What Are The Macedonians Riches of Liberality? Are You Rich In Liberality?

Religious institutional Christianity often uses the story of the Macedonians to inspire us or guilt us into being liberal givers like the Macedonians. (2Corinthians chapters 8,9)

However, maybe it is more accurate to call it ‘guilty inspiration’?

Religious preaching makes us note that the Macedonians gave liberally even though they had no money!

God-giving

The Macedonians were God-giving. Their giving came with an abundance of joy in spite of being under great persecution and extreme poverty. (2Cor 8:2) Amazing!

Paul explained that this strange mix of persecution, great joy, and deep poverty caused the Macedonians to abound in the riches of their liberality. (2Cor 8:2 NKJ) What does that mean?

Meaning of liberality

Many might think being very liberal in this context means being generous with your pocketbook.

After all, the dictionary defines liberality as the quality of being generous.

But the Biblical meaning is much different!

New Testament definition of liberality

liberality Greek: haplotés

  • simplicity, singleness, sincerity, purity, graciousness
  • not compounded or over complicated
  • single-threaded

By the way, do you know haplotés is also used about Jesus?

“..the simplicity (haplotés) that is in Christ.” (2Cor 11:3)

Hmm, pause and think about that. Macedonians and Jesus = haplotés.

Importance of the word “in”

Sometimes more understanding comes when we consider little bitty words in scripture verses.  e.g. the word “in”

  • abounded in the riches of liberality
  • the simplicity in Christ

This particular “in” in scripture is

eis – prop. into, unto; lit. “motion into which”, implying penetration and union to a particular purpose or result.

So the Macedonians had experienced a union, a penetration into Jesus’ purity, simplicity, sincerity, graciousness. And it was for a particular purpose or result.

The Macedonians were ‘one’ with Jesus. They were a true reflection of God’s liberality. They reflected Jesus’ purity, sincerity, graciousness. There was no duplicity in their giving, no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. No ‘notice what I did’ or even a ‘pat on the back’.

Give according to ability

What caused these Macedonians to be effusive in the riches of liberality, i.e. of simplicity?

Paul explained – “…that according to their ability…” (2Cor 8:3)

Doesn’t this sound like self-effort?

It’s up to you. So muster up that ability with positive thinking, positive confession, talk yourself or guilt yourself into it. Be inspired by the preacher’s persuasive words declaring a great need and we need your ability to give.

Right? No way!

Quite the contrary, supernatural stuff was going on here.

  • according tokatá – properly, “down from, e. from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the end-point
  • ability dunamis power, might, force (dunamis is where we get our word ‘dynamite’)

Down from a higher plane (Jesus) to a lower plane (the Macedonian’s hearts – it’s intended end point) – God’s power came and wonderful fruit resulted. Now mind you, Jesus is in them/in us – so this ‘higher plane’ is not heaven or somewhere up there that power comes down. It is an internal dynamic.

Oh to give like true Macedonians! Oh the rush of joy!

True Liberality Flows Simply GrowingInFullness Nancy Teague


Dig In

  • Biblical ‘liberality’ flows simply and freely. It abounds in simplicity, purity, sincerity and singleness. It is not complicated! This kind of liberality has nothing to do with religious Christianity and all to do with Jesus.
  • You were made to naturally and easily reflect this beautiful liberality. It’s a God empowerment. He loves seeing you ‘be Him’ in your own unique way.
  • Get free from religion’s persuasive kind of guilt giving. There is no ‘have to’ with God. Let Him empower you with His kind of liberality. It is part of fullness. Enjoy the powerful flow!

P.S. Next post – what is the real source of the Macedonians’ liberality and cheerful giving?

What Is Agape Love What Does Agape Love Have To Do With A Cheerful Giver

In the previous post I exposed the misunderstanding of what ‘cheerful’ giver means. It has nothing to do with being happy! ‘Cheerful’ in the Biblical Greek is about being persuaded, disposed toward someone for their benefit…..

This post will explore who loves who and why in the context of giving.

Who loves who?

Bible translations for 2Cor 9:7 say – “…God loves a cheerful giver.”

Many may take this to mean, even though God loves the world, He especially loves those who cheerfully give. But this would mean God is partial and that He loves under certain condition.

Seems another reason why many believers are uncertain about their relationship with God.

Meaning of ‘love’ in 2Cor 9:7

The Greek word for love in this passage is agapaó.

Christians know it as ‘agape’ love.

Years ago I was taught ‘agape’ means

  • unconditional love
  • a love not based on will, it just is
  • a love not based on emotion
  • a constant love
  • only God’s love is agape

I was taught it, I believed it. No questions asked. Never did think to look up this agapaó love. I blindly accepted the traditional religious explanation.

Hmm, have you ever considered how many things, rituals, traditions, dogma you have been taught by the religious institution and blindly accepted them as gospel truth?

Greek meaning of ‘agape love –

agapaó (ag-ap-ah’-o) – I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem. Cognate: agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love

Hey, this is a much bigger and better agape than I had been taught!

Even consider “God is love.” (1Jn 4:8) He is the personification of the Greek meanings of agape! Hmm.

This agape love is referenced throughout the New Testament as God’s love to man, man’s love to God, and man’s love for one another. (e.g. Jn 3:16, Rom 5;8; Jn 8:42, 1Jn 4:20; Jn 15:12, 1Pet 4:8)

Back to love and cheerful giver. Who loves who?

God does not love a cheerful giver

Be assured I am no Greek Scholar, but upon looking up this verse in the Bible Hub Concordance for Greek, I was shocked to see the grammatical order actually says –

“…a cheerful giver loves God”!

This actually makes more sense.

Consider. We love because God first loved us. God so loved the world He gave. Freely you have received, freely give.

When we grow in grasping His agape love for us, then we really will love ourselves, and in turn naturally love our ‘neighbors’.

Remember, the meaning of ‘cheerful’ (giver) – favorably disposed toward others, are disposed because satisfied, and cheerfully ready to act because already approving.

So a ‘cheerful’ giver has first experienced God cheerfully giving to them! They have encountered His approving disposition towards them. In addition they have encountered His agape love – His preference for them, His esteem of them, His pleasure in them, His longing for them, His wishing well for them.

Giving does not involve

  • I will give to show God I love Him
  • I will be happy when I give because the Bible tells me to
  • I will be a cheerful giver because the church told me I should be
  • I will give so God will love me

Giving Involves

  • I love God because He first loved me
  • God has cheerfully loved me and given to me and I have received fully
  • I love God, I am a reflection of Him, and that naturally makes me a giver and a lover
  • God loves me whether I give or not, but I want to give. It is part of my spiritual DNA!

Dig In

  • Please say the meaning of agape love over yourself – God wishes well to me, He takes pleasure in me, He longs for me, His love for me flows from reason (it is not a fickle whim), He prefers me, and He esteems me.
  • If you have trouble loving your ‘neighbor’, then maybe you still need to love yourself. But that is hard to do – until you see how wonderful you really are. When you get that it changes the way you see everyone else, besides yourself!

Love Gives and Refelcts

  • No wonder Paul prayed – “…that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

What Is A Cheerful Giver Really

Paul states that “…God loves a cheerful giver”. (2 Cor 9:7)

Does that mean if you are not a cheerful giver then God doesn’t love you or He doesn’t love you as much as someone who is a happy giver?

I remember being in a few services where this very cheery attitude was preached or expected. People would come down to the front with offering or tithes in hand with a huge smile on their face or laughing all the way to the collection basket.

I certainly wanted to be happy in my giving. But is this the meaning of this verse? Nope, I have discovered!

If not cheerful

Let’s say you are not a ‘cheerful giver’. Then, have you ever given:

  • grudgingly
  • out of compulsion
  • out of guilt
  • out of fear of God
  • out of what other’s think
  • for appearance’s sake
  • for personal gain
  • to manipulate or control

I confess I would have fit in most of those at one time or another.

But good news! There is no condemnation in any of the above! You and I have been caught in a trap.

Traps

Now who set that trap? Religiousity  –  man, not God.

Years ago I heard the Lord say, “silent traps”. At the time little was my understanding. But growing in fullness has significantly begun to expose these silent traps.

Because they are ‘silent’ we have no idea we are trapped. God did not make us to be trapped, confined, limited, or controlled.

Now let’s check out the word cheerful and its true Biblical meaning.

‘Cheerful’ Definition

The Greek word for ‘cheerful’ is hilarós – prop. propitious (favorably disposed toward someone); disposed because satisfied – describing someone who is cheerfully ready to act because already approving (“already persuaded”); “won over, already inclined” is only used in 2 Cor 9:7 where it describes spontaneously non-reluctant giving.

Hilarious versus Cheerful

Charismatic Religiosity taught me that this scriptural cheerful means “hilarious” – they said our word hilarious came from the Greek ‘hilarós’. Sure looks that it could have.

Even so, the definition of hilarious

  • hysterically funny, hysterical, uproarious, side-splitting, knee-slapping, boisterously merry

is a far cry (maybe I should say ‘laugh’) from the Greek ‘cheerful’ of being favorably disposed or already persuaded!

Hey, if the Spirit moves you to laugh uproariously – let ‘er rip. Love those moments.

But, 2Corinthians 9:7 is not talking about that kind of hilarity. Paul has a much richer point, which I will unfold in the next post.

For now, please realize you were not meant to be trapped in silent traps, but to be tapped into God’s wealth of grace that overflows with pure joy and simplicity. The Macedonians knew that, by the way.

Dig In

  • Listen for those silent traps of religion. Once you ‘hear’ them, and see them for what they are, get out. His powerful grace enables you to do so. Don’t be stuck in the container!Cheery or Other Do Not Be Stuck
  • God is the most joyful being around and He is always cheerfully happy in His giving. Oh to tap into that!
  • When you move into the revelation of how disposed He is towards you, how persuaded He is about your awesome being – you can’t help but be cheery! So, be of good cheer!

Next post – find out that God does not love a cheerful giver. Say what?!

Meaning of Be Doers of the Word James 1:22

“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (Ja 1:22 NKJ)

Most Christians read James 1:22 as their marching orders to DO WORKS.

We must DO things to please God, to prove we are believers, earn rewards in heaven, maintain our salvation, etc.

If you don’t DO – then figure you will be deceived about the security of your salvation.

Doer Versus Grace

How does grace fit in all this religious doing? It doesn’t.

What do we do with – being saved by grace through faith, and not by works, lest there be boasting? (Eph 2:8)

Remember, when Jesus was asked by His disciples, “What must we do to do the works of God”? Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (Jn 6:28,29)

Hmm, is ‘believe’ a work?

But James said we must be a ‘doer’. What do we do with that?

Religion came to the rescue to tell us what to do.

Traditional Religious ‘Doer’ Meaning
• Pray a lot
• Read and study the Bible
• Memorize scriptures
• Fast
• Worship God
• Weekly church attendance
• Serve and participate in church activities
• Be accountable
• Witness to unbelievers
• Get people saved
• Tithe and give offerings
• Observe the rituals
• Do good deeds

If the above list exemplifies a doer, then what is a hearer? Religion to the rescue again.

Traditional Religious ‘Hearer’ Meaning

Religion would say a ‘hearer’ is one who goes to church, listens to the word preached but forgets the sermon message and doesn’t personally apply its points. But they like to feel good or justified for a while from what they heard.

The religious institution would explain a ‘hearer’ is not committed to the Lord or the church.

Religion would say a ‘hearer only’ is a surface believer. Religion might even say a ‘hearer only’ is not a believer!

Religious Christianity values doers over hearers. They have to, it keeps the doors open.

To Do Or Not To Do_Nancy Teague GrowingInFullnessy

 

True Meaning of Doer and Hearer

To understand the ‘doer’ and ‘hearer’ words, in James chapter one, let’s look at their Greek meanings.

doer – Greek poiétés – (poy-ay-tace’) – a maker, poet, a doer, carrier out, performer

Poiétés is the word from which we get poet. So when you read ‘doer’ think of a creative person, a sensitive person, someone who has heightened awareness of themselves, their surroundings and others. They have empathy and compassion. Consider a performer – be it visual or verbal –  expressive, desirous and able to touch others’ lives.

hearer – Greek akroatés (ak-ro-at-ace’) – a hearer of, a listener to

A hearer is a good thing. Jesus said multiple times, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God Christ (actually ‘Cristos’ in the Greek = Christ Jesus). If we truly listen and hear we will be hearing of things about Jesus and listening to what He has to say about who the Father really is and who we really are.

The Father even said, this is My Beloved Son, listen to him! Looks like that Word made flesh has important things to say and for us to hear, not do.

Hearer Is A Doer

In truth, James 1:18-25 is a beautiful picture of a grace-drenched hearer-doer. When you really hear the fullness of the Gospel you can’t help but be a doer!

Dig In
• Many Christians struggle with am I doing enough good works or are they the right good works. This ‘works’ mentality is driven by fear and guilt. Not good. Not God.
• Believe in Jesus – that is the only ‘work’ Jesus Himself said is doing the work of God. To fully believe is an incredible place of trust, confidence, and rest. What a place to live from and ‘do’ from.
• You’re a poet and don’t know it! It’s part of the fullness of your true identity.

P.S. Next post we will go look more closely at the verses in James 1:18-25 which point to the wonderful law of liberty that releases us as true ‘doers’.

More thoughts about God’s thoughts toward you

I’m way behind on my next post because of the May 6th deluge of 10″ in Lincoln that brought water into our home, unbeknownst wet shoes that caused me to slip and fall on our entry way tile thus hurting my back, and 4 weeks of yard work to rectify the water issues. Good thing my husband’s back was strong and ready, as I gingerly helped!

So I share with you this post by Mel Wild because it goes hand in hand with my series on grace.

Since the meaning of grace (Old and New Testament) has to do with charming, pleasant, precious, elegance of form and acceptance, yearning for, inclined towards, leaning towards for one’s benefit – then God’s innumerable thoughts toward you is confirmation.

If we can ‘get this’ (His thoughts toward us) at some level, then we will also begin to understand the fullness of grace.

May you pause to consider how you stir Him with multitudinous wondrous delighted thoughts – all about YOU!

In My Father's House

Beach_Brandon_AndrewHow long would it take for God to exhaust all of His thoughts about you?

I shared how God can’t stop thinking about us in my post last week titled, “God’s thoughts toward you.” If you haven’t read that yet, I would suggest you go there first. Today, I would like to put it all into perspective.

View original post 295 more words

If God Is Gracious Why Do We Ask God To Be Gracious To Us?

Have you ever cried out – “Oh God, be gracious to me.”?

Perhaps in intercession you have groaned – “Oh God, be gracious to them.”?

Maybe a heartfelt prayer like – “God, be merciful, God be gracious, God forgive us.”?

Is that scriptural?

Well some psalmists certainly prayed that way. Thus, we should too. Right?

But were those psalmists right in their request? Did they really know God?

Misguided Scripture praying

Some Christians believe you must pray scripture in order to be more effective. So they comb the Bible to find key verses that God will answer. Been there, done that.

Is that how it works? Did God give us the scriptures so we can maneuver Him  and then expect Him to answer our formulaic request?

Hey, what if you totally misunderstood the meaning of a verse and dogmatically prayed your ‘gospel truth’? I confess.

What if the scripture you are praying is not even true about God? Have you ever considered that the Bible also consists of some expressing things that are inaccurate, misunderstandings, even lies about who God really is?

Here’s an example. Ever prayed from the book of Job? Maybe you never noticed towards the end of the book what God said about Job’s friends’ eloquent comments about who God was? God Himself said that what they had spoken of Him was not right, not accurate, not the truth! (Job 42:7)

Is God Gracious Or Not?


Scripture Cannot Make Up Its Mind

I found ten verses in the Old Testament where the cry was ‘be merciful/be gracious to me.’

Now why is that a big deal? Because, it illustrates our confusion of who God really is. It also reinforces the dynamic of many Christians’ identity crisis.

Did not God describe Himself as “gracious” to Moses?! (Ex 34:6) If He is gracious, then why do we ask Him to be?

But, some got it. There are also ten verses where the Psalmist, Jeremiah, Joel, and Jonah said God was gracious! Of course Moses would know that too. There is hope for us.

The Confused Psalmist

Here’s a blatant example of identity crisis of God and of self – right in the Bible.

The Psalmist cries out –

“You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious (chanan), longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy (chanan) on me! (Ps 86:15,16)

Yee gads! Make up your mind!

Now how many of us can say “Uh, that’d be me.”?

Meaning of Gracious

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for gracious is:

chanan (khaw-nan’) – to show favor, be gracious. In late Hebrew Aramaic chanan also means – yearn towards, long for, be merciful, compassionate, favorable, inclined towards

What a beautiful description of God! And it also implies how God feels about you.

So when the Psalmist is crying out ‘Have mercy on me!’ – just figure God is trying to get him to hear – “Hey, I already do yearn towards you, long for you, am inclined towards you, am favorable to you, am compassionate towards you.”

FYI – chanan is often translated ‘be merciful’ in the Old Testament. Please realize the fullness of chanan!

Remember Moses Glory Goodness Gracious

When Moses wanted to see God’s glory, God told him I will make all My goodness pass over/upon you. (Ex 33:18,19) When this goodness passed over Moses, then God proclaimed “The Lord God, merciful (rachum – compassionate) and gracious (chanan), longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”

Just think about this glory, goodness, and graciousness coming upon you – just like it did Moses. No longer be confused about identity. You can be certain. Experience fullness!

Dig In

  • There is no ‘I might be gracious’ or ‘I will be gracious’ (future tense). Like, “Let Me think about it, let Me see how you behave first, let Me hear you say the right things – then I will be gracious to you.” No! Never is God like that!
  • When all this glory, goodness, and graciousness was passing over and upon Moses – it was a prophetic picture of Jesus – the One who came to make clear the fullness of our gracious God. We must look for Jesus when reading the Old Testament.
  • If you cry out for God to be gracious to you – stop it! 🙂  Instead shout out “Oh God, thank you for being so gracious to me, for longing for me, for being inclined towards me, for yearning for me, for showing me favor. Hey, You really like me and enjoy me!”

P.S. Grace (‘chen’) comes from gracious (‘chanan’). More to explore in the Old Testament about grace – next post!

What Do Good Friday And Communion And Death Have In Common

After my previous post on how good is Good Friday, I began to ponder Communion.

So bear with me – one more break from my series on grace.

Have you ever thought about the similarities in religious Christianity’s observance of Good Friday and Communion?

Here are some similarities:

  • Focus on death
  • Focus on sin
  • Somber
  • Serious
  • Introspective – sin searching
  • Guilt and fear inducing

Serious Communion

Because Communion is so serious (to the religious mindset), it is also restrictive.

In some denominations you cannot partake of the bread and wine/juice unless you are a ‘member’.

In most denominations you dare not partake if you have unconfessed sin in your life. Bad things could happen to you. Gulp.

Is that what Jesus intended and desired when He said – “Do this in remembrance of Me.”?

Does God Enjoy Our Communion

My previous posts posed the question – does God enjoy our religious Good Fridays? Nope.

Knowing that God really is one very happy God, I wonder if He enjoys our somber and restrictive partaking of Jesus’ body and blood?

I wonder if the Holy Spirit can’t wait for those times of Communion so He can convict the socks off of us and uncover the littlest of sin? After all, don’t we tend to think God wants us squeaky clean?

Sure seems like Christianity’s ritualistic Communion (AKA The Lords’ Supper) continually crucifies Jesus all over again with its emphasis on sin. Does God like that?

The Focus on Death

Jesus died on Good Friday.

You proclaim the Lord’s death as you eat the bread and drink the cup. (1 Cor 11:26)

Obviously Good Friday and Communion have a death theme going on. But have we misunderstood what that death really means?

The Real Meaning of Death

Death from our perspective is grievous, difficult, confusing, final, and in some cases is wrong.

Death from God’s perspective is something altogether good and beneficial.

Remembrances of Good Death_GrowingInFullness.com
Death to God means:

  • total forgiveness
  • reconciliation
  • sanctification
  • joy
  • life
  • perfection

These things are true whether you ask for them or not, whether you believe them or not, whether you receive them or deny them. Holy smoke! Let’s embrace His good death!

Proof of God’s good death:

  • you, once were alienated (estranged) and enemies in your minds…yet He has reconciled you in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, blameless, above reproach (Col 1:21,22)
  • when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Rom 5:10)
  • on the cross – God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their iniquities against them (2Cor 5:19)
  • the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses your conscience from dead works (Heb 9:14)
  • through Jesus’ will to do God’s will (i.e. save the world Jn 3:17), we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all. (Heb 10:9,10)
  • by one offering (through death) He has perfected forever, those who are sanctified (Heb 10:14)
  • sins are no longer remembered because there is remission (Greek complete forgiveness) of these – thus there is no longer an offering for sin (Heb 10:18) Yee gads! Do you get that!?
  • One died for all, therefore all died (2Cor 5:14)
  • knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin be done away with…for he who died has been freed from sin (Rom 5:6)
  • we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we also walk in newness of life (Rom 8:4)
  • for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured (under the load) the cross and despised the shame that sin brings (Heb 12:2)

God’s death is something to shout about!

God is not into somber, serious, sin searching, death-focused Good Fridays or Communion services.

 To proclaim His death, to do it in remembrance of what He did, is to remember you are totally reconciled, restored, sanctified, forgiven, perfected.

Hey, it is also a time to realize you are joyously celebrated by Him! That’s why He did that death for you – to restore you to His eternal delight over you and enable you to enjoy it too!

What beauty, wonder, and joy is to fill our Good Fridays and Communions – all because of DEATH!

Dig In

  • When Good Friday or Communion rolls around – get out your dancing shoes and get ready to rejoice!
  • Repent (i.e. change your mind) of your misconception of death. Death is nothin’ but good when you get right down to the truth of it.
  • Religion, sadly, feeds off of sin. It just cannot grasp that Jesus’ finished work through death dealt a complete and final end to sin and complete restoration to God. Come into revelation of the fullness of His death. It’s all about the reconciled perfection of who you really are.

How Good Is Your Good Friday? Is God Good On Good Friday?

(Note: taking a little side trip from my focus on grace, to explore Good Friday in this post.)

Why is Good Friday good?

Since Good Friday focuses on Jesus’ crucifixion and being marred beyond recognition, was God good that day?

After all, Jesus was smitten by God, and afflicted. (Is 53:4) In addition, Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46)  More on this later.

Back to Good Friday.

Does God feel good about our Good Fridays?

If you recognize this day, does it make you feel good?

Have you ever realized how Religious Christianity uses Good Friday to heighten our guilt and condemnation?

Is this heaping on of guilt a part of how good God is?

I remember, years ago, participating in a Good Friday service where we had opportunity to literally hammer nails into a huge cross drug into the sanctuary. As we hammered away tears, sobs, remorse, guilt, condemnation freely flowed. There was a strange mixture of ‘what a wretch I am’ and thankfulness happening in ‘God’s house’ that evening.

Certainly nobody felt good that evening, with nail and hammer in hand. How about God? Did He feel good about that Good Friday and how it made us feel about ourselves? At the time, I would have poignantly responded, “Yes.”

Now I realize the true answer is a huge, “NO!”

Traditional Good Friday

Traditionally in the church system Good Friday is melancholy, sad, doleful, mournful, and introspective. The lights low, the cross draped in black, the message heavy, the music somber, and interaction minimal. It is time to be pensive, reflective, regretful.

Wonder if God is participating? In fact, I wonder if He thinks – “Here we go again. They still don’t get the good news.”

The truth of Good Friday

God did not smite Jesus, and afflict Him. The truth is, “we esteemed (considered, thought, reckoned) Him smitten by God…”. (Is 53:4 Emphasis mine) Do you see that? We thought that.

God did not forsake Jesus at the cross. Now, we think “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” means that God turned His back on Jesus because He could not look on sin. Once again our false understanding of who God really is. We overlook or are ignorant of these truths:

  • “Indeed the hours is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (Jn 16:32)
  • “I and My Father are one.” (Jn 10:30)
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them. (2Cor 5:19) This is huge – Jesus wasn’t the only one on the cross!

Why then did Jesus cry out “why have You forsaken Me”? Remember, even though Jesus was God, He was also fully human. In His humanness He felt all of humanity’s pain and confusion. His cry was the cry of humanity – “Where are You God, don’t You care?” Jesus was expressing our lie. He was voicing our misunderstanding. God was always with Jesus, even on the cross. Even as God is always with us, even when we think He isn’t.

The fullness of Good Friday

  • One died for all, therefore all died. (2Cor 5:14) Hey, that means, besides God the Father, we were also on the cross! Whoa!
  • By one man’s disobedience (Adam’s) many were made sinners, so by one Man’s obedience many made righteous. (Rom 5:19) Note – it’s the same ‘many’!
  • By the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift of the one Man, Jesus, abounded to many. (Rom 5:15) Note – it’s the same ‘many’!
  • We rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation – right on the cross! (Rom 5:11)
  • Since God was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself – God is pleading “be, reconciled”. (2Cor 5:20) In other words realize your redeemed true identity!
  • For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. (Heb 12:2)

Stop wallowing in guilt and condemnation. There is no condemnation in Jesus. He didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it – make it whole. (Jn 3:17)

Turn up the lights. It’s time to shout and rejoice on Good Friday!

Rejoice Its Good Friday!


Dig In

  • Come into the revelation of the incredible joy that was happening on ‘Good Friday’. Discover certainty and fullness.
  • Throw off that sackcloth, wash off those ashes. Stop believing lies about who religion says you are.
  • Rejoice! Don’t wait for Resurrection Sunday. The joy started at the cross. God was very good on the true ‘Good Friday’ when He made you very good again. (Gn 1:27,31) Embrace the revelation of all this happy goodness!

Religious Grace versus True Grace In The Old Testament

In the last three posts I’ve been unpacking the When, How, Where, Why of grace according to religion.

Now it’s time to begin to see true grace in scripture.

But there is a problem!

If your understanding of grace comes from religious influence, then you will be hindered in knowing the fullness of true grace in either the Old or New Testament.

This religious influence can be determined by two words – ‘If then’.

If Then says Religion. Really?_GrowingInFullness.com

 

‘If then’ is religious Christianity’s formula for knowing God and following God. But is it right? Really.

The formula works something like this –

  • If God does this, then you must do this.
  • If you do this, then God will do this for you.
  • If you want God to do something, then you should do this.

So when reading the Bible please consider that many translations come from those influenced by ‘If then’.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Religious ‘If then’ Old Testament grace translation of Ps 84:11

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Ps 84:11 NKJ)

As an aside, in case you didn’t know, when you see a word in italics in a Bible verse that means the interpreter added this word.

Religious ‘if then’ interpretation of Ps 84:11 explains (and in my former traditional religious Christianity I would have concurred)

  • The religious translation says ‘will give’ (future implication), it does not say ‘gives’ (present tense). Thus any grace (or even glory!) He might give will depend on something you do.
  • If you walk uprightly (are good, live morally upright, do the church requirements – go to church weekly, participate in church programs, tithe, pray, worship, have daily quiet time, memorize scriptures, do the rituals, etc.) then He will give you good things.
  • He will even be a shield to you – i.e. will protect you if you live uprightly and do those religious requirements.

Conditions, conditions, conditions to get God’s blessings. Really?

Ps 84:11 is better and fuller than ‘If then’ religion says!

Check out the eye-opening fuller Hebrew meanings (in bold) of the key words in this verse. The words are in order as listed in the Hebrew translation of Ps 84:11. (source BibleHub.com)

“For (because) a sun (daylight) and shield; Lord God put/place/set grace (charm, pleasant, elegance, precious) and glory (glorious, abundance, riches, honor); the Lord not withhold (restrain) good (beautiful, pleasant, agreeable), walk (go, come) blameless (complete, sound).”

In other words – Because God is a sun and shield He put grace/charm/elegance/preciousness and glory/abundance/riches/honor (in you)! He did not withhold good/beauty/pleasantness/agreeableness (from you). So you go forth as you really are (full of charm, preciousness, abundance, and honor) – in blamelessness/completeness/soundness.

Notice the present tense of this verse in the Hebrew. There is no future tense ‘will’ nor is there any ‘If then’ equation in the Hebrew.

Now that is true grace!

Don’t let religion make you think or believe there is an “If then” in your relationship with God. Be you really are – full of grace and glory. Amazing!

Dig In

  • There is no ‘if then’ with God – all His promises and gifts are “Yes and Amen” in Christ Jesus. (2Cor 1:20)
  • God has ALWAYS been for you, in fact for everyone. Read scripture with this truth in mind, it will help you get rid of the religious ‘If then’ mindset.
  • Grace came in fullness when Jesus (God Himself) showed up as a human being, but the shadow of Jesus and His fullness is found in the Old Testament. Process all grace (in Old and New Testament) through Jesus Christ and you will grow in true grace and in fullness.

P.S. More to come in really seeing true grace in the Old Testament.

When Where You Get Grace Why You Need Grace According To Religion

If you have been brought up in religious Christianity, then you come away with a sense that grace is received when certain things happen.

Religious Grace Signpost


Religion says you get grace WHEN

  • you get ‘saved’ – now you are experiencing God’s grace (and you get ‘saved’ WHEN you acknowledge you are a sinner, repent of your sins, ask God for forgiveness, ask Jesus to be your Savior)
  • you continue to repent of future sins and ask for forgiveness
  • you ask for grace in difficult situations – otherwise you won’t have enough
  • you give grace to others, then you will get more grace
  • you have obeyed/done all the things that supposedly give grace – e.g. pray, fast, tithe, attend church regularly, be involved in church work, evangelize

Religion also teaches there is a WHERE –  certain times or circumstances to experiencing grace.

Religion teaches you get grace HERE and HOW

  • especially flows during a church service
  • in the midst of doing good works
  • from lots of prayer and fasting
  • participating in corporate responses – e.g. everyone fast because there is “grace on it”

 Religion is also very clear in why you need grace.

Religion explains WHY you need grace

  • because you are such a wretched person
  • it will make you a nicer person
  • it will enable you to do things for God

In fact, religion teaches – grace is so important, if you don’t get it, you are doomed to hell.

The religious mindset is – God has done His part, now you must do yours.

God’s part was sending grace through His Son, now we must do our part. Can you see how conditional religion has made grace?

Hey, religion does that with God’s love too. They preach that God’s love is unconditional, but next thing you know, they tack on conditions to experience it. Go figure.

Dig In

  • Hey, ever heard of this religious phrase? If you have ‘fallen away’ and ‘get right’ with God, then you will get “back in His good graces”. Does that mean God takes grace back or removes it when you sin? So, it is you and your sin that determines His grace? Is grace that conditional? Wonder what religion does with “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more”? (Rom 5:20)  How about “by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many“. (Rom 5:15 emphasis mine) How many is many? In the Greek, it’s the same word for ‘many’. Hmm.
  • Religion confuses us with their conditional Religious grace_GrowingInFullness.  If God’s love is truly unconditional, then that would mean His grace is too. If you feel limited in His grace abounding to you, then just figure you have let religion do a number on you. It has turned you upside down, so you can’t see Grace right!
  • Religion would say it’s a good thing Jesus came, otherwise we would not know grace. Wonder what they do with this verse – “…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus BEFORE TIME BEGAN.” (2Tim 1:9 emphasis mine) Hmm, looks like grace has always been.

P.S. Next we get into exploring His true grace!