"No condemnation now I dread - Jesus and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him - my living Head and clothed in righteousness divine!
Bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own!
Bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own!".
The hymn has to be heard to be appreciated so I've put the link to the video here of it being sung on the BBC programme; "Songs of Praise". I didn't post it - because I wish the gathered singers looked more happy! I can't sing this hymn without crying! The point is this;
"No condemnation now I dread! Jesus and ALL in HIM is mine! ... clothed in righteousness divine!".
These truths form the very essence of Ryan's new book; "Extra Virgin Grace". He writes in the foreword;
"My conviction is that free people will free people. Therefore the greater the freedom we come into the greater the freedom we'll be able to bring others into. The essence of freedom is to know that you are 100% set free from the law and are 100% righteous in Christ - 100% of the time. Bondage is to believe that you are still under the law and not always righteous".
It's so simply obvious. Why haven't we seen more conversions? Because we're not truly free and the answers are here! Ryan writes;
"Get ready to be armed with a key that will unlock many difficult Scriptures and distorted doctrines. What is this key? It is the key of discernment between the gift of righteousness and self-righteousness".
There are many different topics addressed in the book but the "golden thread" (as C H Spurgeon called grace) runs through it all giving the book such amazing unity. A couple of thoughts about this great book.
1. Ryan writes strongly.
I have no shadow of doubt that this book will offend some. But this strength is required! Ryan's father - Rob Rufus - wrote in the foreword;
"Intellectual preaching from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has flooded this world and drowned entire nations in religious lies. These wholesale deceptions that have grossly misrepresented the true loving nature of God require and demand to be confronted with concentrated pure grace clarity. This book does that. Any sincere seeker will find the truth in these pages extremely emancipating. The grace revolution is accelerating. The earth is groaning for this message".
It is my suspicion that your reaction to this book will actually mark out where you are at in your spiritual walk. If you are offended because all your spiritual disciplines and righteous deeds are called "nothing" - then there it is. But if you are filled with hope and wonder because you see hope - then you are indeed a "sincere seeker" as Rob writes!
2. Ryan writes compassionately (as a true pastor).
His chapters 12 and 13 on "Rest" are the most loving compassionate chapters I have ever read on this. So much of Christianity these days is focused on "work" and "mission" and driving to see the lost saved. Of course this is true and must be done - but Ryan writes so rightly that you will accomplish far more if you are rested and sane - than exhausted and weary!
The reader knows that those under Ryan's pastoring (and I know this is true of CCI) will not be constantly made guilty by "applications" after sermons that demand more of them. "Come to the prayer meeting .... give more ..... do this .... do that". I know for a fact that there is no such guilt-driven exhorting in the church and we too are allowed to enjoy this!
3. Ryan writes as a teacher who writes what he lives not just what he believes.
So many books I've read are by men and women who don't really write with conviction. Especially those who are striving to "live more holy lives" under God! They come up with ideas and lists of "daily disciplines" to live more Cross-centred lives and so on. But there isn't a real heart of conviction there - because deep down, they too must admit; "I've blown it". Ryan's book is amazing because you read it and know he has begun to experience the thrilling joy of the freedom that grace brings. And it makes you want to experience that too! This book rings true!
4. Ryan isn't afraid to dispel wrong historical teaching!
My favourite chapter in this book is chapter 6 - his treatment of the Sermon on the Mount. I must admit as I have taken my baby steps into the gospel of grace since I encountered Rob Rufus properly in 2007, I have been worried by the Beatitudes and their implications for the Christian life. Many of the books in my library on the "Sermon on the Mount" take this historical approach that Ryan dispels.
For example, the great Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones wrote his collection of sermons on the Sermon and the book opens; "The Sermon on the Mount is not a code of ethics or of morals; it is a description of what Christians are meant to be". And that's how I've always read it!
Ryan writes masterfully however - going through each of the Beatitudes and explaining in context what each actually means. Here's a segment about the Sermon on the Mount;
"Matthew 5:1–7:29 is the "Sermon on the Mount". Is this sermon in-tended for the church? Absolutely not! It's intended for the self-righteous. It‟s a pre-salvation preach that exposes self-righteous pride and performance and reveals the need for God's righteousness as a gift through faith in order to see the Kingdom and become children of God ... He wasn't preaching to a church. He wasn't preaching to born again believers. He was preaching to Jews where the climate of the day was a striving for righteousness through works.".
So what do the various points Jesus makes in the Sermon actually refer to? For example Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". Ryan said;
"Jesus wasn't saying that keeping most of the law is good enough. He was saying that if you want to live by the law then you can never break it. Not even once. The smallest transgression of the law brings about impurity in your heart and means you‟ll never see God. So if your “seeing God” is based on the purity level of your law keeping, then you better make sure you‟ve kept the law 100% of your entire life. Anything less and you‟re doomed! If that sounds rather extreme it‟s because it is. It‟s because it‟s meant to break down self-righteousness".
Here is a brief synopsis of each chapter and what it brings in Ryan's words;
Chapter 1: The Olive Tree vs. the Fig Tree.
The Olive Tree represents Christ, His gift of righteousness, faith, grace, The Spirit and the New Covenant. The Fig Tree represents flesh, self righteousness, works, legalism, human effort, unbelief and the Old Covenant. This chapter is a call to the Church to not repeat Adam and Eve‟s sin of trying to be more like God in eating from the Fig Tree but to rest in the Olive Tree and see the fruit of grace manifesting in your life.
Chapter 2: Re-defining What Renewing The Mind Is.
Renewing your mind is essentially about learning how to surrender your mind to your reborn spirit so that you become “spirit-led”. Transformation is becoming “spirit-led”. When you are led by your reborn spirit in fellowship with the Holy Spirit then you will walk in the perfect will of God manifesting all the riches of your salvation here on earth.
Chapter 3: A Moment Within God’s Eternal Grace Covenant.
If you‟ve ever struggled with understanding why God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden or why Israel suffered for so long under the Law covenant then this chapter is for you, and makes it very clear. You‟ll discover how grace has always been Gods intent for relationship with Him and how the Law is but a brief moment in time and for a very clear and specific purpose.
Chapter 4: The New Way Of The Spirit vs. The Old Way Of The Letter.
The letter is a religious system of external pressure and motivation to get you to serve God whereas the spirit is an internal transformation and empowered ability to serve God. Under the letter you are forced to serve God. Under the spirit it becomes your desire to serve God. For born again believers it is no longer,“Do this in order to be blessed, or don‟t do that in order to avoid punishment.” Now it is, “This is who you truly are, perfect and complete in Christ” and “This is what is available for you now, a miraculous and victorious life!”
Chapter 5: Galatians 5 Explained In Context.
Because of the confusion around this chapter, many Christians have been taken into fear and legalism, but this is a glorious chapter that God is once again shining His brilliant gospel light on to reveal what it truly means to walk in the Spirit.
Chapter 6: The Beatitudes Are For The Self Righteous!
Matthew 5:1–7:29 is the „Sermon on the Mount‟. Is this sermon intended for the church? Absolutely not! It‟s intended for the self righteous. It‟s a pre-salvation preach that exposes self righteous pride and performance and reveals the need for God‟s righteousness as a gift through faith in order to see the Kingdom and become children of God. Unless you really understand grace, don‟t go near the Beatitudes. They will mess you up! Teaching the Beatitudes to Christians produces legalism and religious pride or condemnation in them.
Chapter 7: Re-defining What Holiness Is.
Holiness has got nothing to do with sinning or not sinning. If that is what we think, then we think that we are the cause of our holiness. There is only one person who is the cause of our holiness and his name is Jesus Christ! And if you are in him, then you are holy. You don't have to try and be holy or get holy, you are holy!
Chapter 8: Hebrews 12: Understanding God’s Disciplines Through Grace.
Many people read Hebrews 12 in a very negative way that causes fear in their hearts and in the hearts of others. But actually these verses were written to encourage believers and fill them with confidence. What is fundamentally important to see when reading Hebrews 12:5-11 is that firstly, it‟s not God doing the chastising and secondly, that the chastising was not coming because of moral sins but because these Hebrews were standing for the Gospel!
Chapter 9: Romans 5, 6, 7 & 8 Unlocked.
I believe these four chapters are the bedrock chapters of understanding grace. They form a solid foundation of what the Gospel is, and will give you confidence to stand in the grace of God. The more you study them and understand them, the more you will be able to look at other verses that seem to pose a “problem” for grace, that contradict grace, and unlock their true meaning.
Chapter 10: Hebrews 5 & 6: The Impossibility Of Losing Your Salvation.
To fall away means to spiritually die again. If Christ can‟t die again and we are united with Christ, it means that we can‟t die again. If we can‟t die again then it means that we can never fall away! I believe this Scripture is written to show the Hebrews, and us, how perfect our salvation is and how impossible it is to lose it, based on the fact that Christ can never die again! And it‟s written to help us come into an amazing confidence that God is for us, always relates to us through grace, and therefore we can walk intimately with him with boldness and confidence in this life.
Chapter 11: The Theology And Experience Of Rest.
Rest is about knowing where you are seated and why you are seated there. You are seated with Christ on his throne because you have become his perfect and complete righteousness. You are not standing and working but are seated and resting. And the Holy Spirit doesn‟t just want you to know where you are, he wants you to experience where you are.
Chapter 12: More Gets Done When You Rest!
When we‟re not living in the sweet spot of resting in the finished work of Christ, life seems harder, ineffective and frustrating. But when we live from a place of rest we find life becomes increasingly more enjoyable and effective. God wants us to live from the sweet spot. He wants us to enter his rest and live from that place.
Appendix: Keywords and Scriptures in Context.
This chapter is more of a study tool to help you unlock certain Scriptures rather than a read-through chapter. It focuses on a number of words like: sin, faith, lust of the flesh, fear of God etc that usually get interpreted incorrectly and explains their proper meaning. This chapter isn‟t thorough or in depth but will certainly assist you in your own studies by triggering helpful patterns of thought.