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Grace:Shortfalls

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 2, 2009 at 3:54 am

Grace:

Sharing Life with Other Believers

Shortfalls

One place Grace should be experienced is in the church. It’s often been said in the church we kill our wounded. The religious lost the Pharisee of the modern church is always present with us. Gandhi is often quoted as saying “Your Jesus I like your Christians not so much, they don’t act much like your Jesus!” Giving the recent issues at GBC the lesson is especially difficult for me this week as I struggle with my own resentment towards the people I consider to be responsible for the discord in the body. My constant prayer has lately been to keep the faith, talk the talk and walk the walk. Sadly grace is often in short supply in the very place it ought to abundant.

 Why are supposed Christians so unkind to each other?

 What often results when church members forget the grace of God?

 We don’t have to read very far in scripture till we see examples of people who forget God’s wonderful provision of grace. When we begin to take our salvation for granted, forgetting the reality we are sinners saved by grace, our hearts can soon become calloused towards others. Paul seemed to understand this early on in his ministry when he encouraged young Timothy:

 (2Ti 2:1 HCSB)  You, therefore, my child (son), be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (Some translations use son)

 In Hebrews the writer warned “Pursue Peace with everyone”

 (Heb 12:14-15 HCSB)  Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness–without it no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.

 Reviewing Grace:

  • Grace builds up; it doesn’t tear down.
  • Grace gives what is underserved, focusing on mercy not justice.
  • Grace is costly.
  • Grace gives without expecting anything in return.
  • Grace thinks of others, not self.
  • Grace focuses on the important not the trivial.
  • Grace looks at what could be, rather than fixating on what is or is not.
  • Grace helps people become more like Christ.
  • Grace doesn’t condemn or give up on people.

 What often results when church members forget the grace of God?

 Would you want God to display grace to you in the same manner you display grace to church members?

 Grace and the undesirable:

“God said it; I believe it that settles it!”

“Thank goodness we don’t act like that!”

“I am glad I’m not a sinner!”

“They really need prayer look at how they act!”

“I sure am glad we’re not like those people!”

 I am sure you could think of dozens of other statements with no grace in them or room for the grace that changes lives. When non-believers join a church, it doesn’t mean they no longer need grace. If anything it’s just the opposite, the church attracts people who recognize their desperate need for grace. Jesus never compromised truth or excused sin, yet sinners like me were and are being drawn to Him. Righteousness is attractive, glorious, and life changing when it is combined with grace. In Matthew we see this take place in the calling of Matthew.

 (Mat 9:9-13 HCSB)  As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him. While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 9:9   The tense atmosphere building up around the Savior is temporarily relieved by Matthew’s simple and humble account of his own call. A tax-collector or custom house officer, he and his fellow officials were hated intensely by the Jews because of their crookedness, because of the oppressive taxes they exacted, and most of all, because they served the interests of the Roman Empire, Israel’s overlord. As Jesus passed the tax office, He said to Matthew, “Follow Me.” The response was instantaneous; he arose and followed; leaving a traditionally dishonest job to become an instant disciple of Jesus. As someone has said, “He lost a comfortable job, but he found a destiny. He lost a good income but he found honor. He lost a comfortable security, but he found an adventure the like of which he had never dreamed.” Not the least among his rewards were that he became one of the twelve and was honored to write the Gospel which bears his name.

9:10   The meal described here was arranged by Matthew in honor of Jesus (Luk_5:29). It was his way of confessing Christ publicly and of introducing his associates to the Savior. Necessarily, therefore, the guests were tax-collectors and others generally known to be sinners!

9:11   It was the practice in those days to eat reclining on couches and facing the table. When the Pharisees saw Jesus associating in this way with the social riff-raff, they went to His disciples and charged Him with “guilt by association”; surely no true prophet would eat with sinners!

9:12   Jesus overheard and answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees considered themselves healthy and were unwilling to confess their need for Jesus. (Actually they were extremely ill spiritually and desperately needed healing.) The tax collectors and sinners, by contrast, were more willing to acknowledge their true condition and to seek Christ’s saving grace. So the charge was true! Jesus did eat with sinners. If He had eaten with the Pharisees, the charge would still have been true—perhaps even more so! If Jesus hadn’t eaten with sinners in a world like ours, He would always have eaten alone. But it is important to remember that when He ate with sinners, He never indulged in their evil ways or compromised His testimony. He used the occasion to call men to truth and holiness.

9:13   The Pharisees’ trouble was that although they followed the rituals of Judaism with great precision, their hearts were hard, cold, and merciless. So Jesus dismissed them with a challenge to learn the meaning of Jehovah’s words, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (quoted from Hos_6:6). Although God had instituted the sacrificial system, He did not want the rituals to become a substitute for inward righteousness. God is not a Ritualist, and He is not pleased with rituals divorced from personal godliness—precisely what the Pharisees had done. They observed the letter of the law but had no compassion for those who needed spiritual help. They associated only with self-righteous people like themselves.

In contrast, the Lord Jesus pointedly told them, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” He perfectly fulfilled God’s desire for mercy as well as sacrifice. In one sense, there are no righteous people in the world, so He came to call all men to repentance. But here the thought is that His call is only effective for those who acknowledge themselves to be sinners. He can dispense no healing to those who are proud, self-righteous, and unrepentant—like the Pharisees. (Believers Bible Commentary).

 This is our guide for how to “do church” I would suggest no matter the congregation if this not the model we missed it entirely. We must look past the spiritual condition of the person in front of us to see what God’s grace can make them. By investing in the lives of people wither outcasts, unacceptable types, our social peers and most of all those we encounter at church, God is in the changing people business. Jesus invested his life in the most important of all; people, that’s what grace does! People are scared, scared, and defiled by the world, yet if the church is operating in God’s grace, they can experience a life changing transformation and become beautiful people of grace. That’s what churches do they share truth and grace with hurting people and watch the Holy Spirit transform those people into saints.

 Often it is easier to extend grace to non-Christians than to fellow believers. We tend to bring our expectations to church and expect people to do the “right thing” after all they “should know better”. But grace recognizes that God’s transforming work in our lives (sanctification) is a process. Webster’s defines it as the following:

 

Sanctification

SANCTIFICA’TION, n. [See Sanctify.]

 The act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God’s grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God.

   Sanctification (Easton Bible Dictionary)

Involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Rom_6:13; 2Co_4:6; Col_3:10; 1Jo_4:7; 1Co_6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption to carry on this work (1Co_6:11; 2Th_2:13).

Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification, inasmuch as it

(1.) secures union to Christ (Gal_2:20), and

(2.) brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby he is led to yield obedience “to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.”

Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1Ki_8:46; Pro_20:9; Ecc_7:20; Jam_3:2; 1Jo_1:8). See Paul’s account of himself in Rom_7:14-25; Phi_3:12-14; and 1Ti_1:15; also the confessions of David (Psa_19:12, Psa_19:13; 51), of Moses (Psa_90:8), of Job (Job_42:5, Job_42:6), and of Daniel (Dan. 9:3-20). “The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always subject to the constant chastisement of their Father’s loving hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves.”, Hodge’s Outlines.

 I wanted to spend time defining the role of sanctification in our lives and its role in the body as we worship together and reach a lost dying world around us.

Hebrews shows us what this looks like in action:

 (Heb 10:24-25 HCSB)  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

 Now our: Attitude? Actions? Goals? In church, jobs and daily life.

Don’t be deceived by a misguided perception that showing grace means a blanket tolerance and acceptance of sin or what someone does that the Bible expressly defines as sin. A church has a God ordained responsibility to stand against sin especially in the body. When we welcome people into the fellowship who grievously sin and are unrepentant or even defiant, we bring disgrace on the cross of Christ. At times churches so misunderstand what grace entails, church members fell guilty even mentioning the person’s sin. “After all” they say “who are we to judge?” The best example of this is the misunderstanding of Galatians 6 as illustrated below:

 Pseudo Grace:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are open-minded should condone such a person with a tolerant spirit.” This really shows how we can be mislead if we don’t understand the scriptures and call for the truth of the word.

(Gal 6:1 HCSB)  Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.

 If we lead with our emotions instead of the truth look at the damage done and genuine grace is lost in translation. Pseudo grace avoids dealing with sin and instead focuses on being “loving.” But showing genuine grace never involves condoning sin. Grace NEVER compromises truth or righteousness. Jesus forgave the adulteress woman but he also commanded her to “sin no more.”

(Joh 8:11 HCSB) …said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”]

Genuine grace always draws people towards Christ. Pseudo grace tolerates sin and muzzles those who would speak against it. A loving graceful response to sin sometimes means caring enough to say the hard things that may help people understand the consequences of their sin.

 (Pro 27:5-6 HCSB)  Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.

 (Psa 141:5 HCSB)  Let the righteous one strike me–it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it. Even now my prayer is against the evil acts of the wicked.

Jesus claimed the world would know us by our love for one another. Loving one another involves grace. Jesus said this kind of love would characterize the church. We value our tasks and results more than our fellow believers. We defend our opinions and comfort rather than seeking the best for those God has placed around us. I know in my life I struggle with my behavior with problem people that offend me (sound familiar). Problems come and go but people are eternal. Grace always sides with people. I am a recovering sinner and my first instinct is sin. My prayer is to be a person of grace and to be in the business of bettering people not battering them. Not to see the church in terms of what it does for me rather as means to serve others. Grace id for sinners. God demonstrated this through the sacrifice of His only Son. The church should be a safe haven for repentant sinners. The world cannot understand grace. It is something God instigates and enables. When we as believers truly grasp what grace is the church becomes irresistible. The church of all places should be a haven of love in a hurting and grace starved world. Lord send a revival and let it begin in me.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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