Why Grace is a matter of freedom.

I remember seeing her wrestling with the ideas in her head.  Believing in Christ was supposed to set her free.  But she had been told so much that when she became a Christian she had to follow certain rules.  (The fact that the rules she was trying to uphold were arbitrarily selected from the whole Law of God never entered her mind as something to question.)  She was in a crisis of faith.

Most of us who believe in Christ face this.  Many of us would never say it, but most of us hold to some version of Christianity that says, “I came to Jesus and was saved by grace through faith and he forgave me of everything I did wrong in the past.  Now, I have to work hard to stay in good standing with Him.”  The problem with that view is this: It’s not Christian or Biblical.

If He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, how do we determine that we are going to be able to add to that accomplishment?  Our sin is paid for.  It is gone.  Maybe we should say, “It is finished.”

Romans 8:1-2 says:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. (NASB)

We live life as though Jesus gave us a great gift in our Salvation but now that it is in our hands it is like a priceless fabergé egg.  It is not.  It is the single most solid truth of all the universe.  It cannot be shaken or broken or lost.  You live free in Jesus because nothing can change who you are in Him.

Same chapter, Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)

Don’t be bound by what you were told to keep you in line as a kid.  The Gospel is rebellious and freeing.  Your standing with God is not based on your performance, but on Christ’s performance.  He has earned your place at the table.  Trust in Him and love Him.  Know that you belong to Him.  Because as a follower of Christ, you do.

Introduction to our Culture of Grace!

The goal is to share with you the Gospel of Jesus and include you in the culture of grace that we strive for here at Friendship Baptist Church. The Gospel, and the culture of grace are in many ways one in the same. For us to live in a culture of grace is to be continually aware of the Gospel.  So what does that look like?

First is Humility.  Each one of us is aware that we are sinful and selfish.  We know that even when we try not to be, there are parts of our life where we are motivated by the old saying, ‘looking out for number one.’  The problem is that when we say that we usually have the wrong number one.  God is first all the time and in all things.  Anytime we put ourselves, or our priorities ahead of God, we have not loved Him the way He deserves.
Second is Grace.  God knows we don’t deserve His Love, His presence, or even life itself.  But He gives it all to us.  Our sin has separated us from God.  Sin is when we behave as described above, putting our desires ahead of His.  This puts us in a state of rebellion against God Himself.  But due to His great love for His people, He intervened on our behalf.  God sends His Son, Jesus Christ (aka, God the Son) to take and become our sin and transform us into righteous children of God.  That is what the cross is about.  Jesus literally takes our sin on himself and suffers and dies in our place.  He did no wrong to deserve this, but did it because He loved us and knew it was the only way to save us from eternity in Hell.  From there, He rose from the grave and is alive today calling us to trust in Him.
Third is Mercy.  It is knowledge that we didn’t deserve His grace, rather we deserved His wrath, but He had mercy on us.  God loved us so much that while we were still sinners (rebels agains Him) Christ died for us. (see Romans 5:8).  He did not wait for us to come to Him and promise to be good.  Quite the opposite, He came to us first.  This is how God showed His love for us and how we are to show our love for one another.
Fourth is Love.  Jesus taught us that we are to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  And to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Love is more than a feeling.  It is action.  God took action to show you His love for you when Jesus came into this world (Christmas) and as Jesus died and rose again to give you life (Easter).  Now that His love is shown, we are to love Him with all that we have, and we are to love those around us as though they were our very own selves.
Because of these things, we seek to treat one another the way Christ has treated us.  Receive one another regardless of wrongs done or past events.  Include each other in our family of faith because Jesus has included us.  Forgive without waiting for apologies or ‘righting of wrongs’ in our personal view.  And love others.  Love with reckless abandon to all that might stand in our way.  Love in feeling and in action.  Love because He first loves us.