Chapter Twenty (Visions of Righteousness of God)
Examination of grace
Many regard grace as unmerited favour. It is also said that past, present and future sins have been forgiven. How true is this? Let us examine the scriptures. Grace came through Jesus (John 1:17). Without ambiguity, the scripture is clear that God forgave man of only the sins that were committed previously (Rom. 3:25).
This suggests that the entire human race has been saved by grace once (Eph. 2:8). This is the common salvation (Jude 3a) by grace. It is this man to whom God will not impute sin whenever he believes and abides in Jesus thereafter, going by King David’s prophecy (Rom. 4:8). In which case, he does not sin because of the seed of God in him and has been born of God (John 3:9).
All sins by Israel and the lawless deeds by Gentiles prior to the sacrifice by Jesus were forgiven and forgotten by God to fulfil prophecy (Is. 43:25; Rom. 4:7). God promised not to remember them again (Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10:17). All these texts on forgiveness will survive only in the context of the common salvation. No man will ever be punished or judged on account of the sins for which Jesus suffered, or be alienated from God because of them. This suggests that once a man believes, he is obliged to abide in Christ (Mk. 8:34; John 15:4).
So it does not mean that the ‘now and future’ sins have been forgiven.
Rather, it puts burden on man not to look back to sin. If a blind man in the likeness of Abram at the time God called him believes, God will impute his belief to him for righteousness, apart from his works (Rom. 4:6). Then God will next give the gift of Spirit of faith to the man (Ron. 4:5). This gift of faith is what assists man to have his own divine faith and to know that He is God.
To the man who has faith, God will give the new heart and new Spirit made in holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24).
Then the Holy Spirit will seal the Spirit to preserve the virtue (Eph. 1:13). This is the born-again man (Spirit alone) who does not sin (1 John 3:9).
The role of spirit in man, as seen earlier, suggests that the entire man is to walk by faith in line with the new Spirit (Rom. 8:1, 4; 1 Tim. 6:1) to please God (Heb. 11:6). But the weakness of the body and soul in the interim makes it a challenge.
Balancing the above expectation and reality further shows that the present and future sins have not been forgiven. Can this righteousness be reversed? Yes.
The prophecy which says that if a man who once received righteousness happens to backslide and will not repent, he will die like Adam, says so (Ezek. 18:24). So the quote ‘that all died in Adam’ is not parallel to the quote ‘that all might live in Christ’. Now man has a choice to make (Deut. 30:19) and a command to work out own salvation to obey (Phil. 2:12). A wrong choice or partiality, which God hates (James 2:1, 4), will hurt him. The scripture made it known that the guilty and the backslider will not enter the kingdom (Gal. 5:19–21).
So, man shall account for present and future sins on day of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:10). Meanwhile God sees only the new creation spirit which He gave to who believed in the form of Christ. God does not see the body and soul who is the real man until they are righteous and Holy. Now the soul is to work out his own salvation through the rewashing by the word by Holy Spirit and abide in Christ (2 Cor. 3:18; John 15:5).
Not understanding this suggests the thinking that now God sees entire believer’s components as Christ and so he cannot be unrighteous again.
In that case, what then is truly the grace of God?
Ask the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13).
However let us examine what the grace of God really represents from the next page.
Remarks on the illustration
Truth, which is (the life of) the word of God (John 17:17), is what conveys divine virtues. The features of divine virtues are the instruments of governance in heaven.
They are poured out of heaven to make imprints which form the kingdom of God within man. Imprints signify the intervention of Christ in man’s situation. This is the ongoing back end activity of grace.
It is the imprint that the scripture has decoded in the front end, or outwardly, as the grace of God.
Love is the prime instrument of governance, and its imprint is the bedrock of the kingdom of God within man (Lk. 17:21). In any situation of man an apt imprint of grace might appear to lend a hand.
The plane of darkness of iniquity and sin into which man is born and lives lies below the bedrock plane, indicated with stars.
It is from the kingdom of darkness that a man of faith might through Christ access the kingdom of God within him, to obtain mercy and find grace to aid in times of need (Heb. 4:16).
In other words, man requires faith to ascend to stand in grace, and the aftermath is the opportunity to rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2).
To stand in grace grants man the benefit of the reign of Christ, or His governance.
Hence faith is the victory that has overcome the world (1 John 5:4). So faith, which actually means to surrender to the word of God, is all that man requires to overcome the world.
Explanation of how grace helps man
The healing of the woman with the issue of blood is a good example of how grace helps man. The account suggests that she believed a hunch, which came from the Spirit of faith, that touching the hem of the robe
of Jesus would heal her. Then she surrendered to the voice, which is the practical way to show faith. So she obeyed the intrinsic work in the voice by secretly touching the hem of the robe of Jesus Christ (Mk. 5:30).
As expected, she was healed by the grace of God. Jesus equally noticed that power left Him, which suggests that grace is a result of back end activity as shown previously.
In other words, that Jesus felt some power leave Him suggests that grace is caused by some sort of operation by a certain force in the kingdom of God. That certain force is the action of instrument of governance in the kingdom.
Governance in the kingdom is the description of the reign of Christ.
So grace is the expression on earth of the imprint made by the intervening force of the reign of Christ in the kingdom of God within man.
That is to say that, the intervening power of the reign of Christ first makes a divine imprint in the kingdom of God within man.
Then the imprint is decoded in the dark spirit realm of iniquity and sin in man’s heart (Ps. 51:5), and made known to the outward senses as grace.
To go back to the woman – she was darkness and lived in the plane of darkness (Eph. 5:8). But her faith lifted her up to the plane of grace. Then she found grace to help in her need, and she was healed (Heb. 4:16).
The declaration by Jesus that the woman’s faith healed her testified to the role of faith in the matters of grace (Mk. 5:34).
To recap, the imprint which is made in the kingdom of God within man is known on earth as grace. Every imprint is made by an intervening power from heaven and is known as the instrument of governance in the reign of Christ.
The benefit of grace is spiritual in form. It is in the likeness of the wind, which is neither seen nor touchable but can be made conscious of by feeling or hearing.
What this means is that any tangible benefit derived from inhumanly impossible circumstances or unexpected sources is not a result of grace. Rather, such benefit is as a result of favour.
The proof that grace is the imprint of the reign of Christ
Let us consider two scenarios:
- It is the grace of God alone which enables man to endure and bear and hope and believe all things. These are basics of love (1 Cor. 13:7).
i. An example is the man who cannot exercise self-control so as not to avenge injustices such as reproaches, slaps, persecution and insults unless by grace of God (1 Pet. 3:14).
- On the other hand, to face reproach and still be calm is a sign of the presence of the Spirit of glory, and of God acting upon the victim (1 Pet. 4:14).
Now harmonize the two scenarios and it will suggests that the Spirit of glory and of God upon man is a description of the grace of God upon man. As it has been previously shown, grace is a label, or decoding, of the imprint by instrument of divine governance.
But it was explained previously an imprint is the foot print made by instrument of reign of Spirit of glory, and of God.
Now Jesus Christ is the glory of God, and He is also the express nature of God (Heb. 1:3). This suggests that the action of the Spirit of glory and of God is a description of the stewardship of Jesus Christ.
But the stewardship depicts the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it means that grace is the imprint of the reign of Jesus Christ upon a given situation. (Quod erat demonstrandum)
Table of analysis
Without doubt, favour of God is unmerited.
What then can be said of grace? Could it be a doubly unmerited favour?
Certainly that will sound unknowledgeable.
This suggests, therefore, that to label grace as unmerited favour denies the truth. One benefit of this new reading is that grace will constantly remind man of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart – the plane of stars in the previous illustration.
The table of grace
The purpose of grace is that all of mankind might become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
The Table of Favour
Lesson from the tables of grace and favour
- Favour yields the benefit of earthly nature.
- Grace yields ingredient of heavenly nature.
- Both grace and favour are unmerited, or undeserved.
But they mean different things. Any instruments of governance in heavenly government may produce the imprint of either favour to meet the promise of earthly things by God, or grace to meet divine requirement for man to please God.
In comparison, the heavenly instrument of governance is similar to the instrument of governance in human governance (army, police and so on).
The authority which the instrument of governance exerts in human governance is like the imprint in the case of heavenly governance.
The benefit to man in either case is neither the authority, nor the imprint. Rather, it is the result of either of them that matters to man. That is, either space to live in freedom or grace respectively.
The keystone by love gave rise to the common salvation for all men (Jude 3a). Besides the common salvation, God does not desire that anybody should perish. So He further made grace to be available to every man to access through faith for his benefit daily (Jude 3b). This is the grace obtained by faith.
Now that man has been forgiven the previous sins, all that he has to do to profit from it is to believe in Jesus. It is only then that God will revive His kingdom in his heart. This is represented by the plane of stars in the illustration above.
Below the plane of stars is the kingdom of darkness into which every man is born and manipulated by the spirit of error (Rom. 7:15, 17 and 23).
In dreams man operates between the contending realms of spirit within him in line with the working of his mind and spiritual inclination (Lk. 17:20–21). But at mortal death, man is pulled back to the main domain of
the spirit realm, which he might have chosen by his faith and works, or lack of them (Eccl. 12:7; Lk. 16:19–31).
The reign of Christ reveals itself in the life of man from time to time by the imprint of the appropriate instrument of governance. This is how Christ shows His presence in the life of man to find grace to live a Christlike life.
(A detailed deliberation on grace and truth is available in the 2014 title The Choice is Yours, which is accessible for free online reading at www.christthelordreign.com.)
The difference between grace and favour
The grace of God flows solely from above to man for His sake (Is. 43:25). When grace is upon man, the glory of God, which no man has right to share with Him, is manifested for men to notice and to then give praise to Him (1 Pet. 3:14). The caveat is that man has to first believe in Jesus and have faith to get the benefit of the grace of God.
On the other hand, favour is a gift from above and there is no precondition attached (Lk. 1:28–30). Unlike grace, favour from God can be to both the believer and unbeliever, and the substance is basically mammon in form. In which case, favour might be misused to pervert the affairs of God, as happened in the episode of King Saul and of those who perished in the wilderness.
Grace addresses the fulfilment of the promise of heavenly nature (Is. 41:27; Gal. 3:8)
On the other hand, favour addresses the fulfilment of the blessings of a worldly nature (Gal. 3:14).
It was by grace that the blood of Jesus was shed to save man. This is what made the way for man to return home to God in heaven at His appointed time (Col. 1:12–14).
But favour resulted in the shedding of the blood of animals to appease God, that He might cover the sins of man.
The two levels of grace (Jude 3)
These are the grace of resurrection or common salvation, and the grace received by faith to work out one’s own salvation.
- The grace of resurrection or common salvation
This grace was given free to all without input by man. God gave it to fulfil the promise He made to Himself and to Abraham (Gen. 3:15, 12:3b; Titus 1:2).
It is this grace which saved all from the sins committed in the past, and from all previous curses (Rom. 3:25–26; Acts 14:16).
The specific deliverables of grace of common salvation
- The annulment of the divide erected by sin and the law in ordinances which had alienated man from God (Eph. 2:14–15).2
- Provision of the Way by the blood of Jesus to the Kingdom of God.
- Removal of the divide which was erected by the law of ordinance and covenant which separated the Jews and Gentiles. This made one man from the two (Eph. 2:14–15).
- Invite of all men in darkness to the light of God.
- Reconciliation of the one man to God, thus making peace, that man might be the righteousness of God by faith in Christ (Mt. 27:51).
- Unhindered access to God for all till the day of Judgment.
Until the day of the Lord the unhindered access to the Kingdom of God will remain in place for all to accept the free gift of salvation of common grace.
It is then that everyone shall be judged on account of his faith and works in the body of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).
The common salvation by grace was solely for the sake of redeeming God’s name, and therefore it was not a favour done to man (Ps. 23:3).
This suggests that whoever has accepted to profit from it is to hold on to the benevolence by abiding in Christ always (Rom. 8:1; Acts 17:30) – obey His commandments and walk like Him (1 John 2:5–6). If, however, a man who has believed backslides, he is to confess and repent, that the blood of Jesus might cleanse him immediately and be restored (1 John 1: 7, 9). The man who denies confession and repentance will be condemned (Ezek. 18: 24). Any contrary understanding of forgiveness by grace certainly suggests a defect in the reading of the scripture (Jude 4).
- The grace received by faith for daily living
The grace received by faith is to demonstrate the just righteousness of God.
This is the second phase of grace.
Here man is required to have the faith of the gospel so as to profit from the salvation which Jesus has accomplished for him by the first phase of grace (Jude
3b). This is the faith which is required by Heaven man to work out his own salvation (Phil. 2:12).
When a man believes in Jesus, God will give the gift of the Spirit of faith to him.
The faith of man will be his response. This is to surrender the heart and mind to the Spirit by obeying the written or spoken word of God.
In practice, the man is to say and do only that which the word says, without other consideration (John 15:10).
It is when this is the practice that a man is said to have faith in God. In essence, it portrays the surrender of the man to the voice of the Spirit of God. This practice eliminates self-effort. In other words, faith stands man in the grace of God, making it the means to succumb to the reign of Christ.
In which case, the man will watch as the instruments of governance do as he desires, making him shine with the strength of Christ (Mt. 5:16; Phil. 4:13). Then he will begin to reign in life by faith through the working of the instruments of governance of the reign of Christ in his favour (Rom. 5:17).
This is an example of how to identify oneself as a spirit-man, and to walk in the Spirit on earth (2 Cor.5:16), knowing that the word of God is Spirit (John 6:63).
The behaviour will be akin to those who produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23).
This is the daily saving grace of precious common faith which God gave to everybody who believed (2 Pet. 1:1). That the faith is common to all who chose to believe in Jesus makes the righteousness of God just (Acts 17:30).
In working out one’s own salvation, emulate the conduct of Apostle Paul in handling the gospel of Christ in the open and in private life (Phil. 1:27). Focus on the ministration of the word of God, and not on earthly things (Acts 6:4). Daily, give praise, thanksgiving and prayers to God.
How to grow in grace
The suggested proven definition of the grace of God from the viewpoint of the Holy Bible is that it is the imprint of the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This diagnosis is as described previously.
More knowledge on grace is available in the 2014 title The Choice is Yours, which is free to read online at www.christthelordreign.com.
The love of God produced the imprint within the heart of man, or grace to use the earthly label. This grace saved all from the sins committed up to the moment a man decides to believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:25). From that moment onward, the grace upon man trickles in proportion with his faith. This suggests that the extent to which you put God first, in dealings will boost how often you have faith that stands you in grace.
Once you stand in grace the reign of Christ will do all the things you desire, through you as a vessel. Those who observe you will think you are the doer.
This suggests that to have faith is to surrender self-effort to God and let Him do all things through you (Phil. 4:13). So the more a man increases his study of the scriptures and meditates on it and obeys, the more Christ will reign in his life.
This is the way to grow in grace or experience more of the grace of God.
Thus to grow in grace is not by increase in possession of earthly things, which is due to favour (Acts 14:17).