Tag Archives: Grace

He Gave It All Away

Jesus Gave Everything Away on the Cross

The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me.

Gal 2:20-21 ESV

The Keswick Movement has almost been forgotten. The annual conference began in the mid-19th century for the “promotion of scriptural holiness.” The Holy Spirit’s work in and through the Keswick Conference has changed lives for Christ for over well over a century and a half. Such notables as Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Watchman Nee, Major Ian Thomas, and F. B. Meyer have all either taught at the yearly conference or were influenced by its teaching.

The sermons, devotionals, and books written Keswick authors and speakers have drawn me into the experience of Christ in a manner no other Christian literature can or does. In their instruction, I have found intimacy with Christ, experienced his constant, conscious presence, and discovered freedom from past pain and persistent sin.

The passage below is one of my favorite selections from a Keswick sermon. Charles Fox declares the greatness of the love of Christ: while suffering inextricable pain, Jesus is thinking about the needs of others. Jesus is carrying the sin of the world on his shoulders, yet he is giving away his inheritance for the benefit of others. Jesus was thinking of others’ needs when you and I would have been self-consumed by our suffering.

Just before He died, Jesus made an inventory of all He had, and then gave it all away. Hear Him: ‘My peace I give you'(John 14:27). ‘That my joy might remain in you (John 15:11).’ He gave His body-‘given for you’ (Luke 22:19). He gave His blood-‘shed for you’ (Luke 22:20). Then He gave what He thought a great deal of-His words. Twice He repeats this legacy, ‘I have given them the words which Thou gavest me’ (John 17:8). ‘I have given them Thy word’ (John 17:14). All He had He gave away. ‘The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them’ (John 17:22).

Then, when He was on the cross-for He was never so rich as when He was on the cross!-He gives away pardon. He gives home-‘Woman behold thy son!’ (John 19:26). He links two of His own together for ever. There are no such friendships as those which are made by the cross of Christ. Then, on the cross, He gives paradise away-paradise, never heard of between Genesis and Revelation, except only at the cross: ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). Yes, today-immediate transition when you take Christ.

His very clothing was given. ‘They cast lots for His vesture’ (Matt. 27:35). I wonder what that soldier thought as he put on that seamless vesture: a picture of us murderers clothed in the stainless robe of righteousness of Christ.

Then His very dead body was given away. Nobody cared for it, until one disciple came and begged it, and was allowed to have it for the asking (John 19:38).

Is He not rich, my Master? ‘My peace, my joy, my words, my glory!’ All given away! This is indeed the Master. Is He yours?

Charles A. Fox, “The Gifts of Jesus” in Daily Thoughts From Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 178.

The Reign of God’s Grace

Grace is Empowerment to Live the Christian Life

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

2 Cor. 9:8

God’s grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. Jesus is our desire for he works in us a hunger for holiness. Jesus is our ability for he enables us to make godly decisions and choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. Grace is the person, Jesus, living his life in and through us empowering every one of us to live a righteous and holy life (2 Cor. 9:8, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Titus 2:11-14).

We’re brought into God’s kingdom by grace; we’re sanctified by grace; we receive both temporal and spiritual blessing by grace; we’re motivated to obedience by grace; we’re called to serve and enabled to serve by grace; we receive strength to endure trials by grace; and we’re glorified by grace. The entire Christian life is lived under the reign of God’s grace.

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by Day (Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress, 2008), 52.

Great Receivers Do Ministry

Ministry is the Overflow of the Life of God in You

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Col. 1:27 (NLT)

My sermon, “Great Receivers Do Ministry” is now available as a Google document. The sermon was delivered on March 7th at Lamb of God Church and March 11th at the Diocese of the Central Gulf States Lenten Clergy Retreat.

My conclusion:

Whether or not people respond to our ministries, we are still called to serve, to be inconvenienced, to be tired, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, to labor without compensation, to listen, and to exhort. We are not called to be adequate (i.e., have all the answers), but to be available to God’s great grace (i.e., vessels for the master’s use). Ultimately, the results of our ministry belong in the hands of God.

  • Ministry is the overflow of the Life of Christ living in us.
  • Ministry is not being adequate, but being available for Christ to work through us.
  • Ministry is being a great receiver of God’s great grace in Jesus Christ.
  • Great Receivers (No, Not NFL Wide Receivers)

    Grace Gives, Faith Receives

    I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

    Psalm 81:10

    It is hard to receive isn’t it? Someone gives you a surprise gift at Christmas, you did not think to purchase them a present. The moment is awkward. You have to receive with nothing to give. Our tit-for-tat obligatory works mindset does not want to receive unless we can give something back. We hesitate, we obfuscate, and we apologize. We do everything we can not to receive that gift.

    We treat God that way, too. He gives us the grace of his Son’s life and death and we attempt to pay him back by performing better. We just can’t receive all that God has done for us. We must do something in return to prove to God that we are worthy of his love. We reject grace because it just can’t be that simple. We think we must do something in return, but that is not the way grace works. “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:5-6).

    As Anglican pastor, John Stott, has noted, “Grace is God’s free and unmerited favour, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make him sit among princes.” Grace is taking in all of what Christ has done for us in his life and death and simply saying back to the Lord, “Thank you.” We receive by grace all the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

    God has called us to be great receivers. When have a need, ask of God, and we will receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). In times of temptation, in times of despair, in times of confusion–look to God, ask, and you will receive.

    Someone has said that great saints are great receivers; men and women who take their holiness by faith, and who go on taking it by faith . . . . In others words, if you are impatient, you have his patience; if you are impure, you have his purity; if you are bitter in spirit, you have His grace; if you are critical in spirit, you have His love; if you are worldly in spirit, you have His glory.

    The opposite to everything that I am by nature, is in Christ; and He by His Spirit is in me: therefore in every moment of satanic temptation I may look up to Him and say, “Lord, in this situation I claim Thy grace, Thy patience, Thy purity, Thy love, Thy holiness.’

    Alan Redpath, “Fourfold Challenge to Holiness,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 349.

    Faith Works and Grace Works, Too.

    Evangelical Essentials (Part Nine)

    Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

    Titus 2:13-14 (NLT)

    Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow on after justification, can never atone for our sins or face the strict justice of God’s judgment, they are nevertheless pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ and necessarily spring from a true and living faith. Thus a living faith is as plainly known by its good works as a tree is known by its fruit.

    Article Twelve,“A Contemporary Version of the 39 Articles of Religion,” available from; www.stjohnsanglican.org/39.doc.

    Good Works as the Fruit of Salvation

    No works can produce salvation. However, a faith-filled salvation will produce many good works. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not its cause or basis.

    It seems that ‘good works’ is a general expression to cover everything a Christian says and does because he is a Christian, every outward and visible manifestation of his Christian faith . . . Rather we are to be ourselves, our true Christian selves, openly living the life described in the beatitudes, and not ashamed of Christ. Then people will see us and our good works, and seeing us will glorify God. For they will inevitably recognize that it is by the grace of God we are, what we are, that ‘our’ light is ‘his’ light, and that our works are his works done in us and through us.

    [John Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, John Stott Daily Bible Study Email, August 14th, 2007 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1985).]

    Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works can be described as the fruit of faith. An expectation of redemption is living in a godly manner. There is no place in the Christian life for claiming a “born from above” experience while giving no evidence of a changed life. A changed life is life that allows Christ to live His life in and through the believer (1 John 4:9).

    This is the rest of faith. You relax, almost like a spectator, except that it is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost.”

    [Major Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006). 99.]

    Good works are not produced by the Christian, but good works are borne in the life of  the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are fruit-bearers not fruit-producers. Grace works out the life of Christ in us.

    Saving faith has intrinsic power to produce fruit.

    [John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1991), 244.]

    Good works or deeds display to the world the changed heart that Christ has created (Matt. 7:15-20). Faith in the finished work of Christ expresses itself in deeds done for God and others.

    Although we cannot be saved by works, we also cannot be saved without them. Good works are not the way of salvation, but its proper and necessary evidence. A faith which does not express itself in works is dead.

    [John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1970), 127.]

    Therefore, good works are the fruit of faith, they follow after justification, they are evidence of a changed heart, and therefore will flow from a life changed by the Cross.

    The Early Church Fathers: We Are Saved by Grace

    The Fathers Taught Justifying Grace

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    Eph 2:8-10

    Do not rely on your own efforts, but on the grace of Christ. ‘You are,’ says the apostle, ‘saved by grace.’ Therefore it is not a matter of arrogance here but faith when we celebrate: we are accepted! This is not pride but devotion.

    St. Ambrose, On the Sacraments 5.4.19, quoted in Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 108.

    Paul says this in case the secret thought should steal upon us that ‘if we are not saved by our own works, at least we are saved by our own faith, and so in another way our salvation is of ourselves.’ Thus he added the statement that faith too is not in our own will but in God’s gift. Not that he means to take away free choice from humanity . . .  but that even this very freedom of choice has God as its author, and all things are to be referred to his generosity, in that he has even allowed us to will the good.

    St. Jerome, Epistle to the Ephesians cited in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Volume VIII (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 133.

    HT: Of First Importance

    “Our Sins Are Many–But His Mercies Are More”

    Christ is Greater Than Our Discouragement

    I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience, will humble you—but not discourage you.

    For if our Physician is almighty—our disease cannot be desperate. Our sins are many—but His mercies are more. Our sins are great—but His righteousness is greater. When our sins prevail, remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost!

    It is better to be admiring the compassion and fullness of grace which is in our Savior—than to dwell and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness.

    John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth: 2007)

    HT: Of First Importance