Grace Verses Works
The biblical truth of God's grace has been vastly misunderstood for centuries by the Church. Out of the misinterpretations of verses especially in Paul's epistles of Romans and Galatians, what is branded the 'cheap grace' movement has now emerged derailing a lot of believers into a life of licence. Our conviction at LCF is that this error is a direct strategy of satan to keep us away from the true message of God's grace.
Here is a summary of our understanding of the grace message.
When you provide an opportunity where there is likelihood of hardship or failure, people seem to readily fall into two categories: those who tend towards a response of fear, self doubt, stress, strife, perfectionism and loss of peace, and those who step into gratitude, possibility, joy, self belief, flexibility and openness to whatever outcome. In this simple illustration, you see straight away a demonstration of people who function out of grace and those for works!
Cain and Abel
- Without a written script to direct them, two brothers bring an offering each to God: Cain's is not received but Abel's is. Abel somehow knew by some form of instinctive revelation that 'the first born and its fat' belong to the Lord. (Gen 4:1:16)
- This uninstructed ability to know and do the right thing is what defines the working of grace as opposed to mere human endeavour. Both men construct an altar, prepare an offering and probably set it alight. The distinction was not in the labour of their hands but a connection with an in-born principle of enablement and enlightenment that every human being must learn to draw from and live by.
- Providing Cain with detailed instructions about the right offering would not have made his offering more acceptable; it was about personal revelation and heart issues. Training Cain on how to bring offerings is technically what 'the law' is and produces a 'filthy rags' righteousness.
- This grace vs works distinction is what has always separated people before God: Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau, David and Saul, Mary and Martha, Judas Ischariot and Peter. Essentially, the point is not the works: but the spirit of the works reveals the deeper issue. This is where most confusion arises with the 'cheap grace' teachers saying works do not matter. Even after finding Christ, a believer must continue to battle with the tendency to gravitate naturally towards strife and mere works other than flowing in grace and it's accompanying works.
Being vs Doing
- God wants us to be- not merely do! It does not mean doing does not matter or count, but mere doing is 'works' where as 'doing' which flows from 'being' points to functioning in grace. God at creation made man in his image and likeness (being) and then gave him a dominion assignment (doing).The works of man separated from faith revelation (God's inward image) are sinful in nature. For whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23)
Faith and Grace
- The right response to grace is faith: God gives the grace; faith man must bring.The image of God in man has a link back to the grace of God and when man draws out of that likeness in response to God, there is an empowered and revelatory operation, which God celebrates as faith. It is from that place of faith-revelation that Abel brought his offering to God (Heb 11:4), and it is that place that Cain failed to engage even when God personally appealed to him.
- When man does not engage grace through faith, he produces strife and 'works of the flesh'. That is where anger and murder proceed from in Cain despite God personally pleads with him to change his course.
The Works of Grace
- Grace is God's predisposition to bless and empower man, so man can find God, find himself, find his mission, and find success. The definition of grace as 'undeserved favour' creates a retrospective outlook and leaves out the prospective reality that the favour of God is always missional and must be accompanied by works.
- The works of grace are finished works prepared in advance by God for us to walk in (Eph 2:8-9). That is why grace has a revelatory element which manifests the pre-ordained works of God.
- All works were finished by God at creation before he entered his rest, (Heb 4:1-4). Creation is to add no more works to God's own finished works. Entering God's rest is ceasing from our labours and doing finished works of the Father: Jesus did nothing except the work he 'saw' his resting Father doing, (Jn 5:19)
Grace and the Sabbath
The sabbath was enstated by God as a celebration of his finished works. Man must observe that for every six hours of work, one hour of rest, recuperation and worship is needed to remain operational in the grace and revelation of God's finished work, (Ex 20:8).
- When man does not enter rest then 'the land' will enter a forced sabbath and withhold its strength from his labour. In Israel's extreme case, the land vomited them out so that it could rest. (Lev 18:28, Lev 26:34, 2Chr 36:21)
Grace and Miracles
- Miracles flow out of grace.The Centurion, (Mat 8:5-13) and the Syrophoenician woman (Mat 15:21-28) whose family members were healed by Jesus flowed in instinctive revelation on how to approach Jesus and what they should say; Jesus heralded it as great faith. The woman with the issue of blood (Lk 8:43-48) and even Hannah, Samuel's mother (1Sam 1:4-11), both coined one-line prayer sentences that altered the course of their lives. This was not strife, or human effort but a connecting inside with a divine-inspired resource.
- Steven, the deacon of the early church, is described once as 'full of faith and power' and then again as 'full of grace and power' as he performed may miraculous signs and wonders. (Acts 6:8) it points to the fact that faith is always a function of grace. Jesus ministry flowed out of his being full of grace and truth.(Jn 1:14)
Grace and Prosperity
- And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2Cor 9 :8).
- Prosperity is a grace issue.
- There are levels and types of God's grace and grace for increase is one (1Peter 4:10).
Grace and Identity
- Your functioning in grace is connected to your Identity (1Cor 15:10)
- Who you are is not subject to strife, what you do and self effort.
- Grace grows the more you know and flow in your identity (Jn 1:16)