In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis declaring salvation by grace through faith. Today the church desperately needs a second reformation of sanctification by grace. Christians are chained to a treadmill of trying to please God by their behavior, of trying harder and sinning less. If they can just discipline themselves enough and be determined enough, they are deceived into thinking they can become righteous and holy and be close to God and He will be pleased. Grace tells us that our relationship and intimacy with our Father in heaven is no longer dependent upon our behavior...or lack there of. Grace tells us we no longer have to strive to become righteous, because He has given us a new nature that is righteous. Grace tells us that it is the only thing powerful enough to deal with our sin. Grace tells us that God is already head-over-heels in love with us and nothing we do can change that. Welcome to "Formed by Grace."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So What Replaces Fear? (45 seconds)

We have talked about how as believers God will never again punish us for our sins. NEVER! If God does, then Jesus did not absorb all our punishment. We then looked at how if punishment is eliminated in our relationship with God, then fear is gone in our relationship with God. I John 4:18 is foundational here - "...perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment..." We are loved with a perfect love and so fear is gone in our relationship with God.

So now we need to ask - does fear just disappear or does something replace it? Thankfully something replaces it...something that is the polar opposite of fear. Ephesians 2:18 tells us that through the work of Christ we now have access to the Father. But then Ephesians 3:11 amplifies on this and says "we have boldness and access with confidence..." No more hesitation, hedging, intimidation, cautiousness or fear in approaching God. That is all gone...forever! Now we come boldly into God's presence with confidence! I am wonderfully at home with my Father!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Punishment vs. Discipline

Last time I mentioned that God will never punish you, as a believer, for your sins. NEVER! If He does, then Jesus was not punished in your place on the cross. But He does still discipline us. So what's the difference?

Punishment is always rooted in God's wrath and the end is death. On the other hand, discipline is rooted in God's love and the outcome is always for our good. Hebrews 12 is a good place to go to understand this. Hebrews 12:6 tells us that "the Lord disciplines the one he loves..." And so discipline is always an act of love toward us. Verse 10 then says that this discipline is "for our good." How so? It goes on to say in the rest of verse 10 and then in verse 11 - "that we may share his holiness" and experience "the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Verse 12 adds that He disciplines us so that "what is lame healed."

God never motivates us to obey by the fear of punishment. Love does not punish.

If I was engaged in sin and wanted to turn from it and bring it into the light - but knew that doing so was the beginning of punishment, I would likely continue in sin. At least sin promises pleasure - even if it doesn't deliver. Punishment never promises pleasure.

Next - if punishment is gone, so is fear.