Crucified With Christ

A Message given at Holydale Baptist on 4/13/14

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This message discusses how we have been crucified with Christ, our old nature was taken away, and we were buried with Christ. We have been set free from the law of sin and death.

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When Grace Becomes a Threat

People like the idea of grace being a tool God puts into our hands, because this makes us the abounding-grace-cover.jpgachiever – which feeds our pride. It’s when you unveil the full teaching of God’s grace, which calls us to trust completely in what Christ has done, that people call grace hyper. People are not comfortable with being completely dependent upon Christ alone. Religious people would rather believe that God is proud of their efforts.

The truth that the only way we can please God is to trust and receive what He has accomplished is not palatable to religion. God is love, and because of His desire to express His love, God gave the gift of Himself through the promise, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” That is grace. Anything that replaces His gift of ‘all things’ has replaced grace with a cheap counterfeit. This substitute then denies God the pleasure of expressing love, and denies us the joy of experiencing all things. The counterfeit may call itself grace, but it is nothing more than a fading form of religion.

Don’t allow others to turn you away from grace with misinformation. Find out what grace actually teaches. Read Abounding Grace here. if you are not able, or don’t want to pay 99 cents, email me here and I’ll send you a free ebook copy.

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The Myth of Hyper-Grace

This series goes through the Bible’s teaching on grace, what it means, and how the myth of hyper-grace is a needless division in the church. Instead of taking critic’s at their word, find out what grace believers are really teaching. This series will detail the basic principles of walking by faith in grace.

Download the book, Abounding Grace, by clicking here. http://bit.ly/1aDqksh This is a PDF version, so it requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free. Or you can support this ministry by purchasing a copy by clicking here.

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Defending the Faith, or Sowing Discord?

About two weeks ago, a friend sent me a broadcast by Michael L. Brown. In this broadcast, he and Sid Roth promoted his newly released book called Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message.

During the broadcast, I listen to them belittle those who believe everything the Bible teaches about grace. Of course they labeled it ‘hyper-grace’ and then everyone who believes in the depths of God’s grace were called heretics. They went as far as to claim this was the greatest threat to the church in modern history and then explained how his book would help the church fight against people like myself. They then explained how our children and loved one’s very souls were at stake.

It’s interesting that Jesus said, “By this shall all men know you are my abounding grace coverdisciples, because of your love for one another.” The Bible also says that God hates when brethren sow discord among brethren. It is a fallacy to think that just because we can put someone under a negative label that this gives us the right to destroy our brothers. Labeling someone as an enemy of God does not give us the right to attack them. Not only did Jesus command us to love our fellow believer, but He also commanded us to love our enemies.
During the broadcast it was said that grace (hyper-grace) is creating divisions in the church. I just did a search on the word ‘hyper-grace’ and found more than 26,000 hits. These lead to two types of articles. One set of articles are the dangers of hyper-grace and the call to fight. The other sets of articles are people like myself saying things like, “No, this is not an accurate representation of what I believe or teach.”

Who is causing the divisions? Who falls under the Bible’s rebuke of, “Are you not carnal (or fleshly minded) when there are fightings, divisions, and wars among you?” Am I causing division by saying, “Look at Christ?” Or is the person who says, “Here is what these heretics believe,” and then calls for the church to fight against ‘those people’ the ones causing the division.

After reading through the top article hits against hyper-grace, the majority of these have never heard the teachings of the people they are criticizing. They are repeating, almost verbatim, the words of Michael Brown’s broadcast. Consider this quote taken directly from one of the parroting sites:
Preachers of hyper-grace doctrine discount the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments as irrelevant to New Testament believers. They even teach that Jesus’ words spoken before His resurrection are part of the Old Covenant and no longer applicable to born-again believers.

The majority of these accusations are like this one. They believe. They teach. They reject. I wasn’t aware that I was hyper-grace until I listened to this broadcast, but he criticized nearly everything I have been discovering in God’s word. And I didn’t even know there was a ‘hyper-grace movement’ out there. But I am encouraged that there is. Yet the above statement doesn’t represent anything I believe or have heard anyone teach.

People like myself teach this: Everything must be viewed through the cross of Jesus. Anything that points to what Jesus fulfilled must be viewed as His works. Grace teaching is that everything goes through the cross and everything is received through Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that every spiritual attribute is the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of man. The Bible teaches that we receive from His divine nature all things. Faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, philia love, and agape love are all received as gifts of grace through His divine nature. This is clearly taught in Peter’s epistle to the church. The Apostle Paul said, “What do you have that you didn’t receive [from God]. If you received it, why are you boasting as if you have done it?”

Grace teaching is to accept the Bible’s claim that we can do nothing for God, but we look expectantly to Him for every need. We believe the Bible’s claims that we are already overcomers in Christ, and this is our victory – faith in Him. Why that makes us a threat, I don’t know.

There are many accusations Michael Brown’s book levels against those who stand by faith in God’s grace – a grace that God calls abundant, exceeding, and above all that we could think, ask, or even imagine. I’m not sure how you can imagine enough to exceed this promise.

Since this broadcast misrepresents grace and what people like myself teach, I felt led to clarify what grace teaches. I’ve put this into a short book called, ‘Abounding Grace: Dispelling Myths and Clarifying the Biblical Message of God’s Overflowing Grace’. I’ve made this free on Amazon. If you read this article after the free promo has expired and you don’t want to spend .99 cents, email me on my contact page and I’ll get you a free ebook copy.

Don’t allow others to create divisions or poison your attitudes toward those who believe grace is God’s love that He packaged into many spiritual gifts, and gave these to us freely for no other reason than for us to get a glimpse of the depths of God’s love.

Grace is the gospel. The gospel is not about what you do for God, but what God has done – and given – you as a gift of His loving grace!

Abounding Grace can be found by clicking here.

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The Tale of the Two Husbands

The comparison between the husband of Law and the husband of Grace is one of the most powerful illustrations in the Bible. This study looks at how our death sets us free from the law and takes us from condemnation to perfection.

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Free Books for Thanksgiving!

As a thanks to both the Lord and readers, four Exchanged Life books are free on ebook today.

The Victorious Christian Life

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It is Finished!

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The Promise of a Sound Mind

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God Loves the Addict

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Why Perpetual Repentance Cannot Work

“Examine yourselves,” the preacher pronounced from the pulpit as he prepared for the altar call. “Look at your life. Have you sinned this week? This month? Do you have any unconfessed sins? Come down and get your life right with God. Confess your sins and be forgiven.”

 

Some Sundays, the message creates more of a guilty conscience than others. If people begin responding, we’ll sing another stanza of ‘Just as I am’. If no one responds, we’ll sing another stanza anyway because the preacher is sure the Holy Spirit is convicting someone’s heart of sin, but they are resisting.

 

This is a widely accepted message in many evangelical churches and denominations. Though it seems right because we want to deal with sin, this approach is flawed at its core. What is the flaw? Look at the focus of the message. Where is the focus? Look at your sin. Look at yourself. I recently read a devotional that called for repentance and at the end, it stated, “Resolve now to put off all ungodly conduct and yield completely to obedience to Christ.”

 

This sounds good, but there is one important flaw. It’s the same flaw that caused the Law of the Old Testament Covenant to fail. Let’s let the scriptures explain. Romans 8:3-4

3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

The Apostle Paul goes on to clarify, “The Law is good and holy, and the commandments of the law are good and holy.” In spite of this, the Bible says that instead of producing goodness and holiness in us, the law makes us exceedingly sinful. The reason? Romans 7:14 explains:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

 

The problem isn’t God’s law. The problem is that the law is spiritual, but we are carnal (or of the flesh). The flesh cannot become spiritual and therefore cannot fulfill a spiritual law. The law exposes sin and our utter incapability to measure up; therefore, it makes us exceedingly sinful by pointing out every act of the flesh. The flesh is at war with the Spirit, so it stands to reason that any effort through the flesh fails in its attempt to produce spiritual righteousness. When we view our spiritual condition through human eyes of the flesh, it drives us to despair, which then, if we have understanding, also drives us to the solution. This is also explained in Romans 7:24-25

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God– through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

Don’t lose sight of this contrast. In the flesh, we can do nothing but serve the law of sin. When we are looking to ourselves, we only have two choices – self-deception, or utter despair. But when we look at the Spirit by focusing on what Christ has done, we are taken out of the despair of the flesh and placed into the promise of God.

 

And this is why perpetual repentance cannot produce lasting results. Certainly we can drive people to despair by asking them to focus on sin. This will either cause people to shut down and disengage, or it may drive them to the altar. They will beg for mercy and have an emotional appeasement for a moment. However, that appeasement will disappear the next time they fail to measure up to the standard of perfection. Then they will no longer feel right with God. Never will they grow close to God, for their sin will always drive them away. The person depending upon commitment and resolve will never get beyond surface Christianity.

 

Notice the Apostles didn’t preach to focus on sin. When they looked at themselves, they recognized their wretchedness compared to God’s holiness. However, when they looked to the gift of Christ’s completed work, which was given to them, they could do nothing but rejoice. The message wasn’t, “We must do something with our sin.” The message was, “Christ has already taken sin out of the way; we then receive grace and rejoice in what He has done.”

 

The message of the gospel is not to become holy, righteous, and resolve to be perfect. The message of the cross is to become a partaker of God’s holiness, righteousness, and to trust in His perfection. Look at one of my favorite passages in 2 Peter 1:3-4

3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

Paul said it best when he said, “Not having my own righteousness, but that which is through faith in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It’s never your righteousness. You are a partaker of God’s righteousness, and you receive it by faith. You trust in God’s righteousness and God promises to overcome sin on your behalf. The more focused you are on Christ, the less power sin has. The more focused you are on sin, the less you will experience the power of faith in Christ. The power of God doesn’t change. Your faith in His power is either your strength or lack thereof.

 

In the past, when I preached, “Look at your life. Have you sinned…” what I was actually saying was, “Take your eyes off of the righteousness of Christ and look at your flesh.” Then defeat is a guarantee. Our calling is ALWAYS to take our eyes off our flesh and look to His grace. Grace is the gift of God’s unmerited favor. It is the completed work of Christ, given to you without any merit or service of your own. It is received by faith. Faith is believing in God’s works and trusting in His promise that His work is credited to your account. When we believe in Christ’s works, success is a guarantee.

 

There is only one type of repentance that is valid for the Christian. When we realize we have taken our eyes off of Christ and are again focused on the flesh, we need a change of mind and a change of direction. We repent by taking our eyes off ourselves and placing them back on Christ. We then walk with Him in His righteousness and rejoice that we are partakers of true righteousness. True righteousness is something we cannot produce.

 

Do you struggle with sin? This is normal. But the answer is not to focus on sin and lament over failure. The answer is to trust in God’s righteousness and focus on Him. When our minds are on Christ, we can do nothing but serve the law of God. When our minds are on the flesh, we can do nothing but serve the law of sin. The carnal mind draws from the flesh and human effort. Even during righteous acts it is still drawing from sinful flesh. This is why Jesus said, “Many will come to Me in that day and say, ‘Look what we have done in Your name,’ but I will declare, ‘You are a worker of lawlessness.”

 

If it is a good deed done through the flesh, even if it is done in Jesus’ name, it is still an act of the flesh, and whatever is of the flesh is sin. According to the Bible, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

Yet this is good news indeed. Your righteousness has already been accomplished. You need to do nothing but trust in the righteousness of Christ, given to you by faith. God only asks one thing of you. Trust in what He has given you. Hebrews 11:6 says:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

 

Take your eyes off your sins, failures, good works, religion, or any other self-focus. Believe in Him and receive the reward of faith – trusting in God. Nothing else has eternal significance. When you fail, you have simply stepped back into the flesh, and God calls you to again trust in His mercy and grace. Then receive righteousness and experience perfect fellowship as if that righteousness were your own.

 

As preachers and teachers, we should be turning people’s focus away from themselves and toward trusting completely in Christ. As listeners and receivers of the word, we should be taking our eyes off both our righteousness and our sin, and we should be looking to Christ alone. Not ourselves. Not our sin. Not our works. Not our righteousness. Christ alone. That is the Christian who will experience the victory already accomplished by Christ, and that person will grow into the faith God has provided. If there is one thing to resolve it’s this, resolve to trust in nothing but Christ. You can’t do it and you’ll only get frustrated with both failure and lack of spiritual fruit in your life. Stop trying and start trusting in Him. Then God has promised to both subdue your iniquities and will cause the fruit of the Spirit to emerge in your life.

Eddie Snipes 2013

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Repentance is the call of Fellowship, not an escape from hell

Don’t shortchange your faith. Life is so much more than escaping condemnation. Sharing the gospel is much more than lecturing on hell. The focus of the gospel is Christ, not sin. As a young preacher, I was taught an erroneous way of presenting the gospel. Success was measured by two things: how many Christians were compelled to the altar to repent again, and were there any sinners who were convinced to escape hell.

 

Over the years, I began to recognize some flaws with this style of preaching. The first thing was, what about those who are trying to grow in their faith? “Eddie, you need to preach a fiery message of salvation. Otherwise you aren’t going to get converts,” the pastor who mentored me said. I was preaching at a prison and two other ministries that reached low-income families. But I began to feel a burden for those I knew were Christians. Some I had even seen come to Christ. Do they need to hear a ‘You are a sinner’ type of message?

 

Another flaw is this: rarely does true faith emerge from the fear of hell. Fear is a powerful tool that can be employed to manipulate people. Politicians use it. The legal system uses it. Employers use it. Many areas of society uses it. Should the church be using it? It is God who said, “My ways are not like your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” In fact, throughout the New Testament, we see the Bible stressing how the Christian life and God’s ways are counter culture and counter to human nature. If society is dependent upon fear to control and manipulate, shouldn’t that at least cause us to stop and ask, “Is God’s way different than society’s?”

 

Funny I should ask, for the Bible does answer this question. Romans 2:4 tells us, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” And look at the message of 1 John 4:18-19

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

 

Hell, fire, and brimstone is strangely missing from the gospel message preached by the disciples. On the day of Pentecost, when the church was born and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, they went to the very crowd they feared – those who had crucified Jesus. It was the very group that caused Peter to deny Christ out of fear of going on trial with Jesus. But there Peter stood, with the disciples, in front of thousands of people. His words speak volumes. He began his message by explaining that he and the disciples were rejoicing, not because they were drunk as some accused them of being, but because the promise God had given in the Old Testament had come. They had received the promise given of the Holy Spirit that would empower the believer to be united with God and receive from God.

 

We see similar things in the Apostle Paul’s messages to the unchurched cities where he started new churches. Paul never proclaimed their damnation, nor did he use the promise of a ticket to heaven that would escape hell. He preached Christ. He presented the goodness of God and the power of Jesus. First, the power of Christ to conquer death through His resurrection, and from that position of power we could trust Him to conquer death in our lives. First, the death of the flesh in this life was defeated through Christ, second, the death of our life on this earth would be defeated and we will one day be transformed in our bodies as we can now be transformed in our spirit.

 

Read the Apostle Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the pagan worshipping men of Athens. He found an altar with the inscription, “To the unknown God.” He used this as an opportunity to present the God these men never knew. From there, he pointed to the goodness of God, explained how God did not hold their ignorance against them, but now calls for them to repent. And repentance means to turn. It is both a change of mind, and a change of directions. He then pointed to the erroneous way of thinking that God could be crafted out of stone or gold, but that His desire is to be united with them.

 

Indeed there is a place to mention sin, but sin is never the focus. Paul states, the day is coming when God will judge the world in righteousness, but He has given us the assurance of life through Christ. Peter uses a similar line of reasoning in Acts 3:12. They healed a man who had been born a cripple. The people were amazed and rushed to see the spectacle. Peter used this as a second opportunity to preach to the very crowd who condemned Jesus to death.

 

Keep in mind, Peter is about to present Jesus to the people who knew who He was and consented to His death. Peter then says, “By the power of Jesus, whom you put to death, this man stands before you whole today.” I’ve condensed the speech, but this is the nuts and bolts of his presentation. Then Peter points out that Jesus is the man they crucified with sinful hands, but then shifts the focus. Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out and the times of refreshing may come. Indeed sin is mentioned, but sin is not the focus. Look at the goodness of God. Your sin prevents you from experiencing this, but turn to God and He will remove your sins so you also may experience the goodness of God.

 

There is a big difference between the message, “Look at your sins. Look at hell. Beg God for mercy that He may let you escape hell,” and the message, “Look at the power of Christ, and the goodness of God’s love offered through Christ. Let God remove your sins and transform you into a new creation so you can walk in that love.” Do you see the difference between biblical evangelism and the hell-fire evangelism method? One is self-focused. One is Christ-focus. One teaches the flesh to save itself. The other teaches us to trust in the goodness of God and let go of the flesh.

 

To see the vast difference between these two gospels, look at the fruit of repentance. Those who are running from hell are dependent upon perpetual repentance and show little love for God. He is one to be feared. Obedience is compelled by a fear of judgment. Those who see the goodness of God and His invitation to join Him in new life overcome fear. God becomes a Father and life is about learning how to enjoy fellowship, not a fear of anger. The Bible says that we are perfected in Christ, yet the above passage from 1 John says, “He who fears has not been perfected.” We love God because He first loved us. It is the love of God that compels people to true repentance. When we see the depth of God’s love for us, we are drawn by that love. When we see the love of God, poured out through the life of Christ and His payment for our sin on the cross, we are drawn to that call of love.

 

Which shows love? The lord who says, “Serve me or I’ll beat you with stripes?” Or the lord who sees us struggling for survival and says, “Let me carry your burden. Walk with me and trust in my works. If you join me in my labors, I’ll reward you by making you an heir to my kingdom?” The last example IS the message of the cross. Jesus said, “He who is weary and heavy laden, be yoked to Me and I will give you rest.” A yoke is how two oxen were connected so they could plow a field. But the message is not for us to pull the plow, but to be yoked with Christ so we can find rest as He pulls the load. Yet we are still rewarded as if it were our labors.

 

Ephesians 2:9-10 begins by making it clear that our salvation cannot be earned, it is a gift of grace and not by any works. Yet it ends by saying, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in it.” We are God’s workmanship. We walk in His works as He works to transform our lives into something glorious, and our role is to walk in God’s works. We don’t create our own. But then we are rewarded as if it were our own.

 

Who will enjoy the Christian walk, the one who thinks he must pull the plow, labor all his life, and fear that it might not be enough? Or the one who joins to the yoke of Christ and enjoys fellowship while walking through the works God prepared beforehand for us to walk in? And we walk through God’s works with Christ for two main purposes – to enjoy fellowship and to be rewarded for the work as an heir of the Kingdom of God. Do you see how God’s goodness can do nothing but lead us to repentance? This is nothing but good news – and that is what the word ‘gospel’ means, good news.

 

The message of the gospel is not, You have sinned and God’s preparing judgment. The message of the gospel is, Under Adam, we are already under condemnation, but God so loved the world that He gave. He gave Himself as the payment of sin so we could be freed from condemnation and join Him as an heir to His Kingdom. The gospel does not say, “Look at your sin,” but rather, “Take your eyes off your sin and look to Christ. Trust in His payment for sin and enjoy fellowship with God. He has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Eddie Snipes 2013

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