I want to some the time to humble myself and admit some mistakes that I think I have made over the past few years when it comes to my own walk and presentation of grace. I also want to address some issues that I am seeing with some of the things being said in the grace circles. I aim to use my own life as an example, rather than pointing the finger at others.
Basically, I along with many others have been proclaiming the radical grace of God along with the freedom of the New Covenant and our identity in Christ. Good stuff, right? Absolutely. But some strange things, along with good things, are being said about grace these days. Rather than shrug them off while people get deceived, I think it is best to speak out about things that can be taking away from true grace in the name of grace.
Even though I have experienced the freedom and joy that comes with a better understanding of the gospel, I was sensing an incompleteness in my approach to living by grace. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was so I sought the Lord about it. That’s right, we as “grace people” still should seek God (in light of the New Covenant realities).
I feel like the Holy Spirit answered me and started revealing some areas where I needed more wisdom. As always, He had the perfect Scripture that addressed the questions of my heart. He reminded me of how Peter said we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Grace must lead to a greater knowledge (intimacy) with the living person of Jesus, not just a doctrinal understanding of grace.
I found myself getting in a trap where I was focusing on exegeting the grace of God more than experiencing and extending the grace of God (to exegete means to expound upon and interpret the meaning of).
I also saw a trend I had to write off people and movements in the church that did not line up with my interpretation of grace. We must not simply discard anyone or anything that does not line up with our own understanding of grace.
It can become easy to justify the dismissal of a message (along with the messenger) because we believe it does not contain perfect doctrine. This is something that I hate that Protestants do all the time. We disagree with something someone says and therefore throw the baby out with the bath water. But here’s the kicker. That person might have something that we legitimately need to hear from God, but we conveniently ignore it since the individual does not fit into our doctrinal mold. We are right and they are wrong, so we do not have to listen to them.
Ironically, we can become grace-legalists. I have seen many ungracious reactions to people with honest questions about what is being said about grace. If people do not say things just so, in accordance with proper grace lingo, they are dismissed or even labeled a legalist. When something that originates from the heart of God is twisted by the hands of men, it can become polluted. That is what I think is happening to the message of grace in some cases.
So what is the answer to this sticky situation of wanting to dive into the grace of God without getting weird? Going back to the Scripture, we are told to grow in grace AND in the knowledge of God. We must realize that knowing God is only possible because of grace. We must also emphasize that grace should lead to the knowledge of God. We will then have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and the true discernment of what is God and what is not.
There have been times in my walk with the Lord where I have emphasized one and not the other. Early in my Christian life, I remember striving to know God. I was passionate and zealous but needed to be rooted in the grace of God. I would seek out hidden keys and principles to get higher into the glory. I would compare myself to those I deemed spiritual giants and feel bad about my apparent lack. Thankfully, God showed me that the gospel qualifies me and that it is only through amazing grace that anyone knows Him and grows in Him.
But when focusing on grace, we should not stop pursuing a deeper relationship with God. One thing that I emphasize in this blog is our completeness in Christ. But it is not a completeness which dismisses a need to grow and experience more of God. It refers to the position of being in Christ and being qualified to experience all of the riches found in Him.
Jesus said that those who believe in Him will never hunger and thirst again. But He did not say they will never eat and drink again. I believe He is saying that once we find the Source, we need search no longer. We do not need to go around looking for wells, the well is within us and springs forth with eternal life (i.e. experiential relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
But I realize that at times, I would be turned off by someone saying that we should hunger and thirst for God and pursue more of Him. So I would argue away what they were saying in the name of being complete in Christ rather than admitting that I needed to deepen my personal interactive relationship with the Lord.
What I see in some grace oriented social media and messages is that catch phrases are being thrown out quite a bit like, “We already have it all in Christ”, “I don’t need to pursue God, He pursued me”, “I’m already filled with God, I don’t need more.” But what I have not seen is talk of a growing experiential knowledge of Him where we encounter Him, hear His voice and step out into His calling.
Please hear my heart. I am all for resting in our identity in Christ and in His finished work (just read practically any of my posts). I am all for realizing that we are not in the requirement meeting covenant, but the grace covenant where we benefit from what Christ did. But what I am saying is that there is a danger of only getting head knowledge or doctrine about grace without seeing the manifestation of grace in our lives which leads to knowing the living God more and more.
As has been said many times, grace is a Person not a doctrine. His name is Jesus. We come to know grace because of Jesus. But we do not come to know Jesus merely by an intellectual understanding of grace. Through true grace, we can grow in a true knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ. We will then have someone to manifest, not just something to argue about on social media. Bless you all. Thank you for hearing my heart. Hope this makes sense and brings some clarity.