Tag Archives: religion and grace

Joy Came To Earth – Religion and The World Did Not Know And Still Don’t

Consider – before the Incarnation, God had not spoken to man (through the prophets) for over four hundred years! Selah

When God finally had something to say it centered on joy and a Person!

Even though this joy was for the whole wide world, joy happened in a small and ‘hidden’ way, consequently religion and the world didn’t know it and still don’t!

‘Hidden’ Joy

God’s way – small, hidden, humble.Mary Greets Elizabeth

Look at these small ‘hidden’ joy-filled encounters involving the Incarnation story. Note Greek meaning elaborations included.

  • Elizabeth shouted with clamorous screaming that was extremely boisterous with great emotion as she explained, upon hearing the sound of Mary’s voice, how her baby John in utero – leaped skipped, bounded with exuberant, wild, ecstatic, delightful joy! (Lk 1:39-45)
  • Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, extolled that her spirit was experiencing a gladness that was jumping in celebration! (Lk 1:47)
  • The angel, standing before the shepherds, reassuringly and excitedly declared – Don’t be afraid, I bring good news of great and large joy! It is a joy because of grace recognized. And this joyful news is for ALL the people!” (Lk 2:9,10)
  • Then suddenly the sky filled with a multitude of heavenly host, who brought the message to conclusion – “peace to the earth and goodwill, happiness, favor, and delight in men”. (Lk 2:13,14)Heavenly Host Declaring Peace and Goodwill Towards All
  • The Shepherds urgently went searching for the babe. Can you imagine their wide-eyed excitement and anticipatory joy at what they would find? Afterwards encountering, they spread abroad this joyful good news. Those who heard marveled and were astonished. Perhaps because it came from shepherds! (Lk 2:16-18)
  • The Wise Men, after their arduous long-seeking journey, when they saw the star standing still to indicate where Jesus was, rejoiced with excessive, violent, extreme, great, loud, even fierce joy and delight. (Mt 2:9-10)
  • The earth was given a declaration of peace – i.e. a sense of welfare, to tie together into a whole, God’s gift of wholeness. Imagine the joy with that kind of ‘togetherness’! (Lk 2:14)

Joy Is The Focus Not Sin

When Jesus became flesh it was a happy, exuberant celebration. Joy for the world was the Godhead’s focus in coming to earth. Sadly, sin is religion’s focus for His coming.Oh The Joy!

Please realize Jesus did not have to come, He wanted to come to restore truth. Jesus came to show us who the Father really is and who we really are. (Jn 14:9 2Tim 1:9)

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world be saved, preserved, rescued on account of His Son. (Jn 3:17)

God’s joy over us propelled Him to come and remove the emptiness of sin that was keeping us from real relationship with Him.

Sin literally means ‘without form, having no substance’. Truly when we sin there is no fullness in it. It leaves us formless and empty in the long run.

God hates that emptiness. He originally made us to enjoy His fullness. Jesus came to restore that fullness. That is why God was so happy when, after 400 years, the fullness of time had come to reveal His eternal joy over us and restore access to the fullness.

Dig In

  • At times it can seem God is nowhere to be found, all is silent, life seems hopeless. But joy is coming. He might surprise you in a humble hidden way. Be open to believe (be persuaded) and receive, just like Mary. (Lk 1:38)
  • If you live in fear and guilt in your relationship with God, then know that is a religious relationship. Repent = change your religious mindset! Joy is a huge part of  God’s kind of relationship. Ask for the real deal. He longs for you to have it.
  • The Incarnation is huge – it means God enjoys our human ‘be-ing’. And God is not partial in His enjoyment. Consider – He made known to illiterate poor shepherds (the lowliest of people in that culture and time) something profound. In the darkness and quiet of the night He let them encounter  the supernatural and hear heaven-resounding news that affected the whole wide world. The shepherds didn’t grasp it all. But, they were one little hidden way He expressed His value of all mankind.

Joy to the world the Lord has come!

Oh the Fullness in hidden smallness!

How You Get Grace According To Religion

In the previous post I shared about religion’s definition of grace – unmerited favor, getting what you don’t deserve, and religion’s acronym “God’ Riches At Christ’s Expense”.

If grace is unmerited favor, if grace is something you don’t deserve – then that implies God is not real happy with you.

Have you ever considered that heathen religions were continually dealing with unhappy gods? Over the centuries they appeased their gods through sacrifices. Hmm, looks like there is a common thread with heathen religions and religious Christianity!

Thus, ‘do’ things/sacrifices to get on God’s good side and receive His favor.

Religion's Grace Has Strings_Nancy Teague_GrowingInFullness.com


Traditional Religious steps (strings) on getting grace

• Acknowledge you are a sinner – that is who you are and  who you will always be
• Repent of your sins – i.e. be sorry for them, really sorry
• Let the tears flow – they add more sincerity and genuineness to your repentance – they especially mean that to those helping you and watching you ‘get grace’
• Ask God to forgive you – that is the only way to be reconciled with Him and for Him to welcome you into His presence
• Ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord

Am I saying if you did these things above then they didn’t count for your ‘salvation’? Nope. But those things have nothing to do with your salvation. When I get to describing true grace, you will see that.

To continue receiving and enjoying His grace/favor religion says you should

• Continue to repent of any sins
• Obey His commandments
• Guard your heart and keep it clean
• Give grace to others if you expect to get any more favor from God
• Read the Bible, memorize scripture, pray, go to church, worship, be in fellowship

THE KICKER

What these traditional religious steps imply about God and You

• A conditional God
• A God of expectations and demands
• A God who is never satisfied with you
• His grace is never secure since it has requirements
• You will never be worthy since you always have to do something for God in order to get something from God
• Anytime you think you are experiencing His grace there will always be the conscious or subconscious understanding that you are not worthy of such favor
• There is really no rest in God because there is always something you have to do since you are just a sinner and always in need of forgiveness
• Hence be on your guard – He is watching you

My goodness, how could you ever draw close to God, let alone stay there?!!!

Religion preaches that grace is a gift and uses the scripture “we are saved by grace, and not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8 ) But, reflecting upon how you get grace according to religious teaching and considering their implications about God – grace is not a gift at all – there are strings attached.

Dig In
• Man’s grace has strings attached. God’s true grace has no strings attached. e.g. Were there strings attached to the prodigal son’s big shindig? Were there strings attached to the elder son’s invitation to join in on his brother’s ‘undeserved’ party? (Lk 15:22-24, 28)
• Religion is such a ‘downer’. Jesus came to show us how ‘up’ we really are. He made the ‘up’ all possible before time began (2Tim 1:9,10 Rev 13:8) and has freely given it to us all. (Lk 12:32 2Cor 5:19)
• Have you ever noticed that none of Paul’s letters tell you to ask for God’s forgiveness? Have you noticed that Paul never did repent of His sins, ask God to forgive Him, and ask Jesus to be His Savior? Remember, Paul got free from all the religious requirements he was taught and lived by because he received a revelation of true grace. (Gal 1:12)

P.S. Next post will discuss when/where do you get grace and why do you need grace – according to religion.

Does Religion Explain Grace Accurately?

Ever wonder about grace?

• How do you get grace?
• Where does grace come from?
• Who gets grace?
• When do you get grace?
• What does grace REALLY mean?

I have been purposefully pondering grace for weeks now and discovering some surprising things in scripture about it. My dilemma – too much to share at once!

Hence, a series on exposing the misunderstandings of the how, where, who, when, what of grace – then concluding with scriptural clarity to explain true grace. I realize several of these posts will be offensive to some, but if you hear me out through this series, you just might welcome the slaying of some sacred cows that you had no idea were such.

If you have grown up in religious Christianity you may identify with some of the typical explanations of grace below. But, have you ever thought past those religious meanings to their implications about who God is?

Traditional Religious Christian explanation of graceReligion explains Grace

1) God’s unmerited favor
2) Getting what you don’t deserve (of course mercy is then defined as “not getting what you deserve”!)
3) God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

Are these definitions true and accurate about grace? NO!

Let’s examine religion’s explanations and implications.

According to the dictionary
favor – has to do with approval; preferential treatment; a kind or obliging act freely granted
unmerited – not deserved
deserve – you are qualified for or have a claim because of actions, qualities, or situation

In essence religion is saying – you don’t deserve any approval or kind act by God. You are not qualified or have any claim to receive His approval, but in spite of that He will oblige you with kindness. After all, remember you are a “wretch” (think “Amazing Grace” song).

Religion’s acronym for grace – “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”

Not sure who came up with this, but it is catchy, easy to remember, and recite. At the surface it seems appropriate.

However, what does this really say about you and God?

What are God’s riches? What is Christ’s expense?

The ‘riches’ are the riches of His love? The ‘expense’ is Jesus’ horrific death on the cross?

Does that make you feel all warm and cozy inside? Or does it make you feel guilty? How about, it makes you feel like an awful rotten person when you consider what Jesus had to do for you – you wretched person, you.

Does God want you to feel guilty? Does God want you to feel miserable about what your rottenness made God have Jesus do? Does God want you to be remorseful and regretful about what your sin did to Jesus’ life? No, no, no.

Is this what grace is about? NO!

Dig In
• Have you ever thought about the ‘pat answers’ you have been taught?
• Have you ever considered those ‘pat answers’ from religion just might be wrong?
• Is grace really undeserving, or is it something way beyond religion’s grasp?

P.S. Next post – “How you get grace” according to traditional religious Christianity.