Saturday, 17 May 2008

Blockages to the message of grace

This morning I finished 'God's Lavish Grace' by Terry Virgo. It has taken me a long time to read - sometimes I have had to read the same paragraph again and again - it has been a battle that I have been prepared to lose - but on completing this book it has raised a realisation for me. As Christians there are blockages to the message of grace. We seem to be conditioned for legalism and for doing things right for the wrong reasons! I know that sounds strange but yesterday I was in Wesley Owen and picked up another book on grace (I didn't buy it) but I was reading the back of it that said how grace should release us to 'do' church out of passion and gratefulness rather than because that is what we should do (this is my paraphrased version!).

I have seen a blockage to the message of grace in my own life in recent weeks as it has been preached on - one time I felt really unwell mid sermon - I was fine before and even after but during the sermon my concentration was on not being ill.......another time the sermon was on 'no condemnation in Christ' and I just knew an overwhelming sense of condemnation and talking on the way home from Church realised that the message thrilled me for everyone else in the room but personally I felt it wasn't for me and that condemnation overwhelmed.

This morning in the last few pages of Virgo's book I read this:-

Grace assures you that God has fully accepted you,
has always loved you and always will.
You are safe and you are free.

I just wonder if the blockage to Christians (me included) living in the fullness of the grace of God is some (or all) of these:-
  • because the message of grace is so good as Terry puts it 'We who had nothing to commend us and everything to disqualify us are invited to enter in and participate in the consummation of the ages.' It's an awesome message - for us who are so undeserving to be given so much.
  • because legalism has been drilled into us - do this and don't do this, you should be like this but this comes from a position of 'have to' rather than 'I want to, I am so grateful, passion etc'
  • Law is much easier to accept than grace - we find it easier in this society to work towards something rather than just receive - we are a suspicious society of anything free (or even good)!
  • Law is easier to teach than grace! In all the reading and teaching on grace it seems that without the question that Paul asks in Romans 6:1 arising 'What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?' - it seems that if true grace is taught then folks do ask the question 'does this give us license to continue sinning?' Of course the answer is No - we are given freedom not to sin but if we do then there is grace for that. It is a tricky one and would be far easier to teach that as born again believers we MUST do this and be like this and we must .......... rather than receive and live in the fullness.
  • The enemy isn't happy about grace - he loves condemnation and law - if the enemy can keep us trapped in a state of condemnation and legalism then grace is nullified and passion is sapped - we end up weak, weary and on the treadmill of the christian life and sadly our witness, furvour and prayer life are compromised.

We have a dying world to reach - one full of pain, suffering, anger and sadness - we have a glorious news, an amazing hope, an awesome Saviour but we are trapped by the blockage of accepting grace completely and fully so we don't dance on the streets with the passion of one plucked from hell, we remain laiden with condemnation, battling, struggling to continue to keep going on a circuit of doing our best, failing again, condemnation and doing our best again. How we need the Holy Spirit to liberate us and to make the blockages melt in the light of His awesome power..............


Dan Bowen said...

Hi Nick, its a very interesting post. I think I would agree - but the blockages are ALL on our side! As Rob would say; "There's no failure - no mistake - no shortcomings on heaven's side". Scott and I had a fascinating time at breakfast on Sunday morning before going to the Eastbourne church chatting. I have always assumed that non-Christians are actually better off than those of us who have come from legalistic backgrounds.

But he actually shared that the only input he had about Christianity was through growing up and his R.E classes and of course they were all steeped in law too! So non-Christians may suffer from "older brother" syndrome just as much as us ex-West Streeters!!

So what's the solution!? Do you remember the story in the Old Testament where the wells were blocked up by the rubbish of the Philistines and they had to clear the rubbish out before the water would flow? Surely it's something similar for us longing to experience grace (although Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones likens it to the revival power of the Holy Spirit).

We have to identify and dump out what's rubbish. I was amazed by the parable of the prodigal son - and I know that most people and preachers talk about the prodigal. But it was something that the Father said to the older brother in response to his angry question;

"Have I not given you ALL things?".

Yet why did the older brother automatically think that it was HIS works that made him deserve the robe and the party?! The Father had ALREADY given him ALL things!! And as with us!! We have received EVERY blessing in Christ!!

So the blockages are only problems with our minds. It's taken Rob's church 4 years and lights are only just coming on with the realisation of the grace of God. Let's not panic if we don't get it straight away!!

It will come!

Nick Cameron said...

Dan - thanks for your REALLY helpful comment on this!

Oh for us to fully take in just how amazing this grace is without all the 'stuff' getting in the way!

Bless yer!
Nick x