The Great and Terrible Day

You hear the sound of slowly beating drums. The sound echoes like the thunder of guns in the distance. You are standing in a very large crowd of people. You are packed together shoulder to shoulder with more people than you could ever count. You are surrounded on all sides by a vast ocean of people as far as your eye can see (1). You and the entire crowd inch forward step by step toward a very large platform ahead.   The sky is grey while the wind blows with the smell of acrid smoke.

Up ahead you see large torches of fire on both sides of the platform and you hear what sounds like human screams (2). Why are you here? What does all of this mean? You move forward.

News is trickling through the crowd. You overhear someone say, “People are being thrown into the fire!” Someone else shouts,”Everything we did in our past life is being scrutinized” (3). An older lady shakes her head and says, “There is no escape.” Small pockets of people are clustering together to try to figure a way out of this. Several are gathered around a spiritual leader to ask him questions. “I think it’s too late now”, he explains.

People are crying and sobbing everywhere. Some are kneeling down and desperately praying. Many people are silent, with a hopeless look of empty despair.  The entire atmosphere is nothing less than surmounting terror (4). Again, you move forward toward the enormous platform just ahead.

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Grace is a Person – Part 1

Christianity is much more than understanding concepts. Your heart cannot connect with a concept. Your mind can understand a concept, but your heart cannot connect with a concept. Your heart is made to connect with another person.

The grace of God is delivered to you in a person.  To receive the grace of God is to receive the person of Jesus Christ. Because the grace of God is actually delivered to you in a person, your heart can connect with grace (because grace has become a person). This is the only way that grace is delivered to you. Jesus Christ is the grace of God. When your heart is strengthened by the grace of God, your heart is being strengthened by Jesus Himself. When you receive and connect with Jesus, you are receiving more grace.

Tit. 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

You have been saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). You are strengthened by grace (Heb. 13:9). You are to live by grace (Eph. 2:9, Rom 4:4,5, Gal. 2:19-21). In other words, you are saved by Jesus Christ, you are strengthened by Jesus Christ and you are to live by Jesus Christ.

To remember only the fact that God has grace toward you is missing the point. Connecting with the person of Jesus Christ is to actually receive the grace of God. To get grace in your heart, you must connect with grace Himself.

Jn. 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

-Terry Stanley

This is part 1 of “Grace is a Person” from Deeper
This series is an excerpt from the book “From the Head to the Heart”

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We Are Commanded To Believe, Not Decide

Why is it so common for new converts to Christianity to fall away in their faith shortly after their so called conversion? We have preached that the unsaved should make “decisions for Christ.” This phrase is found nowhere in scripture. On the contrary, the Bible tells us “to believe” on the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in heart belief is there power to weather the storms of life that require difficult choices. Only heart belief produces the experience of what we say we believe.

To simply make a decision that something is true does not necessarily change your heart belief. A decision that you have made in the past gives you no power for this present moment. Because you’ve decided that “something is true” at one time in your life leaves you with no current inner strength to live it out in the heat of the battle. This is why so many new converts don’t finish their race. This is why so many Christians live powerless lives of defeat with a lukewarm Christianity. They have certainly made a decision for Christ. They have certainly decided that many things are true about God, but they have no conviction of heart. Many do not find a daily, trusting faith that is of the heart and that encounters the living God. You must learn to believe in your heart, right now, and in this present moment in order for your concepts to do you any good. How do you do this?

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The Deeper Christian Life – How Does God Feel Toward You If You Sin?

We intrinsically know that bad behavior deserves fair and just punishment. It is part of God’s law that is ingrained in our flesh. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24). If you do good, you are rewarded. If you do bad, you get what you deserve – some form of penalty or punishment. The cause effect relationship of good behavior vs. bad behavior and the results that both produce is similar to the law of gravity or the law of sowing and reaping. If you jump off of a building, the impact will kill you. If you rob a bank, you will go to jail. If you sin, the wages are death and separation from God.

However, the New Covenant has introduced an entirely different economy. Let’s look at an interesting verse in Romans 6:1.

Rom 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

The verse in Romans 6:1 is often quoted with the purpose of discouraging Christians from sinning. “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” Obviously, God does not want us to sin. A Christian is called to live and walk in righteousness, not sin. But notice a very interesting truth that is found in Romans 6:1. If we sin, grace actually increases. “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” The answer to the question is a resounding “Of course not!” But when sin increases, so does grace.

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