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Standards of Holiness

Randy Alcorn: Grace never lowers the standards of holiness. Look at the cross. Jesus manifested His grace to us by dying for our sins, paying the ultimate price. How ugly must sin be, how great must be the Holiness of God, when Jesus said, „Father, if there is no other way…” There was no other way for Him to manifest His love as grace to us. That’s how great the holiness of God is. And I mentioned before the single attribute of God that many people come up with: ” He’s just a God of love.. Just a God of grace; there’s nothing else. Everything else must be seen in light of that.” And yet, isn’t it interesting that the angels of God in His presence, do not cry out ‘Love, Love, Love is the Lord God Almighty’. They cry out: „Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

The grace of Jesus does not lower the bar of God’s holiness. It picks us up so that we meet the bar and cross the bar, not because of us, but because of Him. 

He became sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Because that’s the only way we could ever enter heaven, to be as righteous as Jesus. And, it’s through His righteousness. And you see this even through the words that Jesus said, „You have heard that it was said under the law, that if a man commits adultery… I say to you that if you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you’ve committed adultery.”

Was He lowering the standard? Or, was He raising the standard? And [there are] many other examples of that same thing. Raising the standard, but by His grace transforming us into a people with the righteousness of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that we might live up to His standards. And then when we don’t in this life, and often we don’t, then we are quick to confess and repent, and be forgiven, and come back to live the life of holiness, honoring God’s truth, not through our merit, but through the merit of Christ, to the glory of Christ.92807781

Defining Grace

Grace is often defined, and well defined, I think, as God’s unmerited favor. And the word ‘unmerited’ is key there. Of course, it’s His favor, but the fact that there’s nothing we can do do earn it, we don’t deserve it. And so, someone will say, „I asked God to forgive me, but I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Well, if you deserved to be forgiven, you wouldn’t need to be forgiven. If you deserved God’s grace, you wouldn’t need God’s grace.

And so, I think, grace is this attribute of God that He manifests to us, in the fact that why we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God extends His grace to us and grace is not just the way we are converted. Grace is to be the way we live. Day by day, I am dependent upon the grace of God to do good things in me, and good things through me.

Is there a difference between grace and mercy? Alcorn: I think mercy is something that is also an attribute of God. But, you can have mercy on a person, who perhaps is just a needy person. You do a merciful thing for them. I think grace encompasses more of- this is not just this person out there with a bad condition, that I’m having  this mercy toward. But, grace is when this person has done great harm to me and has rebelled against me, and has hated me. And now, I look at that person and I say, „I invite you to become part of my family and sit at my table. And, I will pay a huge price, through the giving of my own life, or the life of my Son, so that you can become qualified to sit at the table with Me.”And that is so astounding. And that’s why, John Newton, ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me”.

And, by the way, one time I was speaking at a conference, at a rally. A woman got up, beautiful voice, and she started singing Amazing Grace, one of my favorite songs and probably one of your favorite songs. And she started and it was great until it got to: „Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a soul like me…” I thought, here we are, revising the author’s original „wretch”, because we don’t wanna say wretch. See? Because wretch is demeaning. Yes, it is, and rightfully so. Because we’re wretches. And here’s the thing. If John Newton had just considered himself to be a sort of a morally neutral soul instead of wretch, then to him, God’s grace would not have been amazing. Well… God is kind to souls. No, God shows His grace to wretches who don’t deserve, don’t even begin to deserve what God gives them. It changes everything.

And, that’s why I think today, to many people, they can sing amazing grace, but because they don’t come to terms with the fact that they deserve hell , we all deserve hell, that we are morally wretches, rebels against God. Because, if you don’t come to terms with that, you will never believe  that God’s grace is so amazing. You will never have the depth of gratitude and thanksgiving that you should have.91523568

Book recommendation: The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn.

What is Truth

In Scripture, truth is always founded upon the nature of God, who He is That which is in conformity to His nature, to who He is, and that which is in conformity to what He has said, as revealed in His Word. That is truth. Jesus said, „I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me.” Not „a” way, „a” truth, „a” life, not one truth on the menu, and then there’s all these other truths which are equally valid. No. „THE” truth. And I think, as Jesus prayed- „Sanctify them in truth. Your Word is truth.” And here’s where I think, let me read a few verses that set this up, from John chapter 1, where it says, verse 1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then, skipping down to verse 14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses. 

Well, when we think of the law, we juxtapose law and grace. So there’s the law of God and there’s the grace of God. But truth is something more than the law, because he says: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. What an amazing thing. God incarnate, He pitched His tent among us. He became Imanuel, God with us forever, in a human body, now, in a resurrected human body. 

But, the law came, was given through Moses. And the law had all of these standards. And you can think the law is synonymous with truth. The law reflected truth, or came out of God’s truth, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. So, the truth is bigger than the law. Truth is way more encompassing, and it begins with who God is and the way God’s truth is manifested in our lives, sometimes we really misunderstand this. There are a lot of people who think that the laws and the truths and the commandments of Scripture are somehow cruel or unkind to us. Why would God lay this standard on us? But, it’s like you’re up on a mountain pass and you’re driving and it’s late at night. And there’s thick fog. This happened to me, one time, on Highway 1 in California. At night, in the fog, it’s just kind of horrific. Now, suppose you’re driving along this mountain pass, and there are guardrails, and at one point, let’s say, you can’t see where you’re going, and the next thing you know, your car hits the guard rail. You put it in park, you get out of the car, and you go and you look at your fender, which is dented. And, what do you say? „Oh, this guard rail. I can’t believe what this guardrail did to my car!” You don’t stand there and whine and complain about the guardrail. You thank God for the guardrail. Why? Because it saved your life.

God’s guardrails that are reflective of His truths, His will, His commandments, are there, not arbitrarily. They are there because God’s standards dictate the way the universe works. When you live in conformity to them, you come out good. When you don’t conform to them, you come out bad. They are there to protect us. Don’t curse the guardrail. Don’t curse God’s truth. There are too many people today  who are choosing just grace, instead of grace and truth. But, there are some people who don’t understand  that by choosing grace and minimizing truth, that they’re not only undercutting truth, but, they’re undercutting grace.91542436

Responding with Christ like Balance

In our lives, we need to… some of us are truth people. That’s just kind of- call it our natural bent. As a parent, you will see this. There’s often the truth parent and the grace parent. The truth parent is the one that says, „You get home by this time. If you don’t get home by this time, there’s gonna be heck to pay. I mean, this is the rule. Alright?” The grace parent is, „Ooh, ooh, ah, no, that’s okay. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal.” Okay, you got in trouble at school, but, no big deal. It was probably the teacher’s fault anyways.” But, the grace parent, often, in a good way, though, is very quick to forgive. The truth parent says, „Well, I’ll forgive you after  you tremble and shake and beg. And then, maybe I’ll forgive you. But, I’m still not gonna trust you.” That kind of a thing, if it’s truth only. But, if it’s grace only, I know a number of grace-only parents, „Hey, kids will be kids and what can you do?” You can be a parent; that’s what you can do, and have some standards.

But, part of being a parent is showing grace and having standards. You know, in our family, raising our daughters, we had high standards. When my daughters were going to a prom or some kind event like that, they had daddy inspections. So, they’d go and bring home a dress, they knew they had to bring home 4 or 5 of them. Because I’d say, „No, no, no…” Because here’s what the guys will think92807783

How does Grace and Truth fit in with a Biblical worldview? Randy Alcorn: We should view the world and view our daily lives, and view everything in light of grace and truth, specifically, the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. The grace and truth manifested in Christ. „The Word became flesh and manifested Himself, and we beheld His glory. Glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Not 50% grace and 50% truth, but 100% grace and 100% truth, somehow woven in together. If we view the world that way, view our family, view our neighbor, view our spouse, view children and grandchildren, and parents, we view them through the eyes of grace and truth, that is a biblical world view that honors Jesus. And it will transform the way that we live.

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