Sunday, 27 January 2008

Grace vs. Law - Part 1

First of all I must say Hello, this is not Dan! This is Lydia! Dan has graciously welcomed me to join in his endeavor to share the wealth of the teachings of Rob Rufus. I have had the privilege of listening to Rob since this past summer and have been so fed and so amazed by what an incredible gift of teaching, and exhorting this man has! So to start I wanted to share my first experience with Rob's preaching, from his Grace for freedom and fruitfulness series in 2006, the message entitled Grace vs. Law

-I am excited about this series, it's invaluable for our present and our future. The cry of the human heart is to live free, but not just free, we also want to be productive, we want to be fruitful. So we want to talk about being productive and fruitful through the grace of God.

For those of you who are new Christians, this teaching is exceptionally important for the foundation of your Christian life. But for those of you, who have been around for awhile, you've gotta understand this -that grace is not something like old clothes that you grow out of and then you throw away. Grace is something we need to be refreshed and renewed in all the time.

Truth needs to be looked at in a cyclical way. It's like a spiral staircase, you come around  to the same spot over and over but each time from a higher view point.

Our foundation Scripture is Colossians 1:3-6.
(vs. 6) this gospel is bearing fruit and growing. The key word here is understand, it's not just in the hearing of the gospel, it's also in the understanding of God's grace and all of it's truth.

I don't want a church that uses cliche/parrot phrases without content and without revelation. There needs to be a deeper supernatural influence. We need to renew, refresh our minds with the reality of what grace is. Spiritual warfare is you being equipped in the Grace of God. 
Grace is not only the foundation but it's the substance of the building we put up of our lives.

Now we are going to look at Romans 5 and unpack the Word of God. You must see this in the Word of God - not my teaching - God's Word!

Law vs. Grace - The relationship of the world to the law of God= everyone born into the world is born under the law of God, under the judgement of God. The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. When we have come to Christ, as Christians we are no longer accountable to the law WHATSOEVER!!! 
It is not enough to preach Grace! If you leave the impression that the Christian is somehow under the law a little bit or leave a subtle insinuation in people's mind -"Yes there's grace, but we do have to keep a few laws." If you do that, it's that little gap that the enemy will take advantage of and will use it to undermine the whole super structure of Grace and the Whole Gospel is neutralized!!
You say but Rob, don't we have Christian duties, don't we have to do something! I want to say categorically, WE HAVE NO CHRISTIAN DUTIES!   WHAT?!?!  This is hard to hear because of 1500 years of indoctrination of religious control, but when you come under grace and are free from the law, there is nothing you have to do, but there are a whole lot of want to's that start rising up in the heart.
I just think some Christians need to go on a diet from everything else and go on a diet of grace for a long time because I believe that many Christians have been propped up by law and external behaviour and modification techniques, that's all their doing and they think that because they behave externally that God's impressed with that. GOD IS NAUSEOUS WITH THAT STUFF, IT'S CALLED PHARISEEISM!!! God wants what we do to come from our  HEART, that is released from guilt and manipulation, that is FULL OF GRACE!

God doesn't want people to do things out of a "HAVE TO" mentality.
~I just want to say that the Gospel that's exported all around the world is not always the Gospel.~
Paul said, in Gal. 1:8, if anyone preaches any other Gospel, let him be cursed or condemned.
We are in a New Covenant, and in the New Covenant, it's a circumcision of the heart! 
If you come back under the law, you are alienated from grace and you WILL be under condemnation.

ONLY believe on Christ Jesus and you will be saved!!!

Don't EVER put your life under your pastors or leaders, put it under God and His Word!!!

Rob reads, Romans 5:12-21
First Adam- is under judgement, condemnation
Adam is a pattern of the one to come. When he disobeyed God, the whole human race was under sin.
Last Adam- Christ, righteousness comes on all who believe in Christ Jesus.

-what the law does not do
  1. make you righteous
  2. give you life
  3. save you
  4. encourage you
  5. make you more holy
  6. overcome sin
  7. strengthen you
-what the law does do
  1. condemns and crushes you
  2. stirs up sin in you and provokes more sin in you
  3. makes you aware of wrath over your life
  4. makes you feel constantly unworthy
  5. opposes you
  6. curses you with sickness, death disease, poverty and defeat
  7. makes you aware you are a transgressor
  8. shows you how insane it is to establish your own righteousness by the keeping of laws
  9. to show you -You need a Saviour and the law is put in charge to lead you to the Saviour!

-stay tuned for the rest, in part 2


Dan Bowen said...

What an AWESOME first post Lydia! Welcome to the blog and thank you a thousand times! I got so blessed by reading this and so excited!! :)

Peter Day said...

What a fantastic post! Such awesome, shocking (!) and liberating teaching. No duties!! Wow!! Just delights! "There are a whole lot of want to's that start rising up in the heart."

That's it. And that is the answer to all over on life on wings who are warning of licence. How can there be any licence when the Holy Spirit is stiring up a whole lot of godly desires in our hearts?

I think people find this so shocking because so much Bible teaching is about what we must do. It is always "yes, you are saved by grace" but then you must do bible study, do church, do tithing, do, do, do. Yet when we open the scriptures and see these things, it almost seems so shocking.

Yet it is true! I remember seeing videos of John Piper speaking at a really conservative conference and the shock waves when he said "don't serve Jesus!" There was total horror - what was this man saying? And he was saying is that we glorify the Lord when we let Him serve us.

This teaching of Rob has the same radical shock. Yet, again, it is so infinitely more glorifying to God than our feeble attempts at achieving our own righteousness.

Well I didn't mean to post all that - I guess I just got carried away by the glory of it all!

lydia joy said...

Thanks Dan!
You did not get carried away Peter, I honestly love reading all your comments - you both inspire me!!!
And yes this message is radical, it is the message that made my eyes and heart open wide to the message of GRACE!

mike coker said...

Lydia your comments on grace and law are awesome! I only use that word when addressing something of God.
I quote you here:

"We are in a New Covenant, and in the New Covenant, it's a circumcision of the heart!"

Consider this verse in Epesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

When I read this, I'm not under a new covenant which was for the children of Isarel, but under the grace of God. Just something to consider.
Your blog was a breath of fresh air in this world of tradition, law, works, etc.

Wild Olive Branch

Bob Coker said...

A Grace-Filled Attitude
by R.E. Coker
January 16, 2001

The very essence of Christianity is based upon the grace of God toward us, while we were yet sinners. The foundation of our very belief system upon our Creator is rooted in the understanding that we could never attain righteousness on our own. We needed a loving God to bring that gift to us, in the form of a man - Jesus Christ - our Redeemer.


So... You are a Christian.

How do you relate to grace? Does it matter? Do you care? Does it stop with the one-time gift God gave us in the form of Jesus Christ?

Let's take a moment and look at the concept of grace, how God feels about it, how you feel about it, and more importantly, the truth about grace, and something I like to call "the grace-filled attitude."

Just how do you live your life? What is the great motivation behind your actions? Some Christians try very hard to be "good Christians," while others just try to be "good people." I think it would be a fair assessment to say most Christians try to obey the teachings of Jesus, hoping this will bring forth a pleasant existence in their daily lives remaining here on Earth.

All too often, I see Christians who desire to follow the Lord's leading, only to find themselves defeated, far from the pleasant existence here, resigned to a "home in glory," where they can finally find assurance, joy, and peace. Is this really the norm?

I declare that this does not have to be the norm. A great mystery has been revealed. Paul wrote about the great mystery in the New Testament. Although it has been obscured, let us look at glimpses of this secret: The victorious, grace-filled Christian life. It is hidden in Romans, chapters 6 and 7.

It is little wonder why we fail so much. The gospel is so misunderstood by so many, it is puzzling to think about. Is it because the concept of grace is not taught from our pulpits? Can it be that we just refuse to understand it? This writing will dare expose the truth in a way that might help you see how this victorious Christian life can be lived here and now. It is a piece of the puzzle that will enable you to freely walk in the grace of God, always sure of where He stands, and always sure of who you are in Him.

First, let's look at the problem.

A defeated Christian. Would it not be fair to say that sin is the problem? "Of course it is!" you might say. But, what did Jesus do with our sin? In fact, how do we know what sin really is? The law showed us what sin is. What did Jesus do with the law? Let's examine how we may better deal with our "sin" or our "falling short" according to the gospel of truth.

If you are to understand this explanation of the gospel, you will no doubt think, and may even say, as did the audience to whom Paul was writing in Romans 6, verses 1 and 2: "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

Here, Paul writes to the Jews and Gentiles. Some are saved, and some are not. Here, he is writing to quite a mixed breed. You can see this in Romans 7:1, when he says, "Do you not know, brothers, for I am speaking to men who know the law, which the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?"

Aren't we dead in Christ?

Before we go further, let's get one thing out of the way. I do not ascribe to the theory that you are saved by keeping the law. Absolutely not! I realize you deeply believe grace, and grace alone, saves you. We are not, however, talking about salvation. As stated earlier, the issue is exposing a mystery that will illuminate the victorious Christian life, and how it can be yours, here and now. If you try to keep the law and look to it as a stabilizing force in your walk, you are destined to fail miserably. The grace-filled attitude will never be yours.

Conversely, am I saying the law is not holy, or not good? Certainly not. It says in Romans 7:12 "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good."

Step back from the concepts you're reading for a moment, the voices inside your head arguing about law versus grace versus Sunday School versus your heart, and all those other things, and look at this picture I'm going to paint for you with words. As you begin to look at the picture, listen to the Spirit, and let Him teach you. Look at these two men trying to cross a brook using stepping stones:

Imagine, if you will, two men who want to get to where Jesus is standing. Before them is a quiet, running brook about 20 feet wide. There are lush, green, grassy fields laying on either side of the brook. In their enthusiasm, they consider just jumping under their own strength across the brook to get to where He is, but they know this is out of the question. The brook is just too wide. The men know that their own strength will simply not be enough to make it across, yet they still can see Jesus calling out of to them across the river to come to Him. They desperately desire to go to Him.

In our picture, the water represents sin. Walking through the water is out of the question. The men know that falling off the rocks will displease the One calling. The men finally begin to see stepping stones, high and dry, standing out from the water. The stones are just far enough apart for stepping on. Of course, this makes perfect sense to the men. They think to themselves, "If we are very careful to walk on the stones, we shall not get wet, and we will make it to the other side, where Jesus is!"

The first man decides to cross over, and, as he does, he is very careful to watch for the next stone. Looking back to his friend and then looking to Jesus on the other side, he begins to walk with some fear of falling. At about the third stone, he slips - but not all the way. At about the seventh stone, he slips again. This time, he falls. Getting back up, he continues to look at each stone more carefully than the last. The more he tries not to slip, the more he finds himself knee-deep in the bubbling brook. The first man begins to think, "This just can't be done."

Now, it's the second man's turn. He looks straight into the face of Jesus and begins to walk. He moves with much more gracefulness than did the first man. He concentrates on the One who stands on the other side. He scarcely looks at the next stone. He knows in his heart that Jesus is the way, not the stones before him. He is fully convinced in his heart that Jesus has already somehow made the way. Confident that the drawing power of Jesus will lead him in every step, he walks with no fear of falling in his heart.

What was different about these two men? Both wanted to answer the call of God, did they not? One man kept looking at both banks of the brook, where he had come from, where he was going, and what he must do to get there. The other man only looked at the finished work of Jesus!

You could say one man looked at the law to help him get to Jesus, trusting in his own ability to get himself there. The other man looked to Jesus and did not even consider his own ability to get himself across. It was almost as if he gave up all power in himself - as if he were dead to the task before him.

You're right in understanding the stones of the law bound the first man. While diligently trying to obey the law, he found only failure. This is the point Paul was trying to get across to his listeners, when he so eloquently put it:

"But now, by dying to what once bound us," (the power of the stones) "we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." - Romans 6:6.

The stones are not sin. Romans 6:7 says, "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed, I would not have known what sin was except through the law." The stones in the brook only show us to the way. The way was Jesus. Think about it. Did Jesus not say, "I am the Way?" Did He say He was the path of stones in the brook? No. He did not. If you live with the attitude of keeping the law and thinking this will please Jesus, you will find yourself wet up to the knees too.

Romans 6:5 - "For when we were (not anymore) controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law (the stones) were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death."

Beloved, it takes faith in Jesus not to look down or back to the law for a grace-filled attitude to work in your life. It takes faith in the finished work of Jesus to finish your crossing over to Him.

I can almost hear the questions flooding your minds, mixed with new revelation. What if you have this new, grace-filled attitude and you do slip from the stones which Jesus has provided for your travel? When you fall, then what?

Let's join our two friends who crossed the brook at a high-school basketball game. I'm about to paint another word picture for you.

Both boys made the hometown school basketball team. During one championship game, the score was nearly tied. The boys were exhausted. They had been playing with all they had within them. All of a sudden, the first boy gets a foul. Instantly, he looks to the coach. In this story, you can imagine the coach to be Jesus. The boy looks to the coach and then looks at himself, down at his jersey, at his number, barely able to believe it was he who had been responsible for committing the foul. He walks, ashamed, to the coach, falling on the floor of the gym, and begins to cry.

"Coach!" he cries, "I am so sorry for fouling! I know how much this must hurt you and the rest of the team! There are so many watching me, and I feel I have failed you and the entire school!" "Please!" he screams, "forgive me, Coach! I will never do it again!"

The Coach looks at him rather puzzled and says, "Get back out there! Get out there and win this game, boy! What are you doing?? I know how many fouls you have, and I know how many you will get! Standing here, begging me for forgiveness is not what the team needs. You had my forgiveness before you even started the game. Now, get back out there!"

Not a moment later, the crowd hears the whistle blow again, only this time, the foul has been called on the second lad in our word picture stories. Because of his grace-filled attitude, he quickly raises his hand and signals, "Guilty." And with that, he plays on.

What is the lesson here? Do you see any correlation between the men crossing the brook and the boys playing basketball? Do you see how the grace-filled attitude keeps the second example in our stories always going?

It is this attitude of the grace of God in our lives that will give us the power to walk in victory. It is the grace of Christ that has done away with the power of the law to condemn us.

Look at these next few verses from Romans 7:2-4.

"For example, by law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But, if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God."

Although widely used, these verses were not intended by Paul to give instructions regarding marriage, or divorce, or someone who commits adultery. Not at all! Paul is using this example to show people who do not understand the gospel of grace how to live with a grace-filled attitude.

To truly receive the benefits of the gospel of Christ, we have to understand that we have already been set free from the power of the law - the law that we think will please our Maker if we keep it. But, God is already pleased!

Isaiah 53:10 - "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."

Beloved, Jesus paid the price of all your sin, once and for all. Learn to look to Him as your hope, your strength, and your way, for it is impossible to walk under the law. When you lean to the law instead of leaning to the finished work of Calvary, you can only look to a law that is no more.

Resting in a grace-filled attitude,

Bob Coker