“For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude 4 (NIV)
Many think grace and mercy are the same thing. Others think grace is God’s favor or delight, but let’s start with understanding the difference between biblical grace and mercy.
Grace is the power of God to allow us to live holy by breaking the power and control of sin in us, and having the power to fulfill the will of God.
Mercy covers our sin by God’s forgiveness. But mercy can only be obtained through the confession of sin and repentance.
Repentance is turning away from and ceasing the acts of sin and returning to God’s grace to live in holiness and fulfilling God’s will.
Take Jude’s warning seriously, because many want the mercy of God but not the Lordship of God. It is the same lie that the serpent in the Garden told Eve- “You can be like God”. To not be submitted to the will of God is to be your own god.
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 (NIV)
Don’t let “Godless Men” teach you otherwise, and thereby denying Jesus as our “only Sovereign and Lord.”
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
It has been said the definition of character is
Doing what is right when nobody is looking.
The problem with the statement is that everybody wants to define what “doing right” is by their own standards and almost everybody’s idea of what is “right” is wrong.
I would like to add to the definition for the purpose of clarity
Character is following the leading of the Holy Spirit by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ even when no one is looking.
The teaching of “Once saved always saved…from hell” is satanic. “Once save always saved…from the power and slavery of sin” is the Gospel.
Jesus did not save us from hell, He saved us from sin.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Notice that the Angel of the Lord did not say “he will save his people from HELL” but “from their sin”.
When people hear the teaching that once saved always saved, what they normally hear is, ‘Jesus saved me from the consequences of my sin, which is Hell.’ Almost nobody wants to go to hell, so many say, “If and when I sin, I’m OK, because I said a prayer years ago.” Which means to them, do what ever you want because you won’t go to Hell. This is the straight from the Satanic writings that say, “do as thy wilt”.
Jesus came to save his people from their sin, not from Hell. Hell is the result of sin, not the symptom.
If we are saved from the power and control of sin, then that is good news!
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
We are free from the power and control of our flesh, sin, and Satan. We are now able to have the desire for God’s will and the power of God to do His will.
Someone might claim to be a saved from Hell by a prayer they said years ago, but they live under the power of sin, continue to practices sin without conviction (being sorry is not the same as conviction), and think that asking for forgiveness later will appease God. This person is not a born again Christian. They are still in rebellion against God and will be judged by God to hell with the rebellious angels.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
These are the words spoken by Jesus. Notice that there are two different groups that say “Lord, Lord.” One group of people say Jesus is Lord but do what ever they want, and the second group that also calls Jesus Lord are doing many religious and spiritual things. The first group are those that say a prayer and call themselves a Christian but do their own will and expect Jesus to save them from Hell. The second group also said a prayer and call themselves Christian, but they expect not to go to hell because they did good works. Neither group is born again, otherwise Jesus would recognize His spirit that is alive in born-again believers.
The scary part is God’s wrath. His severity remains on all mankind from birth to death, except for those that are born again. Those that have the spirit of God in them are no longer objects of the wrath, and no longer under judgment of rebellion. God recognizes Himself in born again mankind.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
In America, morality is no longer based on facts and truth but is based on what popular opinion polls say is the majority. Morality is now a vote.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:34 NKJV
Jesus is both Lord and Savior. The two can’t be separated. Jesus said;
John 14:15 (NIV) If you love me, you will obey what I command.
Again He says the same, leaving no wiggle room.
John 14:23-24 (NIV)Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
The sad thing is most people live like, and some even believe, that the kingdom of God is a democracy, as if we can vote on what God has said and decreed. They think if they get enough people to agree with their opinion, or that their sin should no longer be in the “Unlawful” and “Against God” category, that they can change the mind of God by saying “According to the popular vote, everybody agrees with me, which makes you, God, a bigot and a hater of what the people agree to.” As if this would change God’s mind and cause Him to resend His law! Some are even in the mindset that after presenting their popular vote to God and He doesn’t agree with the masses, they will impeach Him, voting God off the island.
This is nothing new and is why the gospel of Christ is so offensive to the rebellious mind. Jesus as savior is great and every body likes a get out of jail free card, but to demand that people surrender their will and life in exchange for eternal life is a very offensive and very different gospel.
Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the brulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break
Their bonds in pieces
And cast away
Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
There is nothing that compares to the knowledge of God, yet in our modern times we treat this greatest of knowledge with little esteem. The knowledge of God, knowing His nature, is a matter we tend to give little weight to, instead focusing on the benefits of God. Yet when God is revealed, His nature and who He is correctly and fully, from Scripture the Holy Spirit who lives in us, the regenerated Christians, our hearts burn with fiery passion.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32 (NIV)
As we preach and teach about the nature of God we must reveal both sides of God. To only reveal one part and not the other is to malign His character. It is making an idol of God, one that is a lesser version of who He is, one that is either more tolerable to us or easier to digest to the masses.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to
those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his
kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
Romans 11:22 (NIV)
Paul compels us through scripture to consider both the kindness and sternness of God. We may prefer kindness over sternness, but to not reveal both sides of the holy and perfect Creator is an injustice to who He is and to those to whom the knowledge of God is being revealed to.
According to statistics from the Barna Group, over 80% of Americans claim to be Christian but have beliefs and live as unregenerated, not born-again believers. Many only have heard or only want to hear about the kindness of God and have no knowledge of His sternness, and therefor have no understanding that they have already been “cut off.” They live as if sin has no consequence and there is no sternness in God but only endless mercy.
For others, they have only heard of the sternness of God and live in constant fear with no knowledge of His kindness and mercy. They still live under the mindset of the Old Covenant and the law, believing that their actions determine their righteousness and not what Christ has done on the Cross. They too are unregenerated, and are trying to be good by their own power, not by power of the Holy Spirit.
Not preaching both the kindness and the sternness of God produces either an unregenerated, rebellious people that believe they are in right standing with God that they’ve made in their own image, or a religious pharisaical group of people that try to make themselves holy and forces their religious laws on those around them.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:6 (NIV)
But for the born-again regenerated Christian, the Holy Spirit within them cries out, ‘Abba, Father,’ and there is an unquenchable hunger for the wisdom and the knowledge of God. The desire to know God fully and for God to be fully revealed is the passion of the Holy Spirit alive within.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)