“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”
I remember when I first began to believe the Good News. It’s hard to describe the feelings, the changes I went through, and how my life began to be transformed on the deepest levels. To even try to put my experience into words seems to diminish the power of those early encounters with the grace, love, and truth of God. I’ll trust, however, that it won’t.
The first thing I remember, sitting in that warehouse church, was what could seem to be two opposing feelings. As someone who didn’t believe in God, but desperately wanted to, I was not unfamiliar with the feeling of emptiness– of this realization that I needed something more than myself. But that day in the dimly lit building, there was a difference. The need for God that I had felt before, it was still there. This time, though, what I was lacking before– seemed to suddenly ignite in me the smallest ember. Faith. Where was this new kindling coming from? I had always wanted to believe, and couldn’t– why now? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) As I look back on that day, one of the strongest differences I remember was that, for the first time in my life, it felt like to allow myself to believe in this God and His Son Jesus Christ might be the wisest decision I could make. There was a sense that, although I knew something was going to have to be done about all this sin and darkness in me, that somehow, He might be big enough to take care of it. That, maybe it really is good news.
Like many others who have walked the path before and beside me, and by the grace of God, will come behind me, that was the beginning of the craziest journey I’ve ever started. I’ll spare you the details of my early days of “being on fire”, to “walking through the desert”– wondering where or why that strong Presence that seemed almost tangible had suddenly disappeared, to learning that this whole thing is a process– more like a marathon than a sprint.
What I do want to talk about is Grace. And Trust. And how every. single. good and perfect thing originates with God. I don’t know about you, but for me, this topic of grace? It’s been a bit controversial– which shows there’s a lack of understanding what exactly it is. Some folks get afraid when you just say the word…”grace”; Their faces get red and their jaw tightens as they think, “oh boy, it’s one of those ‘greasy grace’ people, thinking they can just use God’s grace as a licence to do what they want. Lord, help me to teach them the truth.” I use the term “afraid” because I think that’s exactly what it is. I think many of us are more afraid of clinging to grace than falling from grace. This may sound weird, and I don’t think it is intentional on our part, but I think it needs to be addressed with truth so the liar can’t deceive us.
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) Paul is telling the churches in Galatia that it is through trying to be right with God (justified) by the law that would make them fall from grace. It was a matter of what they believed in their hearts! As if to say, “Don’t you know Jesus came and made right with God all who would believe Him?! There’s nothing left to do except know Him more and more and keep walking with Him through grace!” Based on my study of the Scriptures, I think one of the main things God wants us to keep at the forefront of our understanding is our complete dependence on and the total, provided sufficiency offered in Christ. “We love because He first loved us.”(1 John 4:19) At whatever point we are depending on ourselves for sufficiency, righteousness, right standing with God, justification, healing, salvation, anything…. we are proclaiming an area in our life which we do not need Christ to come in and do what ONLY He can.
We know all the Scriptures that tell us that when Christ saves us, it is ALL about believing that it is only by grace that we are saved.
Let’s pause there, read that again.
And, we know, that even after God initiates the relationship, it continues to be His grace that grows, sustains, transforms, renews, and makes us more like Jesus. If you don’t know this, just do a word search on the word “grace” and you will soon find that everything good continues to originate and grow from Him. Or, do a word search on “righteousness” to see how we get it. This is just one of the many reasons that God rightfully gets ALL the glory.
Beloved, I believe God is so concerned with us having the Truth in our hearts in this area so much. I believe He wants us walking in freedom (Gal. 5)! In confidence in His love!(1John 4:18) Being vessels that really show that the power is FROM HIM! (2 Cor. 4:7) A people who are ever-believing that there is yet EVEN MORE love to be experienced and explored! (Eph. 3:18, 1 Peter 2:2-3) He wants it known that He. Is. God. ~worthy of praise and with love that endures forever. (psalm 100) And for our hearts to be depending on and clinging to the ALL-SUFFICIENT sacrifice He promised He is. For it is is Christ and Christ alone from Whom comes all Truth and Grace. When these out-of-this-world truths begin to take root in our hearts, we are compelled to worship. To worship with abandon, gratitude, and the humility that acknowledges Who He is and who we are. We are compelled to know this God more. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”(2 Cor. 5:14-15) Praise and glory to God. This God “from whom all blessings flow!!” Taste and see that He. is. Good. “2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Indeed, Body of Christ, cling to grace.