Living in Grace

Here are a few great thoughts from the apostle Paul from his letter to the Galatians, with thanks to Eugene Peterson and his The Message translation …

"We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over "non-Jewish sinners." We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it — and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.

Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren't perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was "trying to be good," I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."

[Galatians 2:15-21. Message Bible]

4 Replies to “Living in Grace”

  1. Hi Mark
    Thank you for your openness to share with your “flock” on your blog. [bleet]
    Could I take you back to the topic of the Five-Fold Ministry, and a paragraph you wrote in response to Gordon on December 18, 2008 under the book title “Apostles of Fear”? I’ll insert below for your convenience…
    “5. Five-fold ministry (Eph.4:11-12). We do believe that Jesus gave these ministries for the benefit of the church. However, we do not elevate them above other ministries or give people titles such as ‘prophet’ or apostle’. We also don’t agree with various self-appointed ministries who go around like loose canons trying to influence others inappropriately.”
    Please could you explain why we always hear mention of three of the Five-fold ministry gifts [Eph.4:11-12] namely Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, and the other two gifts are almost disregarded or played down in the Church?
    One could argue that the Apostolic/Prophetic have erred by delivering incorrect messages from time to time, but then reading some of the writings under the topic of “Apostles of Fear” and remembering the abuse in the Catholic Church by Priests, we all know that the enemy has used the other gifts to abuse the Body of Christ as well, yet they are still accepted by the Church at large.
    Do you think that the Lord would like all these gifts operating and accepted in His Body, The Church, since He put them in place to begin with? Could it be time for restoration in the Church today of all five-fold ministry gifts before the Lord’s return?
    I have been a Christian for a long time and have noticed this strange phenomenon and am curious. [Our Pastor from years ago in my country of birth started Churches around the country and then around the world and we recognized that He should be called an Apostle, yet many frowned on giving him this title].
    I’m curious, thank you.

  2. Hi Mary-Ann.
    Yes, I do believe that there are apostles and prophets in existence today. However, I think there is danger in someone calling themselves one. I think it is better for other people or the ‘body’ to recognise this gifting, then identify it, because of the dangers that self-appointment or self-promotion can bring.
    I also think that we need more apostolic (pioneering, ground-breaking, foundation-laying, etc)and prophetic (bold, insightful, etc) ministries to emerge for a new generation.

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