But we seem to have great difficulty in understanding and accepting the exclusive-to-anything-else rulership of Jesus. The two Covenants cannot stand in authority together. One must give way to the other. Jesus and Moses do not share in the authority of government.
Herein lies the heart of most believers’ dilemma. How can we trust Jesus (the Holy Spirit) enough to let go of Moses? The New Testament is adamant that we cannot serve both.
Grace can only be understood in the context of the rulership of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is at this point that we need to understand that “grace” defined by the Old Covenant is very limited. However, in the New Covenant, “Grace” is an entirely more powerful move of the energy of God given by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Grace has everything to do with Jesus and His Spirit
From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace (grace in place of grace). For the Law was given to Moses; Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1:16-17 (NIV)
It was clear, at least to John the Baptist that the coming of Jesus heralded a brand new era. Here was the One who took away the sins of the world. Here was the One who would make a transition between Law and Grace.
Moses had a major role in leading the people of God to the point of ‘handover’ when Jesus took over as Ruler of the world. Now that Jesus has come, Moses’ role is taken over or superseded by Jesus. Moses was the giver of the Law, but Jesus comes in with something far more powerful, Grace and Truth. To allow another authority to be in governace with Jesus is an act of distrust and unbelief.
Hebrews 10:29 speaks about the “Spirit of Grace” who is capable of being insulted or outraged!
That’s extraordinary! How is it possible to outrage the Holy Spirit? Good question! Can the Spirit be outraged? The writer of Hebrews (possibly Paul) expressly says that He can be outraged. How?
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV)
- The “truth” is what comes only through Jesus. Jesus gifts us with Grace, His full capacity through the Holy Spirit to empower us in righteousness.
- Since the Law is no longer in governance over believers in Jesus, and therefore there is no provision of sacrifice as the Law prescribes, if we reject Jesus’ provision for us, there is nothing left.
- Even though we no longer have the Law as an authority to judge us despite its severity (death), we have God Himself who will judge us and most severely if we reject the Grace of Jesus.
- Adding Law to Grace means that we do not believe that Jesus’ authority and power are sufficient for us, and we also deny the completeness of His sacrifice on the cross. We, therefore, act in unbelief.
- Unbelief, denying the power of Grace, causes the Holy Spirit (“the Spirit of Grace”) to be “outraged”
And there’s a lot more…
The greatest obstacle to receiving and living in the power of Grace is trying to live ruled by Law. If you now think that that means ‘lawlessness’ you have missed what Jesus and Paul are saying. Grace, God’s empowering Presence through the Holy Spirit, is the only means by which we can live a righteous overcoming life.
It’s time that Spirit-filled New Testament believers live in their heritage of promise and power. The world is in need of humble and empowered believers who represent Jesus well.
There’s lots to be said that can’t, or shouldn’t, be said in one page. I, and others will be saying more in the pages to follow and more in the weeks and months to come. You are invited to explore this site further. Please bear in mind that we have just started and there is still much to add.
Grace to you!