Sunday, January 22, 2023

895. We Know the Cross Happened - But What Does It Mean?

With millions of Christian believers listening to thousands of sermons on any given Sunday, one might leave the building wondering if the cross even happened ... based on the content of the Bible teaching. Even on Easter Sunday, how many people head home without a better knowledge of the truth of what Jesus fully accomplished for us through His finished work? We know Jesus died, but just exactly what does it mean for us today. How does God's forgiveness factor into all of this with the blood Jesus shed? We've got some good news. The cross did indeed happen, and it worked!



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Sunday, January 15, 2023

894. The Law Says She Should Be Stoned - So Why Wasn't She?

We're familiar with the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery who the Pharisees brought before Jesus ... who was teaching in the temple with plenty of witnesses. Of course, they could have stoned her anywhere, but they saw an opportunity to try to trap Jesus into saying something that opposed the law—which would be punishable by death. They knew He wasn't likely to pass judgement on the woman, so they thought they had Him between a rock and a hard place.

Did Jesus somehow go against the law of Moses or disregard it in some way? Some might be left with this impression, but Jesus wasn't about to go against a law that needed to remain in place until He would eventually fulfill it. We provide a perspective on how all of this went down, and why the Pharisees released their rubble and walked away—in spite of the law still being in place and what it had declared.



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Sunday, January 08, 2023

893. "Just Give Me a List of Commands - So I Know What to Do"

When people disagree on various things from within the realm of religion, sometimes after the debate has run its course, the go-to statement is suggesting the Bible is our final authority. This positively sounds like a spiritual truth, but there is a bit of a problem with it ... and that is ... the very thing that is being strongly disagreed upon is something found within the pages of the Bible! In reality, what is meant with such a statement is "what we think the Bible says is our final authority."

We provide some examples of this with a perspective from a group who believes there are 1,050 required "commandments" found in the pages of the New Testament. You'll notice the lists that are found in various church statements or membership agreements vary quite a bit in length, depending on the denominational brand.

Any works-based ideology will always be vague and leave believers hungering and thirsting for more assurance and peace. While one person can find security and comfort with a message of faith, grace and love, someone else may tend to see a "do this or else" within nearly every Bible verse. Their minds were programmed to make such assumptions partly because they've never been told about what the cross of Jesus accomplished. For some, it's just a rule book (and one they can't live up to).



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Sunday, January 01, 2023

892. Freedom From a Yoke of Bondage (Law and Commandments)

Many corners of corporate Christianity have advocated for a ministry of law and works, combining a mixture of two very different covenants. The law contained within the first covenant made with Israel was what Paul described as a ministry of death and condemnation, and a yoke of bondage. And yet the "Christian religion" has taken a very small portion of that law and tried to apply it to the gospel.

These cheerleaders for "the law" are pulling the wool over the eyes of the sheep, because they are ignoring most of it. They have little clue as to what the Mosaic law states or are willingly ignoring the bulk of it. Each denominational brand will pick and choose what should apply and what should be tossed out. Jesus provided all of us with a better option than a written rule book ... His Spirit.



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Saturday, December 24, 2022

891. Be Good for Goodness' Sake (Merry Christmas)


As the world stops to recognize the birth of Jesus the Savior, we share some thoughts about the profitability of good works, the birth of Jesus, Santa, idol worship, and Christmas trees ... and what grace can teach us while living in a fallen world.

From all of us at the Growing in Grace podcast (Mike and Joel), Merry Christmas!



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Sunday, December 18, 2022

890. Old Way: Forgive to Be Forgiven; New Way: Forgive Because You’re Forgiven

When Jesus was explaining to His Jewish disciples how they should pray at that time—before the cross—one of the things within the prayer was that they should ask the Father to forgive them based upon how they forgive others. Immediately after this, Jesus told them if they didn't (perfectly) forgive others, God would not forgive them. What a monstrous statement! Does it apply to believers in Christ? This was how it was before the cross. We're taking a look at the context of what Jesus was sharing with His listeners who were still stuck in a hopeless situation under the law when it came to attaining righteousness, forgiveness, and eternal life. If what Jesus stated at that time was true for all future believers after the cross, then His blood was shed needlessly.

On the subject of forgiveness, one of the biggest differences between the Old Covenant compared to the New ... is that forgiveness came through the finished work of Jesus and His blood, which was shed once. As Paul explained, we don't forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from God, but we now have the grace to forgive others because God has already forgiven us.



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Sunday, December 11, 2022

889. How Important Is Grace? Hint: Jesus Needed It

Our narrow and limited view of eternal things can lead to a ripple effect on some of the foundational basics regarding the message of gospel. For example, grace may often be viewed as something we seek or fall back on only when we sin or fail. Surely people are saved and justified by God’s grace, but it so much more.

Consider Jesus … the Bible states the grace of God was upon Him. Jesus the man—who was also the son of God—if He didn’t sin and had no need to be saved, why did He need God’s grace to be upon Him? Why do legalistic religious advocates try to warn people about too much grace? Why do they put forth a faulty message that it gives a license to sin and that it is grace that leads to an increase in sin? How does that contrast with the many things the Apostle Paul wrote about the abundance of grace we have freely received? Let’s encourage each other in grace as we grow in our understanding of it and begin to realize that it is an integral part of our lives in Christ on an hourly and daily basis.

During this episode, Joel mentioned an article he'd written several years ago on the sufficiency of grace, and how it's not merely a subject to be talked about now and then. You can find the article here, and as a bonus, in that article you will also find a link to a much earlier podcast episode we did on grace being the essence of life in Christ.



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