In the world there is great argument concerning where stands grace versus where stands works. Notice that I have said “in the world”. This is because only those still in the world fail to understand that grace sets the heart on fire for Jesus while works of law merely bind the heart to deeds of the flesh. It is the difference between a religious mindset versus a personal encounter with the risen Christ.
I won’t take long with this message. You may notice that I haven’t written for a spell. This is partly due to a heavy workload, but it is mostly an act of choice. I have taken some time to grow in knowledge, to better understand the difference between a grace that frees and a so-call grace that binds. There are so many who would tie misapplied verse upon misapplied verse to their demands of what it takes to be a Christian. Jesus spoke of them when he addressed those who bind burdens upon others that they themselves will not lift even with their little finger.
Grace. The wonderful birthplace of salvation, through grace, by a faith that is not the work of men. In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul puts forth a simple statement when he writes:
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” (Romans 11:6).
Now there are legalists who fear this work of grace. It takes the righteousness from the hands of men and places it into the finished work of Christ alone. They wrongly believe that walking in the freedom of the Spirit in grace will move men to sin. They know not the power of God to complete the work that he begins. Worse, even as they boast of obedience to many laws and place their faith in their own lies to self, they live in the greater sin of unbelief for they do not accept that God stabilizes his own.
Ah, but true understanding of grace can only be acquired through a personal walk with God. It brings together a combination of his love, our desire to be what he has already declared us to be, and his personal presence within us to bring it to past. This is a simple truth that the world of legalists cannot comprehend.
In the book of Luke, we are told of how two disciples of the crucified Lord walked the road to Emmaus. As they traveled, they discussed the matter of all that had happened at Calvary. Their hearts were heavy and downcast because in their spirit there was no belief in the words that Jesus had spoken concerning a suffering, a death, and a resurrection.
But then Jesus came and walked among them. Yet their unbelieving eyes could not behold that it was he. The bible record of his discussion with them revealed the great depth of their unbelief. These were men who knew the rules and the laws and the regulations and the methods of atonement, but they had not yet learned the value of a personal relationship with Jesus.
As they walked, they told him of the promise, of the crucifixion, and of the words of others that claimed his resurrection. They told him about visions of angels and of an empty sepulcher. They even knew scripture sufficiently to speak of how they had thought that he would be the spoken of deliver. But their belief remained dead.
Then Jesus responded to their hard heartedness. It is record in this manner:
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.
And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread,” (Luke 24:25-35).
Now to draw your attention to a very simple fact of this section of scripture, notice first what Jesus did not teach these men.
Though they were in the sin of unbelief, he did not use scripture to proclaim all the rules and laws that would make and keep them right. No, indeed, for though he spoke of Moses by name, he mentioned not at all the law that Moses had delivered into the hand of Israel. Why? Because the law cannot save nor can it keep men saved.
Rather he taught them of what the scriptures had to say about the Christ. Is it not written, are these not his words, “he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”? No, he did not teach law, he taught a personal relationship. For after that he had opened their yes, it was not of the law that they spoke these words, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” A walk with the risen Lord of Creation, that is what ignited their faith, and their belief, and their hope.
Live by the law if you must, but seek not to drag others into your hell. For he who lives by the law will die by the law. I would that every Christian could know what it is to have their heart burn for the joy of that wonderful personal relationship with God, through grace, that frees the soul and liberates the ability to love in truth as did that wonderful Bishop who is portrayed in the book, Les Miserables. Therein lived a man who understood grace and shared it freely.
Go and do likewise.