As humans get more mature [I am trying to be positive about aging], we tend to reminisce. Things were so much better when we were all younger. We love to speak about the “good ole days.” Life was simpler, everyone was much happier and even though we had to “walk miles to school in knee deep snow”, we loved life. After all, all that walking was good for us and we were all much healthier then…
John Bevere is not a pastor who wants to hold to the old ways so much that his current message is not relevant; he is willing to be progressive and he knows we have to look forward in our thinking…
Except when it comes to grace and holiness…
He says that today in the “good new days” we have undersold grace.
As he concludes Chapter 10 in his book Good or God?, he revisits this idea of grace and declares that today we may be compromising the Word of God. Earlier in his book he writes about Adam and Eve and God’s commands of “you shall not eat” of the fruit from the tree of knowledge. In contemporary society, he states that we are selective in responding to God’s commands. “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat” is where we stop paying attention and we conveniently leave off the “you shall not eat” command.
Of course, Jesus is the one who has introduced us to grace but Jesus has also given us commands or expectations. For example, Jesus has told us not to lie, not to be prone to anger, not to steal and not to use foul language [see my October 5 and October 2nd post]. Bevere’s thinking is that we have used grace to rationalize our sins today. God will cover our weaknesses with His understanding of our nature and His forgiveness.
Bevere thinks that grace can do much more than “cover” our sins. Grace can empower us to be better people, better Christians, growing Christians. He turns to Revelation 3:1 to make his point: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.” Jesus is talking to the church at Sardis through a messenger. Besides calling this church dead, He goes further: “Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead, I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God” [3:2]. Then comes the key verse in Revelation 3:3: “Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to Me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.”
In other words, it is important to return to the “good ole days.”
Bevere feels that too many Christians have strayed from God’s standard. Paul writes “For God has revealed His grace for the salvation of all people. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and
Give up worldly passions. godly lives in this world” [Titus 2: 11-12]. Notice that Paul says that grace comes with a few catches.
Give up ungodly living.
Live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.
There is no doubt that God has made us righteous through the offer of His Son Jesus Christ, but He has offered even more than that. He has offered us power to live holier lives. Maybe today we just don’t see grace as a means to help us continue our pursuit of God. Grace is used as an excuse for our weakness; that is the “good new days” interpretation, the partial message of Genesis: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.”
Bevere ends Chapter 10 with these words: “Let’s never stop teaching we can’t earn God’s favor, forgiveness or salvation. Let’s keep shouting that good news. However, let’s quit underselling His grace. Let’s proclaim its entire truth.”
Let’s not be satisfied with the “good.”
Let’s go for God! Let’s tap into the power of grace for better Christian living…