ROMANS AND THE SIMPLICITY OF GOOD NEWS – PART 2
I lived in Brazil for almost 10 years. In this amazing country I took up some of the habits of the Brazilians. Some good. Some perhaps not so good. Take driving in a big city like São Paulo for example. You need to be a bit assertive in your driving style to get by. It’s just what it is. I remember one time driving in the city where we were living at the time – Campinas – that I was speeding a bit. Suddenly a traffic light turned red at a crossroads where I wasn’t paying fully attention. I sped perhaps 5 km and I almost went through red. I was barely able to brake and stop (not before the line though). I saw the camera and thought: ‘O shoot! I got a ticket!’
Good News. I didn’t! At least not for that event…
I thanked God for it because we were really short in money and a fine could really get us into trouble. I deserved to get the ticket but I didn’t. After all I was speeding a bit. The Brazilian system was merciful to me.
Let me make a connection to the letter of Romans here. Romans is all about the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s the main theme. Romans 1:16-17 says we are saved by grace through faith.
And in my intro story I also used the word MERCY.
We need to come to terms with these words. If we understand them incorrectly, we may come to a very different understanding of the Good News. So let’s have a look.
My point in this blog is that we need to be sure to understand and live in mercy and grace correctly.
What you received is what you believe and what you believe is what you will manifest. Simple but profound. The problem is that we often misunderstand mercy and grace or we mix them up and that can get us into all kinds of trouble.
God’s grace and our faith are the magic duo or sides of the same coin. Yet, we need to understand what grace really means. Christians and people who don’t know God mix up mercy with grace a lot unfortunately.
Let me explain it in a few ways.
Grace is what we receive that we do not deserve while mercy is what we do not get that we do deserve.
Or put in another way: Mercy is to receive a second chance from God while I did not deserve it. Picture the Roman emperor in the colosseum giving his ‘thumbs up’ to a gladiator that lost a battle. He knows he is going to die. Nevertheless, the emperor chooses to pardon him and now he lives. This is mercy. Getting a second chance while you don’t deserve it. Jesus dying on a cross for my sins. That is mercy. He didn’t deserve to die because He was completely innocent. I didn’t deserve to live because I messed up. But God loved us and did it anyway, while (not because!) we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
God’s grace on the other hand is His working tool to transform us. Let me repeat this.
Mercy is to receive a second chance while I didn’t deserve one. Grace is to receive the transforming power of the finished work of Jesus. Grace transforms us into the original state of how God really looks at us: lost sons and daughters. Yet, grace is received by faith. It is not by works. Never. Ever! It is still an unmerited favour of God, but grace is activated through faith. It’s for those who believe! That’s why it is from faith to faith.
Grace is constantly working in our life. That’s why the Gospel is not just to accept Jesus once in a prayer you prayed once. It is a continuation! You believe that the finished work of Jesus is enough and that God sees you differently? Why? Because the righteousness of God is revealed! It’s not you reap what you sow. If that were true, we would not be sitting here now. You reap with Jesus sowed. You are right with God by grace through faith. The Gospel is so awesome and simple at the same time. I love the simplicity of the Gospel. A seven-year-old can get it. Yet, it is also so incredibly profound. This makes people upset or suspicious. Where is the catch? It sounds like too good to be true. I just believe?
The gospel is not just something to be accepted in an evangelistic event or conversation. That can happen, but it is so much more than that. The gospel daily transforms us in all areas of our lives. Why? Because Jesus is Lord! He is Lord over your future. He is Lord over your money. He is Lord over ‘your time’. He is Lord over your affections and emotions. He is LORD. If this is true, and I believe it is, then we need to understand that grace transforms us into what God intended us for in the first place. It’s His mercy that enables you to come to Him in the first place, but it is His grace that takes you to your created value, what you were made for. YOU ARE A NEW PERSON!!!
Did you know that? The Good News continues all the time in our live, because we stand in right relationship with God 24/7. It’s Christ’s finished work. His Mediating work that makes people…perfect. The New Covenant through Christ’s blood speaks better things over our lives (Hebrews 12:24). Our job is to start where He finished. When He said ‘it is finished’, it really was. Start there! And believe that God can change you. You cannot change yourself or try to be better or try to not sin. It just doesn’t work that way. Why? Because it is grace that empowers you to change. It’s guaranteed.
It’s mercy that gives us a second chance, but it is His grace that transforms us. We got confused about these two a lot. We may even make peace with our sins under the guise of ‘God has forgiven me’. We’re under grace and not the law. Yes, God has forgiven us, but through faith He is also transforming us. Again, mercy, second chance – I didn’t deserve it. Grace. Received BY FAITH. I believe and grace comes to make the new reality, the new identity in Christ a reality.
I remember a long time ago. I was hooked up to smoking. Even though I knew it was bad for my health, I liked it too much to give it up. First, I tried to stay away from it, but that took me perhaps two days and I was back to square one. I think I was about 20 years, started when I was 15 in an act of ‘well, it’s good fun!’ only to find out that it is bondage. Only till I came to the point that I knew that I didn’t have the will power to change myself, I invited God to change me, and He did.
Some may think now: well I know someone who stopped smoking on his own. He did have the willpower. Very well. Let’s shift gears. What about alcohol? Or pornography? Or social media?
Any addiction I believe is a lack of understanding who we really are. It’s a depreciation of our value. I firmly belief that if people would really understand WHO THEY WERE IN CHRIST AND CONTINUE LIVING IN THAT PLACE OF THE FINISHED WORK, addictions would need to go. Period!
Let’s look at another passage to clear this up: Ephesians 2:8-10
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
- Observation 1 – By Grace through faith – Paul marries the two terms again.
- Observation 2 – we cannot save ourselves – not our works.
- Observation 3 – God works in us – through grace and in Christ – to walk in good works…
Amazing! By grace through Faith. Not my righteousness but His. And through His righteousness He is transforming us back into the original image of God to do good works. God does the hard work. We believe it and receive it. The works He prepared for us to walk in flow out of our new identity as a born-again believer.
Now let’s go back to the magic duo or twin sisters called GRACE and FAITH.
GRACE and FAITH are totally connected. Grace is not an empowerment to stay the same, it’s a guarantee to change!! Not an excuse to sin and then get away with it in the name of grace. That’s a perversion. In fact, any grace that does not transform us is a perversion!!
Did you get that? ANY Grace that does not transform us, is in fact a perversion. That’s why it is so important to understand what you also have embraced, because, what you receive is what you believe and what you believe is what you will manifest. It’s all connected!
I my next and final blog I will unwrap the Good News even more and connect blog 1, 2 and 3 into one unity.