What is the Reward of my Faith?

reward-of-faithThe subject of faith is a very controversial one in the religious realm and few truly understand what faith is, why we need it and how our lives are blessed because of it. We all know the scripture at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” But do we really understand what the reward of faith is? Continue reading

The Humility of Prayer

 

man repentingAs Christians, we all come to God in prayer with our needs and desires because we believe that He will deliver us from our sorrows, heal our bodies and bless us. Unfortunately, when some of us ask God for things, we are compelled to tell Him what to do and how to do it. We’re taught to “come boldly to the throne of grace”—(Hebrews 4:16), and so we feel that it means it’s okay for us to tell God how to do what we want Him to do for us. Some of us feel as if it’s our right to just tell God what to do for us. This attitude is more of self-righteousness than of humility, and it’s one that the Lord won’t bless. Continue reading

What is Included in God’s Grace?

3147461049_35b009962d_mGrace and love work together since it was God’s love for us that sent Jesus to the cross so that we could attain grace and be forgiven for our sins and reunited with God. It is this grace that gives us freedom from the curse, but it is our commitment to God because of this grace that makes us Christians.

I recently read an article on grace written by David Ravenhill, a pastor and author with a vision for God’s people called, Would You Recognize the Deception of Hyper-Grace?”. I was so encouraged with how clearly he explained grace that I realized I could not get his message across nearly as well, so I have copied it in its entirety for you to read. Please read his message and be blessed, and visit David Ravenhill for more inspirational messages.

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Would You Recognize the Deception of Hyper-Grace? by David Ravenhill

Someone wisely stated, “The church has suffered more from her exponents than from her opponents.” This is certainly the case today, as we are seeing an onslaught of dangerous teaching sweeping through the body of Christ like never before. We have the graphic and prophetic picture of the serpent in Revelation pouring water like a river out of his mouth in order to sweep away the woman (Rev. 12:15-16). This, to me, speaks of the false river the enemy is attempting to use to deceive the church in these last days. Thank God that He has promised, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him” (Is. 59:19, NKJV).5578273602_79073a7036_m

One of the enemy’s wiles is to take something that is inherently good and seek to make it appear better. The hyper-grace message is a prime example of this. What is more amazing than grace? Nothing sets Christianity apart more than the message of grace. None of us would ever know our magnificent Savior and Lord without His redeeming, reconciling grace. There is no sect, cult or religion that has any doctrine comparable to it. Grace is found in Christ alone!

Little wonder, then, that the enemy has sought to improve on this glorious message by appearing to make it even more glorious, while at the same time lacing it with his deadly poison of deception and distortion.

Consider how you would respond to a message exhorting you to guard your mind, stay sober, be obedient, don’t be conformed to your former lusts, be holy, conduct yourself in fear, obey the Word and put aside all malice, guile and hypocrisy? What if the message went on to tell you to love and read God’s Word, grow up, tell others about God’s goodness, avoid fleshly lusts, do good deeds, do right, don’t speak about evil, be zealous for what is good and sanctify Christ as Lord?

Many within the body of Christ today would cry out against such a message, claiming it to be nothing more than a religious spirit or legalism or even fleshly works. Grace, we are told, frees you from all these works and liberates you so that you are no longer under any obligation of any kind. Grace, they say, is the gift that comes to us with no strings attached. But is that really the message of grace? Has the enemy blinded our eyes through super-sizing the true message of grace—and thereby distorting it?

It may surprise you to know that all the exhortations I’ve listed above were taken directly from Peter’s first epistle. Now, here is a most amazing truth: Peter tells us in the closing verses of his epistle, “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” (1 Pet. 5:12, NASB, emphasis added).

Here we have one of the most complete and comprehensive revelations on true grace to be found in the New Testament. Yes, grace is totally and irrevocably free, and it provides us with God’s power to change us. That was its original intent. Paul, in his letter to Titus, explains it this way: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12, emphasis added).

Peter and Paul saw the Lord, who is the only true embodiment of grace and truth. If anyone had a correct revelation and understanding of grace, these two men certainly did.

Paul, you recall, had to correct the Romans on their tendency to abuse grace by continuing in sin. This abuse of grace has now raised its head again and is being taught in ever-widening circles within the church. Those proponents of the hyper-grace message will tell you that since your sins past, present and future have all been forgiven, there is no longer any need of repentance for the believer. Repentance, they claim, is the acknowledgment of a sin that has already been forgiven. Why put back in the ledger what has already been erased? So the reasoning goes.

But is this really sound biblical doctrine? Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, scolded them for not dealing with the blatant sin of a brother who was sexually involved with his father’s wife. The Corinthians took to heart what Paul wrote. Then in his second letter, he commended them for their godly sorrow that brought them to a place of repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-10). He mentions repentance twice within two verses. If we did follow this erroneous concept of grace, then why was this sexual pervert disciplined in the first place, if his sin was already forgiven? Why punish him for something that is already under the blood? Jesus obviously didn’t consider this to be the case when He admonished five out of the seven churches in Revelation to repent.

2643148122_ae6721809e_mFinally, as I have said many times, if we say that repentance is no longer necessary because all sin has already been forgiven, then why do we need to repent the first time in order to be saved? There is the belief by some that since all sin has been atoned for, all are saved but just don’t know it. This is the old but still very much alive false doctrine of universalism or ultimate reconciliation.

Jude was greatly disturbed by these errors in his day and tells us, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Why? Because there were those within the church who were distorting the grace of God and turning it into licentiousness. This, I believe, was also the subtle teaching of Jezebel in the church of Thyatira. I don’t personally believe she was openly teaching that it was OK to engage in sexual immorality, but rather that the fruit of her distorted message led to this type of activity.

This is also my great fear regarding the hyper-grace message. While I sincerely believe that many advocates of the hyper-grace message firmly believe they are proclaiming a fresh revelation of grace, I truly believe the fruit of their teaching will instead bring disgrace to the very God of grace they seek to magnify.

I can only plead with those who are caught up in this false teaching to re-examine their beliefs in the light of God’s Word rather than get carried along by the latest trend being taught by a few popular and flamboyant pied pipers. If the fruit of this teaching does not produce a longing after God and a desire to be like Him, then we should avoid it like the plague. Grace enables us to live and walk in victory over sin, the flesh and the devil. Anything less is not the true grace of God.

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untitledDavid and Nancy Ravenhill have a rich history in ministry. David worked with David Wilkerson’s first Teen Challenge Center in New York City, Youth With a Mission, and pastored one of the largest churches in New Zealand. He is now a full-time itinerant minister and author of five books, including Blood Bought.

 

Love Sinners?

As Christians we often believe that we should love each other, help and support each other, tolerate each other’s differences and spend all our time with only Christians. We become a clique unto ourselves – aka denominations – and have no tolerance for anyone outside of our own circle of friends. We forget where we came from and we forget to love the sinners.

There’s a balance that we need to find in order to truly walk in love with God and towards all people. And we can find this balance in the Bible through the acts of someone who walked the walk and who gave His life for sinners – and that is our own Saviour, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He gave His life for us so that we could be saved. Were we righteous people deserving of this salvation? No, we were sinners deserving of death. The sin that was in us separated us from God and would take us to hell, but Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to go to the cross for us and take OUR sins upon Himself so that we could spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

What makes this so very precious is God’s forgiving grace. He saw the sin and the corruption in us, and Isaiah 64:6 says that our own righteousness is like filthy rags before Him. He saw the god of this world alive in us and He knew of the horrible things that we’d done in our allegiance to this god, but He saw beyond that sin. He saw the souls of His children. He saw US!

The shed blood has become our redeeming grace and through it we are saved! Romans 5:9,10 says that we are saved from the wrath that He will pour upon those who refuse to turn from their sin. We have been brought back to our Heavenly Father because He loves us and we are now part of His family and one with Him.

God hates the sin but He loves the sinner! That’s what makes His dying in our place so very special. He loves us in spite of our sin. There have been hundreds and thousands of horrific acts of sin committed against people since the fall of Adam and Eve, and yet Christ took even their sin upon Himself at the cross. He hates all sin but He loves all people – enough to die for them.

So as Christians, we need to take our cue from the Lord and reach out to people outside of our little circle of Christian friends. That doesn’t mean that we return to the bars and the dark lifestyle that kept us in bondage because to return to that could be wrong for our own sakes. But we need to pour our concerns onto those outside of our own cliques.

We need to be friendly to all manners of people and we need to be willing to help those in need whenever we can. We can’t have a heart that helps only Christians and that ignores the needs of the sinners because we’re following Jesus and we are to be like Him. He said in Mark 2:17 that He came to call sinners into repentance and so we must also work with sinners so that they can be saved.

Jesus preached throughout Judea and He told the people about Heaven and about the love that God had for them. Thousands of people turned from their sinful ways and followed Him. Matthew 14:14-20 talks about the multitude that followed Jesus and how He had compassion on them and fed them when they were hungry. He didn’t feed only His followers; He fed all of them.

Jesus healed the sick and He cast out demons – and many of those people were possessed with the devil and didn’t have the ability to become saved, but Jesus saw their heart and He cast the demons out of them. He hated the sin but He loved the sinner.

And that’s what we must do. We must hate the sin but love the sinner. James 5:20 says that “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

Love covers a multitude of sins, and when we have compassion on those who don’t know God we open the venue of grace upon them so they can get a glimpse of God through us. And when they can see the goodness of the Lord alive in us, their hearts are drawn to Him through the Holy Spirit and they have the opportunity to become saved.

So our life here on earth is to share and grow with our Christian brethren, but our mission is to spread the gospel to the unsaved so that we can bring as many people to Christ as we can. We need to hate the sin but LOVE the sinner, just as Christ did.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  … Matthew 25:41-46