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Monthly Archives: February 2014

DIG for Tuesday the 25th of February…..read the whole verse please…..Romans 6 v 23

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Big thanks to Pastor Vic Cameron for his wisdom here – it’s all about Jesus and the gift of righteousness!

Heilan Word Ministries

I was once in a Bible study in our home and I read out Romans 6 v 23; I love this verse and have always seen it as a wonderful description of the two options open to every man.

I was surprised when a fellow believer said “wow, I’ve never heard that last bit before”.

When I asked about this she said that in her previous church she had often heard that the wages of sin was death, but never the second part!

Of course, the fact that the wages of sin is death is the truth, but it is not the good news.

The good news is that there is another option; the option of eternal life as a gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ.

We can all learn a few lessons from this experience.

Firstly, we all need to read the Bible for ourselves, and not…

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Grace and Peace

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Mick Jagger said you don’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. The world wants peace. That’s what everyone is looking for – a life where nothing is missing, nothing is broken, free from confusion and doubt, free from loneliness, from regret, from dark thoughts of unease. Religious people are looking for peace by getting involved in rituals, in bargains with God; and worldly people are generally looking for peace by drowning their sorrows, by filling their life with activity and trying to silence the voices in their head that condemn, that tear down, that compare, that reduce, that hate.

That’s what the world is looking for. But they can’t find it, because they are not looking in the right place. You see peace isn’t something that ever comes on its own – it only comes with grace. Paul wrote over and over and over “Grace and peace”.

The problem is peace is what we want, but grace is what we need. Our flesh cries out for peace, but hates grace because grace says you can’t boast, you can’t strut, you can’t achieve, you can’t be better than anyone else. You can only receive an unearned, undeserved, unwinnable peace. You can’t go get it, you can’t earn enough to buy it, you can’t beat enough people to deserve it, you can’t complete enough religious rituals to be able to rightfully claim it from God on the basis of your works.

If peace is what you want, then grace is what you need. Stop chasing peace, and start discovering grace.

You need peace with God – then don’t try and bring the ripped, broken fig leaves of your righteousness to Him, but approach and ask for grace to be clothed, to be exalted, to be lifted – not based on your works, not with any boasting, but with just gratitude for grace.

You need peace in your body – then don’t try and earn healing or deserve it, just thank Him and meditate on His grace: He bore your sicknesses and diseases and by His stripes you were healed. 

You need peace in your mind – then don’t try and work at it or fight for it. The victory and life is yours. Realize grace means you are unconditionally, eternally always loved by God as a dear child, as a dear son or daughter – focus on Him and His love, and take your eyes off your thoughts and start to think about His obedience, His love, His righteousness, His complete work on your behalf.

Go for grace, and you will alway get peace. Grasp peace and it will always slip through your fingers as your knowledge of yourself as someone who fails, who messes up, who is in trouble, who needs outside help to get out of your sickness, out of your mess, out of your selfishness and pride and strife. 

You want peace, but you need grace.

Here is the mystery: when you get what you need, you will always get what you want.

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (Romans 5.1, AMP)

Difficult Verses 2: Hebrews 12.14

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Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12.14)

This verse is one of the verses that is used to condemn people all the time.  If you are not holy, you will not see the Lord.  It’s often taken two ways: firstly, if you are not holy you will not see the Lord (come through for you).  In other words, you will stay poor and sick, stay broken, stay a mess because God isn’t happy with you and doesn’t want to bless you until you reach a certain standard of holiness.  That brings so much condemnation.  The second way people add to this verse is even worse, they think: if you are not holy, you will not see the Lord (when you die).  In other words, you lose your salvation because you are not good enough to be saved.

Let’s refute both of these.  Firstly, you are not going to fail to get blessed because you are not good enough.  You are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1.3) so you are not going to fail to be blessed because you are blessed.  In Galatians 3.1-5 Paul is clear that miracles happen because you believed the Word not because of you obeying the Law.  Your goodness is not a currency that you can exchange for blessings.  The good news of the gospel is that you are blessed independent of your behaviour.

Secondly, you are not going to heaven if you are good enough.  You are not good enough – entry into heaven is through faith in Christ alone.  All you have to do is believe and receive.  You are saved from hell by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing with your heart that He is risen from the dead.  Again, goodness has nothing to do with it.

So what does the verse mean?  The context is clear from the first part of the verse (and the surrounding verses) that Paul (or whoever you think the writer to Hebrews is) is talking about how we relate to other people.  It’s to do with peace with all people.  You see this verse is about following holiness because without that holiness no man (i.e. other people) will see the Lord.

You are holy already (Ephesians 1.5).  Your spirit has been made in true holiness and righteousness.  Deep down you are holy – your salvation and you being blessed is secure in Him and His work.  But unless you follow that holiness other people will not see the Lord in you.  You have all the love of God in your spirit, but if you steal from your boss, are mean to your co-workers and are known as the office flirt, no one will ever see that love and that holiness in you.  You have to follow holiness – not to get saved, you are; not to get blessed, you are – but so that the world will see our light and come to the light.

So go and live holy.  Not to impress God – He loves you to bits.  Not to get blessed – everything is yours in Christ already.  But so the world may know.  So you have credibility when you ask people to church.  So you can impact the world with the love of God.

God’s Marvellous Grace – A Licence to Sin?

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I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 1.4

I think if you are a pastor today, or if you go to church today (I know that’s becoming unpopular among some grace people, but church is still God’s plan to change the world), then you will know that this Scripture is true.  People are worming their way into strong, healthy churches, and teaching that God’s grace allows us to live immoral lives.

As a pastor of a grace church, as someone who loves grace, and who has been changed beyond recognition by the truths of God’s grace, I know from bitter experience that people do still think that grace lets you live immoral lives.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And as pastors, as good shepherds, we need to notice these people as they will infect your church and rip it apart.  I’m not posting this post because I am anti-grace, but because I am pro-grace!  A little yeast will spoil the whole bunch.

Here are three ways in which you can identify that people think that grace gives us a licence to sin:

  1. They think that grace means that they never have to say “sorry”.  There was a film in the 70s which said “Love means never having to say you are sorry” but that simply isn’t true.  If you care about and love people, and your actions hurt them – if your behaviour is rude, selfish, critical and abusive then you should apologize.  You should let that person know that you care about them, that you regret causing them pain and that you value their relationship.  Jesus had a lot to say about making amends with your family, and people who just dismiss the hurt they have caused others with their negative, selfish behaviour really do not understand grace, no matter what their doctrine on the subject.What is ironic here is that you will find out that the people who insist grace means they don’t have to apologize, will be the most thin-skinned when other people are mean or unkind to them.   A pastor who does not realize this will end up with a church full of offended people, sulking people, and hurt people.  Love means you should apologize when you offend and hurt someone due to your selfish behaviour.  2 Tim. 2.24 says the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all.   Matthew 5.23-24 says So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Jesus thinks that reconciliation with others is more important than worship – so be very wary in dealing with people who never think they need to apologize or make amends for their behaviour.  They will destroy your community.
  2. People use grace as a licence to sin when they believe there should be no consequences to their sin.  Now the most beautiful precious truth of grace is that there is no more penalty for sin.  Jesus is the propitiation (the one who takes the penalty) for sin – not just our sin, but the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2).  There is no more penalty for sin.  You will never be punished for God for your sin.  But sin is still a seed, and seeds will produce harvests.  I had to speak to a young man recently whose girlfriend is pregnant.  He told me “I prayed and prayed that she wouldn’t…” I had to point out that sex is sowing seeds, and seeds produce harvests – in this case, human seeds produce a harvest of a human!  It’s like if you plant apple seeds, don’t bother praying for an orange harvest – it won’t happen.  Sin is sowing seeds of death and they only produce a death harvest.  People who think God’s grace is a licence to sin will always be vocally upset at consequences to sin.  Their marriage is in a mess because they go out get drunk and flirt.  That’s not God judging them, that’s just the consequences to sin.  If you are rude and mean, people will avoid you.  They won’t share their hearts with you.  That’s not God judging you, that’s just the consequences to sin.   People who think grace is a licence to sin will try and avoid the consequences to their sin.  They will never own their sin and own the consequences.  Speeding and parking tickets will be thrown in the bin and ignored, they will never turn up for marriage counselling or debt counselling – they would prefer to moan about their wives and post on Facebook how much money they desperately need.  People who cannot face the consequences to their actions are immature – help them, but don’t build on them and don’t take the consequences for them!
  3. People who think there should be no consequences for sin generally think that means that they should not have to endure the consequences for their sin.  You having to put up with the consequences of their sin does not bother them at all.  Them having to put up with the consequences of sin is all that gets them upset.  So these people will never respect your personal space or fences (if you need some teaching on setting boundaries or fences in your life – or dealing with people like this, http://www.treeoflifeguildford.com/building-fences.html will help you no end), and will invade your life with their problems.They can’t handle being a couple of hundred pounds out of pocket because of their greediness and overspending and lack of self-control, but if they can “borrow” the money off you, then they will not mind you being out of pocket.  And as for saying sorry when they can’t pay you back, see point 1!  If you put up a fence to these people, and refuse to enable them (to use psychological language, refuse to be their co-dependent) then expect a barrage of verbal abuse telling you that you don’t understand grace, that you are legalistic, that you are harsh, mean, selfish.  Grace to these people means that there should be no consequences to their sin; and that people should not put healthy boundaries in their life to protect them from abusive people and anyone who does put a boundary up is accused of being unloving and ungracious.

That is when grace is perverted in my mind, and when I see those three things: an inability to apologize and own wrong doing, an inability to take responsibility for the consequences of actions, and a lack of respect for other people’s personal space and life – then I see an immaturity, a mis-understanding of grace, and I see problems ahead.

Jude’s response to this is to remember that people like this will exist (vv. 18-19).  You should not be surprised at the way some so-called grace Christians can and will act, and how they will try and take advantage of you.

His second piece of advice is “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (vv. 20-21).  In other words, that’s how they behave but you – but you behave in a different way: praying in the Holy Spirit which is speaking in tongues (just as another issue: people who turn the grace of God into a licence to sin often never pray in the Holy Spirit unless they are facing personal dilemmas). You should pray in tongues.  You might be tempted to get annoyed at how other people have treated you: pray in tongues.  You see a so-called mature Christian tell you that apologizing for messing up and losing your temper at someone is the devil: pray in tongues. Someone comes to you and calls you names, insisting you forgive because you are a grace person, but they never do anything to contribute to the relationship or help you in any way: praying in tongues.  Someone is disrespecting your personal life and invading your territory because it is easier on them: pray in tongues.  Pray in tongues!

Secondly: keep yourself in the love of God.  Remember: other people may misuse you, may worm their way into the church and cause trouble.  But you are still loved by God.  Forget that and your response to these grace-twisters may be less than stellar.  You might be the one being rude.  No – remember GOD LOVES YOU.  He adores you.  He loves you.  He cares about you.  He dotes on you.  Keep focused on Him.  Ministry is hard – but Jesus said “Don’t rejoice you have authority over demons, but rejoice that your name is in the Lamb’s book of life”.  In other words, if you rejoice in your effectiveness as a minister – you will have ups and downs.  If you rejoice in God’s love – it’s all up.

Let the people get on with it, set healthy boundaries, speak in tongues loads – build yourself up and discipline yourself to pray in the Spirit, not just when you have a need but because it’s good discipline, training and growth, and don’t treat God’s grace as a licence to sin, but keep yourself in it.  You see the people that take God’s grace and use it as a licence to sin have heard some ideas about God’s grace, some sermons on God’s grace, maybe even gone to a grace church or even a grace Bible College, but they are not keeping themselves in the love, in the grace.  (Mental assent to the doctrines of grace without actually having grace may be the greatest danger to the entire grace movement but that’s another post).

You though – keep yourselves in the love of God.  Meditate on the love, confess and declare the love, memorize Scriptures on the love, act in love, walk in love, love one another.  And pastors and leaders, watch out for people who think grace is a licence to sin and restrict their influence because they will choke the church to death.

Difficult Verses I: 1 Cor. 9.23

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For the next few weeks on this blog, I am going to go through some verses that people might find difficult to understand.  I will especially look at New Covenant verses that don’t seem to match or line up with the message of the complete work of Christ.  If there are any verses you would like me to look at or comment on, please comment on this blog, or email me on ben@treeoflifechurch.org.uk and let me know. 

Today, I am going to look at 1. Cor. 9.23 which in the KJV says: And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

This verse initially seems difficult because it looks like Paul is saying that he is going around the world preaching the gospel, planting churches and ministering the gifts and power of the Spirit to  become a partaker of the gospel.  But surely knowing what we know of the complete work, Paul is already a partaker of the gospel, the good news.  Our ability to receive salvation, healing, prosperity, joy is nothing to do with our works and our ministry.

So is this verse wrong?  Is our understanding of the complete work wrong?  Or have we missed a point.  It’s that we have missed a point, and it’s a very simple point: Paul wasn’t preaching around the world, planting churches, healing the sick and ministering life and grace to partake of the gospel, but to partake of the gospel with you.

We don’t preach the gospel to get blessed – we are blessed.  We don’t preach the gospel to get healed – we are healed.  We don’t preach the gospel to get happy – we are happy.  But we do preach the gospel to share the blessings.  We do preach the gospel to share the healings.  We do preach the gospel to share the joy.  You see the greatest happiness is life is NOT being blessed – it’s sharing the blessings.  The greatest joy is not partaking of the gospel – it’s partaking of the gospel with others.

 

Getting blessed is great.  Watching others get blessed is greater.  The greatest of all is watching others get others blessed.

Getting healed is great.  Watching others get healed is greater.  The greatest of all is watching others get others healed.

Today, decide that you want to partake of this gospel with as many people as possible.  Your partaking of it is set in stone, but how many others you get to share that partaking with – that’s up to you.

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