Chapter 6

Entire Chapter

Grace

Whether or not you finish this book and leave persuaded that America is in fact mentioned in bible prophecy, or for that matter, regardless whatever it is you might leave believing, it is all irrelevant if you leave still failing to recognize God’s grace for what it truly is and the fulness of why God has extended it to you. For if you fail in your understanding of the purpose of God’s grace, it is almost certain you will also fail to embrace it so as to allow it to accomplish everything that God intended it to in your life. For while salvation is a free gift with a firm foundation, Jesus Christ crucified, and that offering of His shed blood as our atonement, whereby we might be both forgiven and delivered from our sins, we should still earnestly desire to know, and at least marginally understand the “why” of it all.

Why would God give up His only begotten Son for lowly fallen man? And why would Christ be so willing to obey the Father to die for us? We know the motive behind the subject of both those questions, for we have been plainly told that it is love; a pure – holy, absolute commitment, with unfathomable affection and concern. This is made clear to us repeatedly in scriptures, so let’s review that for a moment.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore does my Father love Me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

John 14:15&23 – If you love Me, keep My commandments… If a man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him and We will come unto him and make our abode with him.

John 15:9  & 10 – As the Father has  loved Me, so have I loved you. continue you in My love.  If you keep My commandments you shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

1st John 4:9-10 – In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

So, we know the motive behind God sending His Son, and the motive of Jesus obeying the Father’s commandment in laying His life down for us… but that doesn’t tell us the why? Motive is not purpose, and there is a purpose, so what is it? We know of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and even many of the consequences from these in our lives, and many can see how all the consequences work together in the gospel, each having their part of the overall intent of revealing God’s glory to us. But surely you know God is glorious, and that His glory exists whether it is revealed to us or not, just as a light is what it is, light, and consequently shines whether we are able to see it or not. God is not any more glorious if we praise Him or not, no more than our seeing the sun makes it any brighter then when we don’t.

Some might say, “But wait, the purpose you are asking about is right there in the last verse, ‘that we might live through Him.’” But do you think God did all this just so He could get the praise of men who can now live forever singing unto Him? That God simply wanted to have our endless praise, but needed Jesus Christ to become our Sacrificial Lamb in order that He might be just in justifying the ungodly? So that we who were cursed, lost, and ungodly, can now thereby be forgiven and be allowed to live forever just to make us part of His heavenly choir? Do you really think God would do all that merely for the meager benefit of receiving men’s endless applause and admiration? What is all that to an infinite God who created the heavens and earth and all that is therein? What have you or I ever done that has added any value or benefit to the eternal kingdom of God, or could possibly erase the innumerable transgressions against Him? Yet we know that God is not willing that anyone should perish or fall short of their purpose, and that is partly because each of us have been uniquely designed by the Creator and distinctly shaped accordingly in the womb of their mother, but why? We simply must seek to know the purpose.

Psalm 139:13-17 – For You Lord have possessed my inward parts; and You have covered me in my mother’s womb, therefore will I  praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are marvelous, and my soul knows it very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully formed in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo; and in Your book all my members were defined, and the days they were formed when as yet not one was among them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

The fact is God’s purpose is inseparable from us, for we are His focus and the greater beneficiaries of it than is He, benefiting immeasurably beyond simply gaining an escape from His wrath. Consequently our understanding the why is everything, for we can know everything about people and places and things, and we can have boundless wisdom so as to know what we need to do, how to do it, and where and when it ought best be done, but nothing is more life changing, spiritually quickening,  and capable of transforming our hearts and minds than gaining understanding of why it ought or must be so done. For understanding takes wisdom and knowledge to a whole new level, above and beyond the moment to where everything from then on has a far greater significance and produces a greater appreciation for God’s amazing grace and mercies in our lives.

Proverbs 2:2-5 – So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom and apply thine heart to understanding; Yes, if thou cry after knowledge and lift up your voice for understanding; If thou seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 4:5-7 – Get wisdom, get understanding, forget it not. Neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not and she shall preserve you. Love her and she shall keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all your getting, get understanding.

The purpose is for our benefit and is completely out of the benevolence of God’s love, freely offered and given to whosoever would receive it, that a fallen man, any fallen man, might be washed clean and forgiven, set free, made a new creature, quicken and empowered, and filled with Jesus Christ’s Spirit dwelling within them, even with the fullness of God, and thereby be led into all truth, and by this means completely transformed, even as the lowly caterpillar is metamorphosed into the beautiful butterfly, so too the once spiritually-dead sinner being saved by grace begins their transformation of becoming a saint and begins the growth of their receiving and partaking of the very glory and virtue of Christ Himself. For God’s grace is now empowered through their faith to begin its glorious purpose of making them holy in their minds and spirits, and in their bodies as well. This grace accomplishes by illuminating us how through our faith and holy reverence we must perfect our holiness as He is holy. Accordingly, grace and grace alone brings us into being that perfect man, even to the process of our progressive attainment of the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that we all might each become the realization and very answer to Jesus’ prayer to the Father, that we all might be one with each other and with God, even as Jesus was with the Father. For that was His prayer for us –

John 17:19-23 – . . . and for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou Father art in Me, and I in you, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them; that they may be one as We are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and has loved them as You have loved Me.

Ephesians 3:17-8 – That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you might be filled with all the fulness of God.

2nd Corinthians 6: 16 – chapter 7:1 – And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

 Now surely, even if you are very young in your faith, you have heard that “by grace are you saved,” but have you not also heard God’s bemoaning cry, “My people perish for lack of knowledge,”  and “Where there is no vision the people perish?” And, although it is only by grace that we could even hope to have ears to hear the wisdom that the Spirit is trying to speak to God’s people, they still need to be listening and willing to respond to what the Holy Spirit is instructing the believers to do in order to escape the wrath to come. Never forget, while admonitions were given to all the saints in the Seven Churches of Revelation, it was made clear to all of them that it was only to the “overcomers” that had “ears to hear” that Jesus spoke all those wonderful promises to. We need to be hearing and doing if we are hoping to be overcoming. For even though God gave them the Promise Land, they were yet still required to go and take it by force, believing and trusting God in all things o defeat their enemies.

Luke 21:36 – Watch you therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Hebrews 12:25-28 – See that you refuse not Him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaks from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth, but now He has  promised saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more signifies the removing of those things that are shaken as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace  whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Revelation 15:2 – And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass having the harps of God.

The following list contains three things that God’s word teaches us fundamentally about His grace. Not only are these truths asserted in scriptures, but biblical history also affirms their reality over and over again, as it re-cords without partiality both the failures and triumphs of those who professed to believe in God.

  • First, Grace is sufficient.
  • Second, Grace can be frustrated.
  • Thirdly, Grace can be received in vain.

Regarding grace’s sufficiency in the life of the believer, Paul was assured by God that whatever temptations he might encounter, as well as the trials and persecutions he must suffer for the cause of Christ, he had this consolation whereby he could be comforted, for His grace would always be adequate to see Paul through it all to the glory of His name.

2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 – Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

Colossians 1:23-27 –  If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which has  been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Through everything Paul had to endured, God was teaching him that his confidence must only be placed in His wisdom and grace. And yet, it was when Paul was brought face to face with his own frailty and limitations that he experienced God’s fullness in a way he couldn’t in all those other areas where his own strength or wisdom was found to be adequate, such as in his making and mending tents. 

2nd Corinthians 12:9 – And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

But when it came to salvation, doing the work of the ministry, fighting the good fight of faith, or running the race, Paul knew full well he could not do those things apart from the grace of God given unto him.

1st Timothy 1:11-12 – According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has  enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.

Furthermore, the fact that God had given such empowering grace unto him, Paul was fully aware that he needed to take full advantage of it if he was to succeed in completing the work that God was requiring him to do.

1st Corinthians 9:16 – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!

2nd Timothy 4:6-8 – For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

Yet, though this grace was freely given to Paul, and could never be earned by him, he knew it could not work for him, in him, and through him unless he surrendered himself completely into God’s hands.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.

Hebrews 10:31, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Paul understood the necessity of being crucified with Christ if the life of Christ was going to live in and through him; for he knew the reason “the faith of the Son of God” was given unto him was that he might be able to give himself wholly unto God so as to glorify His name. 

Galatians 2:20-21 – I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me. and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law then Christ is dead in vain.

God’s desire for His people was never satisfied or pleased by the sacrifice of animals as prescribed under the law, rather by their learning the prophetic message which those sacrifices were designed to proclaim. For the more learned understood that even God’s law was graciously given unto them.

Psalm 119:26-29 – I have declared my ways and You heard me: teach me Your statutes. Make me to understand the way of your precepts- so shall I talk of Your wondrous works. My soul melts for heaviness, strengthen me according unto Your word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me your law graciously.

Psalm 40:5-6 – Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto you: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; mine ears have You opened: burnt offering and sin offering have You not required.

Hebrews 10:4-6 – For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He comes into the world He says, Sacrifice and offering You would not, but a body have You prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have had no pleasure.

However, He has always been greatly pleased with those who willingly became living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto Him by embracing the death of the cross and the resurrected life of Christ living in them. This was the key to the sufficiency of God’s grace working in Paul’s life; the faith of the Son of God in Paul enabling him to be obedient, even to the death of the cross of the flesh.  Now there are many believers who will argue this doctrinally with you all day long. Yet regardless of their argument, their lives will always bear witness to the reality of whether they are crucified with Christ or not, and if He is truly living in them.

Matthew 7:18-21 – A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. 

Galatians 5:24-25 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we are to live in the Spirit, [then] let us also walk in the Spirit.

Romans 12:1-3 – I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect, will of God. For I say through the grace given unto me to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Philippians 2:5-8 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Part 2

When speaking of God’s “sufficient” grace I often use the following example, where someone needs to get to another city, but they have no means or money to get there, nonetheless, it is critical that they get there by a certain date and time or the consequences will be very costly for them. Being completely destitute, they are anxious and without any ideas as what they should do. Upon learning of their plight, I offer them the use of my car to which they say, “Thanks, that would be great, but we still don’t have any money for gas.” So I tell them not to worry about it, that I will fill up the tank and assure them that there will be more than sufficient gas to get them where they need to go.

Having been given all they need to make their necessary journey; they are immediately relieved  and confident that they will be able to complete the trip safely on time. However, while on their way there they begin thinking about how they now have more than enough time to make their trip, and seeing there is “more than sufficient” gas in the tank for the trip, they decide to take some time to go visit a friend that is just a little bit out of their way. But soon, being caught up in their newfound liberty, they are soon driving from one place to another as well. Eventually they realize the time is getting late, so they head back towards their necessary destination when suddenly, to their surprise, the car stops abruptly having ran out of gas. Now once again they are panicking upon realizing how foolish they were, wasting the gift given to them which was indeed sufficient, if only they had been faithful to use the car and gas for the purpose it was given to go where they needed to go.

Hebrews 4:12 – Let us therefore fear, less a promise being left us of entering into His rest any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith [or faithfulness], in them that heard it.

There was no more reason for those people to run out of gas than there was for God’s promise to not be realized by the Israelites who died in the wilderness mentioned in the verse above. Their persistent sinning and rebellion and unbelief simply managed to exhaust the sufficiency of God’s grace extended over and over again unto them.  But some believers will argue how the Hebrews were under the law, and we are under grace. But nevertheless, we are serving the very same God even under the New Testament, and in it we too are being clearly warned of suffering like consequences; that there is for us as well the possibility of coming short of our promised destination if we too decide to be obstinate and unbelieving, and disobediently tempt God through our failure to respect  and properly use the sufficiency of His grace. We must remember that charity, even’s God’s charity towards us, though seemingly unmeasurably great, can indeed be provoked.

Hebrews 3:7-14 – Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost says, Today if you will hear His voice Harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness when your fathers tempted Me and proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, They do always err in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest. Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

1st Corinthians 13:4-5 – Charity suffers long and is kind. charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, and is not easily provoked…

God gave the Israelites a sure promise; just as sure as all the promises which God has made to us in Christ Jesus are said to be “Yay, and in Him -Amen.” So how could it be possible that they had God’s promise to them go unfulfilled? Well, the answer is right there in the scriptures as God explained it unto them.

Numbers 14:34-35 – After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know My breach of promise. For I the LORD have said, I will surely do this unto all this evil congregation that are gathered together against me in this wilderness, they shall be consumed , and there they shall die.

So what is this we are reading? God is telling them that they are going to know His “breach of promise?” How could this be? Surely God does not break His word? There is no doubt that He loved them, and that God is no respecter of person, right? And yet what did Peter say when God gave him the revelation of His grace being given unto the Gentiles as well as the Jews?

Acts 10:34-35 – Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that fears Him and works righteousness is accepted with Him.

The answer for their failure cannot be attributed to God or His grace: it is simply due to their failure to believe God and to obediently do what He had told them, to take the promise land by force, which was to be the testimony of their faith and trust in God. Remember Joshua’s admonition to his countrymen?

Numbers 14:8-11 – If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it unto us; a land which flows with milk and honey, only rebel not against the LORD, neither fear you the people of the land; for they are bread for us and their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: so fear them not. But all the congregation wanted them to be stoned with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will it be before they believe Me, for all the signs which I have showed among them?

Hebrews 3:19 – So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Matthew 11:12 – And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

Secondly, the scriptures undeniably reveal to us that God’s grace can be frustrated, otherwise Paul would not have said the following. But just because Paul was wise enough not to frustrate God’s grace does not mean all believers are equally wise.

Galatians 2:21 – I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Paul made it clear that God had given unto him a grace that was sufficient to enable him to both be , and do, all that which God had required of him. This grace was not given because of any sacrificed animal or any other ordinance given under the Levitical priesthood, or because of Paul’s own keeping of the Law. Rather, the availability of this grace was made possible solely because of what God’s wisdom had accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection, who freely gave Himself so that Paul and people everywhere could be washed and justified of their sins, and thus be made suitable to be filled with the Spirit of Christ, the hope of glory. It was this indwelling grace of the Spirit of Christ alone that quicken, changed, and enabled Paul to do all that God required of him. Likewise, God desires His grace to so work in all believers, that they too might fulfill that which God requires of everyone who names the name of Christ. 

Hebrews 7:11 – If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received the law, what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Romans 8: – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

While we are told what the Law could not do in the verse above, it may be beneficial to examine what the Law did do for the children of Israel. For it is my position that the scripture teaches us very clearly that the Law was given to the Israelites by God’s grace, that they might have a means to recognize sin in their hearts and have a light for their path in which to walk with God. 

Psalm 119:29 – Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me Thy law graciously.

Psalm 19:7-11 – The law of the LORD is perfect -, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, more than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Psalm 119:9-11 – Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word. With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

Romans 3:1-2 – What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way. chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. 

God’s law to the Jews laid the foundation for the revelation of the mystery whereby God was going to redeem men from their sin. It also clearly summarized righteousness and defined sin even down to the smallest measuring of one’s missing of the mark. For the summary of the Law is clearly to love the Lord God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as our own selves.  Consider the example of connected signs hanging one below the other, each giving clarification as they follow the other.

So, If someone isn’t sure how to love God or their neighbor properly, they can check the Ten Commandments which serve as a thorough summation on how to avoid compromising our love, or breaking our commitment to God and man. For a more in-depth presentation of how the Ten Commandments might be applied throughout one’s life, they can examine the first five books of the bible whereby basic principles from each commandment are applied to various situations and relationships. For actual examples of how men heeded the commandments to love God and their neighbor, we have the whole record of scripture whereby we can learn from the successes and failures of others.

But perhaps the most common bad rap that is constantly being asserted against the Law comes from the following verse and those four words written by Paul to the Galatians, “kept under the law.”

Galatians 3:23 – But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Many Christians have been taught to view this passage as if the phrase “kept under the law” was an oppressive imprisonment; being taken away and locked up and having no liberty. And while the Greek word which is translated “kept” does in fact mean to be under guard, as if watched by a garrison of soldiers, the implication is not always intended to imply imprisonment; but can often imply protection and preservation as witnessed in the passages below. 

Acts 21:31-12 – And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band that all Jerusalem was in an uproar, who immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left the beating of Paul.

 Act 23:10 – And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain fearing Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

Perhaps even more enlightening is how both Peter and Paul used the same Greek word which similarly was translated “keep” or “kept’ in their other epistles.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 1st Peter 1:5 – Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The truth of how the Israelites were “kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed,” is seen in the fact that the law was given to Israel to keep their “hearts and minds” from departing from the true and living God and from falling into idolatry and unbridled immorality. The fact that they were “kept under the Law” is a positive thing, for Paul’s emphasis was that by the law they were indeed “kept.”  

Nowadays, “kept under the Law” is being presented by many preachers as if God’s law had the Israelites pressed down so low that they couldn’t hardly move or breathe; as if He was deliberately squashing them. But that is not how Jesus behaved among them, and He was “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person,” (Hebrews 1:3). This placement of undue emphasis on “under the law” is nothing more than a devilish attempt to misrepresent the Almighty as an angry God who used the law to push men’s faces down into the dirt of their sins. Does this verse from the Old Testament present that image of God in your hearts when you read it, or one of a merciful and righteous God?

Isaiah 1:18-20 – Come now, and let us reason together says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword, for the mouth of the LORD has  spoken it.

So, what really was the context in which Paul said “we were kept under the law?”

Galatians 3:21-26 – Is the law then against the promises of God? Absolutely not and God forbid! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, then verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture has concluded all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For now are you all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 

The Law was never against faith. It is only contrary to faith if one is using it lawlessly; in an attempt to justified themselves when they are actually guilty of transgressing it. Rather the Law, in all its ceremonies and oblations, prophetically foretold the coming of Jesus Christ and His sufferings for sins. The weakness of the law was it could only reveal the sins of men and not save them from it. There was not an Eleventh Commandment which said “If thou has broken any of the first ten, then do this and thou shalt live.” No, the just have always lived by faith, and that my friend is an Old Testament principle that will never change.

Habakkuk 2:4 – Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Romans 1:17 – For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 8:3-4 – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

It has always been impossible for the law to save men, for as scripture states, it was weak through the flesh; meaning “it is not possible” for spiritually dead, unholy men to make themselves holy and spiritually alive, or “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away their sins,” (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, God sending His own Son in the frailty of man’s own flesh, yet without sin, to die the death we deserve and by the shedding of His holy blood, through it and it alone, men can now be justified of their sins, fully forgiven and sanctified so as to render them acceptable to receive even the fullness of God’s sufficient grace; the indwelling empowerment of the Spirit of Christ living within them.

Galatians 2:20-21 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I,  but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me – therefore I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

1st Timothy 1:12, And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has  enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.

Colossians 1:27-29, To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. This is Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Three, the biblical fact that God’s grace can be received in vain. 

Grace is more, so much more than just “unmerited favor.” Yes, absolutely God’s offer of grace is unmerited, for it was ordained from the beginning, even before the foundations of the world, long before anyone could have even tried to earn, merit, or attempt to deserve it. And when sin did abound, grace did abound all the more, in that Christ came and willingly died for the ungodly. But God’s grace does not stop at the forgiveness of sin, for it is the power which quickens dead men and makes them alive and turns sinners into saints. 

1st Corinthians 1:2 – But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

God’s grace is the power of God that delivers us from the sinful nature embedded in our hearts and equips each of us for our unique ministries unto Him and others. It cannot be stated to often, that while grace is indeed unmerited favor, it still much, much more than just unmerited favor; just as surely as that Word, that was with God, was in fact God.

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Grace is the divine indwelling of Christ the Living Word, He Himself in us – He Himself empowering us, He Himself moving us ever forwards towards victory, and He Himself making us into overcomers. It is by this grace and this grace alone, not as a mere gift or attribute of God, but God Himself being gracious and working in us, making us into what we are and we can be as we continually grow in Christ; Even as Paul said, “I am what I am…”

2nd Corinthians 6:1 – We then as workers together with Him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

1st  Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Part 3

May you never forget that the Kingdom of God suffers violence and your entering into it will daily be met with the opposition of the adversary. Therefore, if you desire to take the Kingdom of God, you both need and must put on the whole armor of God;  for only therewith can you take it just as did the Jews which entered the Promise Land. And yet, did not God say He gave it to them? Yes, for it was Him who gave them the victory! Likewise, you need not depend on your own strength, for His power is the grace which will work in you mightily as you acknowledge His will and exercise your faith in Christ. 

Matthew 11:12 – And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

Luke 16:16 – The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.

The faith that “presses into it” will be a faith that persistently works as it is motivated by love.

Galatians 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avail anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love. 

John 14:23-24 – Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him. He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings, and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Faith works because it is founded upon divine principles. Faith itself is the consequence of truly hearing God’s word, which becomes evident when we acknowledge the conviction of the Holy Spirit who bears witness to the truth concerning our sins and God’s righteousness, and the direction of His will for us. That consequence of our hearing what the Spirit is speaking to us is our faith, and faith becomes the means or conduit whereby we can receive the promise of grace that enables us to turn faith into faithfulness. This is why the Apostle Paul stated “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” 

So let’s examine this, first faith comes by hearing God’s word, and then grace through faith saves us, and that only as we faithfully respond to what we hear the Spirit is speaking to our hearts. However, we know without the Spirit convicting us and giving us our hearing, we would have no true faith; and yet it is through faith that grace is said to come whereby we are saved. So what is the gift? Is it grace, or is it faith or is it both? That all might sound confusing, and you might need to read it again. So for you listening to the audio, I will repeat it.

First, faith comes by hearing God’s word, and then grace through faith saves us, and that only as we faithfully respond to what we hear the Spirit speak to our hearts. For without the Spirit convicting us and giving us our hearing, we would have no true faith; and yet it is through faith that grace comes whereby we are saved. So again the question, what is the gift? Is it grace, or is it faith or is it both? What says the word of God?

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has  dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Every man has been dealt “the measure of faith,” but what is that measure, and what does that even mean? It means that God has graciously provided “every man” with that initial adequate measure of faith which is necessary for them to take their first step towards salvation. But it is only those who will acknowledge their personal poverty of spirit so as to mourn for their sins before a holy God, and no longer try to make excuses for themselves, by blaming anyone or thing for what they are, or what they have done. For now, being convicted, they begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and therefore  God gives more of His empowering grace which they need for their obedience to that faith. But you must know this, faith is like a plant, it needs nurturing and care, and must be fed so it might continue to increase, and grow, and be built up, or that grace will have been received in vain and no fruit will be brought to perfection. So, the truth is both grace and faith are gifts of God, and we need both equally, as neither works without the other, nor without God’s Spirit working in us.

Romans 1:5 – By whom we have received grace …for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name’s sake.

1st Peter 2:2-3 – As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

But how can men know these things without hearing the word of God, as well as be able to recognize it as true when they do hear it? It is only by that measure of faith which God has dealt to every man. Every person has that adequate measure already dealt to them; it is there within them with the writing of God’s law in their consciences. It is part of the light wherewith Jesus has “lit every man that comes into the world.” For without that faith having been given to them, they would be unable to properly respond to their hearing the gospel. Yet, the only question is, will they?  Let’s look at the words of the disciple whom Jesus loved –

John 1:1-10 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God and all things were made through Him, for without Him was nothing made that was made. For in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And there was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light, that was the true Light which lights every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Now, John does say, “the darkness did not comprehend it.” But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a conviction that still pierced their hearts that this Life and Light which was in Jesus was different and exceptional. It was just beyond their comprehension, yet did not fail to pull upon their hearts and cause them to take notice. For it all is part of the mystery that was hid from the foundations of the world, which we can see in Paul’s statement “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” However, concerning you and the Apostle John’s statement, that Jesus  “lights every man coming into the world,” have you ever really considered what exactly that might mean? Let me give you some and you can decide if they have relevance to all this.

Job 18:5-6 – Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Proverbs 13:9 – The light of the righteous rejoice: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

(Note – candle and lamp are the same Hebrew word.)

Consider also Paul’s testimony to his Hebrew brothers in Romans.

Romans 7:9-10 – For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

Could it be that what Paul was actually saying to his Hebrew brothers, was that just as he was once alive, so were we all? For if Jesus’ Life is the Light that lights every one that comes into the world, then is not the history of all of us just like Paul’s? We’re all born with that light and life in us, but at some point and time after growing up, we achieve a tangible understanding of what God’s Law defines as righteousness and sin, or right and wrong, even if by our own consciences; and therefore we reach an age of accountability. And just as Paul willfully chose sin over righteousness and therefore died, reaping the reward of his sin, haven’t we all? Yes, all have sin, and at some point fell short of the glory of God in our lives.

For the Prophet Amos quotes the Lord asking His people, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” No is the obvious answer, and Paul’s sin, like all of our sins, that the Lord who previously winked at our shortcoming as failures of ignorance, and not transgression of maliciousness, was now obliged to depart from us. For once we understand sin for what it is, wrong in contrast with what is right, that upon our choosing to sin we consequently all died. Our candles were put out as we were no longer compatible with the Lord. But clearly, we can see Paul’s death and ours was a spiritual death and not a death of the body. From that point on, Paul and we too could only wax worse and worse as sinners, becoming progressively more wretched with the passing of everyday.

Romans 4:15 – Because the law works wrath, for where no law is there is no transgression.

Romans 7:8-9 – But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of lust. For apart from the law, sin was dead. So I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

But Paul was a religious man, and what do so many religious people end up doing when their hearts are condemning them, and all their religious actions fail to ease their conscience? Basically, two things, they begin to compare themselves to others, and become more religious and work harder to justify themselves as if all their works could save them.

Luke 18:11 – The Pharisee stood, and prayed with himself saying, God I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Romans 2:14 -15 – For the Gentiles, though having not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law. So they having not the law still have a law unto themselves: Which reveals the work of the law having been written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, while their thoughts the meanwhile are accusing or else excusing one another.

So Paul in Romans 7 tells his brothers who were still clinging to the Mosaic Law, that regardless of how religious and perfect as a Pharisee he tried to be, nothing freed him from the guilt of his sin. He was in bondage to the law of sin because the Law could not free him, and in fact, the strength of sin was the Law. Therefore everything he truly wanted to achieve under the Law, he couldn’t and the things he hated, he found himself remaining incapable of separating himself from them, and even as a Pharisee of Pharisees his cry was “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

1st Corinthians 15:56-57 –  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the Apostle Paul pointed his Mosaic-Law-loving Hebrew brothers to where he found his freedom and liberty: to Jesus Christ and Him alone. But reiterating, Paul stated, “So then…” meaning, when I was a Pharisee practicing the law and though at the time “with my mind I served the law of God, [yet] with the flesh [I still served] the law of sin.” That was because as he explains in his epistle to the Hebrews, “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” But after God had prepared a body for His Son Jesus Christ, Paul continues and speaks of his present state stating, “now there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh [in keeping the law] set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit [of Jesus Christ, set their minds] on the things of the Spirit.” (Roman 7:25 – 8:5).

Yet, there are many who believe and teach that what Paul was telling his Hebrew brothers “Who know the law,” that even though he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ that he could not stop sinning nor do the things he knows are right. But how does that fit with what he had just written to them about “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound – no, God forbid! For how shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Why would Paul essentially erase all that by saying, “But as for me, I’m still unable to do the things I want and am still a slave to the things I hate, even though I agree with what is right?” The difference is as a Pharisee the Life and Light of Christ was no longer in him, which is why in Romans 7 he clearly says “For I know that in me, that is in the strength of my flesh, dwells no good thing. For though the will is present with me, just how to perform that which is good I do not find.” But earlier what did he just tell all the believers, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Romans 6:5-12 – For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so we should no longer live as slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him, for the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Furthermore, greater than Pauls’ words are the words of our Saviour.

John 8:34-36 – Jesus answered them, Truly truly, I say to you, whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever. For if the Son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed.

So are we as Christians free or not? Jesus says we should be “Free indeed!” And what does Paul say after Romans 7, and to the Galatians as well?

Romans 8:2 – But the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Galatians 5:1-4 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not again be held with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I say to you that if you are circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do all the Law, you who are justified by Law are deprived of all effect from Christ; you fell from grace.

If we trust and the Law, and not in Christ, it only causes us to frustrate God’s grace afforded us in Jesus Christ, and doing so will fall back under the bondage of sin. Now does that mean we are perfect? No, it means we have been set free through Christ so that now we are instructed to “walk even as He walked” and “to love one another even as He loves us.” If we sin, we still have an atonement in Christ, but as the Beloved John said, “you know that He was revealed that He might take away our sins, and in Him is no sin. Therefore, everyone who abides in Him does not sin. And they who continues in sin has not seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. But he who practices sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed that He might undo the works of the Devil.”

Such is why grace is more than unmerited favor. It not only provides us with forgiveness of sin in Christ, but power over it and freedom as well. Such is why Paul could testify before the council and the high priest Ananias, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day,” at which Ananias commanded Paul to be stricken for blaspheme, for he knew sin still reigned in him, and thought it still reigned in all men. Yet later to Felix the governor when being accused Paul again testifies, “I do the more cheerfully answer for myself… herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Does that sound like the testimony of a wretched man in bondage to sin in him?

So we need to realize that all men coming into the world “lit” with the life of Christ, their spirit candle being aglow with the flame of His spirit, to them all creation was so designed so as to stir up that measure of faith within them, to compel all men to seek after God and His truth. But again, they all have fallen short of the glory of God, and under the bondage of sin, but grace abounds mightier than sin, and consequently, there is no excuse for mankind. Even Wisdom is said to be continually “in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates and in the city,” uttering her words to the lost, saying, “How long will you simple ones love simplicity, and scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn you at my reproof: and behold, I will pour out My spirit unto you and I will make known my words unto you.”

So we, having His Spirit within us, having been regenerated by our hearing God’s word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are given that increase of faith through which grace can now daily flood our souls and save us to the uttermost; God having poured out His Spirit unto us, daily working to sanctify us wholly, body, soul, an spirit, changing us from the inside out, by instilling inward virtue in us to the perfecting of outward godliness.

2nd Peter 1:5-8 – And beside this, give all diligence to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear reader, Jesus expects to see these things in us, for by “grace through faith” these things should be in us and abounding. Otherwise, we will be proven to have been “barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Surely none of us would be content or pleased with a friend, or a spouse as our lover, who simply “believes” in us. We would expect and settle for nothing less than their faithfulness, and rightly so, because that is the reasonable expectation of a love perfected by grace. True faith will always work towards faithfulness because faith works by love. It really is that simple.

Part 4

Sadly, many believers continue in sin while rejecting any correction with “God loves me unconditionally.” They have not only minimized God’s amazing grace in their hearts to nothing more than “unmerited favor,” they have turned it into lasciviousness, which is lawlessness… or no law.

Jude 1:4 – For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet Paul clearly stated that when he went unto the Gentiles, he did not go without the law of Christ, for without it he knew the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus could not set them free from the law of sin and death.

1st  Corinthians 9:20-21 – And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the [Mosaic] law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

So let’s take notice of all the laws which Paul mentions.

Galatians 6:2 –  Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Romans 8:1-5 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Foolishly, many professing believers live out their lives giving way to their flesh, continuing their friendship with the world. They don’t even try to keep His words, and that simply because they really don’t love Him and have believed the lie that it really doesn’t matter anyway… since God loves them unconditionally and, anyways, they are already saved by His unmerited favor. But is that what Jesus said, or their pastor? For again –

John 14:21-24 – He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me: and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord how is it that You wilt manifest Yourself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him. He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings: for the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Right there in verse 23 is the biggest word in the bible, and often the most overlooked, the word if. Wherever there is an if in the scriptures there is always an implied then. That little two letter word has enormous meaning; for it is always a conditional qualifier that precedes an event or response. For an “If,” is like a razor-sharp edge on the sword of the spirit that cuts through all the pretense and good intentions, right to the very heart of every man’s faith and proves the integrity of his belief in God. So much so that the beloved Apostle John had this to say.

1st John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, [then] we [the “we” being God and us,] have fellowship one with another, and [then, if we walk in the light], the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all our sin.

The very first act of grace which works in a sinner, and which comes through faith, is the granting of repentance and an enabling to be faithful to the commandment of Christ to be holy. This is the witness of the scriptures concerning the beginning, the progression, and the conclusion of grace and faith in the life of a believer. So you must ask yourself if this is indeed you.

Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Acts 11:17-18 – Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did to us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace and glorified God, saying, then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now He commands all men everywhere to repent.

2nd Thessalonians 2:10 -11 – And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, and for this cause shall God send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

1st Peter 1:22 – Seeing how you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.

Titus 2:11-12 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has  appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

1st  Peter 1:13-16 – Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which has  called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be you holy, for I am holy.

Contrary to what many believe, grace is not a thing or an event which happens when you get saved. It is more than forgiveness, and even more than eternal life, it is literally a living and continual gift of God Himself by means of His Spirit living within us, becoming one with us, and making us one with Christ in His redeeming us; and grace continues throughout our lives to restore us by refining us, sanctifying us, and ultimately perfects and completes us. Grace does this not only by causing us to grow and mature to the fullness and stature of the measure of Christ, but its purpose is ultimately to bring us into an everlasting holy union with Him in a relationship that is best comprehended by the relationship of a husband and wife.

Ephesians 5:28-32 – So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. For he that loves his wife loves himself, and no man hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord does His church. Because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. And for this cause will a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

As believers, even Gentile believers, our prize for our faith is the same as Abraham’s, the father of faith, to whom God said, “Fear not Abram, for I am your shield and your exceeding great reward.”

Galatians 3:6-14 – For as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know you not therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. For the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. But for as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse: for it is written, “Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: for we know that the just shall live by faith. The law is not of faith: for the man that does them must live in them. But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us. As it was written, “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree,” and this so that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that we too might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

So it is expedient that we look at our lives as a Christian and are honest with ourselves, is any of this describing you and your relationship with God, not in a doctrinal way, but an experiential way?

2nd Corinthians 13:5 – Therefore examine yourselves as to whether you be in the faith. And prove your own selves, for know you not that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates.

Sadly, many professors of faith today will one day find that they exhausted the grace of God and never even missed it; frustrating it with their stiff-necks and stubborn unfaithfulness. Consequently, by neglecting that measure of faith dealt to them, they are the ones responsible for limiting the effectual working of God’s grace by essentially burying it as if it were the proverbial talent Christ spoke of, which is entrusted to His servants that they might invest it towards His glory. These are they who will one day find they were actually goats and not the sheep they thought they were when the Lord returns to separate those who profess to know Him.

Psalm 78:41-42 – Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy or their sins.

Dear reader, this is a very serious matter, because God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be holy and separate from the world. By His grace we can-and must be doers of His word, and not hearers only. By His grace we can answer His call and desire for us and become glorious partakers of His divine nature, having Christ formed in us and thus escaping the wrath to come. For this cause His grace is given to us, so we can become His glorious bride.

Ephesians 5:25-26 – Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it , so that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1st  Peter 1:3-4 – According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue, Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Some, if they made it this far, are already protesting in their minds and thinking all this sounds like salvation by works. But in reality, it is true salvation made evident by growth in us, it is the life of, and character of Christ being formed in us. For both the completion and perfection of the believer is the fullness of Christ living in and through them, for He alone is our hope of glory. Yet we only have this life because we humbly receive God’s word, planting it as it were in our hearts, for His word is what makes us alive and by it His grace causes us to grow in Him and be fruitful.

James 1:21-22 – Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. But be you doers of the word and not hearers only, thereby deceiving your own selves.

Remember, He is the vine, and we are His branches. However, even though we once received the word, we must continue in the word, for only that way can we abide in Christ and His life in us.

John 15:1-6 – I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that bears no fruit He takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, He purges it that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you, so abide in Me and I in you. For as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can you except you abide in Me. For I am the vine, and you are the branches. He that abides in Me and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. If a man abides not in Me – then he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and men gather them and cast them into the fire where  they are burned.

Let’s look also at Jesus’ parable about the tree that wasn’t producing fruit, which like Jesus’ analogy above, the unfruitful tree is to be removed.

Luke 13:6 – Jesus also spoke this parable, A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and one day he came seeking fruit thereon, but found none. Then he said unto the gardener of his vineyard, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree,  and still have found none: therefore cut it down, for why should we waste this space of ground? But the gardener answered him saying, Lord, let it alone this year also, and I will dig about it and fertilize it. Them if it bears fruit, all is good. But if not, then we will cut it down.”

The greatest evidence of Christian growth isn’t knowledge, its fruit, fruit of the spirit. Do we need knowledge, of course, for how can we do works of righteousness if we are ignorant of God’s will, But like Paul said in Romans, “the fruit of righteousness is holiness, and the end eternal life.” That dear reader is evidence, the only evidence, that one is walking in the spirit and not in the flesh. For one can grow in knowledge and still remain fruitless, and sadly many professing Christians do just that, because they don’t understand grace and the purpose for which it is given. So, I would also add as a warning, that before Jesus spoke the parable above about the fruitless tree, He had warned all those who were before Him stating, “ I say to you, that unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

If by grace through faith we have truly been saved, we will bring forth fruit. For grace that saves brings not only life, but power for continued growth. For in Jesus’s analogy of Him being the vine and we the branches, where He says “abide in Me,” that Greek word translated abide there is the same word He used when He said “If you continue in my word, then are you My disciples.” For our abiding is not a dormant occupying of space, it is a continuing, it is life in action evident by growth and fruit bearing.

Consequently, salvation is made evident by growth, which is the witness of spiritual life abiding in us as we continue in His word. God expects growth in every believer , just like we expect a seed that finds good soil will germinate and sprout, and grow upwards towards the sun, and ultimately bring forth fruit to perfection. This is why James said we should “receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls,” for hearing God’s word brings faith, the faith we need to please God,  and faith through which His grace can work to quicken us and change us. With grace, we too will be just like that seed that sprouted, which even though the sprout may have just broken through the dirt and has only yet pushed out its first two tender little leaves, it is still perfect. So does the Father look upon you as a Christian if you are growing in Christ. However, neither we nor the sprout can remain that size and be fruitful; we must grow if we are to bring forth fruit to perfection. Yet, from germination to harvest, it is considered perfect throughout all the stages of the growing process, as long as it is growing; and again, so are we.

1st Corinthians 3:5-6 – Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. For I have planted, and Apollos watered; but it is God who gave the increase.

Ephesians 4:11-21 – For He gave some of us the callings of apostles; and some – to be prophets; and some to be evangelists; and some to be pastors and teachers. This He did for the perfecting of the saints and for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. And that till we all come into a unity of the faith and to a knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, even unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, being carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and their cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part and makes increase of the body – unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, and that in the vanity of their own minds having their understanding darkened and therefore alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that remains in them, because of the blindness of their heart. For these are past feeling, having given themselves over unto lasciviousness, and to do all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, If truly you have heard Him and have been taught by Him as the truth is in Jesus.

1st Peter 3:14-18 – Wherefore beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom which God has given unto him has also written unto you.  For he in his epistles has also spoken of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood. For they that are unlearned and unstable wrestle with them even as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction. But you beloved, seeing you know these things before, be cautious less you also be led away with the error of the wicked and fall from your own steadfastness. Rather, continue to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever, Amen.

No Excuse

Even though Adam sinned, and we all now need to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, there is no excuse for any of us to be continuing in his sin. For God foresaw sin with all its corruption and consequences, even before anything was created; and His remedy was always there, though as a mystery which was hid until the appointed time. Therefore, it must be recognized as an indisputable fact that God foresaw absolutely everything, in the most minuscule detail, and categorically knew every good and evil thing that would transpire throughout all eternity. Therefore, before the creation of man, God fully knew all the circumstances which would occur and every opposing force of evil that would arise with all their intensity, destruction, and confusion, and accordingly made all the necessary preparations to assure His own purposes and glory. That regardless of foe or evil intent, He can absolutely assure those who love Him, that each and every circumstance and event in their lives was foreseen and therefore He can successfully work all things together for their eternal well-being.

No, the foreknowledge of sin didn’t discourage God; He still elected to create humanity in His image, knowing that as lights they could still brilliantly manifest the wonders and glory of God through the sufficiency of His amazing grace, which is available to all through Jesus Christ the Lord. For   each-and every one of us were created to be temples for the Spirit of the living God, and are called to “serve the LORD with gladness… for the LORD He is God; and it is He that has  made us, and not we ourselves; and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” For man, every man, and every person ever born is “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has  before ordained that we should walk in them.” What then will sinners say when they are asked by their Creator why they obstinately ignored His calling them?

It is irrelevant how men may view and dismiss their sins, for what God sees in their sin is a willingness to trample His Son in order to continue down their own path with a callous indifference for Jesus’ precious blood; which they have devalued to the status of a common product seemingly  always readily available on shelves of the local convenient stores, which some foolishly imagine will always be there whenever they need it. Sadly, such people are sitting in churches on Sunday feeling all justified, but in truth are committing idolatry by worshipping a “Jesus” that the modern commercial church system has fabricated just for them, and they don’t even know there’s a difference.

2nd Corinthians 11:4, If indeed someone is coming to preach another Jesus, whom I did not preach, or you are receiving another Spirit other than you had once received, or another gospel which you did not accept before, you would do well to bear with me.

Hebrews 10:29-31 – Of how much worse punishment do you suppose he will be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, and counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord, for the LORD will judge His people and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Dear reader, if Jesus tells us, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works?” Don’t you think we better know just who He was talking about, before He says to one of us as well, “I never knew you, depart from Me you who worked iniquity.” 

When Grace Has Been Frustrated, Conquering Enemies Will Rise Up

It has been said the judgment of God is to let men go their own way when they have frustrated His grace. For this reason, God permitted the rise of those empires that took the Jews into captivity twice, and is also why He allows the rise of the Eighth Beast, a corrupt government system under the authority of Satan, who is eager to force those created in God’s image to desecrate their bodies (God’s temples) with a “mark” that would forever oblige them to now serve and worship the dragon and his beast, as well as partake of his fate.

1st Corinthians 6:19-20 – What, know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you and which you have of God. And that you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit for these are God’s.

Ezekiel 18:4 – Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the father -so also the soul of the son is mine, and the soul that sins shall die.

Later in 1st Corinthians 7:23, Paul tells us that we were “bought with a price; be not you the servants of men.” Yet that is the very thing the beast will do to humanity, make them servants of men and ultimately slaves of the dragon’s beast system. Later in Revelation 14, the Apostle John, “looked, and  lo a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand, all having His Father’s name written in their foreheads.” But those who were not sealed, and rather took the mark of the beast, John saw the following.

Revelation 14:8-10 – And there followed another angel saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.

In Revelation 15 we see “seven angels” come forth from heaven unto the beast “having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” In chapter 16 the apostle “heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth… And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Next in chapter 17, the beloved Apostle John now sees the appearance of a woman, which comparable to the beast, “sits upon many waters.” However, not only was this woman like the beast in her influence upon many “nations and tongues,” she is now shown to John to be riding the beast signifying an end time merger between the Eighth Beast and the mother whore (false religious system). This merger takes place before the final destruction of the Eighth Beast and the whore riding it. Yet this merger of theirs is just another maneuver to promote the great endtime deception upon the nations and the true church, which “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

The driving force behind the woman is the same force behind the beast. For it is the dragon which gives them both their power and seat, and great authority. This deceitful force behind this ungodly union of “pseudo church and state” is the same force the apostle Paul warned the Church of Corinth about.

2nd Corinthians 11:13-15 – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel since Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers are also transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Upon seeing this vision of the rise and fall of the Eighth Beast with its merger to the “great whore,” John was overwhelmed with bewilderment. What he had witnessed left him perplexed, wondering what it all meant and how did it relate to him, the church, and God’s plan? Therefore, God had “one of the seven angels which had the seven vials” go and talk to John saying, “Wherefore did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has  the seven heads and ten horns.”

Right here in Revelation chapter 17, we can see that the angel comes to explain the who’s and what’s of chapter’s 13-16. This angel clearly tells John two things, first, “I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters,” and secondly, “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has  the seven heads and ten horns.”

This “mystery” was never something that God intended to reveal only to John; rather He committed it unto John so he could write it down and deliver it to us, the church of Jesus Christ. Of this we can be certain by the angel’s statement, that all “they that dwell on the earth shall wonder whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.”

What we must glean from that statement and the scriptures listed below is that God not only wants His church to know and understand this “mystery,” He fully expects us to. If our names are in the Lamb’s book of life, then He did not intend for us to be left in the dark wondering about this mystery. If we are still wondering, then perhaps it is because we haven’t taken the time, or been truly obedient to the Lord to diligently seek it out and prove things the best we can both scripturally and historically. Sadly, what the Holy Spirit said is true, too many people in these “latter times” have swallowed fables by the likes of Tim Lahaye and others as biblical fact when they really should have been praying, studying and prayerfully listening to the Lord regarding these things. More people are shamefully more familiar with the storyline in the Left Behind series than they are with the scriptures and the truth of the Word of God.

Still, many have been duped into thinking it doesn’t really matter and excuse themselves by saying God’s just going to rapture them out before the beast comes on the scene anyway. If it doesn’t matter, then why did God give us so much prophetic warning? The Church needs to come to terms with the simple truth that if God put it in the Bible, then He both wants and expects His people to know… and therefore we should know. Do you think it says in vain “they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world?” It means exactly what it says. 

Hebrews 2:1-3 – Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, less at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; Then how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was also confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.

Now that doesn’t mean there won’t be some young believers or new converts who won’t know and fully understand these things, but that should only be because they have not yet had sufficient opportunity to learn these things, line upon line and precept upon precept. But these are those unbelievers of which Peter said were “willingly ignorant,” slothfully neglecting both God’s word and grace and content with their powerless religion and faith thinking it all doesn’t really matter anyway.

2nd Peter 3:3-7 – Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers who walk after their own lusts, who will mockingly say, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation. Yet for all this, they are willingly ignorant of, for by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that was then, was flooded with water and perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, these by this same word are kept in store, and are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

In these two passages, we are told that those who will be deceived or ignorant are those whose names are not written in the book of life. I pray you will not be found among them in that day.

Revelation 13:8 – And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 17:8 – The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.