Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Christianity, The Most Misunderstood Religion In The World
Christians Do Not Understand The Grace of God Either
In the first two parts of this article I concentrated on the misunderstanding of unbelievers, now I want to show you how many who profess to know Christ also have an inadequate understanding of God's infinite grace.
Grace has been defined as "the unmerited favor of God". When we look at the moral condition of mankind in Jesus day, we can't help but wonder why God would even care at all about pagans who completely ignored Him or the Jews who circumvented Gods law with their own rules and regulations. But God's grace is so caring and universal that John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This gives us a faint idea of the depth and quality of grace.
But His grace also makes provision for a Christian's care, maturity, and reward that are even more amazing. A Christian has a special standing because trusting Christ, has transferred us from the kingdom of this world to "the kingdom of His dear Son". We have become the beloved of God. We now can sing, "This world is not my home. " for our citizenship is in Heaven.
Jesus said, (John 15:5)"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
This is the framework in which the true believer lives. He is confident that he can remain in Christ as long as he believes and is obedient.
In the Epistle Paul wrote to the Ephesians he told them of the great privileges we have as those predestined in God's grace' In Chapter one he says:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.
15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.
In Chapter two he goes on:
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
He goes on in chapter three, to pray for us. Paul's prayer is not for things he knows nothing about but for the same things that he has experienced in his own life and therefore knows that the are not only available for us but they are what the Father desperately wants us to have. This is that wonderful prayer!
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
We have not begun to realize the wonderful blessings God has prepared for us here. We have misunderstood and far under estimated the magnitude of His glorious grace that, as Peter said, allows us to partake of the Divine nature. And all of this says nothing about the Glory that will be revealed to us in the day when we shall see Jesus Christ face to face. In 1 John 3:2 it says: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Have you begun to tap these riches? They are for you too. I confess I have only begun, but like Paul says in Philippians 3:14:
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.