Sunday, July 25, 2021

817. Beginning in the Spirit - But Perfected by the Flesh?

Doing good, avoiding evil. Those four words would seem to be a no-brainer within almost every religious creed. And this seems to be the foundation upon which Christianity has been built, at least within many church denominations. So if this is supposed to be the goal for believers in Christ—if this is the primary purpose—what is it that makes our faith unique?

Paul spoke to the Galatian churches in frustration because after receiving the Spirit of God freely by faith, they had been persuaded to begin trusting in the works of the old law in addition to faith in Christ. Paul called this a work of the flesh. Its roots go back to the same tree Adam ate from when everything collapsed. It was called The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was an unbelief problem as Adam decided to turn from trusting in the sufficiency of the life of God … and chose to begin trusting in the knowledge of both good and evil. He was told it would make him more like God, but it had the opposite result.

Many believers today are struggling with the same thing. They are working at trying to become more like God, and it becomes more about doing—or not doing—instead of being or resting in who God has already made them to be.



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Sunday, July 18, 2021

816. Law Keepers: None Righteous; Believers in Faith: Gifted With Righteousness

Anyone can separate and pluck-out Bible verses, miss the context, and then wonder what in the world they mean. One of many examples is found in the first three chapters of the book of Romans. Paul was taking chapters to explain how the entire world had fallen short of God’s glory because of sin—whether Jew or Gentile. But in these passages, he also reveals the good news of God’s righteousness and acceptance being made available as a gift by a source known as faith, which occurs apart from the works of the law of commandments which came through Moses.

So whether one was a Jew under law or a Gentile without the law, all fell short, and all now have the same access to God by faith in Jesus Christ. But right-standing with God has never been attained or based upon what one does.



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Sunday, July 11, 2021

815. Ungodly People Justified With Righteousness - Apart From Self-Improvement

Christian believers have frequently fallen into the religious trap of thinking they are identified as “just a sinner” who needs to keep working harder at becoming something they think they have not attained yet. The mindset established is that they are “hungering and thirsting” for righteousness while working to make behavioral improvements in order to become “more righteous” and gradually coming to a place where they will (hopefully) make themselves more acceptable to God.

While lifestyle and changes in behavior can be a positive thing in this life, it has nothing to do with who God has declared you to already be as His child—having inherited His very nature and now gaining access to all things pertaining to life and godliness. The idea that we are trying to climb a spiritual ladder of self-improvement is a fairy tale which leaves people in the same hopeless position as those who were under the law in the faulty first covenant. It leads to one of two dead end streets: self-righteous hypocrisy or guilt and condemnation. Jesus did the work so we could live in a place of peace and rest.



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Sunday, July 04, 2021

814. The 800 Club: Looking Back - The Clash Between Paul and James

The final program in our Looking Back series revisits the subject of the apostles Paul and James … and the question of whether they were in disagreement and had different points of view on the subject of justification. We did a 21-part series on this last year.

The common mindset in the world of Christianity is that Paul and James had to be in agreement in order for the Bible to be considered completely valid. Whether coming from a legalistic perspective or one that is more based upon grace, both camps will arrive at that same assumption while trying to explain conflicting statements from the apostles in a way that fits into their narrative or doctrinal perspective. But both will also need to bend, twist and reshape Bible verses to fit the theology—whatever that happens to be. And although the explanations may vary, the purpose remains the same … convince ourselves that Paul and James could not have possibly been opposed on such an important issue as justification. Is it based upon grace? Works? A combination of both?

However, maybe there is a bigger picture to see. We quickly offer a number of things to consider on this topic—which may once again cause some of us to not only arrive at a different point of view, but to shift our thinking to an entirely different paradigm—which involves backing away from the verses for a view of the bigger picture.

Since this episode is essentially a summary of our original series, you may wish to take some time to go through the original series itself, which took place during Podcasts 778-799 (except episode 786, which was a Christmas episode).  Click here for the first episode, and then click "Newer Post" at the end of each post for each subsequent episode.  Or you can listen to the entire series via our YouTube playlist.



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Sunday, June 27, 2021

813. The 800 Club: Looking Back - What Is the Gospel? Righteousness Gifted!

One of the things we started talking about more than 16 years ago as we launched the Growing in Grace podcast … is the question of “What is the gospel?” Ask a room full of believers as to what they think the gospel is and you’ll usually get many different answers—with many of them steeped in legalism. And yet this is a foundational question when it comes to faith and believing in Jesus. How can one believe in the gospel—as Jesus called people to do—if they don’t know what it is?

We examine Paul’s revelation of the good news from Romans chapter 1, where we discover that right-standing with God isn’t something people work for as the Jewish people attempted to do under the law. Righteousness pursued us, and came as a gift in the Person of Jesus for those who believe. Another reason why the New Covenant is better than the first one.



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Sunday, June 20, 2021

812. The 800 Club: Looking Back - Repentance and What It Means Under Grace

We grace renegades often get accused of not talking about repentance enough. That’s really not accurate, but what comes to mind when you hear the word repent? If you’ve spent at least a few weeks in a church building, most likely you’ve been under the assumption that to repent means to stop sinning and start living a better and improved moral standard. That’s great advice, but is this the core of what repentance is supposed to be about? We revisit the meaning of repentance in the Greek and how this ties into what Jesus was trying to get the Jewish people to do when He told them to “repent and believe the good news.”

The gospel isn’t about attaining right-standing with God through what we do … or what the Jewish people were attempting to do by the works of the law. Repentance involves a change of mind by realizing the more excellent ministry of the New Covenant—which ended a religious merit system—and to begin trusting in what Jesus did to bring us to a place of righteousness and perfection.



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Sunday, June 13, 2021

811. The 800 Club: Looking Back - Double Talk - "The Spirit of the Law"

The spirit of the law. The letter of the law. These are phrases often used by religious theologians who erroneously teach a mixed covenant message of law and grace. The way they try to explain it, one might be led to believe that “the spirit of the law” is a phrase actually found within the written pages of the Bible (it’s not). Generally, this talk about the spirit vs. the letter of the law is rooted in the assumption that believers in Christ have been mandated by God to follow certain portions of the old covenant ministry which was arranged with Israel through Moses. Good luck with that.

We look at one of the passages today which is sometimes used by legalists regarding this topic. The next time someone tries to drag you into the theological weeds while trying to convince you about the spirit of the law, realize the Greek word for it is mumbo jumbo.



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