27 Oct 2001

The Application of Grace

Submitted by theshovel
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friendPDF versionPDF version
As a youth group leader, teaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) caught my attention. So, in 1976, with that phrase as the title, I made a list. Among the Top Ten were, “The Christian Life” and “Faith”, for I saw them as incredibly important. But my list was an attempt to categorize something that would not be contained, and the contradictions began to slap my perceptions silly!! If I told you that I learned this approach from my teachers it would only be partially true, the fact is that their teaching only reinforced my own perceptions. It was natural for me to separate those Christian Life teachings from their application because it made sense. Fortunately, God loves to mess around with what appears sensible to me as He turns it upside down! How else would I view the Bible except as God’s truth needing to be applied as principles for living when those around me as saw it the same way? Is it any wonder that the Christian bottom-line turns out to be no different than the world’s - except for the particulars of the principles? I have often been accused of ignoring the application verses of the Bible, but ironically, for the past 20 years, I have spent more time examining those particular parts that are often used to propagate the bondage of living by Christian principles. I have to remind myself that Paul ALSO wrote of grace in the FIRST half of Ephesians, or the FIRST portion of Romans, and so on. How’s that for a twist? Lately, I’ve read more from Matthew or John, and I hear the words screaming out regarding the GRACE to come. My formula of making application came from the separation of truth from life. I figured that unless I did it, it wouldn’t happen. God must have considered Himself very lucky that I was there to make up for His inability to produce His work in those who have the Spirit, don’t you think? How did we really come to understand God’s grace? Were we just fortunate enough to learn a particular teaching or viewpoint? Is it because we now have our grace ducks in a row? Is it because we have attained? Or is it because God made us alive through Christ in the giving of His Spirit? You see, as long as we keep thinking it’s up to us to make God’s word real we will continue to view God’s miracle as a delicate balance between finding the true truth and getting the correct handle on how to live it. And somehow, we will attribute our latest success to our current truth instead of to the miracle of Christ. What if it is only our former principle-based mindset that haunts us with the notion that this grace we received in Christ needs our application to make it work? What if it is only this illusion that keeps us thinking and acting as if we are hanging in the balances between flesh and Spirit? What if the true message of Christ is actively smashing this illusion by the declaration of His life in us? Sounds a little too good to be true, don’t you think?
Shoveletter: 
New Testament: 

Comments

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: October 27, 2001 by Peter

Thanks Jim.

You wrote, "What if it is only our former principle-based mindset that haunts us with the notion that this grace we received in Christ needs our "application" to make it work? What if it is only this illusion that keeps us thinking and acting as if we are hanging in the balances between flesh and Spirit? What if the true message of Christ is actively smashing this illusion by the declaration of His life in us? Sounds a little too good to be true, don't you think?"

YES. I sincerely believe that it isn't a "What if?," but that "IT IS!" My problem is that I continue to fall back into wanting to help accelerate the process of smashing my own illusions -- which only causes the process to slow! It is all Jesus' gig and for me that is the part that I must continue to remain in awareness of or I fall back into my former principle-based mindset of creating formula's, rules, expressions, equations and recipes of Do's and Don'ts in a desperate attempt of TRYING to accelerate His plan and timing. Yikes, What a self defeating (hampster on the treadmill) experience! I think that Jesus must lovingly laugh at me often. I can imagine Jesus saying, "Ha, ha, ha, here goes Pete again, scurrying about like a chicken without a head. Hey Pete, I am already residing in you, relax and let Me do my thing!" (Big Smile).

Jim, thanks for this one!

Take Care brother,


Posted: October 27, 2001 by Richard

Hi Jimmy,

Your new ShoveLetter is filled with such Living colours, I feel them splashing all over me.
His Life, what sobering intoxication.....Be, being filled with the Spirit!!

I'm including an email that I sent to a friend and thought it might be appropriate here as well.

Love ya Jimmy,
Richard

Dear ......,
I don't pretend to know fully what I'm even saying here, but I believe with all of my heart none the less that this statement is true, 'The brutal honesty of His love is what our souls are crying out for.'

Just like when a musical note is held at a certain range it can shatter a glass, likewise the brutal honesty of His love shatters the illusions that seem to bind us!

The cross is a replacement of the illusionary identity we thought we had, aka 'trying to find myself'.

So much time and effort spent in the so called spiritual beauty parlours trying to improve , change, fix up etc. self worth , self image, self esteem.
John 1:12 John 1 John 1:11-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

When you put something on that really looks great there's the possibility that someone just might say, 'man is that ever becoming on you'!

Christ is the only become thing to self.

Ephesians 1:4 According to His eternal plan and purpose from before the foundations of the earth that we the creature would be joined with Him the creator (the Father of our spirit) John 17............ Father I pray that they will be one!!!!!!!.......John 14:20 In that day (what day..the day of revelation) you shall know that I am in my Father, and you are in me , and I in you!


Posted: October 27, 2001 by MonkyRat

« How did we really came to understand God's grace? Were we just fortunate enough to learn a particular teaching or viewpoint? Is it because we now have our "grace" ducks in a row? Is it because we have "attained"? Or is it because God made us alive through Christ in the giving of His Spirit? You see, as long as we keep thinking it's "up to us" to make God's word "real" we will continue to view God's miracle as a delicate balance between finding the "true" truth and getting the "correct" handle on how to live it. And somehow, we will attribute our latest "success" to our current "truth" instead of to the miracle of Christ. »

that is a wonderful paragraph and when we beleive that Jesus did it all,,,then we have attained,,the only way i know to apply grace is to beleive God,,grace to me is Him and Him alone, His power to do,,not mine,,God said in the old testament,,"not by power or by might but by My Spirit"


Posted: October 27, 2001 by the shovel

Monky!!!

Wow, it's great to hear from you again!! Thanks for adding your thoughts, and you are right, it is HIS power and might. :)

Love,
Jim


Posted: October 27, 2001 by Dan

Hi Jim I thank God that His grace which is great then I could think or imagition.I thank Him for His patiences that is working in my life to trust in that grace.I thank Him for His Spirit work in each of our hearts to know the LOVE and GRACE that surpasses all knowlegde.Love


Posted: October 27, 2001 by MonkyRat

hey jim,,yeah im back online and ready to go :) hope things are going well for you,


Posted: October 27, 2001 by the shovel

Okay, I got a question that I responded to, and am including it here for all to read since many have probably asked just about the same thing.

First, the question:

« Isn't it similar or how isn't it that I apply THE TRUTH like renewing my mind so that when I'm confused, depressed etc. as a woman can get, that we are applying what we know to our life?? Believing isn't that like applying?n YES I'm still working at the renewing or applying the TRUTH »

Next, my response:

"Applying" is to take something from the OUTSIDE and put it upon you.

If I apply a bandage, I put in on my body. The applied bandage will eventually come off as it is not meant to become part of me.

If I apply a teaching, I am putting it upon my life in hopes of fixing or changing something inside me. The teaching remains outside. We often talk about putting it IN us - like "putting the word in our heart". But the fact is that we only HOPE we can make it stick.

Under the old covenant God had with Israel He gave them the Law and it was to guide them in the way they should go. The main problem with this set up is that it didn't work, and God even said so as He gave it (see Deuteronomy 30, near the end of the chapter). In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God declared the difference between the two covenants. He said the first didn't work, but the second couldn't fail. He said the first had written commands that were broken, but the second would consist of God taking His commands and putting them WITHIN the heart. This is what He has done by putting His Spirit within us. He didn't put written commands within us, but instead put that which fulfills the requirement of those commands: Love. That's why Jesus' "command" was simply "Love one another". He was in the process of fulfilling His work on the cross by which He would give us His Spirit. His Spirit is the "stuff" of real love, and it is everything we need.

When we view our life as a process of "making application" of God's word, or truth, or principles, we are falling back into the same perception the Jews under the Law lived under - and it won't work for us as it didn't work for them. They were under it, and that's all they had. But we have now been given the Spirit, and to try to live as being under the Law will work destruction within us because it grates against the life of God within us.

Israel did not experience this, but they lived a life that would simply have to wait until the time of His appearing which would not happen until the Christ would come and redeem them from their dreadful predicament. They lived by commandments, and because they were "dead" toward God, their actions become merely outward attempts to produce the appearance of righteousness. Because they were "alive" toward sin, the law only served to cause their sins to increase because they were breaking commands every time they turned around.

We are now dead toward sin and alive toward God because of Christ's coming to do God's will by the giving of Himself. When we attempt to "apply" the written, or spoken truths to our lives, as those who need to get this extra something within them, then we are thinking "outside - in". But when we recognize that we have the "goods" within us, which is the life of God, then we also realize that we hear God Himself through the truth of Christ. He supplies from the INSIDE and works it out. We can actually "hear" the truth instead of just hearing words to apply. We have been grafted into God through Christ - as the branch is IN the vine and the life flows through the vine and into us.

As far as believing goes, we have been brought into faith. It's going on the whole time. We become so sure that we don't even believe Him so often, but then we find ourselves believing Him even though we find nothing left in ourselves. His Spirit witnesses with our spirits that we are His offspring even though everything around us demands that this is not possible. We do become quite aware of this real dependence from time to time, but the mistake is to think that our faith comes and goes. The truth is that WE grow in IT. I am amazed as how often I saw myself as being OUTSIDE of this faith, instead of being wrapped up inside it!!! :)

Know this, that your "miracle" ears hear Him and you are encouraged and uplifted in faith in so many ways. Of course you will sense yourself being built up sometimes when reading or hearing the written words of the Bible (both the old writings, and the letters of the apostles). You will also discover the same in your encounters throughout the day - especially when you recognize how free you are to hear God in EVERYTHING!!

Well, the grandson just barged in and is demanding my attention!! :) Gotta go walk him around or something. I'm his best buddy. :)

Love,
Jim

Add new comment

Random Shovelquote: Less world, more temptation (view all shovelquotes)

…during the whole time I was being less and less influenced by the world and taking a more proactive stance against it, I was being more and more tempted toward sexual impurity. source