Frank Friedmann | Author of "Stunned by Grace"
Dear IOM Reader,
If you were critical and negative about my bride, and slandering her, you and I are going to be a bit troubled in our relationship... and rightfully so. She belongs to me, and is cherished by me. When you slander her, I will rightfully rise up against you to defend her who is the apple of my eye. This is as it must be.
I find it strange, that so many who are part of the body of Christ, find it so easy to be critical, negative and slanderous when they talk about the church? Do they fail to realize that they are dissing His bride when they do so? I have to wonder if that doesn't bother Him to hear such slander against His bride?
In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul (our champion of grace who fought fiercely for grace), warned us to be careful to not judge the servant of another. He made it abundantly clear, we are not to judge our fellow believers who answer to our Father, and not to us. Is not this charge heightened and magnified when we realize we are not only judging His servants, but His bride?
This does not mean that we are passive when we find her in faulty belief systems or fruitless practices. We are in the church. We are part of His body, His bride. We know her value, so when we see her wayward ways, we need to fight for her. Sometimes, in our fight for her, we are going to have to fight against her. This is a task we must all be involved in, because she is worth fighting for.
But when we fight against her, we must be careful to remember that our supreme motive must be that we are fighting for her. This goal will protect our method and motive when doing so, because our goal will not be to defeat her, but to win her back to Jesus as her sole source of life.
As Paul proclaimed, let us speak the truth to her, but do so in patient love, so she can find the truth that will set her free indeed, in Him, Who is her groom.
I am hearing that many people in the movement of grace, are declaring that coming into the fulness of Christ as our Life is a one-time event! They are absolutely RIGHT – IT IS A ONE TIME EVENT!
At the moment of receiving Jesus by faith, we were placed into union with Him, sharing in His crucifixion He took us to the cross and executed us. All that was wrong about us was placed into the grave – that person is gone forever!
Then, when He rose, we rose with Him as brand-new creations. We were made RIGHT – but not so He could put us on His shelf and admire us as trophies of His grace (though that is true). He made us RIGHT so the RIGHT ONE could live inside us. We now experience Him intimately as individuals, and express Him radically and relationally, we He lives His life through our life, and the Holy Spirit of Jesus lives a very active and loving life! WOW!
So, we begin our journey of faith, from the starting line of perfection. We take our first step of faith, already full and complete in Christ. We are NOT on a journey of getting more from God or more out of ourselves. That it is why it is called the “Finished work of Christ!” We start our race of faith, at the finish line! Rightness, fulness, completeness, perfection is a one-time event for all who place their faith in Jesus. Isn’t that amazing?
It is also a process. A process? Yes, of learning how to walk in this new life, turning from the old ways, gaining greater trust in Him as we walk with Him and refusing those other ways that we used to pursue to bring us life, that was not life. Christian maturity is instantaneous at the moment of faith. Abiding in the Vine, Jesus, His life flows fully and completely through us.
But we can have absences of faith and take our eyes off Him. We can seek life where we should not seek life. So, walking by faith is a process where we learn to be who we are, vessels of the life of God, in union with Him, so we can experience Him personally, and express Him relationally as we live our life joined with His life and amaze the world with our radical life.
If I could illustrate it, it is a lot like marriage.
Marriage is a one-time event. A man and woman stand before the assembly, share their covenant love, and receive each other and they leave that assembly no longer as two, but as one new union. They are now married, through the event of receiving each other. BAM! Marriage is an event!
But it is also a process, where you learn to live married.
You better understand that and be prepared for it. When you get married, you have not entered into an ethereal flow through life. To have a successful marriage, you will have to work out the process of learning to be married, and there will be failures along the way as you learn to be married.
So, believer, you are complete in Christ through the one-time event of faith, needing to gain nothing more, for you already have God Himself in union with you. But you are in a process now of learning how to live this radical new union-life. Accomplishing this is not going to be an ethereal float through life. We must choose to walk in faith. We must labor to enter into the rest – (labor means to believe what we believe against the lies – there are so many lies that it is hard work sometimes to refute those lies that call us to achieve and rest in what we have received). We must work out our salvation – continue to have the attitude and mindset of Jesus to walk in a life of dependency on the Spirit!
So saints, get on with the process of learning to walk in faith, so others can see your supernatural life! Let them see the supernatural love, kindness, mercy, strength, and love that is now yours in Christ, because of Christ.
And as you learn, and sometimes fall in the process of learning, give yourself some grace, and get back up again. Proverbs 24 says, “The righteous man falls seven times – AND GETS UP AGAIN!” God does NOT say the righteous man never falls, but that he keeps getting up!
He knows that his failures in faith no longer define him. He learns that when he fell, he was once again seeking life where life will not be found. He gains greater faith in his fall, for failure is a great teaching tool of how not to live life. In his fall into temporary insanity, (that is what I call sin in the life of a believer), he gains the knowledge that his own way will not achieve what only Jesus can provide. He learns through the lab of failure that Jesus alone is His sufficiency in life. He learns to better practice what he possesses, and knows that He must live in Christ, the same way he received Christ – by grace, through faith (Col. 2:6)!
You have received the event of completeness and fulness. It is yours. Possess it! Now go enter the process of learning to live it better, and never, ever quit! (II Cor. 4:16). In doing so, you will function as the light of the world, and others will see God in and through you, and glorify Him because they finally see Him...
The invisible God, made visible, through you! WOW! And again I say, WOW!
Look at this contrast of thought:
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge"
How many of us can echo that? Through our lack of understanding
and ignorance most of us have got ourselves into some deep stuff!
WE NEED KNOWLEDGE! However...
I Cor. 8:1
"Knowledge puffs up"
How many of us can echo that? Through gaining understanding and
insight we became arrogant and prideful in how smart we had
NOTE THIS WELL:
The very thing we cannot live without will also destroy us!
How are we to explain this?
I share this conviction:
There is a HUGE difference between learning ABOUT God and
learning of God...
Through my personal study I can learn ABOUT Abraham Lincoln...
And impress a lot of people with my knowledge about him...
But I can NEVER KNOW him....
I can do the same thing with God. I can learn a lot ABOUT Him, and
impress a lot of people with my knowledge about Him, and yet still not
But through the Holy Spirit Who lives inside me, the spirit of Jesus
gets experienced by me, I can actually come to KNOW HIM in
personal relationship.... and He will be the one impressing me and I
will stand in awe of Who He is and all that He has done!!!
"without knowing Him, I will be destroyed..."
I Cor 8:!
'Knowing about Him can have the negative effect of puffing me up,
but knowing Him, will humble me and I will be led to exalt Him...
AMEN! AS IT SHOULD BE!!!
In the Corinthian letters, Paul warned them NOT to ever leave the simplicity that is in Christ.
We have one supreme responsibility as a believer, and that is to abide in Him. In John 15, Jesus used the analogy of a vine and branches. A branch is absolutely useless, unless it is connected to the vine. Separated from the vine, the branch is dead, unable to produce "anything"
That is why in Hebrews 12, as we run the race of faith, the call is to fix our eyes... NOT on the law, NOT on principles, NOT on a creed, but on Him alone, for He is not only the Author of our salvation, but the Perfecter of our salvation as well.
Anytime, we fix our eyes on anything other than Him, we will forfeit the simplicity of Christ for complexity. Anytime, we fix our eyes on anything other than Him, the emphasis of our lives will be on that "other thing", and ultimately on how we are doing pursuing that "other thing"... and we will end up with a man-centered Gospel instead of a Jesus-centered Gospel...
... and that will be no Gospel at all.
We must all follow the path that the Apostle Paul followed. Remember in Philippians he told that he had "one thing" - and that was to press on to know Him, (know = ginosko = intimate experience), the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
Knowing Him, is our "one thing" - everything else in life flows out of knowing Him.
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