BTC – Phase 3 – Lesson 2
The Gift of Grace & The Holy Spirit
By Ann M. Wolf
Life Abundantly: In BTC 3 – Lesson 1, we met the “New Man,” but now, let’s delve deeper into the connection between Grace (New Man) and the development of Fruit of the Spirit. Let’s also look more at what “Grace” offers as well as some of the differences between “appearing religious” versus actually “becoming spiritual in nature.”
We begin by examining the origin of the word “abundantly” used in John 10:10; it comes from the Greek “Perissos” which refers to “that which is above measure” or “superfluous.”: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 (KJV)]
So, what marvelous experience could Jesus have for us, as suggested by this verse of Scripture? Could this word “abundantly” be in reference to some sort of “state of grace?” I believe the answer to that question is “yes”; and in order to include John 10:10 in our discussion about what the Holy Spirit offers, let’s take a simple example from our human experience….say…our ability to love others as God would have us do. In that regard, most of us can pull off loving for a while, especially when the object of our projected emotion loves us back. But for any of us to be able to operate in mercy, to forgive others, and consistently function at the level of Agape Love (Godly love), well…this involves undergoing an actual “change in natures” which definitely requires some serious “help from on high,” to go along with our daily commitment to undergo the soul-transformation process.
Why The Spirit is given: Thus, to aid us in keeping our focus on God and to give us guidance throughout our transformational process, Jesus adds something very special to our relationship with Him. He instills within us (in the form of the Holy Spirit or New Man), something of Himself, a measure of Godly Consciousness and something we can hold to and identify with as we move forward in becoming more “Christ-like.” As mentioned in BTC 3, Lesson 1, it is said that “we become like what we hang out with”…so in being able to have this kind of access to the Spirit, we have a greater chance of taking on attributes of the Spirit over time.
Mercy as a foundation for Grace: For many denominations, a profession of belief is all that is required these days, to get the pastor to agree to meet us at the baptismal pool for our celebration of the “receiving end” of God’s mercy. However, in the early days of Christianity, candidates were required to vow to apply mercy toward others as a way of life from that moment forward before entering the waters; and seriously…how prepared would any of us be “to promise to forgive as we have been forgiven” if that question was submitted to us before we went to the water? If being able to truthfully answer “yes” leaves us intimidated, just know there is hope; and that Hope comes to us in the form of the Resurrection Power which is Grace or the Living Word within us. Jesus did promise that He would remain with us and help us along our spiritual journey: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” John 14:16 KJV
Covenant: Ok, here is a little more about the importance of our agreement to walk in Mercy as a way of life. A covenant between two parties describes an agreement; and each of the two engaging in the agreement has a part to play. In the case of Mercy, we receive the Mercy of God along with the benefit of our pardon via the substitutional sacrifice of Jesus; and that is God’s part. But here is another good reason to willingly engage in a decision to forgive and apply Mercy from the moment of our induction ceremony into the Body. “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15 KJV
So for the Covenant to remain in place, we must be willing to develop the capacity to do our part; and by so-doing, God’s part remains in play, which is to continue to forgive our trespasses. This becomes a very good reason to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit of Grace (Another Comforter) for help in this area, so that over time, a consciousness of Mercy has a chance of becoming “second nature.”
Walking in Mercy and Grace – Life & Life Abundantly: This commitment to learn to live by Mercy gives our souls a fresh start, wiping the slate clean of our own history of “old-man” behaviors and also gives us the position and condition (or standing before God) from which we can be fit to receive Grace and effectively “begin again.” So in looking back to John 10:10, we could say that the words, “have life” are in reference to the receiving and giving of Mercy as a way of life, whereas the term “abundantly” could be pointing to the “Gift of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit)” which truly has the power to transform the soul, making deeper levels of mercy and love possible for us. Let’s look at that Scripture one more time:
“I am come that they might have life (learning to walk in mercy), and that they might have it more abundantly (by the Spirit of Grace in us).” – John 10:10 (KJV)]
Many Names for Grace: As mentioned in BTC 3, Lesson 1, the “Holy Spirit” is known by many other names such as, “Grace,” “The Gift” or “The Gift of Grace,” “The New Man,” or “Another Comforter.” But we also see even more Names in verses of Scripture, “The Greater He,” “The Christ in us,” and we find references to “The Promise,” which we will discuss more in a moment. But no matter what name you give this “Gift” or “presence of God within us,” though it seems invisible to the world, it is very real for those who “walk by the Spirit.” For us, it is a “living and kinesthetic-tactic experience” known and felt from within which helps us not only to “real-ize” (make real) our goal to walk in Godly Love, but the presence of The Gift also gives us a basis of real experience by which to know more of whom God is and who Jesus “is” as “Spirit.”
“And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” – John 14:16-17 (KJV)
What more do we “receive” with the Gift?” For those who might ask at this point, “Well, what is Jesus “giving to us,” if God is already everywhere anyway?” Good question. Even if “God Is,” this is also said about Him: “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV
So…then isn’t our desire to seek God enough to transform souls? Well, despite our good intentions, we can still experience a lot of flesh-based, cultural, or religious distractions and dichotomies that can make it quite a challenge for us to hold on to the presence of God or to “the Christ,” especially in the middle of a challenging event.
Thus, we are granted Grace, by which to compare “spiritual to spiritual” throughout our transformation process. This helps us to develop spiritual priorities as well as to discern the false from the real or the relevant from the irrelevant: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13 (KJV)
The Promise: It is also cause for gratitude and celebration to be among those who have Grace operational in our lives, because this extra measure of inner guidance and communion with God was not always available throughout Biblical history, even to those who loved God deeply as we see reflected in these words from Hebrews 11: 39 (KJV), “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”
We are fortunate indeed to have access to God’s presence, right within us, and 24/7, anytime we need to connect.
“Fruit” at the peak of sweetness: In the last analysis, describing Grace or the Holy Spirit (and what it can do for us) to someone who has not yet had the same experience, is sort of like trying to describe how a peach or a mango tastes at the peak of its ripeness and sweetness. Words can only do so much; yet people can experience a “taste of the Spirit,” when they can feel the “Fruit” flowing from us or see the Fruit of the Spirit reflected in our behavior as well as in our responses to life’s trials. When the Spirit is flowing, there is not only a peacefulness, radiance, and sweetness about a soul who walks with the Spirit, but there are many tangible “ways” that love can be witnessed in the lives of these folks. As Jesus was known to have said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20 (KJV)
Therefore, following the Spirit or “minding the Spirit” becomes an opportunity for us to share the presence of God, whether we speak out loud about our Faith or not; because where the Spirit is, the true “Witness” can be found working through us to, inspire others, comfort them, and awaken in them a desire to deepen their relationship with God as well: “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit it truth.” – 1 John 5:6 (KJV)
Spiritual Fruit, Not Religious Nuts: Are you beginning to understand how “spiritual sweetness” is not to be confused with a “religious mindset” which may or may not involve a relationship with the Spirit of God or with the presence of Fruit of the Spirit? Can you now see how those who are religious and follow religious practices are not necessarily enrolled in a personal, soul transformation process (moving from the old nature to flourishing in the new)? In fact, at times, religion can simply provide another way to exalt the intellect and flesh, since religious ordinances and behaviors can be performed void (without) love or mercy.
So, does this mean we should avoid religion? Not necessarily, because under ideal circumstances, (when all members are striving to live in Mercy while holding to Grace,) having a church home can represent a lovely way to enhance our personal journey toward God by providing structure as well as inspiration toward the development of “Fruit.”
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” 1 Colossians 2:14-15 (KJV)
One source of confidence with regard to our developing ability to apply mercy and live by the leading of The Spirit can be found in the powerful affirmation, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV) The Name, “Christ” always points to Grace” and without “Christ which strengtheneth me”…we will simply not be able to bear Fruit by sheer willpower or determination alone.
The “Gift of Grace”: This is why The Spirit/Grace is often referred to as “The Gift,” equal to no other gift we could ever receive or experience as humans; and it becomes another reason why those who walk by the Spirit are filled with so much gratitude and love for God, since we all soon realize after receiving “The Gift,” and experiencing a measure of its grand ability to lead us… that what was once considered impossible to achieve in the way of peace, true love, and joy, does become possible by that “Amazing Grace.”
And thus we often sing…..
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a soul like me
I once was lost and now I’m found,
Twas’ blind but now I see.”
Conclusion: In short, since God is Spirit, then it stands to reason that “by the Spirit” we can experience closeness and intimacy with Him. What a precious opportunity this presents to us, that while we yet live, we can “have Life” (Mercy) and “Life abundantly” (Grace), realizing the added “something special” that brings us into direct and conscious relationship with the Source of Love and Life while helping us to grow as souls; and for that we give great thanks!