religion

Glorious News for Mankind

religion.jpg

In the final analysis, there are really only two “religions” in the world. First, there is the religion of Human Achievement; this is the religion that all mankind was placed into the moment Adam ate from the wrong tree, the tree of good and evil, or the tree of right and wrong. This tree says "Tell me what to do and I will do it. Tell me what not to do and I will not do it." Of course, the huge assumption is that we will be able to pull it off, and of course, there isn't, and never has been, a man who can do that.

Romans 3:23 tells us that, "ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So the religion of Human Achievement, no matter what emblem it falls under or what name it is known by, emphasizes what man does in order to merit life and acceptance from God. 

There is, however, another “religion” – the religion of Divine Accomplishment. Here the emphasis is not on what man must do for God, but what God “has done” for man – hence the name Divine Accomplishment. God has done it! It is finished! This is the most glorious news available to man! God offers what He has done for man, to man as a gift; the only “requirement” for man is simply to humble himself and open up his arms and receive the gift by faith. A gift given is not necessarily a gift that has been received. That is where faith comes in, and that is in Hebrews it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God!”

What is your religion? Is your religion the religion of Human Achievement, a religion that is all about you, and all that you have done and are doing in order to try and achieve merit before God? Or have you entered into the religion of Divine Accomplishment, where God loves you so much that He has done it all for you! The choice is yours!

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"Competitive Spirit"

Living by codes, therefore, breeds a spirit of competition and whenever there is competition, there will be the desire to win and not lose.

Living by codes, therefore, breeds a spirit of competition and whenever there is competition, there will be the desire to win and not lose.

"RELIGIOUS PEOPLE" are very often "mean people"... Please understand, it is because they have to be. 

Whenever you have people living by a code that they cannot keep there will be in those people a sense of failure. This, in turn, will breed the need to look at others to see if they can do it better than others, and thus feel better about themselves. Living by codes, therefore, breeds a spirit of competition and whenever there is competition, there will be the desire to win and not lose. Such a one will then naturally compare themselves to others with the accompanying necessity to put the other down and exalt themselves.

We see this "competitive spirit" in Luke 18 when the pharisee exalted himself and all the good that he had done over and against the "sinner" and all the evil that he had done. Even a cursory reading reveals the ugliness of this religious and competitive spirit.

This is why grace is such an incredible necessity for the body of Christ to live in harmony. Grace puts every believer on the same playing field. Grace removes the competitive spirit because it also removes the code by which we seek to exalt ourselves at the expense of others. Grace, when it is really understood and appropriated can only lead to the exaltation of one individual --- the person of grace ---Lord Jesus Christ.

ALL OTHERS are humbled in the presence of grace. 

Sadly, there are people who are making "grace" the new law, using grace as a new standard by which to measure others and put them down for their lack of understanding and as a tool to exalt themselves for their enlightened understanding. Such "grace" is no grace at all but the spirit of religion and competition wrapped up in the glory of grace, which in fact distorts and corrupts grace so that it is no longer really grace at all. This is religion of the worst kind...and it too is mean!

The real test of whether it is grace we are proclaiming is that Jesus will be exalted and we ourselves humbled by the glory of real grace. If a man or woman is really walking in true grace, mercy and compassion will flow from their lips and lives and others will always feel safe around them, even those who disagree with them. 

Have you ever noticed that even the enemies of Jesus felt safe approaching Him? 

Do you want to know if you are walking in real grace? Ask those around you if they feel safe in your presence.  If they can relax around you.  If they can let their hair down and just be themselves in your presence. Ask them if they feel like they have to guard their words and actions around you, and give them the freedom to answer honestly.

Rich Mullins wrote these words longing to see the glory of the kingdom in the people of God:

"I see a people, who have learned to walk in faith,
with mercy in their hearts and glory on their faces..."

I too long for the day to see the body of Christ expressing such glory ---
When the mercy of God flows freely from the lips and lives of the saints of God.

MAY WE BE A GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL PEOPLE!

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Who's Going to Love the Legalist?

We know this glorious love and grace of God ONLY because we received it from His gracious hand

We know this glorious love and grace of God ONLY because we received it from His gracious hand

I try to not rant, however...

There is a great verse in Corinthians. It asks the question,
"What do you have that you did not receive?"

The answer, of course, is nothing!
Which prompts the next question...
"Then why do you glory as if you did not receive?"

What a very appropriate verse for the grace community... ALL OF US!!!

We know this glorious love and grace of God ONLY because we received it from His gracious hand. Why then, do we act so arrogantly and with such great judgment against others who do not know grace, especially religious people?
I hear things like "Religious people make me sick." "I get nauseous just listening to legalists"...

My friends, were we not one of them before? How many of us called ourselves and others - SINNERS before we understood that we are saints!? How many of us judged others and condemned others when we lived under law ourselves? Now that we have come to know grace, judgment and condemnation should no longer be on our lips - only the life and love that is available from God. After all, we only know what we know because we received it by grace... but allow me to meddle for a moment...

I have another question. Are we not free enough to sit under a legalist or religionist without it effecting us? If sitting under a legalist or a religionist makes us nauseous, maybe we are not as free as we think we are?

Oh, and another question... Who is going to win the religionist and the legalist if we don't have the love to associate with them? The only way to have an impact is if we have contact!

I have been through legalism wars in the church. They are not fun and they can grieve your soul. But we have the Spirit of God in us Who always ministers life to us even when others are ministering death to us. Is that not true?

Funny, but years ago I taught through Galatians, which instructs the church to pursue church discipline and remove legalists who persecute the free. One of my elders informed me after the messages that we were too lenient with the persecuting legalists and should have moved sooner (in a war which took 7 years by the way)...

I laughed and reminded him that if we had done so, he would not be here.  He was one of the legalists who had his eyes opened to grace as we patiently loved him in his bondage FOR MANY YEARS!!!

We have an awesome responsibility because we have received grace, to live out grace with others…. Even those who do not know grace!

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Truly Let Go

Just “let go and let God!”   Oh   my friend, to do that is  no  easy thing at all.

Just “let go and let God!” Oh my friend, to do that is no easy thing at all.

One of the main accusations we in the economy of grace receive from the religious world is that we are a camp of “easy believism” and passivity. Some of that ridicule has been earned as people within our camp have heralded the words “let go and let God” as a trite formula for which to tackle all of life. Though this is in actuality a true statement, that method of employing those words can very easily sound like passivity.

Just “let go and let God!” Oh my friend, to do that is no “easy” thing at all.

Remember that we were all birthed into the lie that we shall be as God. We all have a built-in belief system that we are strong, have the knowledge, are in control, and we can tackle anything that comes our way. This must be repented of; the truth is we were never designed to be strong, know all things, or be in control, but we were created to be dependent on the One Who is all those things.

Further, we are as Psalm 139 says, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are so fantastically created that we can accomplish so much in any given day without even giving a thought about God. Our very assets with which we were created can enable us to function so well in sight, that we do not see the need to live by faith.

I would put it this way, if our assets hinder us from trusting God,
then we must see them as liabilities.

To “let go” of those assets which we can so easily see and trust, and choose instead to trust a God we cannot see, requires great effort and will. No, my friend, there is nothing “easy” or “passive” about living by faith. It is in fact hard work! I think of the words of Hebrews, “Let us labor to enter into rest!”

Let us STRIVE to truly let go and let us STRIVE to truly let God!