We continue our Perfection Howto from Part 2 with Step Five.
Over the past two millennia there have been many attempts in many languages to communicate the nexus of what Step Four means (unconditional acceptance from God). One of the best of these is John Bunyan’s “The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded” edited by Michael Rotolo for a more modern rendering of Bunyan’s 1659 English dialect. You must be patient, however, with dear old John; he goes to enormous lengths to destroy any hope your soul may have of pleasing God by what you do.
Needless to say, a rudimentary comprehension of Step Four helps a great deal with appreciating Step Five; you cannot give what you do not have. And what believers in Christ have with growing appreciation is God as their Daddy. Keep this in mind, and you will do well.
Step Five: Practice the pleasure of giving Christ’s Perfection to others (Compassion, Generosity and Forgiveness) AT NO CHARGE.
Once you’ve experienced real Peace with God, human nature dictates that you are excited about the prospect of sharing with others this Priceless Treasure. Some of you may have done so without taking thought for the negative reactions you received. With few exceptions, introducing Jesus as a topic in any conversation with non-believers (and even many professing believers) is the intellectual and emotional equivalent of spraying sarin gas in everyone’s eyes.
Finding yourself under God’s Favor, you may have forgotten that most of your circle of souls are still enemies of God; what kind of fellowship can the living have with the dead?
Don’t be discouraged; allowing yourself to be the vessel through which Christ communicates His love, empathy, compassion, generosity and forgiveness will do far more to win your family and friends to Redemption than preaching the Bible to them.
That being said, the key to evangelical (oh-oh…one of those religious words!) success is not your responsibility towards others but God’s attitude towards you.
Point of Fact: If God sees you in the SAME WAY He sees Jesus, you can see others the same way Jesus does!
Perhaps you can now begin to understand how critical Step Four really is. We embrace guilt as we would a teddy bear and whip our own backs when we fall because we believe that’s what God wants us to do. The Truth, however, is that if we’ve been legally acquitted of every sin we’ve committed as well as every sin we will ever commit through Christ’s Atoning Self-Sacrifice, then IT IS ILLEGAL FOR US AND JESUS TO BE PUNISHED FOR THE SAME SIN.
You can’t have it both ways…
…either Jesus’ Blood satisfies God’s justice against you, or it doesn’t.
By the same means, when others sin against you, you, as a PRIEST OF THE NEW COVENANT, have been given the authority–and responsibility–to absolve your family, friends and enemies of their sins just as God absolved you of yours (John 20:20-23).
The impact of this Lifestyle on society is explosive! It is quite the challenge to wage a war against someone who not only refuses to fight, but insists on treating you like their best friend…and this is what God did with us (Romans 5:6-11)!
“With all due respect, Brother Calvin, I have no intention of spending the rest of my life as a doormat for people who know I’m going to forgive them every time they sin against me!”
Your emotional reaction is one that many–including myself–can identify with. However, you have not considered the eternal consequences of your position.
Point of Fact: The Divine Forgiveness you enjoy is contingent upon your ability to communicate that forgiveness to others. The bulk of the 18th Chapter of Matthew is devoted to a dissertation Christ gave on forgiveness (and we all understand that Christ has the Last Word on any topic). In it Jesus made clear that, as He stated in the Prayer Template He gave us, that He forgives us IN PROPORTION TO THE FORGIVENESS WE SHOW TO OTHERS. Do you desire only partial forgiveness from God, or total forgiveness?
“You said God’s acceptance of us is unconditional…what gives???”
Point of Fact: God’s acceptance IS unconditional…His Forgiveness is not. God never created a soul He did not love unconditionally. He loves you, but He will burn you to a crisp if you slight that Love by withholding it from your fellow souls who need Grace just as much as you do.
Point of Fact: Christ enacted a system of arbitration BETWEEN CHRISTIANS to facilitate the rule of Grace (as opposed to the rule of Law) in the Church. It’s fair, it’s merciful (God takes no pleasure in embarrassing anyone), and it identifies those who may be pretending to be believers, but are not.
Point of Fact: The Apostle Paul, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, teaches us that there is a chronological order to justice; everything shall be dealt with in its time (1st Corinthians 4:5):
- If each Christian evaluates themselves, they would be less criticized by others (1st Corinthians 11:31, 32).
- As members of Christ’s Body, Christians have the God-given wisdom to arbitrate between themselves WITHOUT bringing the world in to judge matters in the Church (1st Corinthians 5:12-6:8).
- When Christ returns Christians will rule over the entire world of unbelievers under Christ’s Authority and Wisdom.
- Heaven keeps METICULOUS records of everything done on Earth; Christians will be given access to those records to participate in the judgement of the world (Revelation 20:12).
- Christians will evaluate the angels themselves and pass out rewards accordingly.
Point of Fact: No one gets away with anything. As a recipient of God’s Grace, you have a Daddy in Heaven that IDENTIFIES WITH YOU; Christ takes PERSONALLY anything that is done to you by others, whether good or evil (Matthew 25:40). It behooves us therefore to pray for those that malign us, that the Wrath of God, that Great Terror that neither sinner nor demon can bear, may not fall upon them.
Truth be told, I would not wish God’s Wrath upon my worst enemy, and neither should you.
We abide in God’s Grace by sharing that Grace with others–especially those that don’t deserve it.
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