Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Finding the Balance of Grace and Truth in an Increasingly Dark World

scalesJesus said that we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. As society continues on its rapid descent into darkness the church is called to be salt in the earth, a preserver from evil. But we also are to be a light in the darkness – a place to where people are drawn away from evil and unto good. The thing is, because this world, its value systems and philosophies, is so quickly changing into a post-Christian mind-set, Christians are often seen as the enemy rather than the light. We are the enemies of progress, enemies of other religions, enemies of certain groups of people, such as homosexuals.

Is this right? Should this be the case?

Today Christians have to contend with issues that were never mainstream issues years or decades ago in a society based on Christian values. Today we are post-modern and post-objective truth.   Thus what was unacceptable years ago – adultery, fornication, porn, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, occult practices – is now acceptable.  It even may be argued that we have gone beyond mere acceptance and that these practices are now actively promoted.

In response to the post-Christian world around us one tends to find that Christians generally go one of two ways: They either accept society’s evolving standards, deny the truth, and be perceived as loving, (the “light”), in order to try to save some; or they go the other way and become so angry at the changing world and the fact that other Christians have denied the truth that they dismiss grace and preach the truth but with no love (the “salt”).

The thing is, we need to be both light and salt. We need to find the balance of grace and truth.

Okay, so this is what I can make of it: We absolutely, resolutely need to remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word. To change His Word, to faithfuldismiss parts of it, to pick and choose the easy bits is just not an option. What this world needs more than ever is clear, decisive, objective truth. As this world is decaying we need to be the salt that slows the corruption. We need to either take all of His Word or none of it. We can’t have it both ways. We need to be resolved because we will be tested on this time and again. Know that if you are going to stand by the truth of God’s Word then at times you will be perceived as sounding harsh, unloving, intolerant. For a Christian to just simply speak the truth now is an act of hate. And here’s the worst bit: Most Christians feel the same. (Generally speaking) Christians now, rather than denouncing the sinful acts, denounce the preacher who is denouncing the sinful acts.

But…..and this is a big BUT…. It all comes down to the state of our heart. As Christians we need to understand this. There is no point preaching the truth, or trying to live by the truth of God’s Word if our heart is not right.

I have seen preachers, street-preachers, Christians who seem to hate the people they are trying to save. They are so angry at them. They yell, they point their fingers at them. “It’s God righteous anger” they say. Well, maybe it is, but let me ask you this: are you so full of the Holy Spirit that you are absolutely, positively sure it is God’s anger and not your own that you’re venting?

Are we angry at our son, our daughter, our sister, our friend because of their sin? Because they haven’t done what we want them to do?  Are we angry at the world for changing around us?

As we stand for the truth are we full of spiritual pride because we are right and they are wrong?

Have we let a religious or a legalistic spirit take hold of us?

Listen my friends, this is really important as we stand for the truth of God’s Word. Because sinners know. They know I tell you. They know if you hate them. They know if you are angry. THEY know if your heart is not right.

They know the anointing of the Holy Spirit too. They don’t know what to call it but they see it and feel it.

They feel the difference between someone who is telling them the truth because the love of God constrains them to and someone who is telling them the truth because they have a religious spirit.

God sent me two homosexuals the very first night I street-preached. These two young men mocked me at first, they kissed in front of me (shock horror!), they laughed at me. But God loved those boys. His love shone through me to them and they stayed with me for one and a half hours. I told them the truth. I told them what they are doing is an abomination to God. Yes I used those words, but not in anger or contempt, and God’s love held them fast. I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. At the end we all hugged, cried and I prayed for them. One fell to the ground crying, the other clutched his chest and begged me to stop praying. Six years later I am still in touch with the one who fell to the ground. He calls me his favourite Christian. He calls on me for help when he needs it and when he does I still speak the truth to him in love. I am believing that he will be saved one day.

The thing with grace and truth is that people in the world need the truth, oh how they are starving for it! And they need the grace of God to menorah-300x183temper it. It is speaking the truth in love that makes the difference. It is the truth that sets people free. Not one person will be truly saved by a  gospel that’s been sanctioned by this world. But not one person will be saved by speaking the truth in hate.

Let’s get our hearts right before our King and be full of His Spirit. Then His light shining through us will attract others to us so that we can speak the truth to them in love.

God bless!


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The Door is Beginning to Close

The Age of Grace is nearing its end.The-door-is-closing-courtesy-brad-montgomery-at-Flickr-CC-e1325010017923

It’s time to get on board the Ark.

 

There is a storm approaching

A big one.

When God shuts that door

No man can open it again,

Quick get in now/There’s not much time left.

 

The ones already in the Ark:

Preachers of righteousness,

Just like Noah,

Warn the others

Of the coming storm

 

They can see it

It’s on the horizon now

“Come, come!

Flee from the wrath that is to come!”

 

But this time it is not a rain cloud

NO, it’s a fire-storm

A fire so hot that the elements

Will melt with fervent heat

 

The Day of the Lord is at hand

Forget your possessions

Your reputation

Your position

There’s no time anymore

 

Leave it all behind

It’s all gonna be burned by fire

Anyway

Flee to the Ark

 

Redeem the time,

For there’s not much left

 

 

Noah’s Ark is an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. Read how so here.


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Jesus and the Tabernacle Materials

source: templestudy.com

source: templestudy.com

Firstly it is important to note that it is possible to study the Tabernacle in 2 ways:

  1. God unto man: From the Holy of Holies out to the Outer Court.  This is the path of Sovereign grace
  2. Man unto God: From the Outer court into the Holy of Holies. This is the walk of faith

 

source: tabernacleofmoses.org

source: tabernacleofmoses.org

The first approach, God unto man, shows that unless God first comes to man, man can in no way approach God and stand in His holy presence. This is the order of Sovereign grace – where God comes out from His throne in Heaven to earth to meet the sinner in redeeming love.

However we will study it the second way – man’s walk of faith unto God. “As man comes to God he must begin at the Gate, accept the Blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. From there on he progresses step by step, line upon line, until he comes to the ultimate, the full Glory of God, as seen in the Most Holy Place.” (KJ Conner)

 

The Materials Used in the Construction of the Tabernacle

Nothing is by accident, coincidence or haphazard with God. He is ordered and everything has a definite purpose. Everything in His Word is there for a reason. Even the materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle communicate to us His eternal truths.

As we saw at the end of The Tabernacle of Moses and the Cross the materials used in the Tabernacle were willingly offered to God by the children of Israel:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exodus 25:1-9

Each material used speaks to us something important. As we look at each, something becomes apparent :

They all represent something about Jesus Christ and His atonement and point forward to Him.

Let us take a look at each material used:

Material Represents
Gold Deity, divine nature of Christ
Silver Redemption (the atonement of Christ, the money paid to Judas to betray Him, who is the ransom for us)
Brass Judgment against sin
Precious stones The gifts of the Holy Spirit, the preciousness of God’s own people
Fine linen Righteousness
Shittim (acacia) wood The Humanity of Christ
Oil The Holy Spirit
Spices Used in the anointing oil and the incense: represent Christ and His nature and the imparting of Christ’s nature to the believer. The incense represents prayer (See Jesus and Incense for more info on this)
Blue Heavenly/divine nature – like the colour of the heavens
Purple Royalty, Kingship – this was the most precious colour in ancient times
Scarlet Sacrifice – the colour of blood
Goats’ hair Atonement for sin – ie. a goat died to provide its hair
Rams skins Atonement for sin – ie. a ram died to provide its skin
Badgers’ skins The humanity or the outward appearance of Christ; atonement


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Missionary Quotation: Underground Church Worker

chinese church“The Lord Jesus calls people who realize they cannot function at all apart from His grace and empowerment. God chooses to use those individuals who know Him intimately! This is the primary qualification for service in the kingdom of God.”

Underground Church worker in China


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Are You Unbalanced?

As you know my Blog is called “Grace and Truth”.  The reason I called the blog this name is because God sovereignly told  me to.  He told me to start it, confirmed it with His Word (in Acts 5:20), and then told me what to call it – grace and truth.

“For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17

I find it an interesting observation though that even though grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, we, as His followers, tend to run with either one extreme or the other – that is:

  • Extreme grace – leading to both “greasy grace”, (or lawlessness) and also a lack of discernment of truth; or
  • Extreme truth – leading to hard-heartedness and legalism

Both of these extremes are wrong.  To run with a zealousness for truth, without love is just as wrong as disregarding truth for the sake of grace, mercy or love. But how easily we fall into one or the other!

scales

CH Spurgeon said: “…It is very easy, brethren, unless God gives us understanding, to preach up one precept to the neglect of another.  It is possible for a ministry and a teaching to be lopsided, and those who follow it may become rather the caricatures of Christianity than Christians harmoniously proportioned….Oh how easy it is to exaggerate a virtue until it becomes a vice.”

I have seen both of these extremes in Christians (and yes, that includes myself).  I will give you an example of how I have seen both of these Christian virtues in fact become a vice.

Truth with no Grace:       I am a street-preacher and love other street-preachers, but I have seen something that is a grievance to God.  It is when a preacher brings forth the hard truths of the Word of God from a heart that has not been broken for the sins of the people.  Preaching the truth about hell, sin, judgment and the Law will only be graced by the  Spirit of God when the Holy Spirit has utterly broken that preacher’s heart with compassion and mercy for the people before whom he/she stands.  You see, it comes down to responsibility.  As a preacher, once you enter into intercession for the people, you are taking responsibility for them, for their souls.  And it is impossible to stand before them without compassion and mercy once you have taken responsibility for their souls.  God will only bless those with His authority whom are willing to take responsibility for others. Authority and responsibility always go together (see Isaiah 53:10-12).  We must “speak the truth in love.” It is amazing that when we speak the truth in love, the real love of intercession, people will listen and respond to it.  So we see that the truth needs to be graced by His Spirit.

girl praying

Grace at the expense of Truth: I had been praying for a friend of mine whom was not a believer for two years.  I had interceded for her regularly and asked God for an opportunity to share the Gospel with her, which praise God, He did.  As soon as we began our conversation another Christian joined us and listened in.  My friend and I had a wonderful, Spirit-led conversation where I was able to share the gospel with her.  I was able to share everything with her, the Law, God’s judgment on sin, hell, and then of course the wonderful Gospel of grace of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take the punishment for our sin, forgiveness, heaven and redemption.  I was so thrilled that the truth had been shared and that she had responded well.  However as soon as she had left, the other Christian reprimanded me for talking about sin, hell and judgment saying that all that I needed to talk about was the love of God.  And…I guess I could have, God is love, but really, it wouldn’t have been the whole truth….  Unfortunately there are hard truths in the Bible and, if we are wanting to be truly honest before God, they are unavoidable.  But the good news is, the hard truths are there for a reason… Paul says in Galations 3:24 that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”.  The Law is there to expose sin and so to bring us to the knowledge of our sin and of our need of a Saviour.  It is by the  truth of the Law and God’s judgment of sin that we are led to Grace and justification by faith.

Notice how John describes Jesus:

“For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17

Jesus2

Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, through whom came grace and truth.  The divine mystery of Jesus, the Word made flesh, God incarnate in human flesh, can be difficult for our human minds to comprehend. But, I think it’s important to remember that it doesn’t come down to some sort of a mathematical equation.  A couple of points to note:

  • Jesus is both fully God and fully man at the same time, not 50% God and 50% man
  • By the same token, Jesus is also concurrently full of grace and full of truth.
  • Jesus is not half Law and half grace (and neither are we)

He came not to do away with the Law but to fulfill it.  And it was because He fulfilled God’s law perfectly and never sinned, that He was full of grace and love.  Yet it was also because He is full of grace that He could fulfill the Law perfectly.  Why? because “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (emphasis mine).

anointing oil

And so we see that our Lord is the perfectly balanced One.  Just as the anointing oil of Exodus 30 was perfectly blended, mixed and mingled, with this much of myrrh and so much of cinnamon and that much of cassia etc, so it is with Jesus Christ.  So perfect in truth and grace.  Not leaning too much towards one or the other, never ceasing to be holy in order to be loving, always merciful and kind to sinners.  Nowhere do we see this better demonstrated than in His cross.

In the cross, God maintained the truth of His holiness and righteous anger towards sin, when His wrath was poured out on His Son, because of His grace, because He so loved the world.  Both truth and grace in the cross of our Lord and in His very person.

So why do we get it so wrong?  And what can we do about it?

There is only one way.  We need to remember that it is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27):

  • Our only hope is to be so FULL of Him, of His Life, that He will simply live His life of grace and truth through us.

So:

  • We need to re-submit ourselves to God in a fresh consecration.  To offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
  • We need to confess any un-confessed sins to Him
  • We need to ask Him to re-fill us with His Spirit.
  • We need to be led in obedience by the Spirit of God in our day-to-day lives, small and big things.

 

“There is a way about the precepts: there is a chime about them in which every bell gives out its note and makes up a tune.  There is a mixture, so much of this and that and the other; and, if any ingredient were left out, the oil would have lost its perfect aroma.

So is there an anointing of the holy life in which there is precept upon precept skillfully mingled, delicately infused, gratefully blended, and grace given to keep each of these precepts.” (CH Spurgeon)

May God bless us all with an outpouring of His Life in this New Year!


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Being Fed

Continued from Hunger

breadWhen once a hunger had been born in me for God’s presence then, naturally, I sought to be fed.  The revelation of our own spiritual bankruptcy, whether by food shortage or some sort of crisis, is the catalyst for the formation of a hunger for God.  When we are able to see our spiritual bankruptcy it is then that we can truly seek God in the way He should be sought.  Not as a means to an end, or to fulfill an agenda of our own but by loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  It is because we have seen that without Him we are starving and dying, and in the desperation of soul-hunger we begin to seek after the Bread of Life.  And that’s what I did.  Suddenly the temporal, physical things that used to bring me some degree of satisfaction became empty and vain.  I began to crave Jesus and His presence.  My prayer time was in the evening, and all day long I would look forward to the evening when I could be with Him again.

Jesus said “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)

God sees our need of Him.   He knows that without Him we are starving.  And He knew that man would reject Him in the Garden of Eden, in order to pursue his own way.  That is why God prepared a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  Because of His infinite mercy, God had already prepared a way to repair the breach between man and God and to bring us back into fellowship with Him.   That way was by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the cross to bear the dreadful curse for our souls.  Before He was crucified Jesus said:

“I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.   The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?   Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoso eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day.   For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me.”  (John 6:53-57)

Jesus said this to the very people whom, the day before, had been miraculously fed with the loaves and the fish.  He wasn’t referring to cannibalism, He was telling them to look beyond the physical miracle of the multiplied loaves and fish and to see the greater miracle standing before them – God’s own Son.  His life was about to be given for them so that they may have life.  He was going to be crucified, His body broken and His blood poured out for their sin so that they would no longer have to be separated from God by those very sins.  There was no longer any need to starve spiritually.   Here was the provision right in front of them.  In verses 48 and 58 He says “I am the bread of life…This is the bread that came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead.  He who eats this bread will live forever.”

So here is God’s provision for our spiritual starvation right in front of us.  It is Christ’s Himself.  When we turn away from our sin of independence and pride and put our faith in the Bread of Life then we are filled with His life, by His Holy Spirit.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Jesus2He is the source of our life and He is the sustainer of our life.  We need to be full of Him.  Nothing else can satisfy, no religious duty or practice, neither anything in this world – only Him.  We need to be in His presence regularly, feasting on the Word every day, allowing His Spirit to convict us, speak to us, minister to us and we need fellowship with others who are full of Him too.  As David, we need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord.  We need to know how to feed on Him.

We also need to maintain a hunger for Him. I find that that is more difficult when life is going well.  Although I actually still need Him now as much as I did when I suffered the depressive episode, it’s easier for me to forget that need of Him now that I am free of depression.  That’s why I need to read the Word because it convicts me, washes me and changes me.  I also need to pray regularly because I find that the more time I spend with Him the more time I want to spend with Him and feed on the Bread of Life.

To the Laodiceans, who could not see their own poverty and need of Him, Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

 

Next part 3 – Feeding Others