A glorious truth from God for all spiritually born-again Christians and anyone desiring to become one: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast Ephesians 2:8-9. In addition, a glorious truth in relation to this from a man of God: Quote: “Grace means pure, unrecompensed kindness and favor. What is done in grace is done graciously. God saves unmeriting sinners in unrelated, unrecompensed, unconditioned sovereign grace.” – Lewis Sperry Chafer. No born-again Christian overlooks the work of God’s grace in their salvation, but for numerous reasons God’s same work of grace can be overlooked beyond their salvation.
In other words, now that they have received the gift of God, a one-off gift which covers all sin, past, present and future, it is often not long before they become trapped into believing they have to somehow repay God. The devil will personally whisper that lie in their ear, and through manipulation of some kind, not a few pastors and church people of influence will impart a similar message. Example: “Now that we have received God’s mercy, think of what that cost Him. Nothing you and I offer Him in return will ever make up for that cost, but what is it you think you could do to serve Him?” The results of such a question? Guilt, first and foremost and the longer one fails to look into the true meaning of grace, the greater the depth of that guilt!
Examples of guilt upon guilt: How about financial giving to the church? When was the last time you did not hear a pastor say something like, “We can never out-give God! God loves a cheerful giver, amen?” How about the church working-bee? “God has blessed us mightily with this property; He expects us to be faithful stewards of it.” How about the annual church camp? “It would be a good idea for us all to attend; what does it say about your commitment to God if you don’t attend?” These are just some examples; I’m sure spiritually mature Christians could come up with lengthy list of others. Are we called to serve God? Yes, but we are not called to be manipulated into it. As stated above, grace is done graciously, not manipulatively!
Calls expressing tones of speech like the examples given here are not calls from the Spirit of God, they’re calls from the spirit of people expressing them. How can one be sure? The Holy Spirit never causes one of His own to come under guilt. In His own time, God will reveal the service or ministry He has assigned; all He requires from him/her is to diligently seek Him in prayer, plus the reading of the Scriptures. That’s the sure way of finding the mind of God in any matter. Godly leaders may discern a spiritual gift a person has, but they will pray before they share it. If God confirms it they will then graciously encourage him/her to step out in faith, put it into practice, and allow themselves to be fine-tuned as they go.
Are we called to give financially? Yes, but without any hint of being manipulated. God does love a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:7, but the cheerful aspect, it too is a grace from God, as is the ability to give. Should we attend the working bee? Might it be a good idea to attend the annual church camp? The same answer applies; yes, so long as we are not made to feel guilty with tones of speech and statements similar to those above. We are free to go and we are free not to go and an explanation is owed to nobody regarding the latter. “Oh, I didn’t see you at the working bee.” Or, “What a shame you didn’t attend the church camp. You missed such a blessing.” What’s the tone? Graceful or manipulative?
It was guilt for sin, the promise of forgiveness and the removal of guilt for all time that caused us to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ; the last thing God wants from us is to experience continued guilt once we have turned to the Lord. Continued guilt grieves the Spirit of God. Although the following Scripture in context, is in reference to religious ceremonial laws, it also speaks to us about not caving in to pressures of all kinds put upon us by manipulating people, religious and otherwise. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do no be entangled again with a yoke of bondage Galatians 5:1. That’s the reality of God; how’s that for pure, unrecompensed kindness and favor!
God does not possess a, “You owe Me,” mentality; we must not possess an, “I owe You,” mentality. Neither one could ever be associated with grace, only religious law – legalism. Jesus said, without Me you can do nothing John 15:5. There is an awful lot of busyness going on in churches but not a lot of fruitfulness. If one should ask why, there’s the answer. Jesus didn’t initiate it, therefore He hasn’t approved it, therefore He hasn’t blessed it. He hasn’t graced it, in other words. A primary reason for most fruitless church busyness stems from “You owe Me/I owe You” thinking. The busy people don’t think of it as such though; they will deny that rather than consider it. Self-righteousness is the problem. Christ-righteousness is the solution.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons (people) of God Romans 8:15. After we believe and receive the gospel of Christ, the Holy Spirit of Christ sets about to release us from all dependence upon our own righteousness. In the eyes of God self-righteousness stinks. Grace won’t go anywhere near it! How does the Spirit release us from it? By leading us to the Scriptures and teaching us from them. If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free John 8:31-32. That’s where grace is found, plus peace and joy. There is always guilt to be experienced in self-righteousness, plus sin and misery and the devil!
Brother Chafer also said, “Grace glories in liberty and freedom…… When God is molding the heart, there is liberty. When He is empowering life there is victory.” Amen indeed! This is why Spirit-led, Christ-centered, Bible-based Christians proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ, the way, and the truth, and the life….. John 14:6. This is our experience; this is our reality! No longer captives to self-righteousness; no longer prisoners to human-centered religious systems. By grace through faith we pray, we read, we study, we stick to the Lord’s word, and we reject everything not in harmony with it. Graceless religious rituals, graceless religious ceremonies, graceless religious traditions, graceless religious expectations – out the door every one of them!
Liberty. Freedom. Victory. The reason we see so little of these being genuinely expressed in much of today’s Christianity is because they’re not expressed in the lives of many church leaders. What’s at the top flows down. If it’s a religious spirit holding sway over a leader rather than the Holy Spirit, that’s what will hold sway over the members. But, the apostle Paul tells us how we can express these in our personal life: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every evil 1Thessalonians 5:16-22. Do that for a few months and you’ll experience the reality of them – and grace!
Perhaps the primary reason for so little liberty, freedom and victory being genuinely expressed however, there is a high price to pay. Jesus tells us the price. If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me Matthew 16:24. Quote: “None is forced; but if any will be a Christian, it must be on these terms, Let him deny himself, and take up his cross – A rule that can never be too much observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful. Should we not consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what they really are, as opportunities of embracing God’s will at the expense of our own?” – John Wesley.
Taking Jesus’ statement above and Wesley’s comment on it at face value, one could rightly say this is impossible; but for the grace of God – God’s pure, unrecompensed kindness and favor! God never called us to do anything without His grace working in it, on it, under it, over it, through it and all around it. God’s grace done graciously! Something else gloriously important to note: by the grace of God we are transformed from the natural to the supernatural – from the human to the superhuman! God does not possess a, “You owe Me,” mentality; we must not possess an, “I owe You,” mentality. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God;…… Galatians 2:20-21.