Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GRACE OR WORKS

Ephesians 2:5-9 "...even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. "


There is an identity crisis in the world today. This identity crises is not only in unbelievers, but it is in the body of Christ as well. A good example of this mentality is demonstrated in the Israelites, when God delivered them out of Egypt. Gods children lived for 400 years in Egypt, and during this time, they were placed in bondage. They became the slaves of Egypt. As a result, a slave mentality began defiling their hearts. With each passing generation this slave mentality became stronger and stronger. Even though the Israelites witnessed miracle after miracle in their deliverance, they still were not able to believe what God had said. When they crossed the Red Sea, and entered into their journey through the wilderness, which was suppose to be only an 11 day journey, they ended up staying there for 40 years. Why, because of their identity of being a slave. When it became difficult for them in the wilderness, they asked to go back to Egypt. Their works mentality, their slave identity kept them bound. As a result a whole generation never experience the blessing of the promised land.

The only reason the next generation of Israelites found their way out of that slave mentality, a works mentality, is because they choose to believe Gods grace, His promise, His salvation!

Most people, Christians alike, are the same way today. We have generations of influence defiling our hearts with a works mentality. This works mentality has defiled the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We now have forms of performance based Christianity being preached across our pulpits every Sunday.

The Gospel is not one of works, but of grace. Our identities are so bound to our earning the right to have and enjoy life, that we miss out on the blessing of eternal life that God has promised for us right here, right now. John 3:16 tells us; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should BELIEVE on him, should not perish, but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE (Zoe life, or the life of God)." When do we have this life, right now. How do we receive this life? Not by earning it, or working for it, but by simply believing on JESUS!

Grace is a gift, it is not something you earn. Here is a question I ask people,  "When were you saved?" Many times they tell me the day the prayed the prayer of salvation, which seems religiously correct. But is that really the truth? Because if it is, then your salvation is based on you praying the right prayer, instead of Gods grace. In my street witnessing efforts, I have had fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord criticize me and others who are out there reaching the lost, on the type of prayer people have prayed. They are so critical of the type of words and phrases used, that they judge these precious children of God as not saved.  These same people look for some emotional response or dramatic turn around in that persons life to determine the validity of their salvation. Why do they do this?  Because they believe you and I have to earn our salvation some how. Again that's a works perception of salvation.

Look at Ephesians 2:8 again; "..by grace you have been saved.." What did it say? BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED. The word "have" here is past tense, meaning this salvation has already happened. You are not saved by your prayer, or by your behavior. So the truth is GRACE SAVED YOU.

So what is grace? It simply is the act of Jesus dying on the cross for your sin. And then making you righteous with His righteousness. You and I had nothing to do with our salvation. You and I were saved when Jesus died for us, not when we prayed. If we were saved when we prayed then our salvation would be based on our work of praying, and not based on the work of Jesus dying on the cross.

Ephesians 2:8 says; "...through faith..." We receive our salvation through the avenue of faith. I know its hard for some of you, but the truth is we simply believe in our heart, that's it. When we begin believing Gods grace, that's when we will begin experiencing our promised land of Gods blessings.