Looking through the Lens of Grace

by Creflo Dollar | 10 Apr 2019

Summary

A proper understanding of the Scriptures establishes truth in our lives; we gain this understanding by correctly analyzing and rightly dividing the Word of truth. The claim that the Bible contradicts itself does not hold up when we understand that the old covenant of the Law of Moses gave way to the new covenant of grace when Jesus, Himself, ended the law. The quality of our Christian lives depends on our acknowledgement of this. Grace is the truth that sets us free; therefore, we cannot simply read the Bible through the lens of the law and declare that “the truth that will make you free” is the entire Bible. What was true for God’s people under the law is different from what is true for God’s people under grace. If we base our thinking on worldly traditions instead of on Jesus Christ, we can get trapped in a mindset that contradicts the truth of God’s grace. Faith in what Jesus did for us liberates us from ceaseless striving and changes our lives.

  1. Our Christian lives should be based on the person of Jesus. He is grace, personified.
    1. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 17).
      1. Grace is not just a subject matter or a curriculum; grace is a person, and His name is Jesus. Once we learn grace, we get the truth.
      2. The entire covenant of grace, and everything about our Christian lives, hinges on Christ.
      3. In the Old Testament, the laws and the Ten Commandments were given to curb sin and make the people aware of it.
      4. Moses was responsible for the law; Jesus is responsible for grace and truth. Grace is the truth.
      5. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31, 32).
    2. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).
      1. When we live under the law, sin is the result; it dominates our lives.
    3. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).
      1. Satan does not try to get us to sin as much as to live by the law, because he knows we cannot keep it all.
  1. If we do not rightly divide the Word, we can get sidetracked by false worldly doctrines.
    1. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
      1. Wrongly dividing the Word of truth gives us the wrong impression of God.
      2. When we read the Bible, we must know which parts are law and which parts are grace. The religious things that were true under the law are not true under grace.
    2. Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15, AMPC).
      1. Just because we read the Bible does not mean we are rightly dividing it. We must know the difference between obsolete, law-based truth and present-day, grace truth.
    3. We are warned not to get caught up in philosophies based on worldly traditions instead of on Christ. A Christian life based on philosophy instead of on Christ is plain nonsense.
      1. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8, NIV).
      2. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah) (Colossians 2:8, AMPC).
  1. The new covenant frees us from having to constantly perform to earn God’s approval.
    1. There are some striking contrasts between the old and new testaments.
      1. Before the cross, the Law of Moses existed. The old covenant was conditional, and operated under an “if-then” mentality. The people had to do good to get good from God.
      2. After the cross, the new covenant existed. This covenant is unconditional, and based on faith in Jesus’ finished works, not in our works.
    2. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field…But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee (Deuteronomy 28:1-3, 15).
      1. Before the cross, the requirement to receive blessings was obedience to all the law first; otherwise, God would send multiple curses.
      2. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).
    3. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
      1. It was impossible to obey all of the law, all of the time. The only way the people could be blessed was through the sacrificial system of animal blood, which covered their sins for one year.
    4. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13, 14).
      1. The covenant of grace is not about our performance, but about Jesus’ performance, and our faith in what He did.
      2. The curses have been removed, but the blessings remain.
  1. We have already received God’s forgiveness; we no longer have to work to receive it.
    1. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25, 26).
      1. Under old-covenant law, the requirement for forgiveness was to forgive, first, before receiving forgiveness from God. This is not true under the new covenant of grace.
    2. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14, 15).
      1. We must rightly divide the gospels. Although Jesus spoke this, He spoke it under the old covenant. The new covenant did not begin until He shed His blood and died on the cross.
    3. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
      1. Under the law, forgiveness was conditional; it hinged on what man did, first. Under grace, we are already forgiven.
      2. God’s forgiveness empowers us to forgive ourselves and others.
    4. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:13).
      1. After the cross, the pattern changed. The focus is no longer on what we must do first to get something from God.
  1. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16, 17).
    1. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16, 17).
      1. While Jesus walked on the earth, the old covenant was still valid. He answered the young man according to the law, which was based on doing. However, the requirements for salvation have since changed.
    2. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30, 31).
      1. Salvation is no longer based on keeping the rules, but on believing in Christ.
      2. Our behavior is not who we are. No matter what we do, our actions cannot reverse our salvation.
      3. Jesus gave the free gift of salvation to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). We have that same gift available to us today.
      4. After refusing to condemn the woman, Jesus told her to go and sin no more. This freed her from what she did and allowed transformation to begin. Condemnation stops transformation; forgiveness opens us up to it.
      5. Good behavior does not get us into heaven; belief in Jesus does. Our works do not make us holy; our identity in Christ Jesus does. We become holy when we accept Him as Lord of our lives.