Free Gift of What?
Free Gift of Grace!
Before reading this article, please refer to “The New Man” and “Gift of Grace” (both found in the Seeker’s Journey area) to refresh your understanding of what the Spirit is and how it works in our lives.
Here, we will celebrate more of the elements of our deep and abiding relationship with the Holy Spirit (Grace). But, we will also look at what the “Free Gift” is, as mentioned in Scriptures, and how this Gift aids us throughout our spiritual transformation process.
We begin by reviewing our understanding of the term "saved", a word which points to the time when we first encounter the mercy of God (at the start of our spiritual journey); and when mercy becomes the foundation for our ongoing experience of The Free Gift of Grace.
So, what does "getting saved" mean?
Well, the term “Saved” comes from the Greek word “Sozo” which refers to bringing someone out of danger to a safer place. The term “Salvation” however, is actually a different word, often confused with the meaning of “saved” by members of the Body.
Salvation is a word which comes from the Greek “Soteria,” referring to an advanced maturity of the soul. Or we could say, that salvation represents the condition of the soul after having passed through transformation "unto" transfiguration (total identification with the Spirit of God) by the Light of God.
So, contrary to what one might typically hear tossed around about being “saved,” we are actually “saved/brought into a safer place” so that we can enter a process unto “salvation/transformation of the soul," where we are changed from flesh natured to spiritual (by the Spirit).”
It is also interesting to note that in the King James Version of Scripture (KJV) we find the word “Saved” written in past tense; while “salvation” is always seen with a word like “unto” before it, suggesting that it is the goal for our soul, or that in "being saved," we move on to fulfill the purpose for having entered into the Net, which is to undergo total transformation, dying to the old impulses and learning to respond from the New.
“Receiving the end of your faith; even the salvation of your souls.” - 1 Peter 1:9 (KJV)
Once saved…always saved?
Once we "enter" the Body of Christ, we do not have to “exit and re-enter” as we make mistakes (and we will make them); but we are expected to forgive others as needed along the way, while living our lives as those who depend on Grace/The Spirit... all done in the manner that God has for us to do.
Any moment when we discover that we have lost our focus for any reason, we are expected to make adjustments and get back on track. So, though we don’t lose our place in the Kingdom of Heaven by the errors we will all likely commit as we are “growing up,” nonetheless, there are many warnings to those in the Body mentioned in Scripture, of what could happen to our souls if we fail to try to be merciful or if we become “workers of iniquity.”
Iniquity is a word which means "unequal"; so if for instance, we have been given the understanding (the teaching), the means (the Spirit), and the commandment to apply mercy toward others, yet we still make excuses not to do so (on a regular basis), then this negative pattern can earn the "doer of iniquity" the title of "worker of iniquity" or "the wicked."
However, if we are applying mercy to others (as we have been given) and as we continue to seek God by His Spirit, then we should remain in very good standing.
Is it true that salvation is a free gift?
There is a “free gift” mentioned in Scripture, but it is the Free Gift of Grace, “unto salvation (total transformation).” No where in Scripture (King James) do you actually see the term, “the free gift of salvation,” but there are plenty of references to “the free gift of Grace (Spirit).
Now, what I have just said is going to upset some people because the “free gift of salvation” is a popular term these days. So, if you have embraced this theory, did you check it out first? Or did you just assume (as we all have from time to time) that if some famous preacher said it, then it must be true?
If you did embrace it, then you are not alone. We have all gotten caught up in theories from time to time, but it is OK to regroup. Any of us…even the best preachers amongst us in the Body can occasionally draw conclusions or “extend metaphors,” because it just seems right in the moment; but this is where we can lovingly and patiently support one another in staying on task, so as not to get sidetracked with the “theory or theology du jour.”
So, bear with me, because there is a very important distinction to make here, which is at the core of why so many in the Body (including some in leadership) are not walking in mercy and are not consistently showing evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit.
If folks believe that their behavior is a “finished work” right from the onset of an interest in Jesus, then they will not understand, nor engage properly in the process of soul cleansing and healing (called sanctification) “unto justification”… by or through their relationship with free gift of Grace. See Romans 5:15-17 (KJV).
The work of Jesus is “finished”; we have seen this in the Mercy He showed us with his exemplary life and sacrifice and we have witnessed as well, the Power and Grace which was revealed at the time of the Resurrection. Grace is the also power by which we are "sealed" as members of the Body of Christ; "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. - 2 Corinthians 1:22 (KJV)
His Faith is proven and sets things up for us to experience the receiving and giving of Mercy as well as the transformational power of the Grace of God.
We still have a choice
But the choice is still ours to make each day, whether or not we hold to mercy and depend on Grace (The Spirit), or… if we will collapse into our former “old nature” habits, continuing to rely on “bratty” knee-jerk responses, regardless of what Good Seed (Seed of the Spirit) has been revealed to us, or some might interpret... has been “essentially” planted within our souls.
So, is it possible then, to have the The Spirit and still be bratty or flesh-minded?
Absolutely; we see examples of this throughout the New Testament; one in particular is found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; therein we find Paul saying to certain Corinthians, “For ye are yet carnal.” Not only was there bickering, pride, strife, and problems seen among the Corinthians, but when Paul did offer loving correction, all they could think to do, was attempt to discredit him in order not to have to consider his counsel to them.
Even the “elite and religious” Corinthians, some of whom he had been as a spiritual Father to, came against the apostle; yet Paul responded by saying, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons… I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” - 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 (KJV).
After Paul delivered his warnings, many Corinthians still twisted his motives and words attempting to slander him, drawing hostile conclusions about his imprisonment, declaring pompously that "he had fallen, therefore lacked credibility”….all of which was very disheartening to Paul. Some believe today, that the nasty way in which he was treated by these Corinthians could have been the “thorn in his flesh” which is mentioned in the 12th Chapter of 2 Corinthians. Yet Jesus, by the Spirit, told Paul regarding this “thorn,” “My Grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Once we are “in the Body” Jesus promises us that nothing will remove us from Him as we continue to seek Him, even in our weakness or when we stumble; but we still have the choice to reject God at any point or we can still refuse to undergo a “nature change,” as we have already discussed…and that of course would lead to a different result. We have also learned by now, that engaging in cultural or religious practices does not guarantee a nature change, so even the “elite can be deceived” among us… if any of us lose our focus on the Spirit or if we fail to walk in mercy and forgiveness.
Thus, it becomes very important then, that we fully understand what Jesus meant when He told us that we would only be known by our Fruit. So, let us learn how to “stand” ourselves, and then we can help one another focus on what is truly important. (See Ephesians, Chapter 6 KJV.)
The Faith of Jesus
By Grace and through the of coupling our faith with the proven Faith of Jesus, we can realize the purpose for which we have entered the Body; and by Grace we will not be those who become enticed to walk away from the Spirit and return to the “old”… or as Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:22 (KJV) – “the dog is turned to his own vomit again.”
Can we fall from Grace?
Well, now that you understand more about what “Grace” is, as being the Spirit within us, then I will answer this question by pointing to Galatians - Chapter 5, where we see Paul teaching about the importance of not returning to flesh-based religious practices in a carnal attempt to produce righteousness; which would be when we try to elevate ourselves or our group above others in the Body by reintroducing (or making mandatory), certain cultural practices, such as keeping a specific day for worship, circumcision, etc., after having received righteousness by Grace.
Righteous by our identification with the Spirit of God
As part of the New Covenant, we are made righteous by our association and identification with the pure Spirit of God, not by religious practices alone; although religious practices can at times, help us focus better on God or His Spirit.
Paul speaks clearly in his warning, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” - Galatians 5:4 (KJV). He is very specific to say, that even if we bring one "practice" or ceremony back with the wrong intent, we might as well go back to “do the whole law.” Abiding by the Law of Moses is appropriate when one is Jewish; but as already stated, the Spirit becomes our source of leading once we enter into the “New Covenant.”(Gal 5:3 – KJV)
So it is still fine for spirit-filled Christians to choose to set aside a special day for God or to practice certain ordinances such as circumcision, dietary laws, etc. But if we decide to do "these things," it should represent the elective way that we express our hearts because we have "already attained" peace and wholeness by the Spirit....not to "try to attain," which is how Jewish Law works. In the case of the Law of Moses, one has to "keep it up" (the religious practices,) or one immediately loses "position"; whereas "in Christ," we first "gain position" by our friendship with Jesus and our connection with the Spirit and then what we “do” flows from our New Nature “in Christ.”
By Jewish Law or by Grace
This is why Scripture tells us to walk either, under the Old Covenant or the New, since once we assume the New, it is impossible to effectively live under both at the same time. This is because the New Man operates directly from the realm of the Spirit of God. We of the “New” can study history and gain wisdom from the past, yet walk by the leading of the Spirit (the New Man) from within.
"Falling from Grace" would mean, that if we receive the Seed of the Spirit and then attempt to mix covenants while believing ourselves to be above the fold due to our “special practices,” we would then remove ourselves from the power and purpose of having Grace and we would find ourselves back in the cycle of error and consequence, therefore making Christ (The Spirit) within, “of no effect."
So in other words, under the Law of Moses, to maintain "good standing," one performs mandatory duties and proves obedience by complying with a long list of rules. Whereas with Grace, it is given to us freely, as a "Gift of the Holy Ghost," without having to first perform, other than to ask for it to begin to operate from within us.
By the way, one place that you can find a direct reference to the "Gift of the Holy Ghost," is in Acts 2:38-39 (KJV), when Peter says, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
This verse is also where we see a reference to the Gift being "The Promise," which is later mentioned again in Hebrews 11:39; and the sequence in Acts 2:38-39 also suggests that, first comes baptism and then the next step would be "receiving the Gift," a subject which is covered at Message of the Lighthouse in both the articles regarding Baptism, "Baptism for the Spiritual Soul," and "Christian Baptism," by Pastor Newmyer.
Gift of Grace
So in speaking about this marvelous "Gift,"... there is nothing we can do to earn the experience of Grace; there is no feat, sacrifice or ordinance that we could perform that would be considered "good enough" to stand up next to the purity of Grace. This is why it is considered "such a blessing," that we as humans can be granted the experience of being vessels for that "Amazing Grace."
Here, at Message of the Lighthouse/Lighthouse Leadership In Action, we are committed to staying the course and sharing the journey with other souls who are involved in this soul-growth experience, as we are changed by the Free Gift of Grace, from flesh-natured to spiritual.
There is much we can do daily, to lift one another up, keeping each other in our hearts and prayers, that we might maintain our focus on the ultimate Lighthouse (God) as we are transformed into becoming "as Lighthouses unto God," full of mercy and utterly dependent on the Glorious Grace of God.
By the Spirit and thus, through the proven Faith of Jesus, let us stay close to one another and see this journey to its ultimate destination....as we rest in the Peace of God now and forever. Amen.
"Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." - Hebrews 10:38-39 (KJV)
To fully grasp the meaning of the words in Hebrews 10:38-39, please refer to these passages in Lesson 25, regarding Hebrews, of the Exposition, "Genesis to Revelation," by Pastor Newmyer.
By Ann M. Wolf - c 2010 - BMI - All rights reserved.