The Biggest Problem in the Church Today

Last Thursday, Pete Briscoe was our special guest on People to People. You can listen to the program here.

He is the lead pastor at Bent Tree Bible Church in Plano, TX. He is one of the voices on the Telling the Truth radio broadcast along with his parents, Stuart and Jill Briscoe.
Pete will be sharing his personal grace awakening this Saturday morning at Conference 220. By the way, there is still room if you would like to attend. All the information is here.

During the broadcast, Pete shared an illustration. One Sunday, as he was teaching from Galatians, he stopped a moment, pulled out a bottle of 10w40 oil and poured a little bit into his coffee cup. He stirred the drink and then lifted the cup to his lips to take a drink.

Oil_and_Water_Do_Not_MixThe congregation shrieked.

Pete responded, “What’s the big deal? I just put a little bit of oil in the coffee.”

Even that little bit presented a danger to Pete’s health.

That was his point concerning law and grace. You can’t mix the two. The law had a purpose. When that purpose was fulfilled in our lives, the law gave way to grace. Now, the grace of God is in charge. My last post covered this topic.

Since we are so comfortable with the law, we naturally want to blend a little law in with the pure grace of God. Religion sends this message to us as well.

Even a little law mixed in with grace can lead to big problems in the Christian life. Talked to just about any Christian on the planet and you will hear them use words like frustration, guilt, fear, shame, struggling and failure to describe their Christian experience.

This is a sure sign that somewhere along the way, they poured a little law into their coffee cup of grace.

Paul explained the problem: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” If we let just a speck of the law in, it want be long until the law is ruling the roost in our lives. You cannot mix law and grace.

It was the biggest problem of the church in Paul’s day. It is the biggest problem in the church today.

It is time for us to fully embrace the grace of God and allow His Spirit to lead us, to guide us into all truth, and to transform us into the image of Christ Jesus.

In your life, how have you mixed law and grace? What was the result.

Is it Possible to Misinterpret the Grace of God?

Carlos from El Paso asked this question on the radio broadcast this week.

The answer is yes. In the short letter of Jude near the end of the Bible we read this: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4 NIV).

Godless people misinterpret grace. They pervert it for their own purposes. To them, it is a Justification for immoral behavior, a license to sin if you will. This view of grace is a denial of Jesus Christ, the One who is full of grace and truth.

We should expect this. As Jesus said, people exist who love darkness over light because their deeds are evil. It follows that these would take the amazing grace of God and pervert it for their evil purposes.

Many wonder if we should alter the way we communicate the grace of God to prevent these “godless men” from turning the grace of God into a license to sin. The answer is a resounding no! We should communicate grace in its purest form, trusting that those who respond to Jesus in faith will be made new, made alive and made right in God’s sight.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this: “If your preaching of the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ does not provoke the charge from some of antinomianism, you’re not preaching the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.”

Let’s communicate the fullness of God’s grace and leave the results to Him.

Have you ever thought you needed to change the way you communicate grace to keep some from seeing it as nothing more than a license to sin?

A Command to Keep — Grow in Grace and Knowledge

This is the imperative Peter leaves us with at the end of his second letter. The verse reads, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV).

Sunday morning at Metro, Richard and I will be discussing the idea of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you do not have a regular church service you attend, join with us via your computer. We stream the service to the internet. Go to http://realanswers.net and click the Metro television icon. The service starts at 10:15 central time.

If you have questions or comments you would like to submit for the discussion, do so in the comment section below.

I do look forward to hearing your thoughts on growing in grace.

I looked up the word grow in the Complete Word Study Dictionary. The definition is fascinating. The word is auxano. The general definition is to grow, increase, or to augment. This growth is not self-initiated. “For someone to grow,” Zodhiates wrote, “he/she must be acted upon by an outside power or have the element of life within him/her.”

Believers have life within them, Jesus’ life. Jesus causes us to grow.

We grow in grace because that is where we live. In Christ, we are never outside the realm of God’s kindness and favor.

This sets the stage for Sunday’s discussion. We will get specific as to what it looks like to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

But for now, I leave you with this question. In what ways have you grown in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus?

Grace that Changes the Heart

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Both draw attention to the issue of sanctity of life and our nations struggle to carry out its most fundamental principle: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The cause of the struggle is our own sinfulness. We judge some people to be superior to others. We judge the rights of some to be more important than others. No law will fix this. We need grace.

In the days of Christ, Jews and Gentiles did not treat each other as equal. Both groups claimed superiority. This was brought out once Cornelius and his household were saved. Certainly, a Gentile would not be given the same salvation the Jew received? That was the question on the table at the council of Jerusalem.

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:7-11 NIV)

God does not discriminate. Everyone is of equal value to Him and He extends His grace to all. That changed Peter. And it can change us.

My Favorite Grace Verses

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4, 5NIV)

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24 NIV)

What are your favorite grace verses?

Ten Reasons We Need Grace

Sometimes the truth is hard to take. The truths that are the most difficult to take are found in the bible.

Who likes being called a sinner, or hearing that his heart is wicked, deceitful and beyond cure?

You certainly would not include these in the category of “nice things to say about others.”

The bible not only says these things, it does so with astonishing directness. It also tells us that we were

  • lost,
  • enemies of God,
  • unrighteous,
  • wicked,
  • slaves to sin,
  • deceived and
  • disobedient.

However, the most stunning truth of all is the fact that we were dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1). Think about that. There was no spiritual life in us at all.

Hard stuff to take indeed.

Jesus had to act on our behalf to change all this. Out of His one act of righteousness flowed His gift of grace to us, a gift that brought to us justification and life.

Without grace, we would still be dead, sinners and all the other things the Bible said about us. In Christ, we are totally alive and heirs of the King.

I do have a question for you. How would you describe spiritual death?

A Hard Lesson from a Great Teacher

Grace teaches us to say no to sin and to live righteous upright lives.

How?

What teaching method does Grace use to impart this valuable lesson?

My thoughts on this are not perfectly clear. This post is an opportunity for us to think out loud together on the answer to this question.

Here is what I have noticed happening in my life.

My view on sin has changed. Grace has peeled back the layers to show sin in a different light.

Sin is the opposite of love. Sin carries with it consequences that do harm to others. Sin hurts people.

When I sin I miss the mark of love. I’ve seen my sin cause pain and hurt and sorrow in the lives of other people.

That is a terrible thing to see.

Under grace sin is more than just a violation of law. Gratifying the flesh is no longer just a decision of should I or should I not or can I get away with it.

Grace lifts my eyes so that I see that my decisions do affect others. Then it reminds me to abide in Christ, to trust and rely on Him to live his life through me.

How has the grace of God been teaching you to say no to sin?

By the way, we couldn’t ask for a better teacher.

God's Abundant Provision of Grace

One act of disobedience. That’s all it took. Just one act doomed the entire human race. Adam’s one sin subjected us all to sin and death.

That doesn’t seem fair does it?

Whether you believe it or not, you would have made the same choice Adam made.

As a matter of fact, all of us have. “There is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).

If only someone could perform an act righteousness.

Jesus did. His act of righteousness made us right.

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people” (Romans 5:18 NIV).

This may not seem fair either.

We do not need fairness. We need grace.

That’s what we have in Jesus.

Adam’s sin ushered in the reign of death. In Jesus we reign in life. That’s grace.

Have you received God’s abundant provision of grace in Christ Jesus?

How to be made right with God

It can’t be done. That’s right. There are no steps that you can take, or works that you can do that will make you right with God

Religion and your pride will tell you differently.

Both beckon you to follow all types of rules and regulations. they promise righteousness as the reward for obedience.

That’s the problem. We can’t live up to the rules and the regulations. Have you tried the Ten Commandments? How well did you do?

Here is the truth. Law condemns, even our best efforts. It’s a harsh, humbling reality. As the bible declares, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20 NIV).

The law screams out that we are sinners, that we are not right with God. The religious rules and regulations condemn as well.

We fall short.

But…

We are justified, or made right , freely by God’s grace (Romans 3:24).

Righteousness is a gift. It can’t be earned, only received.

Jesus did the work. He is the One who makes us right. What we couldn’t do for ourselves, He did.

How can you be made right with God? Receive the gift of righteousness by faith.

If you have, you are right in God’s sight.

A Grace Filled 2013

I doubt the Apostle Paul ever made New Year’s resolutions. I could be wrong about this, but I just can’t imagine him resolving to join Weight Watchers or to learn a new language. Can you?

Paul was consumed by the grace of God. Nothing else mattered. When Paul met Jesus grace became everything to him. From that point forward, he lived to tell others of this good news.

If he met you today, here is what he would tell you about the grace of God.

  • Jesus is full of grace. (John 1:14, 1 Corinthians 16:23)
  • Grace saves you and gives you life. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
  • Grace justifies you and makes you right with God. (Romans 3:24)
  • Grace makes you new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 15:10)
  • Grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • Grace produces fruit in your life. (Colossians 1:6)
  • Grace teaches you to say “No” to sin and to live righteous, upright lives. (Titus 2:11-13)
  • Grace is where you stand. (Romans 5:2, 6:14)

Paul’s purpose in life never changed. Day after day, year after year, he found new ways to carry out the task the Lord Jesus had given him — “the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24 NIV).

On second thought, maybe this was Paul’s annual resolution.

Has the grace of God changed your perspective on New Year’s resolutions?