How the abundance of God’s grace produces fruitfulness, power and obedience in us.
Many look for victories, breakthroughs and ever higher levels of blessing. Why? Is the problem that we don’t have those things, or is it that we don’t see what we have?
The Apostle Paul’s calling was “to make all see” (Ephesians 3:8). He never suggests that believers need further blessing, power, revival, anointing or breakthrough. Instead, he helps us see what we already have, “to me … this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8, NKJV).
What are these “unsearchable riches?” What is it God wants us to see? Another term for “unsearchable riches” is “blessing,” a word so common that it can easily lose some of its meaning. After all, when someone sneezes we say “God bless you.” The dictionary defines “blessing” as “to speak well of and to cause to prosper and be happy.” In light of this consider these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him.” (Ephesians 1:3-10, NKJV)
All blessings are already ours. It takes time to digest this truth. We lack nothing. Everything is complete in Jesus Christ. Look at the grammar used by the Apostle Paul, especially the past tense in the phrase “who has blessed us.” “Blessed” indicates past tense, and when prefaced by “has,” it makes it double sure-the blessings have been given to us already.
God’s blessings are irreversible. Isaac could not reverse the blessing of the firstborn once it was given to Jacob even though Esau asked for it moments later. If God’s Old Testament blessings were irreversible, how much more so are they in the New Testament.
What God has blessed cannot be cursed. When Balak asked Balaam to curse Israel, he could not because what God has blessed cannot be cursed. Look at these Scriptures:
” . .. you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22: 12b, NKJV)
“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” (Numbers 23:8, NKJV)
If God’s blessings were absolute in the lesser covenant, how much more are they in this greater covenant? Why then are Christians afraid of curses? I hear people “reverse curses” they perceive to have received from negative words, or childhood experiences. Some people feel cursed because a non-Christian religious building has been erected in their neighborhood, or because of some occultic influence. The way we reverse curses, whether real or imaginary, is by believing that Christ’s work on Calvary has once and for all reversed all curses. Let’s align our thinking with God’s Word. WhatGod has blessed cannot be cursed. If fifty demons and a thousand unholy people were standing three feet from you speaking negative cursing words, the words would have no effect. Christ has become your blessing and you cannot be cursed.
Increased awareness of God’s blessings come by increased knowledge of Christ. Maybe you don’t feel blessed right now. The more we “see” what Christ has done, the more blessing manifests in and through us. But we must see that we have it now. The problem with the older son in the story of the prodigal is that he believed the blessing
would be his “someday,” while the younger son believed that the father’s blessings were his now.
All blessings have come “together” in Christ. Look at verse 10 again·: “that…He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him.” (Ephesians 1:10, NKJV) We are living in the “it is finished” time. Today the heavenly and earthly dimension is combined in Jesus. A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church caught an understanding of this. ln one of his hymns entitled “I am Living in Heaven Today,” he wrote:
They tell of the bliss of the ransomed above in the land that is far far away
But Jesus so fills my glad heart with His love that I’m living in heaven today
They tell of the pleasures that never decline and the treasures that never decay
But Jesus Himself and His riches are mine and I’m living in heaven today
No sorrow ever come to that beautiful shore and their tears have been all wiped away
But Jesus has taught me to sorrow no more and He fills me with heaven today
For heaven is Jesus and Jesus is mine and His presence is with me always
He fills me so full of His glory divine that I’m living in heaven today
In Christ, heaven has kissed the earth and we are caught in the smack.
We are blessed to be holy; because “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4, NKJV)
This is not a theory, an opinion or an artificial position. It is a reality, which sadly has eluded many, causing them to live in condemnation. Many feel a continual need to rededicate themselves, “to get saved” repeatedly because they have not understood that they have been made holy by the blood of Christ.
The book of Hebrews describes this human dilemma of insufficiency: “For the law .. . can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins . .. ” (Hebrews 10:1-3, NKJV)
Notice the word “continually.” When we do the same thing repeatedly to gain God’s blessing, it merely demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the activity. Since sacrifices were made continually, it was evident that those sacrifices were powerless to remove a consciousness of sin. Jesus said “the heathen” repeat their prayers thinking that their continued incantations or prayers will somehow impress God.
This is not unlike believers today who act as if they continually need new breakthroughs, anointings, or who repeatedly rededicate themselves. The beauty of the gospel is that we are made holy by what Christ has done. This gives us assurance. Our life is not based on our performance but on Christ. The book of Hebrews continues; ” … we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14, NKJV)
Continual sacrifices and rededications subliminally remind us of our failures. Our repeated efforts perpetuate a consciousness of sin. Instead, focus on the one offering for sin that Jesus has made forever. The more we see what Christ has done, the more we become conscious of His righteousness in us. Feelings of inability, unworthiness and inferiority produce a lifestyle in kind. Similarly, a consciousness of Christ and his righteousness in us produces a Christ-centered holy life.
Some think that this teaching does away with admonition, correction and rebuke. Not at all. We all need to be admonished and rebuked at times. However, if we are not settled as to who we are in Christ, we are easily condemned or offended when we are admonished. When we have an assurance of Christ in us, we can truly benefit from correction.
Note the expression “to the praise of the glory of His grace … according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians l :6-7, NKJV) Paul elaborates; “But God, who is rich in mercy … that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4, 6&7 NKJV)
Ponder the words “rich,” “riches” and “exceeding riches.” We must let this truth dominate our thoughts. We agree we are saved by the riches of His grace, but we must remember the same grace which saves us is also the grace which causes us to grow in the Lord. The Galatian church had a problem as they started in grace and then somehow thought they would continue by self-effort. All our Christian life, even miracles are by God’s grace.
All too often we find Christians engaging in some self-effort intended to lead to revival, or breakthrough, or blessing. Friends, every good thing that we experience is by the riches of His grace and His mercy. It’s all Jesus – not our self-effort.
We are blessed to reign in life. Some suggest this teaching gives us license to live a compromised Christian life. The opposite is true. Our self-effort keeps us in sin, because our best attempts have no power over sin.
Some worry that we teach too much grace, that we need to balance it. Well, let me free you from that worry. The Bible is very clear: “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ… But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:17, 20-21 , NKJV)
Do you see it? When grace abounds we reign in life. More grace produces more power, holiness and obedience. By self-effort and encouraging a “strong willpower” type of Christianity, we lead people into more hypocrisy. We will never do right by merely pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps – righteous living comes only as we yield to Christ’s life in us.
The Apostle Paul explains it with brutal directness “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? . .. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:1-2, 11 , NKN). It is ridiculous to think that God’s grace would lead to sin – it does the opposite-it reveals us as dead to sin. We can never have too much grace, because grace is about how we are crucified and risen with Christ. More grace facilitates more of Christ’s reign in us, and more obedience to His will.
Meditate on what Christ has done for you. Maybe you have a natural ability to put on a facade that looks very holy and religious, but in the end you will fail and disappoint both yourself and others. Instead, be conscious of your righteousness in Christ. Don’t curse the darkness; turn on the light. You are the one of whom it says; “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NKJV)
God has caused light to shine in us. In His light we see light. Let’s not be found among those who “loved darkness rather than light… ” (John 3:19, NKJV) The light we are to love is the truth of the victory Jesus has provided for you. Shun “darkness teaching” that emphasizes your self-effort, your own good works, your prayer techniques, and your breakthrough methods. This only perpetuates more darkness. Rather, focus on the light – Christ is light and in Him you see light.