Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."

Luke 2:10

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View October 2009 Issue >>
 

All About Grace: Joseph and Wendy Prince

 

World renowned preacher on the topic of Grace, Joseph Prince will be speaking at the Coca-Cola Dome in JHB in October. Hereunder an extract from his recent preach.

“Grace is possibly one of the most misunderstood concepts by Christians today. And yet Grace is integral to our walk with God – for Grace is actually Jesus Christ. He is Grace personified. His Grace is evident through the work of the Gospel – for the Gospel itself is Grace.

 

the gospel and grace

The test of the Gospel is Grace. If the message excludes Grace, or mingles law with Grace as the means either of justification or sanctification (Gal 2:21; 3:1-3), or denies the fact or guilt of sin, which alone gives Grace its occasion and opportunity, it is ‘a different’ gospel. (v. 8-9). We are saved by faith, not works. Our Christian walk is only by Grace…we cannot do anything by or of ourselves. When you put Jesus in the midst of your life, your marriage, your church, He will hold everything together.

 “For the law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ”. John 1:17. Notice that Grace and Truth are linked together. So what is this Truth? It is the Truth of the New Covenant. Grace is not a doctrine. It is a person. The person of Jesus Christ. Grace is not a teaching, it is the Gospel. Sometimes when you look at Bible Schools they will teach on Grace….but Grace was never a doctrine. We need to rediscover the Gospel that Paul preached for it is in this Gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed – that is, the Grace of God through Jesus.

 

the law and grace

The Law demands righteousness from sinfully bankrupt men. Grace imparts righteousness to sinfully bankrupt men. The Law of God says “I will by no means forget your sins, but I will visit them to the third and fourth generation”. But under the New Covenant because of the Blood of Jesus, God says, “I will remember your sins no more but your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” The Law is natural.

Grace is supernatural. The man in the street understands Law; there are people in the Middle East blowing themselves up because they believe they are keeping the Law.  They are training to gain righteousness, hoping that they will obtain paradise. The Old Testament prophets call your sins into remembrance. New Testament preachers call your righteousness in Christ to your remembrance – because when you are awake to righteousness you will be dead to sin.

Lawlessness and grace

Why is it then that the Church has become so legalistic? It is because the Church fears that by teaching Grace people will become lawless and disgraceful. We know that we are saved by Grace – but it doesn’t end there. It’s Grace that saves us and Grace that will take us home.

That was Paul’s message right throughout the New Testament and it should be our message today. (2 Corinthians 3). We cannot obtain righteousness with God through our own behaviour. We can only live, breathe and exist through Grace. Through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

 

jesus is our example

We do not abandon the law - but we do not live under it. Jesus is our teacher and our righteousness, the law makes you conscious of yourself, it shows you your failings. But it cannot deliver you. Only Christ delivers.

The law was written on tablets of stone (the 10 Commandments to Moses), under the New Covenant God says “I will write My laws on your heart”. Under law you are focused on yourself and your good works or lack thereof. Under Grace you are focused on Christ. If you seek first His righteousness, then all will be added unto you. William Hunt the 18th Century theologian said: “Grace is the only thing that can bring a Holy God and a sinful people together. Therefore Grace is the greatest Holiness there is”.  “Sin shall not have dominion over you because you are not under law but under Grace.”  Rom 6:14

You can’t be under Grace and not be Holy anymore than you can not be under water and not be wet. Grace can not separate from Holiness. Please understand I am not against the law - Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it.

 

righteousness and grace

 Jesus kept the law completely and set the precedent for us. We do not strive to please God; for in Christ we have already pleased Him. But we live righteously because we love God. It is out of love and not duty that we refrain from sin and serve God. Once the law has been fulfilled (which it was in Christ) you rest. If you are paying a bank, once your debt or loan is paid off, you finish, you rest.

The law is Holy – but it cannot make you Holy. The law is righteous, but it cannot make you righteous. (Galatians 2:21) The law is pure, but it cannot make you pure. (Galatians 3:1-3). Only Jesus can.

When Jesus was preaching in the temple, the Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery. They wanted to trip Him up so they said to Him: “Moses said she should be stoned”. If Jesus said don’t stone her, He would have broken Moses’ law. If He said stone her, the people hearing Him preach about the love of God would be confused. Jesus never answered them.

The Bible says He stooped down and wrote on the ground. He said, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone”. Did He break the law? No. He upheld the law. It is only Christ who can uphold the law and fulfil it. It is only by Grace that we are made Holy.

We do not have to keep laws to be Holy; we keep Christ in our hearts and He makes us Holy. Sin cannot stop God’s Grace – because all are sinners. God’s Grace stops sin.

Wisely, Jesus said to the adulterous woman “...Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” John 8:11b. Instead of condemning her, He showed her Grace and said “Go and sin no more. “

 

there is no condemnation

He didn’t condemn her with the Law. He gave her the gift of Grace. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1.

The Church has forgotten the definition of Grace, we expect people to be clean before they come to God. Before they become Christians! Wasn’t it Jesus who said that He came for the sick, because it is the sick who need a doctor? Why do we expect people to bathe before they come to the altar of cleansing? Why do we expect them to clean themselves when they can’t? It is only Jesus who cleanses us. It is only His Blood that washes us pure as snow. Our righteousness – our good works - are as filthy rags to God! Why?

Because we presume on our own strength that we can be good, that we can please God, that we can do it. No, it is only Christ who can fulfil all the requirements of God.

 

a revelation of grace

People need a revelation of Grace so that they can truly know God and understand what He has done for us. When Jesus said it is finished – He completed it. You cannot finish a finished work. People sin without license – they don’t need a license to sin. (i.e. the argument that Grace gives license to sin).

It takes the Holy Spirit to understand Grace, to live in Grace and walk by Grace. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal the person and the work of Jesus Christ to you. You can’t do it on your own!

Let us as God’s people return to Grace and not be afraid to preach Grace from our pulpits. When believers have an accurate understanding and revelation of Grace – that is Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross – they will truly live free and desire to be blameless for the Master.

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