May I jump to one main concept I am dying to teach, without the benefit of reading the rest of my stories? This is the ONE key lesson that crystalized in my Abyss period that changed everything. I spent more than 5 years, unable to go out much, unforgotten by the world, mulling over the darkness, but slowly discovering this.
Biblical Grace changes everything.
Biblical Grace is very different from “Worldly” types of grace.
Let’s talk about what it is not.
Biblical Grace is not the positivity movement or word of faith type declaring material stuff to yourself for the sole purpose of your ego. It is not how believing in yourself raises your performance. Biblical Grace is diametrically opposed to the New Age Law of Attraction that states if you give to the world, or “emit” good vibes to the world, you will attract favor back. These are all cheap imitations that take one or more parts from how Real Grace expresses itself and divorces it from the heart of the author of such Grace, hence losing purpose from momentary gain. Worldly grace can bless you in short bursts, but it does not satisfy for the long term. Worldly grace might cause you to score a couple more points in a basketball game, or even get you a raise at work, but Biblical Grace not only provides better than you imagined, better quality blessings, but it also changes your world, changes your goals, takes you on a new journey, and transforms you as you know the heart of Jesus – which is the biggest of all blessings.
“Worldly” forms of grace are all cheap imitations that take one to more parts of how Biblical Grace expresses itself and divorcing it from the will and heart of the author of it.
These “worldly” distortions of grace are very transactional in nature and ultimately puts all the responsibility and glory on you. It’s your faith in yourself, your confidence, your work, your calling of God’s promises that get you ahead. It’s all about you. What about those people who are so beaten down they, have no reason for confidence, are too bitter to believe good things can happen to them, or have nothing to give? What about people too misunderstood to be liked by others?
Thank God the Grace from the heart of Jesus is exactly for those people, the broken, the helpless. In fact, if you think you have all of what it takes to make it, this grace is not for you.
Real Biblical Grace is uncontrollable by you, it comes at your worst, not at your best. It doesn’t come at your emotional highs, or how high people in church esteem you. It can come when you are a nobody like Joseph in his prison, or when the world despises you like Job. Both these biblical heroes would have failed the positivity/faith calling test and both of these people are the ones I am greatly engrossed by. This is the greatest comfort for the sufferer, especially for those who think their situations are irredeemable. It matters not whether the situation was exacerbated by your mistakes or by the mistakes of others. The more you come to the end of yourself and your ego, the more room you give God to work.
The Key to Biblical Grace is the person of Jesus. Not just his teaching, or his example of conduct in His earthly ministry. Biblical grace is all about Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and how He works; not you. It is in Him, by Him and through Him. He is the only one who was God and died for your sins. Your own good works or idea of righteousness will never be enough to save you from your sins. The gap between who you need to be and who we are now is too big. God’s standard of righteousness is infinitely higher than your standard. It’s like trying to swim across the sea. You can’t do it on your own, you need someone to buy you a ticket on a ship. Jesus is that ticket. His death on the cross paid the price for it, and His resurrection from the dead is a receipt that what He said was true. When we finally admit to God that we have been too self-righteous, thinking we can save ourselves, and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, this is the Gospel of Grace.
This Grace opens you to abundant life (John 10:10), which opens you to a new realm on heaven and earth (kingdom of God), and when experiencing this grace transforms you into a New Creation (2 Cor 5:17). God’s abundant life starts on earth as he leaks out what heaven is like (like a movie spoiler) so you will yearn even more for heaven. Heaven is where you will experience the fullness, and on earth, in part (1 Cor 13.9-12, Matthew 6:10). This is the ultimate expression of the pinnacle of human experience (Phil 4:7). It’s simple to enter in, wonderful to behold, and it will take a lifetime to fully appreciate it. (Prov 4:18-19). All forms of abundance will be available, but the pinnacle of abundance is personal transformation. Love. Joy. Patience. Kindness… the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23).
Many people will find heaven easy to believe (John 14:2), but many will cite the suffering on earth to show that God doesn’t include earthly blessings in the Gospel. (See Footnote 1) This is not how God meant for you to believe (Matthew 25:14-30). Despite your sufferings, God wants us to have a positive expectation of good right now and that He can make abundance out of our shattered pieces (Matthew 25:29, 2 Cor 9:8-11, Rom 8:28). The people that don’t believe this way do so because they don’t need a miracle, or deep inside, they don’t believe a generous God exists. They obviously didn’t look closer at Jesus (John 14:9).
Jesus is the door that leads to pasture today (John 10:9, Rom 8:22). The more you see Him, the more your experience of Him, the wider that door becomes. The wider the door, the greater your personal transformation, and the more you will do good things as a result. This is the fruit that comes from the Spirit, and not of your own efforts. If you try to do good works to earn favor with God, you will burn out. This is diametrically opposed to most other religious thought that says that you have to do this, or think that in order to make it or to get to the next level.
Spend more time with Him, put your burdens down. Stop thinking of what you got to do. The illustration I give is this. If a girl is very beautiful, you don’t have to constantly tell a guy to do nice things for her. Stop telling the guy that he should be doing this or not doing enough of that for his girlfriend. All you have to do is reveal how beautiful the girl is, and that guy will do anything for her. The same is even more true of Jesus.
If you are a Bible teacher, stop telling people how they should behave, or why they aren’t coming to church enough … REVEAL Jesus to them and they will come to quench their thirst instead of feeling thirsty when they think of attending your sermon! Those sermons that skirted around the earthly blessings of Jesus never helped those who are struggling mightily or even those jaded by the world and think Christianity is powerless.(1)
As mentioned above, the more revelations about Jesus I had, the more Godly encounters I had. When the encounters reached the appointed time, they also ushered in the life I have today. I suppose you can say that God’s plan for me went from theory and hidden to practical and tangible the more I journeyed with Jesus. Let the Abyss reveal Jesus better. Let the darkness reveal the stars better. I will write an entire book section of this, for I know peeling away the hubris and seeing the real Jesus with “an unveiled face” will change your life.
The $5.32 story was God’s way of showing me the heart of Jesus. Jesus blessed the people that society looked down upon the most, and always over-gave people who would humble themselves at His feet. But if you tell people who called themselves Christians and have suffered unjustly for too long that Jesus is Grace, and that Jesus can save, that person might be turned off. It would be like a bitter pill to swallow when his world crashed down. But just like medicine that is bitter, the more we consume that pill; the more we listen, read, see Jesus (even if unwillingly) that pill will have its effect on us. The pill that gives us an awful short term feeling is the key to final recovery.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:16-18)
As the song goes, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things on earth will go strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” The more you turn from world distractions and see more of Jesus, the more you will be transformed into His likeness with intensifying glory.
Biblical Grace reversed my eczema problem and rejuvenated my dead career by calling forward opportunities no one saw coming. God made up for lost time when I thought time had run out for me. It was at age 41 when my eczema finally became manageable with less medicine, I was hired straight out of Singapore to the US for a senior position I had no formal experience in and found the girl I was to marry. Just one year before I was a broken man, still struggling with my health, career and fresh divorce. No coincidence that coincided by my final last hail mary attempt to trust in Jesus. You’d have to read my book for the details! But just like the stonecutter who only broke the stone on the 101st blow and saw not even a crack before that, don’t stop believing in God’s grace or meditating on the Word as it pertains to Jesus; your crossing into the “New Country” might only be the next step away.
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. Jacob Riis
Don’t give up.
(1) However, many churches I visited when younger did not emphasize the grace available on earth. Many people in these churches might say God can do great things, but act as though we don’t deserve for God to work powerfully in our lives. In effect, they act as though God’s grace is a feel-good idea that we have a place in heaven after we suffer on earth and die, and not a force that changes things on earth. They might say that God is good, but they do so to sound politically correct; they don’t believe this goodness tangibly leaks into our world through Jesus.
They would always preface their prayers with “if it is in your will God, heal Ken” and then they never really followed up on me. The reason is obvious, they doubted either His heart, His power, or His existence. When I expressed my dissonance with God, because I couldn’t understand how a loving powerful God (2) would allow such a senseless, meaningless and painful existence for me, they got indignant with me. Heart-wrenching. But the same thing happened to David when his brothers belittled and attributed bad motives to David’s faith in God to beat Goliath. So I’m in good company.
If we remove the earth part of the Gospel, then it’s inevitable that we will practically believe that Christ’s sacrifice for us is just a ticket to imaginary heaven, and a cosmic guilt trip to change our behavior to be worthy of that ticket to heaven. This becomes burdensome. And you can easily tell when what a church teaches is burdensome, just look at how many people in the congregation feel it’s a chore to come to church, or are sleeping on the pews.
Avoid such places. Find a church that preaches the full gospel that does not limit God’s heart for us, and what He wants to do for us on Earth. For how you listen (Luke 8:18) will affect your results on earth!
(2) It’s because I knew His heart that I felt this way, not the opposite.