Where Grace Abounds is described as “A program dedicated to promoting the complete Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ. Meaning, the Gospel is not just about putting faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection so that we can go to Heaven when we die. See additionally, the Gospel is also the good news that Jesus came so that His followers could have life and life more abundant while they live out their days here on Planet Earth. Moreover, this program also aims to celebrate individuals who are being perpetually transformed for the better by both the Gospel message and the balance of what is contained in God’s Holy Word.” You can subscribe to Where Grace Abounds wherever you listen to your podcasts.
I am excited by this because for one, I hope to be the kind of person Eric describes. But moreover because I believe wholeheartedly that there is more to the Gospel than many Christians live and if we would all hold onto the fullness of the Gospel and the awesome grace of God, we would walk in such great love, victory, and power that the Kingdom of God would grow exponentially and the world would quake with the glory of Jesus Christ.
What is the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ? It is manifold yet simple and absolutely beautiful. When we first accept the Gospel, most of us receive it with joy and enthusiasm. We hear it, we believe it, and we declare it. Romans 10:6-13 in The Living Bible tells us,
But the salvation that comes through faith says, “You don’t need to search the heavens to find Christ and bring him down to help you,” and, 7 “You don’t need to go among the dead to bring Christ back to life again.”
8 For salvation that comes from trusting Christ—which is what we preach—is already within easy reach of each of us; in fact, it is as near as our own hearts and mouths. 9 For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation.
11 For the Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed. 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect: they all have the same Lord who generously gives his riches to all those who ask him for them. 13 Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
Salvation doesn’t come from following laws and rules, a step by step program, or even repeating a multi-part prayer. It says quite simply that “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is the Gospel of Grace, Ephesians 2:8-10 describes it this way,
Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. 10 It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.
In the ESV verse 8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”
So very often, some well-meaning but mixed-up person steps in and gives the new Christian a different message and that joy and enthusiasm ebbs away. They say now that you’re saved you must follow this list of rules, do these acts of service, give this amount of money, and stop doing this list of ‘sins.’ Paul did not take kindly to people stepping in and messing with the Church like that. When people came into the church in Galatia and told them they had to be circumcised, follow laws, and observe various feasts and festivals, Paul had some strong things to say, Galatians 1:6-10 reads,
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Do you know what freedom and joy there is in the Grace of Christ? This is not only the beginning of the remarkable journey with Christ but the inspiration to living that life in victory and hope rather than defeat and despair. It is grace that allows us to exclaim, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!” (Galatians 5:1). We cannot do anything to earn Salvation, nothing at all! There is no score keeper in Heaven keeping track of the ‘good’ things you do versus the ‘bad’ things you do. There are no divine scales of justice. It is simply this question “are you covered by the blood of Christ or not?”
You cannot do anything to make God love you more than He already does, and oh, how he loves you! There is nothing you can do to cause Him to love you any less either. He is Love (1 John 4:8) and so His love is perfect and complete. It lacks nothing. Love doesn’t keep track of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). The freedom of living in Christ is that His Grace means there is no such thing as sin in Christ, nothing is sinful for us, Believer (1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23, Romans 14:14 ). We don’t have to live a sin-conscious life, instead we can live for Christ becoming all we were meant to be, glorifying the Lord, and revealing the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness (Ephesians 2:6). How do we show God’s infinite grace and kindness if we are trying to earn points with Him by following impossible laws, living meager lives, or constantly punishing ourselves for sins we perceive we have committed?
No, we reveal the immense riches of grace and kindness by living the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Eternal life does not begin the day we die and ‘go to Heaven.’ It begins the moment we declare Jesus as Lord and Savior. In John 5:19-24 Jesus says,
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Jesus has the authority to grant life and the authority to judge and He said that whoever believes, (Believers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) will not come into judgement but has passed from death to life. He declares that we are passed to life at that moment, not eventually, but at the time of salvation. There is no judgement but rather a new and wonderful life that reveals the will of the Father in the work and the works of Christ.
So many of us walk through our lives on earth aware of every wrong thing we do, every mistake we make, and every sin we choose. How can we walk in the freedom of Christ, displaying God’s immense riches of grace and kindness if we are not walking in that grace and kindness? That is not the life that Jesus intended, it is the life the enemy wants you to live, it is a life that reveals a lie. The lie is one believed by so many lost, that the Christian life is about self-righteous hypocrites forgoing happiness and living insubstantial and paltry lives. Even many who call themselves Christians have come to believe they must live these meager lives. But that is not what Christ means for us! In John 10, Jesus is describing Himself as the Door and the Shepherd and in verses 9-11 He says,
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Who is the thief? The thief is the enemy of Christ, it is Satan and all who would do his work by trying to destroy the life Jesus came to give. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” An abundant life is not a sin-conscious life but a God-conscious life. A life of awareness of God with us. A life where we walk not with a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (1 Timothy 1:7).
Let’s read about this freedom from sin. Many people who declare grace, do so using grace as an excuse to continue living the way they always have, not a changed new free life, but as a slave to sin and basal desires. There is such a big difference between trying to live by the law and living under God’s perfect forgiveness!
Let’s begin reading in Romans 5:15-21 in The Living Bible.
For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this one man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s mercy. 16 Adam’s one sin brought the penalty of death to many, while Christ freely takes away many sins and gives glorious life instead. 17 The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all, but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Yes, Adam’s sin brought punishment to all, but Christ’s righteousness makes men right with God, so that they can live. 19 Adam caused many to be sinners because he disobeyed God, and Christ caused many to be made acceptable to God because he obeyed.
20 The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. 21 Before, sin ruled over all men and brought them to death, but now God’s kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The ESV of verse 20 reads, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” This beautiful verse is one that so many people have twisted to use as permission to sin. It is not. God’s grace is so much more than undeserved forgiveness of sins; it is unwarranted favor, unearned blessings and gifts and unmerited adoption as children of God. Let’s keep reading Romans as Paul continues his discourse in Chapter 6:1-8 in The Living Bible.
Well then, shall we keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness?
2-3 Of course not! Should we keep on sinning when we don’t have to? For sin’s power over us was broken when we became Christians and were baptized to become a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered. 4 Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father, with glorious power, brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy.
5 For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him, so to speak, when he died; and now you share his new life and shall rise as he did. 6 Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin’s control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; 7 for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you. 8 And since your old sin-loving nature “died” with Christ, we know that you will share his new life.
The power of sin is dead, we don’t live by laws and rules which cause us to be always aware of we cannot do and therefore desire to do those things. Do you get that? Consider a room with lots of buttons and flashing lights, and thick beautiful curtain that hides something. In the center of all those buttons is a large red one with a sign that reads, “Do not press the red button.” Which button will you desire to press? That big red button. Without the sign, pressing the buttons was allowed but with the sign, not only do you desire to press the button but you then somehow decide you are not allowed to pull back the curtain see what might lay beyond it. You have set up more rules that you also wish to break.
But our new life in Christ doesn’t have those laws; Jesus fulfilled all of them! We don’t live in bondage to those laws or the sin of breaking them, we live in freedom of new life as we now become the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I want to continue looking at this new, eternal, and abundant life Jesus has given us. There is so much to it that we it will need to be continued in a series of devotionals. So in our upcoming devotionals we will look at the amazing relationship we get to enjoy with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the amazing transformation God grants us as His children, the power and authority experience and exercise in in that relationship, and the blessings He gives us in that relationship.
Please listen to my interview on Where Grace Abounds by clicking on the link below. Don’t forget to subscribe, listen to the other inspiring interviews Eric has done, and share with those who need some encouragement to live abundantly and victoriously in Jesus Christ.
Where Grace Abounds: An Edifying Exchange With Acclaimed Author Donna Campbell
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