THE PURITY OF GOD’S GRACES The Grace of the Gospel and the Grace of the Charisma

The Kingdom of God has never been dependent on political favor or political power for its continued growth throughout the world. Christianity often grows best under repressive political regimes and amid persecution. I remember Bishop Tony in India instructing his church leaders never to pray for persecution to cease. He believed the church grows and thrives amidst persecution.

The contemporary church should not curry political favor or power. Jesus has supernaturally empowered His Kingdom to grow. Currying political favor or power corrupts the nature of His Kingdom.

ENSURING THE PURITY OF GOD’S GRACES

The Grace of the Gospel and the Graces of the Charisma

My ordination to the ministry occurred in 1979. I had been the First Baptist Church of Lakeview’s Senior Pastor for two years. During that time, members of the congregation had the opportunity to know me as a Christian and minister. The congregants agreed it was appropriate for me to seek ordination. I networked with the regional Pastors in our denomination during those two years. These leaders also had the opportunity to know me as a person and minister. They became my ordination council tasked with discerning if I was fit to be ordained to the ministry. These leaders signed my ordination certificate, laid hands on me, prayed for me, and presented me with my ordination certificate during my ordination service. I have proudly displayed that certificate in my offices in the ensuing decades. Printed across the top of this certificate is the statement, “Set for the Defense of the Gospel.”

That commission to defend the gospel, along with the counsel I received from my seminary elders to preach the whole counsel of God, have shaped my preaching and teaching ministry.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”  (Acts 20:27)

We expect attacks from outside the church against the gospel and God’s word. Attacks on the gospel message’s purity and God’s word from inside the church are troubling. The pure message of the gospel and the word of God are supernaturally powerful. When other leavens are introduced and commingled with the gospel and God’s word, His word’s purity is polluted. Those leavens rob His truth of its power.

Scripture affirms the power of the pure gospel and the pure word of God:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”     (Romans 1:16–17)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

The Bible also affirms the power of the pure word of God:

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”  (Ephesians 6:17)

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  (2 Peter 1:20–21)

Jesus highlighted three leavens during His earthy ministry.

The leaven of the Kingdom

“Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20–21)

Jesus uses this metaphor to describe the manner of His Kingdom’s growth on earth. Kingdom growth is not always publicly noticeable. It is stealth. The nature of His Kingdom is to grow. Jesus echos the sentiment of the prophet Isaiah.

“Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

The leaven of the Pharisee and Sadducees

By this, Jesus refers to their doctrine and hypocrisy. These groups espoused human-engineered righteousness based on adherence to religious law, grace plus performance. Paul presents the message of the gospel plainly in Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” 

I remember attending a funeral service early in my ministry for a family member of one of my congregants, hosted by another religious assembly in our town. The gentleman who presided talked about God’s grace and read Ephesians 2:8. The very next words out of his mouth were, “of course we know that we are saved not just by grace, but also by our works.” I was stunned. The rest of the service was about extolling the dearly departed works. This presiding gentleman polluted the gospel’s pure message with the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

“Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6)

“How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

(Matthew 16:11–12)

“Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

“He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)

This leaven’s fruit was exposed by Jesus through His pronunciations of “Woe” on the Pharisees and Sadducees as recorded in Matthew 23.

The leaven of Herod

Unfortunately for us, Jesus does not explain what he meant by Herod’s leaven. Herod was the delegated political leader over the Jews courtesy of Caesar. He was known not only for his political power but also for his sexual sin. John the Baptist publicly confronted Herod for his sin, which ultimately cost John his life.

Jesus mentions Herod’s leaven in the same reference as the Pharisees’ leaven. I think Herod’s leaven refers to political power. This leaven is the legislation of righteousness based on political power. It is grace plus political power.

“Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

Sometimes I hear folks debating the question, “Can you legislate morality?” Humankind can legislate many things. A better question is, “Can you regulate the human heart through legislation?” Human legislation cannot regulate matters of the heart. Overflowing prisons testify to that. Commingling the declaration of the gospel and God’s word with a political worldview or political agenda pollutes the pure gospel and the pure word of God. A polluted gospel loses its power. A defiled word of God loses its cutting edge. It is the pure gospel and the pure word of God that target the heart, potentially transforming the hearts of those who willingly submit to God’s truth.

God himself created a people, the Jewish nation, through legislation revealed in the Old Covenant. The Old Testament is rife with stories about God’s rebellious people and His frustration with them. Ultimately those in this society who were in power and thoroughly knowledgeable about Old Covenant law unjustly tried His son and had him executed. Even the revealed law of God could not regulate their hearts.

New Testament prophecy is an expression of God’s word. Using the declaration of a claimed prophetic word to further one’s political worldview or political agenda pollutes that grace. Especially horrendous are supposed prophetic voices that attempt to align God with one’s political views. Such declarations are not in line with the purpose of New Testament prophecy. I am often appropriately offended when supposed prophets “prophetically” espouse a political worldview and agenda with which I disagree. Labeling other Christians as “demonized” or “of the camp of Satan” because of their political worldview is inappropriate.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us, not prophetic words. Those who prophesy a “God is on our side” political agenda are manipulative. One facet of the church’s diversity is the diversity of political worldviews and agendas.

” . . . those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” 

(Romans 8:14)

The purpose of the five graces highlighted by Paul in Ephesians 4 is to create a mature Body of Christ on earth. The purpose of the five graces highlighted by Paul in Ephesians 4 is to create a mature Body of Christ on earth. The purpose of the five graces highlighted by Paul in Ephesians 4 is to create a mature Body of Christ on earth.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16)

The mature church incarnates Jesus Christ and becomes a prophetic presence in the world.

Paul established guidelines for exercising the prophetic gift within the local church.

“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” (1 Corinthians 14:3)

“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 

(1 Corinthians 14:24–25)

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”   (1 Corinthians 14:26–33)

Pauls’s guidelines for the prophetic prioritize the Body of Christ’s edification.

Pauls’s guidelines for the prophetic prioritize the Body of Christ’s edification.

Pauls’s guidelines for the prophetic prioritize the Body of Christ’s edification.

God’s graces build and strengthen the Body of Christ. Protect His graces’ pure flow.

 

 


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