Saturday, September 20, 2014

how to fall from grace--and how to get back up!

The Word for today:
Galatians 3:1-18
mark this: Galatians 3:1
O foolish Galatians! Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
and this: Galatians 5:4
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.
and this: Galatians 2:20-21
The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God,  for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
"Falling from grace" is a widely misunderstood Bible phrase, usually associated with Adam and Eve. But the term, found only in Galatians 5:4, does not apply to Adam and Eve.
Q. If they did not fall from grace, where did they fall from?
A. Some say they fell from "innocence." The Bible, however, does not use that word to describe them. The biblical explanation is that Adam and Eve didn't fall down, they fell short:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Q. So if Adam and Eve fell short of glory, who is it who falls from grace?
A. Franklyn and the Galatians.
(We know that doesn't sound as cool as "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" or "Smokey Robinson and the Miracles," let alone the coolest of all, "Gladys Knight and the Pips"--but it correctly answers the question.)
Only saved believers are in "the state of grace" to fall from! The ringing indictment of Galatians 3:1--O foolish Galatians!--is Paul sounding an urgent alarm to believers who are reverting to their "works" (human effort) instead of faith in God's finished work on the cross.
Falling from grace has nothing to do with salvation! That was settled back at the cross, where we died with Christ:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20a)
Falling from grace is about getting all the way past the cross by trusting God--and then deciding to take it the rest of the way on our own.
We--the Galatians and I, and sometimes you too--repetitively fall in and out of grace. Whenever we fall, we must grab on to grace and get back up! So here are some tips (from an experienced "faller") on how to get back to grace:
Remember that grace is only for the undeserving! If you think you deserve "it" because you've been a good scout this week, then "it" ain't grace!
Let me say it another way, in even more graphic terms: Heaven will be filled with the undeserving (the recipients of grace). Hell, on the other hand, will be populated by the deserving--those who chose to get what they "deserve."
The believer's standing with God is not based on what we deserve, but on the finished work of Jesus Christ. We cannot add--or subtract--from that. The great teaching of Galatians is that we are saved by grace and we are to live by grace.
Always remember that the only thing we can offer to God is the gift God already gave us:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… (John 3:16)
So we bring only the Lamb of God and His finished work--like Abel did:
After some time Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord. Then Abel brought the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best parts of it as an offering. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but he rejected Cain and his offering. (Genesis 4:3-5)
Because if we try to bring evidence of our own work, like Cain did, we nullify the free gift of God and fall from grace:
The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20-21)
There.  That should en-Abel you to get back up.

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