Does Grace Excuse or Transform?

I received this question in my email box today and thought many others might care about my answer:

What I would like to know from your perspective, is there a clear and growing warp in the teaching on grace that is, overtly or covertly, connotatively or emotively, saying that behavior does not matter? I realize that has been a Gnostic teaching of our history, but I am wondering if it is back in the form of this “free grace” teaching. I believe that if our experience of God’s grace is the real McCoy, our heart, mind, emotional makeup, and behavior will begin a rest-of-our-life change to conform to what we can see in the Man, Jesus. What degree of that progress is by grabbing our own bootstraps and getting going on… that I truly do not know.

My Response: I do not ascribe to any view of grace that suggests our behavior doesn’t matter. As I read Titus 2 a real engagement with grace will “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Those who think grace washes out the impact of our failures on ourselves and others have a very shallow relationship with God and no real concept of sin and how it damages humanity and human relationships.

But, yes, I do know some people who claim to embrace grace, even teach it, and live unapologetically in selfishness and duplicity without a concern as to what their actions do to other people. They claim it does not matter since it is all covered by grace and God will ultimately accomplish his will in the world anyway. So, yes, that seems to be a growing conclusion some people are grasping for in their reaction to religious performance and obligation. But no one growing to know God as Father would ever use grace as an excuse to hurt others, tell lies, or pursue the indulgence of their flesh.

The problem stems from people only seeing grace as a theological concept. They try to parse out their beliefs about grace, sin, and repentance, but it all leads to nonsense outside of a growing relationship with Jesus himself. Grace is the portal to engaging him without guilt or shame. But engaging him brings transformation to our lives. Those who teach a theology of grace that does not embrace a relationship become quite destructive in the world. Finding out God is not holding their sin against them seems to negate the only motivation they had for holiness. How sad is that?

My contention is that if they grow to live loved by the Father, they will begin to learn how to love others around them and that will begin to transform their existence in the world. That’s why I do not talk of “unconditional love”, but of “transformational love”. Living loved will transform you. Embracing a theology of grace without a relationship of love will only mess you up. That transformation, however, does not come by human effort (the ol’ bootstraps) seeking to make itself conform to God’s ways. It actually begins when we lose confidence in our own ability to change ourselves and seek his help. And it is a process that comes over time out of a growing relationship with God that first learns to rest in his love, and then to grow in trust for him and the way he works in the world.

No, I don’t know any way to measure that, but I don’t think it takes a long time in being with someone to sort out whether their passion derives from a theology they only espouse, or whether they are truly getting to know the Father of our Lord Jesus. If the latter, then I give them a wide berth. I know transformation takes time and if I push them to conform to some external principle that isn’t rising out of their relationship I am pointing them down the wrong road.

In my view, our bigger problem today is not those who abuse grace, but those who are captive to shame and condemnation, who are trying to do in their own strength what only God can do. That’s why Paul talked about the righteousness that faith (or trust) produces, and the passion he had for that. And in the same breath he is admitting that he has zero confidence in his own flesh to promote that transformation.

I don’t know how to describe that outside of a relationship with Jesus. In him these things make sense and we find a pathway of growing trust that transforms us in his love. Outside of that we are in the ever-constant search for the illusive balance between legalism and licentiousness and I don’t think we’re good enough to define that on our own terms. Those who truly know God as Father will want to be like him and will find themselves in honest dialog with God as that transformation unfolds.

Yes, there are many who teach a grace doctrine that is only an excuse for their unrepentant living. I see that as much a problem as the legalists who think they can engage God through their performance.

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40 Comments
  1. Claire June 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Your thoughts here really dive below the surface. Good thoughts Wayne! Seems to just come back to the “license” vs. “legalism” debate of old. And like you said, “trying to find the balance”… But there is always the relationship with Him that can help our understanding that is just a prayer away. For me personally, “I love that!”

  2. Dave June 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Wayne, well said. For me, I have not seen any self proclaimed Christians that espouse the idea of living as though grace gives them license. Though, I am sure there are some of these people out there. However I know many that are trapped into “proving” to the Father (and those around them) how much they love Him and are trying to follow Him through “spiritual disciplines” or through “serving in the church”. These folks all believe these things are “measurable” and “tangible” ways to prove a realtionship. For example I saw this in a statement of faith from a “GRACE” community, concerning sanctification…. “The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard”. These statements seem to me to be an oxymoron to the idea of grace and relationship we gain from our Father.

    For the apostle Paul the idea of living life after our rebirth in Christ as though behavior doesn’t matter is utter madness.. ” May it never be” Rom 6. and is completely counter to our new lives. For me my time in utilizing the “bootstrap” method was mostly pride and desire to conform to a group, then truly living as the “new creature” the Father has made and reflecting my brother and friend Jesus.

  3. Claire June 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Your thoughts here really dive below the surface. Good thoughts Wayne! Seems to just come back to the “license” vs. “legalism” debate of old. And like you said, “trying to find the balance”… But there is always the relationship with Him that can help our understanding that is just a prayer away. For me personally, “I love that!”

  4. Ted June 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I have heard is said that mercy is God’s ability to forgive us of our sin while we are in it, but grace is God’s ability working in us to walk out of sin. Grace is God’s ability working in our hearts making us able to do what we cannot do in our own ability. Many people confuse grace with mercy. His mercy brings us affirmation of His love and acceptance of us no matter where we are at, but He does not intend to abandon us in this state. God has always intended for us to transform into the very image of His Son, meaning to be like Him in His character, ability, and love. God’s grace has come to empower us to walk out of the destructiveness of sin into experiencing the quality of life that Jesus made possible for each of us through His death, burial and resurrection. Experiencing grace is only found in a growing intimate relationship with Him. It is only in this living relationship with Him where we can experience life as it should be. Jesus’ finished work qualifies us for life and His grace enables us to grow in our experience of this life and our sharing it with those around us.

  5. Dave June 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Wayne, well said. For me, I have not seen any self proclaimed Christians that espouse the idea of living as though grace gives them license. Though, I am sure there are some of these people out there. However I know many that are trapped into “proving” to the Father (and those around them) how much they love Him and are trying to follow Him through “spiritual disciplines” or through “serving in the church”. These folks all believe these things are “measurable” and “tangible” ways to prove a realtionship. For example I saw this in a statement of faith from a “GRACE” community, concerning sanctification…. “The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard”. These statements seem to me to be an oxymoron to the idea of grace and relationship we gain from our Father.

    For the apostle Paul the idea of living life after our rebirth in Christ as though behavior doesn’t matter is utter madness.. ” May it never be” Rom 6. and is completely counter to our new lives. For me my time in utilizing the “bootstrap” method was mostly pride and desire to conform to a group, then truly living as the “new creature” the Father has made and reflecting my brother and friend Jesus.

  6. Ted June 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I have heard is said that mercy is God’s ability to forgive us of our sin while we are in it, but grace is God’s ability working in us to walk out of sin. Grace is God’s ability working in our hearts making us able to do what we cannot do in our own ability. Many people confuse grace with mercy. His mercy brings us affirmation of His love and acceptance of us no matter where we are at, but He does not intend to abandon us in this state. God has always intended for us to transform into the very image of His Son, meaning to be like Him in His character, ability, and love. God’s grace has come to empower us to walk out of the destructiveness of sin into experiencing the quality of life that Jesus made possible for each of us through His death, burial and resurrection. Experiencing grace is only found in a growing intimate relationship with Him. It is only in this living relationship with Him where we can experience life as it should be. Jesus’ finished work qualifies us for life and His grace enables us to grow in our experience of this life and our sharing it with those around us.

  7. nancy June 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    It saddens me that we always want to make it so complicated….we receive God’s love and it opens our hearts and deepens our relationships with Him and others….and we live His love out to others…and whenever we start talking about “behavior” then we are looking at externals instead of trusting in the internal transformation process that happens through our life in Jesus…which has a far more profound power to affect us than our trying to do certain behaviors or avoid other behaviors in our attempt at “self-control”. When we give up on trying to do it in our strength and trying to get others to do it in their own strength, we find God IS transforming us in His strength and through His love.

  8. nancy June 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    It saddens me that we always want to make it so complicated….we receive God’s love and it opens our hearts and deepens our relationships with Him and others….and we live His love out to others…and whenever we start talking about “behavior” then we are looking at externals instead of trusting in the internal transformation process that happens through our life in Jesus…which has a far more profound power to affect us than our trying to do certain behaviors or avoid other behaviors in our attempt at “self-control”. When we give up on trying to do it in our strength and trying to get others to do it in their own strength, we find God IS transforming us in His strength and through His love.

  9. Jeanne S June 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Wayne,
    Very good response and agree wholeheartedly with you.

    My 2 cents:
    Grace is a person, Jesus, we live and move and have our being inside that Person.
    It is inconceivable to me that if one is living in a vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus, that you could use that relationship as license to do whatever one wants. It would hurt my Lord and I can’t stand that for long, and must get things patched up with Poppa quickly.
    My definition of sin has been altered some as my relationship w/Jesus grows. Most focus on the obvious outward things, like sexual sin, vice, etc. but I am seeing it more of failing to love one another, failing to impart life and love and failure of laying down my life for others. Out of most of these is the root problem or is the essence of sin.
    Blessings,
    Jeanne

  10. Rick Creech June 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Thanks Wayne, you have such a wonderful vocabulary to express the heart of the matter, well said.

  11. Jeanne S June 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Wayne,
    Very good response and agree wholeheartedly with you.

    My 2 cents:
    Grace is a person, Jesus, we live and move and have our being inside that Person.
    It is inconceivable to me that if one is living in a vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus, that you could use that relationship as license to do whatever one wants. It would hurt my Lord and I can’t stand that for long, and must get things patched up with Poppa quickly.
    My definition of sin has been altered some as my relationship w/Jesus grows. Most focus on the obvious outward things, like sexual sin, vice, etc. but I am seeing it more of failing to love one another, failing to impart life and love and failure of laying down my life for others. Out of most of these is the root problem or is the essence of sin.
    Blessings,
    Jeanne

  12. Rick Creech June 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Thanks Wayne, you have such a wonderful vocabulary to express the heart of the matter, well said.

  13. Ashley Aus June 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    All I know is that before Grace became real to me, I treated sin like a child treats cookies in a cookie jar. I sneaked a little sin here and a little sin there. If nothing bad happened that could be misconstrued as God’s punishment, I felt like I got away with it. But once I understood grace, I began to trust God’s assessment about sin (or too many cookies, to use the analogy). It’s hard to explain but I really just want what God wants for me because grace has given me eyes to see that everything He gives is good and everything He withholds is withheld for good reason.

  14. Ashley Aus June 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    All I know is that before Grace became real to me, I treated sin like a child treats cookies in a cookie jar. I sneaked a little sin here and a little sin there. If nothing bad happened that could be misconstrued as God’s punishment, I felt like I got away with it. But once I understood grace, I began to trust God’s assessment about sin (or too many cookies, to use the analogy). It’s hard to explain but I really just want what God wants for me because grace has given me eyes to see that everything He gives is good and everything He withholds is withheld for good reason.

  15. mike fitzpatrick June 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    The whole IDEA of LICENSE is a RED HERRING, hee!

    the question is a “FISHY” one…

    one of all the PLANTED IDEAS- ideas NOT ORIGINATING from any human- intentionally, or consciously. Right off, we are given a question in the clothes of our consciousness, that immediately attempts to “shell-game” us off the LIFE-trail we BE on/IN….

    The Liar DOES who he IS…

    The Gnostic is but one of a zillion, normal, human PRIDE hybrids….It is always about LOVE versus…PRIDE. Pride is religion’s founding father’s base core: Pride is the ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE BUTTON- dare to insult PRIDE and see the DEATH that occurs, both mentally, verbally, and literally…Religion is like a condom- it prevents LIFE from happening….

    I was a raging, “Fund-the-mental-list” and certain words would set me off…. like: GRACE, FREEDOM- they were code-words for permission….jeesh! (ah, another analogous word for misusing the name of Jesus)- you see how it goes….undone! (gratefully so!) I was a “Sin-detector”

    Romans 7 reveals the source of FALSE, naturally-bad-intentioned, doubt-casting, “inquiries” ‘asked’
    to cast DOUBT about God, AS LOVE INCARNATE, his character, intentions, etc….and to cast doubt about us, to us; as we share IN the very life of Jesus!

    It is SIN, that sins…IT IS SIN THAT SINS….REPEAT THIS UNTIL IT SINKS IN…(DO IT RELIGIOUSLY- NO!!!!!!!!) *SMILE

    This very ILLUMINATING TRUTH can be a great RESET button, for a believer who has been DISORIENTED- or “left-hooked” by some earthly whammy….

    The IMAGINED HERESIES about GRACE- are themselves – apostasy- The first inklings of doubts about the GOSPEL….Ole PANTS ON FIRE just loves to DILUTE the super-concentrated, PURE, gospel- portraying LIFE as DEATH….

    USED TO worry and fret over the apostasy of the ‘church’- WHEN ALL THE WHILE, I was in the heresy of legalism….

    (I imagine Paul rolled his mental eyes at the Liar for that one (of a zillion zingers) that the LIAR burps out from SELF’s delusional, RIGHTNESS, to LORD ‘itself’ over GOD’S RIGHTNESS (Jesus))!!!

    ‘should we sin more…?’ is handled in true, “Jesus-Ninja” (hiyah!!!) style by Paul, as he vanquishes the very false idea to the land of absurdity!! We parents have heard these diverting statements, questions, for years- coming out of our younguns….*smile

    How’s that saying go?:

    ‘God’s LAW makes…SIN, irresistible, but God’s GRACE makes…GOD IRRESISTIBLE!’

    The Law is Perfect and Holy- and was designed to “Chuck Norris” any who think they can DO the DOER, lol! (see: sermon on the mount)

    SIN that is quarantined to (has been banished) the flesh, IS NOT WHO WE ARE-

    we ARE spirit/souls (separate but indistinguishable) WHO are QUARANTINED in the SPIRIT, FROM the sin-beset, flesh- GOOD NEWS!!!!

    We REST when we SEE/BELIEVE this!!!!!!! We can DANCE NAKED- that is, be our naked selves- as we dance SON-consciously!!)

    GOD CUT IN THE EXACT PLACE HE DESIGNED! HA HA! Spirit and Soul are united- quarantined- by Love’s surgical strike!

    By the way, Is hell a place of quarantine? just wondering? a place where all that is not LIFE is banished to…? I sense Daddy is teaching me that HE is LIFE and will always protect LIFE…

    There is nothing IN the flesh that is good…. This marvelously-made body/members- is infected…just as we are now INFECTED with LOVE’s LIFE!

    (JESUS is the Ultimate Virus that corrupts the programmed, death-‘life’!!! He IS the LIFE Bug!!)

    It”s a restful truth that the human organ, the BRAIN, is not the mind of Christ- but just another sin-infected, organ of the FLESH. We have the mind of Christ in the *REAL, quarantined, US*, sealed the SPIRIT! (Colossians)

    Our organic brains will be left behind, with all the MISinformation we currently believe about ourselves, etc….’….To be ABSENT from the body IS TO be present….’—> suddenly released out of these dark-glass ORGANS when the brain dies- we will SEE instantly and be known as we are known- glorified and truly free of this time-continuum.

    We can trust Daddy to continue the orchestration of this struggle for our good!! THE Cosmic Scout’s Honor!

    The LIAR can only ….LIE. HE is OPPOSITE GUY!!!!
    He relishes to disturb, isolate, condemn, and otherwise, depress, believers and unbelievers alike…ANY WAY to keep life from resurrecting out of death!

    Deflection, diversion, dispersions, all and more, are deliberate accusations DISGUISED as genuine inquiries- and it is all quite HUMAN, to be assailed, ‘do not be dismayed….’

    Any of us believers can be tricked into thinking that it is *THEIR* THINKING, or even *THEIR BEHAVIOR*—> THEIR, THEIR, THEIR…..is a clue, ha ha!

    Our God-DADDY KNEW this about us..and is delighted to love away the boos-boos, we THINK *we* think….

    As the fragrance off a flower, so our behaviors WAFT off the BLOOM…..While BEING, we will, quite unconsciously, DO who we BE….

    All I can DO….is BE Mike- a resurrected Being, A SPIRIT-Being, quarantined within this susceptible vessel…..Our bodies which are marvelously made, are not WHO we ARE! Thanks, Daddy!

    Daddy has thought it all through: keeping us in these susceptible vessels- plays out the SELF-right versus GOD’S-Rightness tussle….The struggle actually “shows out” the Author’s FINISHED WORK life victory- a DONE DEAL- manifesting in our, uniquely-us, timeline…wow!

    We are BEING in the SON-conscious state (of being)- when a beloved someone is *SIN* conscious – they are just not SEEING- kinda like being in a mirrored room at the carnival- totally disoriented- by all “ME” images, lol! GOD KNOWS WE WILL UNBELIEVE..He has no false impressions about us!

    And to help fellow-beloved ones out of that totally-normal, trap- is sheer delight!!! Sheep-outta-Ditches-R-us! Coming alongside and humbly help them as we SEE ourselves as the caught one….LOVE indeed rescues me!

  16. mike fitzpatrick June 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    The whole IDEA of LICENSE is a RED HERRING, hee!

    the question is a “FISHY” one…

    one of all the PLANTED IDEAS- ideas NOT ORIGINATING from any human- intentionally, or consciously. Right off, we are given a question in the clothes of our consciousness, that immediately attempts to “shell-game” us off the LIFE-trail we BE on/IN….

    The Liar DOES who he IS…

    The Gnostic is but one of a zillion, normal, human PRIDE hybrids….It is always about LOVE versus…PRIDE. Pride is religion’s founding father’s base core: Pride is the ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE BUTTON- dare to insult PRIDE and see the DEATH that occurs, both mentally, verbally, and literally…Religion is like a condom- it prevents LIFE from happening….

    I was a raging, “Fund-the-mental-list” and certain words would set me off…. like: GRACE, FREEDOM- they were code-words for permission….jeesh! (ah, another analogous word for misusing the name of Jesus)- you see how it goes….undone! (gratefully so!) I was a “Sin-detector”

    Romans 7 reveals the source of FALSE, naturally-bad-intentioned, doubt-casting, “inquiries” ‘asked’
    to cast DOUBT about God, AS LOVE INCARNATE, his character, intentions, etc….and to cast doubt about us, to us; as we share IN the very life of Jesus!

    It is SIN, that sins…IT IS SIN THAT SINS….REPEAT THIS UNTIL IT SINKS IN…(DO IT RELIGIOUSLY- NO!!!!!!!!) *SMILE

    This very ILLUMINATING TRUTH can be a great RESET button, for a believer who has been DISORIENTED- or “left-hooked” by some earthly whammy….

    The IMAGINED HERESIES about GRACE- are themselves – apostasy- The first inklings of doubts about the GOSPEL….Ole PANTS ON FIRE just loves to DILUTE the super-concentrated, PURE, gospel- portraying LIFE as DEATH….

    USED TO worry and fret over the apostasy of the ‘church’- WHEN ALL THE WHILE, I was in the heresy of legalism….

    (I imagine Paul rolled his mental eyes at the Liar for that one (of a zillion zingers) that the LIAR burps out from SELF’s delusional, RIGHTNESS, to LORD ‘itself’ over GOD’S RIGHTNESS (Jesus))!!!

    ‘should we sin more…?’ is handled in true, “Jesus-Ninja” (hiyah!!!) style by Paul, as he vanquishes the very false idea to the land of absurdity!! We parents have heard these diverting statements, questions, for years- coming out of our younguns….*smile

    How’s that saying go?:

    ‘God’s LAW makes…SIN, irresistible, but God’s GRACE makes…GOD IRRESISTIBLE!’

    The Law is Perfect and Holy- and was designed to “Chuck Norris” any who think they can DO the DOER, lol! (see: sermon on the mount)

    SIN that is quarantined to (has been banished) the flesh, IS NOT WHO WE ARE-

    we ARE spirit/souls (separate but indistinguishable) WHO are QUARANTINED in the SPIRIT, FROM the sin-beset, flesh- GOOD NEWS!!!!

    We REST when we SEE/BELIEVE this!!!!!!! We can DANCE NAKED- that is, be our naked selves- as we dance SON-consciously!!)

    GOD CUT IN THE EXACT PLACE HE DESIGNED! HA HA! Spirit and Soul are united- quarantined- by Love’s surgical strike!

    By the way, Is hell a place of quarantine? just wondering? a place where all that is not LIFE is banished to…? I sense Daddy is teaching me that HE is LIFE and will always protect LIFE…

    There is nothing IN the flesh that is good…. This marvelously-made body/members- is infected…just as we are now INFECTED with LOVE’s LIFE!

    (JESUS is the Ultimate Virus that corrupts the programmed, death-‘life’!!! He IS the LIFE Bug!!)

    It”s a restful truth that the human organ, the BRAIN, is not the mind of Christ- but just another sin-infected, organ of the FLESH. We have the mind of Christ in the *REAL, quarantined, US*, sealed the SPIRIT! (Colossians)

    Our organic brains will be left behind, with all the MISinformation we currently believe about ourselves, etc….’….To be ABSENT from the body IS TO be present….’—> suddenly released out of these dark-glass ORGANS when the brain dies- we will SEE instantly and be known as we are known- glorified and truly free of this time-continuum.

    We can trust Daddy to continue the orchestration of this struggle for our good!! THE Cosmic Scout’s Honor!

    The LIAR can only ….LIE. HE is OPPOSITE GUY!!!!
    He relishes to disturb, isolate, condemn, and otherwise, depress, believers and unbelievers alike…ANY WAY to keep life from resurrecting out of death!

    Deflection, diversion, dispersions, all and more, are deliberate accusations DISGUISED as genuine inquiries- and it is all quite HUMAN, to be assailed, ‘do not be dismayed….’

    Any of us believers can be tricked into thinking that it is *THEIR* THINKING, or even *THEIR BEHAVIOR*—> THEIR, THEIR, THEIR…..is a clue, ha ha!

    Our God-DADDY KNEW this about us..and is delighted to love away the boos-boos, we THINK *we* think….

    As the fragrance off a flower, so our behaviors WAFT off the BLOOM…..While BEING, we will, quite unconsciously, DO who we BE….

    All I can DO….is BE Mike- a resurrected Being, A SPIRIT-Being, quarantined within this susceptible vessel…..Our bodies which are marvelously made, are not WHO we ARE! Thanks, Daddy!

    Daddy has thought it all through: keeping us in these susceptible vessels- plays out the SELF-right versus GOD’S-Rightness tussle….The struggle actually “shows out” the Author’s FINISHED WORK life victory- a DONE DEAL- manifesting in our, uniquely-us, timeline…wow!

    We are BEING in the SON-conscious state (of being)- when a beloved someone is *SIN* conscious – they are just not SEEING- kinda like being in a mirrored room at the carnival- totally disoriented- by all “ME” images, lol! GOD KNOWS WE WILL UNBELIEVE..He has no false impressions about us!

    And to help fellow-beloved ones out of that totally-normal, trap- is sheer delight!!! Sheep-outta-Ditches-R-us! Coming alongside and humbly help them as we SEE ourselves as the caught one….LOVE indeed rescues me!

  17. Loren June 7, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Hey Wayne,
    I like how you made the point about the problem being linked to holding to a theology of grace outside of relationship. I’ve been in many conversations along these lines recently and I am constantly amazed at the way people fear that living by grace will cause people to run off and sin. But you nailed it! Grace is linked to relationship! The whole reason for grace to is to allow us to freely approach Father without shame. Just as healthy natural relationships cause us to mature, so it is with our relationship with Father. Grace allows us to enngage in that relationship with Father as we are and be patient with ourselves about the things in us we don’t like. I think the issue for people who hunger for God is not what they can get away with but frustration and guilt over what they have not been able to change in themselves. Grace allows us to set those things aside and focus on Him. The beauty is that one of the side effects of that relationship is change. But if we can’t get close to Him, how will we change?

  18. Richard June 7, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Wayne,

    I especially loved this part of your response~My contention is that if they grow to live loved by the Father, they will begin to learn how to love others around them and that will begin to transform their existence in the world. That’s why I do not talk of “unconditional love”, but of “transformational love”. Living loved will transform you. Embracing a theology of grace without a relationship of love will only mess you up. That transformation, however, does not come by human effort (the ol’ bootstraps) seeking to make itself conform to God’s ways. It actually begins when we lose confidence in our own ability to change ourselves and seek his help. And it is a process that comes over time out of a growing relationship with God that first learns to rest in his love, and then to grow in trust for him and the way he works in the world.

    I am seeing that “freedom” is just another word for increased bondage if in our ongoing journey we are not discovering increased depths of His love for us.
    I see his “transformational love” being synonymous with His total unconditional and embracing love! The whole thing of being transformed by the renewing of our mind (soul) and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind imo is a natural by product of what He alone produces (brings to fruition) of His bringing us to knowing Him as Jesus pointed out in John 17:3

  19. Loren June 7, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Hey Wayne,
    I like how you made the point about the problem being linked to holding to a theology of grace outside of relationship. I’ve been in many conversations along these lines recently and I am constantly amazed at the way people fear that living by grace will cause people to run off and sin. But you nailed it! Grace is linked to relationship! The whole reason for grace to is to allow us to freely approach Father without shame. Just as healthy natural relationships cause us to mature, so it is with our relationship with Father. Grace allows us to enngage in that relationship with Father as we are and be patient with ourselves about the things in us we don’t like. I think the issue for people who hunger for God is not what they can get away with but frustration and guilt over what they have not been able to change in themselves. Grace allows us to set those things aside and focus on Him. The beauty is that one of the side effects of that relationship is change. But if we can’t get close to Him, how will we change?

  20. Dave A. June 7, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Wonderful here… your post, Wayne and the responses. I have nothing else to add but, thanks!

  21. Richard June 7, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Wayne,

    I especially loved this part of your response~My contention is that if they grow to live loved by the Father, they will begin to learn how to love others around them and that will begin to transform their existence in the world. That’s why I do not talk of “unconditional love”, but of “transformational love”. Living loved will transform you. Embracing a theology of grace without a relationship of love will only mess you up. That transformation, however, does not come by human effort (the ol’ bootstraps) seeking to make itself conform to God’s ways. It actually begins when we lose confidence in our own ability to change ourselves and seek his help. And it is a process that comes over time out of a growing relationship with God that first learns to rest in his love, and then to grow in trust for him and the way he works in the world.

    I am seeing that “freedom” is just another word for increased bondage if in our ongoing journey we are not discovering increased depths of His love for us.
    I see his “transformational love” being synonymous with His total unconditional and embracing love! The whole thing of being transformed by the renewing of our mind (soul) and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind imo is a natural by product of what He alone produces (brings to fruition) of His bringing us to knowing Him as Jesus pointed out in John 17:3

  22. Dave A. June 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Wonderful here… your post, Wayne and the responses. I have nothing else to add but, thanks!

  23. Terry Rousseau June 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Hey all

    For me I don’t think I could live in grace until I undestand Paul, when he says; “Everything is permissable for me.” Period! Everything? Everything! But, but but , no! Everything. The blood of the lamb covers sins past presnt and future. It has all been forgiven. Only when I figured this out did grace start to make sense to me. You mean God still loves me no matter what I do, no matter what I say, no matter how far I run in the other direction? No matter how far you run, no matter how deep you sink, God’s love and God’s grace is enough to pull you back and set me on a right path.
    I once heard a pastor type say; “Don’t test God’s grace.” Really? Everytime we sin, we test God’s grace, and we do sin, 1 John testifies to that. The point is once I realize the depth of His love, and the depth of His grace, I no longer feel the need to perform, and I also have a new freedom, the freedom to fail. Ahhhh, blessed fialure without condemnation. What a blessed joy, what a scandelous grace we have!

  24. Terry Rousseau June 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Hey all

    For me I don’t think I could live in grace until I undestand Paul, when he says; “Everything is permissable for me.” Period! Everything? Everything! But, but but , no! Everything. The blood of the lamb covers sins past presnt and future. It has all been forgiven. Only when I figured this out did grace start to make sense to me. You mean God still loves me no matter what I do, no matter what I say, no matter how far I run in the other direction? No matter how far you run, no matter how deep you sink, God’s love and God’s grace is enough to pull you back and set me on a right path.
    I once heard a pastor type say; “Don’t test God’s grace.” Really? Everytime we sin, we test God’s grace, and we do sin, 1 John testifies to that. The point is once I realize the depth of His love, and the depth of His grace, I no longer feel the need to perform, and I also have a new freedom, the freedom to fail. Ahhhh, blessed fialure without condemnation. What a blessed joy, what a scandelous grace we have!

  25. Dave A. June 8, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Terry… many would say you’re promoting that license to sin, but no… we’re talking about a transformed life here, one that has tasted of the Lord and has seen His incredible goodness. I’ve seen the evidence in my own life, one from performance-pleasing and failing time after time in that, to simply accepting His love and His acceptance of me, just as I am, right where I am. And THAT changes us from the inside out. THAT weakens the stranglehold of sin on us. And THAT transformation is so contagious as it spill onto others in our midst. From us will flow streams of living water!

  26. Dave A. June 8, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Terry… many would say you’re promoting that license to sin, but no… we’re talking about a transformed life here, one that has tasted of the Lord and has seen His incredible goodness. I’ve seen the evidence in my own life, one from performance-pleasing and failing time after time in that, to simply accepting His love and His acceptance of me, just as I am, right where I am. And THAT changes us from the inside out. THAT weakens the stranglehold of sin on us. And THAT transformation is so contagious as it spill onto others in our midst. From us will flow streams of living water!

  27. Ken June 8, 2011 at 10:34 am

    It’s interesting that Jesus never said much about how to receive grace. What He did do was show us by His example how to give it to everyone we meet. In other words, He demonstrated that the gift of grace was more for giving than for receiving.

    Grace is not the trail head, it’s the trail. As we walk in His gifts of grace, we give grace to others along the way.

    That’s grace, Jesus style… 🙂

  28. Ken June 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    It’s interesting that Jesus never said much about how to receive grace. What He did do was show us by His example how to give it to everyone we meet. In other words, He demonstrated that the gift of grace was more for giving than for receiving.

    Grace is not the trail head, it’s the trail. As we walk in His gifts of grace, we give grace to others along the way.

    That’s grace, Jesus style… 🙂

  29. nancy June 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you Ken for saying it so simply and so well. 🙂

  30. nancy June 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Thank you Ken for saying it so simply and so well. 🙂

  31. Bob June 19, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I agree with Ted that we seem to confuse grace with mercy. My understanding is grace is Gods dynamic, His power by which we can operate on a day to day, moment by moment basis. I can’t show or give grace to anyone as it comes from God Himself to me. I can however show mercy to others. It is Gods love and mercy for man that Jesus has enabled us to escape the justice due to us. Grace is the power to turn the 180 degrees and walk away from the world and its ways. Since we are no longer under the law by Gods mercy we have now more responsibility to live by Gods grace to keep it. I think of it like giving a policeman a pistol to hang from his hip. He now can shoot whoever he seems fit to shoot, but it is his now his job to avoid shooting anyone if at all possible. The law is still there and sin is still there and Gods grace allows us to be free from both of them.

  32. Bob June 19, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I agree with Ted that we seem to confuse grace with mercy. My understanding is grace is Gods dynamic, His power by which we can operate on a day to day, moment by moment basis. I can’t show or give grace to anyone as it comes from God Himself to me. I can however show mercy to others. It is Gods love and mercy for man that Jesus has enabled us to escape the justice due to us. Grace is the power to turn the 180 degrees and walk away from the world and its ways. Since we are no longer under the law by Gods mercy we have now more responsibility to live by Gods grace to keep it. I think of it like giving a policeman a pistol to hang from his hip. He now can shoot whoever he seems fit to shoot, but it is his now his job to avoid shooting anyone if at all possible. The law is still there and sin is still there and Gods grace allows us to be free from both of them.

  33. janice June 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Terry, that scripture is the very one that sets me free from sin. I have searched and longed for freedom from besetting sin and when that thought in its totality came to me, I understood grace.
    “but not all things are profitable,” set me free.

  34. RwayneR June 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for your insight regarding “unconditional love” being somewhat descriptively incomplete. Speaking “transitional love” is less likely to be interpreted as a love that exists just as one way relationship, God to us.

    I like reflecting on the dynamics of Love “that was, that is, and is to come”. A relationship containing unending adventure of living loved discoveries. Great anticipation with diminishing compulsion of having to try to figure it out ahead of time…. (Being yoked with Yeshua has many benefits.)

  35. janice June 25, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Terry, that scripture is the very one that sets me free from sin. I have searched and longed for freedom from besetting sin and when that thought in its totality came to me, I understood grace.
    “but not all things are profitable,” set me free.

  36. RwayneR June 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Thanks for your insight regarding “unconditional love” being somewhat descriptively incomplete. Speaking “transitional love” is less likely to be interpreted as a love that exists just as one way relationship, God to us.

    I like reflecting on the dynamics of Love “that was, that is, and is to come”. A relationship containing unending adventure of living loved discoveries. Great anticipation with diminishing compulsion of having to try to figure it out ahead of time…. (Being yoked with Yeshua has many benefits.)

  37. roberto June 30, 2011 at 12:27 am

    So helpful your distinction between “unconditional love” and “transformational love”. It gives us a way to talk about God’s love without opening the door to misconceptions. THANK YOU!

  38. roberto June 30, 2011 at 3:27 am

    So helpful your distinction between “unconditional love” and “transformational love”. It gives us a way to talk about God’s love without opening the door to misconceptions. THANK YOU!

  39. Don Every January 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I agree with all are saying here. With even a half-reasonable mind and a half-responsive heart, it becomes clear and glorious. The position I was in and many others I am guessing, is not that of either luxury.

    When one is in deep, deep, psychological-/spiritual despair, you are plumb out of reason and faith. You have spent a lifetime ‘lawing’ and languishing, and nothing has helped. The only things you’ve heard are ‘try harder’ and ‘you’re not worth it’. That is not an atmosphere to balance the theology or the rationality of survival, let alone comprehending true freedom, in Christ or any place. For me the thing that got through was that a family member offered to pay for a time in a Christian retreat here in Australia. Though I didn’t have to go, the offer said volumes about my sister’s heart for me, from Christ.

    What we need to hear in this kind of position is ‘It’s all right, it’s not your fault’, like Robin Williams’ character says over and over to Will Hunting in that movie. If he had added codicils and conditions to that assurance, he would have lost the quest.
    Grace is free, no matter how you encumber it, and the way to Christ-likeness is also free, whatever we do in responding to the Spirit’s nudging.

    Of course freedom is neither cheap, nor always easy, but the gift(s) of grace and faith we are given from time to time are the dynamic, peaceful, way to godliness. Grace is neither an excuse for slackness nor an excuse for others to accuse us in any way. You want responsible grace? Then show us responsive grace.

  40. Don Every January 28, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I agree with all are saying here. With even a half-reasonable mind and a half-responsive heart, it becomes clear and glorious. The position I was in and many others I am guessing, is not that of either luxury.

    When one is in deep, deep, psychological-/spiritual despair, you are plumb out of reason and faith. You have spent a lifetime ‘lawing’ and languishing, and nothing has helped. The only things you’ve heard are ‘try harder’ and ‘you’re not worth it’. That is not an atmosphere to balance the theology or the rationality of survival, let alone comprehending true freedom, in Christ or any place. For me the thing that got through was that a family member offered to pay for a time in a Christian retreat here in Australia. Though I didn’t have to go, the offer said volumes about my sister’s heart for me, from Christ.

    What we need to hear in this kind of position is ‘It’s all right, it’s not your fault’, like Robin Williams’ character says over and over to Will Hunting in that movie. If he had added codicils and conditions to that assurance, he would have lost the quest.
    Grace is free, no matter how you encumber it, and the way to Christ-likeness is also free, whatever we do in responding to the Spirit’s nudging.

    Of course freedom is neither cheap, nor always easy, but the gift(s) of grace and faith we are given from time to time are the dynamic, peaceful, way to godliness. Grace is neither an excuse for slackness nor an excuse for others to accuse us in any way. You want responsible grace? Then show us responsive grace.

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