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As God Gives Grace
By Dr. Mary Craig
The ascension positioned Jesus Christ in authority over all demonic powers. Many today seek that kind of power, the power of the anointing. But how did Jesus get there? What qualified Him for such glory and honor and power and dominion?
A body was prepared for Him. (Psalm 40.6-8; Hebrews 10.5-7) Jesus was holy unto the Creator God His Father. And He was wholly His. (John 1) Jesus is God. He had no original sin, so the devil sought to tempt Him into practical sin. How so?
Upon being filled with the Holy Spirit, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Luke 4; Matthew 4) Jesus would undergo testing to see if He qualified to be our Savior. He did. He refused to misuse power for personal comfort and ease, so He would not command the stone to become bread. He refused to misuse His position and throw Himself down. He refused to tempt God. He refused to compromise relationship. He refused to side step the way, the plan of redemption. Rather, He humbled Himself. He surrendered fully to the Father's will, to the heart, mind, yes, the soul of God that loved the cosmos so that the Father sent Jesus to get the corruption out of the system, the creation, brought in by Adam's sin. (See Genesis 1-3)
Jesus sanctified Himself. (John 17) He prayed that the Father might sanctify us through the truth. Hebrews 2 tells us:
Jesus knows that it is the truth that sanctifies. And what is the truth that sanctifies? What is the truth that births the desire in us to be holy unto the Lord, and wholly His?
It is that God who is love, the God of all grace, gives grace. There's something about grace that when God gives it, you cannot resist it. God's grace flows from His heart of love, mercy, compassion, concern over human misery caused by sin's corruption. God's grace flows from His soul that yearns to initiate relationship, to restore relationship, to bind you to Himself who alone is the Source of all life and blessing. You cannot resist God's grace when it flows because such kindness, such goodness leads you to repentance.
When God gives grace, you melt in the heat of the passion of His love, the security of His faithfulness to supply. You will come. You will surrender to Him. And then you will revive. And then you will truly live and be alive.
God does not lord it over weakness, though He is Lord of all; nor does He exploit weakness to flaunt His own perfection. No, God gives grace, favor unmerited, to lift, to raise up, to redeem from the pit.
When does God give grace? God gives grace as we come to the standard of His perfection. For example, we have His Law, the law and the commandment. We are condemned because we just know we fall short, as Romans says. The Holy Spirit comes and convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We become aware of our sins and of the nature of sin within. But God gives grace in the offer of the gospel.
What is the gospel? It is the good news that sinful human beings dead in sin, in Adam, can be justified freely by God's grace, counted righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Yes, eternal life is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2.8, 9) So, it cannot be earned or deserved. All in the first Adam humanity have a sin nature and sin because they are sinners. They don't even live up to the standards of their own making or to the "light" they have received. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 1-3) God in His mercy, however, promised provision in One whom He would send. Though God is just and must exercise the judgment against sin, He is also loving and merciful. God, therefore, sent Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, to live the life of perfect, personal, perpetual obedience meriting life and to die the death that covenant-breaking and lawlessness required. So, Jesus, who was without sin, nevertheless went to the cross to pay the death penalty for sin. That means that by His life and by His death, the requirements of the Law were met, both as to obedience and as to penalties for disobedience.
For us this means that the cross work of Christ has tremendous significance. When we get out of the "savior" business, and choose Christ as our substitute and our advocate before the Father, we "receive Him." Then we find that our sins are forgiven. Debt and liability are canceled. We are redeemed, bought back, by His blood shed, the price being paid. God's wrath is propitiated. Peace with God is established, and alienation abolished. The works of the devil are destroyed. By God's grace, His life and blessing can be ours.
How does God give grace? Freely. He gives grace, grace to believe and have faith in Jesus; grace to repent and find life; grace to know truth, reckon that truth to be for us, and yield to it; grace to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ.
By the grace of God you come: to Christ, to the cross of Christ, to the place of surrender, to the kingdom of His rule and reign, to the Holy of Holies, to the very presence of the Almighty, to communion with the Holy Spirit.
By grace your sins and your sin is forgiven, and the wrath of God is propitiated through the shed blood of Jesus. More-so, know that you were crucified with Christ. You died with Him. You were buried with Him in baptism. And as you die to sin, you rise in the power of the resurrection. (Romans 6-8) Reckon yourself so. Yield yourself to be the righteousness of God as God has declared you to be in Christ Jesus. You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3.3) In Christ you live. In Christ you have dominion over sin and death, over devils and disease. In Christ, you truly love.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Who then sits on the throne? In heaven it is Jesus. To Him belongs honor, glory, wisdom, dominion, power, praise. Who rules? Who is king? Who is on the throne? To whom do you bow? To whom do you go? Are you independent or can you live in common union with Another, with the Almighty? God is perfection, yet He is pleased to dwell, to hang out, to bond with imperfection. God is holy, yet He loves you. His love sent Jesus to find you and bring you "home" to your heavenly Father.
What is the power of revival? It is grace motivated by the joy of God's all consuming love in doing everything, enduring whatever pain, whatever sacrifice, whatever insult, to find you and bring you back, buy you back. It's all done…finished. If He is speaking to you right now, will you come to Him?
You know, sometimes the first step is just to be honest with God and tell Him what He knows. Maybe you don't want to be "saved." Maybe you like being rebellious and figure you have good reason to be at enmity with God anyway. Maybe you don't want "peace with God," or heaven or any of it. So, that's the place to begin. God is very big. Jesus is the Friend of sinners. I encourage you to just start talking with Jesus about your situation, just as it is. Tell Him exactly what's going on in your life, in your heart. He will listen.
Some years ago, after teaching Bible for at least 15 years, I stood in my living room and said out loud: "If this is what You honor, I want out. I want out of this church. I want out of Christianity. And I want out of the relationship with Jesus." Well, God moved me out of the church where we were, and I saw the end of "religion" in my life, but the bond with Christ could not be broken. Jesus loves with a commitment that carries us out of sin and through the pains and struggles of life. Out and through and up into the glory of His presence.
If you are reading this and you know in your heart that you are not really a believer, not really one who has come to Christ, received Him into your heart, but you want to start talking to Him, then just come to Him and speak. That's what a young man did once. He came honestly seeking and asking questions. At first he didn't like the answers, but Jesus is the Friend of sinners and loved this young man, and eventually, Jesus’ love won his heart.
If you are already a believer, I am exhorting you to come and die. Die to self, to the world, to your dreams, to your ways, to all that corrupts, to all that offends God. Come before the cross of Christ and join Him there.
That is the gospel. With Him you died. In Him you live. By Him you love. Through Him, you come to the throne of grace. May God give grace, that revival may come…to you.
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