“Exit Strategy” (seen below) is now available at most e-book venues.
We want to go to heaven but we do not understand the nature and the power of the gifts of Grace and Righteousness here in this life. Here prepares us for there! We were to have received both and they were to reign in our lives abundantly!
Look at grace. We read “You are saved by grace through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8 NAS) Paul makes no mention of righteousness? Could it be because grace must have its way with us first? Righteousness comes as a result of grace. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21 NAS) In many cases we have received grace but we have not granted grace, creating the problem of unrighteousness, fearfully common but unrealized by many of us.
We receive what we give. The Beatitudes, given at the Sermon on the Mount, confirm this in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Knowing this, God plants the seed of grace freely, in our being forgiven, with the intent that we will grant it freely, thereby bearing fruit, presenting His Way to others. Consider this. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Matthew 13:23 NAS) Now we can understand this verse. God, the Master, expects a return on His investment, even more, a duplication of His Son! For the grace He entrusted to us, He expects us to multiply it to many, many others, planting the seed of grace in their hearts with the hope of resulting righteousness, saving them. In return we never lack grace abundant!
We must also see that the intention of grace (received and granted) is to qualify us to receive the second half of this Spiritual epoxy. Together it keeps us glued to God. One does not fully work without the other. It proves us salvation bound versus just reconciled. “Isn’t that enough?” Not if you are still alive. The Gift of Righteousness is the gift that transforms us, renews us and enhances us. Mostly it ensures our eternal life. It births joy in us! Our decisions are affected by it, our relationships are enhanced by it, we can do and become more than we could have, without it. We are no longer who we were! We are new, created again by what He says we are, His every Word being a gift of righteousness! Grace cleanses us and preps our soul like a blank canvas; ready for the brush strokes of righteousness, His likeness appearing. So what part do we play in righteousness? It says, “those who receive…” (Romans 5:17NAS) Our canvas must receive the paint. If it does, we become more and more, in His likeness. We must remember that grace cleanses us, as we use it to cleanse others! Our canvas is not clean and ready to receive righteousness if still sullied by the unrighteous hurts of others. If however we are at peace with all. We can have great expectations in Christ. Like I said, grace and righteousness must reign.
Think about it, I get this understanding while in RUSSIA, where I am teaching in a Bible College. Me a former drug smuggler, a failure, a target for death!!! Like the Lord says to all of us, I was saved by grace. Change began with grace. He was willing to meet me where I was. I had confessed belief, I had reconciliation but I was still unchanged. Then, in the Bible, I started to see what God said about His children, His words of righteousness. “You are above and not beneath , the head and not the tail, blessed going in and going out, you are a child of God, a joint heir with Jesus, a son a Abraham, all God’s promises are yes and amen to you!” Wow! It was so encouraging, so joyful. I wanted to be what He said I was. I finally got it! He said I was, so I was! I began living according to His gift of righteousness over me. I became what grace began!
I continued to and still do receive, the abundance of grace which I certainly need daily. In addition, long ago, I began to whisper that series of proclamations to myself, I wanted to be who God said I was, not who I used to be. As I called that which was not, as though it were, I became, according to Romans 4:17. Anyone can do this, from a place of grace.
I read in the book of Hebrews where God formed the world by that which was unseen, by the words of His mouth. Those words still form worlds. I did not realize it, until that cold inspiring night in Russia, that I had been receiving the gift of righteousness every time I whispered His encouraging words to myself. I had changed and here I was, in Russia, teaching young future pastors. I shake my head in wonder. Thank you, Jesus.
In hope believing, I chose God’s words over those Devilish, accusing reminders that now, albeit infrequently, echo through the now repossessed chambers of my heart. If the Devil accuses us daily in the throne room of God, why would he not boldly enter the throne room of our heart, where we (Jesus and I) are seated, in that now, by His grace, heavenly place?
I was being built up in Him as I received His gifts. (Romans 5:17 NAS) That night in Russia I realized the creative power, as we are to be distributors, not only of grace, but of the gift of righteousness. It was no longer just me receiving. We are to create, not destroy, with the words of our mouth. That may not be so profound to the mature follower but to me at that time it was expanded truth. Every time we acknowledge a thoughtful act, speak an encouraging word, cast a compliment on the troubled water of some soul, when we thank some one, edify our children or someone else’s, in so many ways, we can change ourselves and others by the love that is in the gift of righteousness. It can only be received for ourselves or given as a free gift to others in an atmosphere of grace.
Knowing how I changed, I began to understand why others do not. We can be saved (reconciled), I can confess belief in the Son but if I do not change, if I keep repeating the same acts and attitudes, clinging to unforgiveness and offenses associated with my old self, sin plagues my life. I fail to become. At the heart of my failure to change can be my unrealized rejection of grace and its transforming introduction to the gift of righteousness! Does this sound at all like John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” This section, like the others is about us preparing for eternity and our initiating the Lord’s return following the events leading up it.
The grace we received at reconciliation and the creative newness of righteousness loses its power if we fail to grant grace and give the gift of righteousness, if we fail to walk out the Lord’s commandments. We must obey the Son. If we reject the bi-directional function of grace, to grant as well as receive, then whatever we hold against others comes upon us in the form of unrighteousness. It overshadows the righteousness we gained when we were initially forgiven. God’s forgiveness was a seed planted in our heart that is (later) not bearing the fruit it should. If we are not forgiving of others, as Jesus said, we are not forgiven. If by my choices, I am not forgiven, I am also not righteous. I am lost!
“[In us] Grace must reign through righteousness to eternal life through Christ Jesus.” Romans 5:21 NAS) Righteousness also opens doors here in this life because God wants others to experience righteousness through us. We are to be the fruit bearing tree of Christ’s grace. If our heart is not a throne of grace for Christ to reign from, how will we enter the eternal Throne of Grace? One gives us access to the other!
If we are stuck in a particular area of sin, we may grow weary of seeking forgiveness. We may equate God’s patience with ours, which is another error of impaired judgment. “How can He keep forgiving me, He can’t even change me! I can’t win.” Doubt floods our souls. “This God stuff is baloney,” can become our fateful conclusion, as it has with many. The Word is true when it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
We must receive the two gifts, grace and righteousness because God’s intention was that we would give the two gifts. One brings the other. “I can not give what I ain’t got any more than I can come back from where I ain’t went.”, as Sue Wyatt, a great saint, English teacher, mentor and friend used to say. “…much more, those who receive the abundance of grace AND the gift of righteousness…” They have no value to us if we do not receive them and only temporary effect if we receive only one. There is an abundance so we can share it! It was never meant to be just for us personally.
These two gifts were meant to spread to hearts and souls in a positive way, similar to but opposite of the negative way judgments spread in the days leading up to Noah and the necessary destruction of mankind! “Just as in the days of Noah…” Jesus said of conditions upon His return. In those same ways, forsaking grace and forfeiting righteousness, mankind has failed again. God is now, I believe one last time, saying it again. In Christ and His “commanded” Ways, grace does not judge others, grace intercedes. Grace gives hope. Righteousness does not and can not condemn others.
Righteousness is the fulfillment of the hope grace brought. Eternal life is the fulfillment of righteousness. (Romans 5:21 NAS) We begin with God calling us clean when we were filthy in our sin. That was grace. (Romans 4:17 KJV) That is what He did from the foundation of the world. This is what we must do at the closing of this lost and dying world.
Before we responded, God called everyone righteous if they would respond to Christ. God knew Jesus would come to us by grace and if obedient we would become righteous through His Ways. We very likely will stand before “our persecutors.” As one of those who did respond to Christ, I am to intercede for them, calling them saved, praying that God would forgive them, for their eyes to be opened and for His grace to fill their hearts. “They” still might respond to the Christ in me. We will have already initiated Christ’s return by the time this happens world-wide! In preparing ourselves, their salvation might be made possible.
I want to love God fully. I want to be victorious. I know I rest in His grace, in His accomplishment, but there is a reason why the Word says, my mind will and emotions are to be renewed. I am to become, according to His Word. I am to be more than I was. I want this, because of God’s initial injection of grace, by this God has put it in our hearts to win His Way. By His grace we get a taste of victory, a taste of righteousness! To rule and reign in this life, in preparation for eternity, we must stay aware of the qualifiers He has established. “…much more, those who receive…” I must receive to reign!
We initiate the return of Christ! (The E-book)
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