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Unpacking grace of Jesus Christ

Grace tidings with Dr Doug Mamvura

The grace of God transformed my life and it has been my desire to bring a revelation of God’s grace to as many people as possible. I believe this is what the church needs today.
There has been a cocktail of doctrines manufactured by various ministers of the gospel which have led many people astray.

In my estimation, the book of Romans is Paul’s masterpiece on the subject of grace. Although, he constantly wrote of God’s grace in all his epistles, the letter to the Romans is special. A good understanding of the book of Romans will give you a true revelation of the grace of God.

Paul declared in Romans 1:16, that the “gospel is the power of God unto salvation”. This was a very radical statement to the people during Paul’s time. I know it doesn’t sound as radical to us as it was then because the term gospel, has become a religious cliché to us. Most people don’t know what it means.

In Paul’s day it was a radical way of referring to the grace of God as the means of obtaining right standing with Him. The Greek word from which the English word “Gospel” was translated literally means, “a good message, or good news”. It was in use before the writing of the New Testament, but it was very obscure. It literally meant more than just “good news”. It was more like “nearly too good to be true news”. It was a superlative that was so fantastic that it was seldom used.

This sensational word perfectly described what Jesus did for us, therefore, it became a common word among New Testament believers. Today most Christians think the word Gospel is just a word that identifies religious things. They relate preaching on the wrath of God and impending judgement as the Gospel, but it is not. It is true that those who don’t accept the sacrifice of Jesus will spend an eternity in hell, but that is not “good news”.

The Gospel is the “good news” that despite our sins and the judgement we deserve, God has provided complete redemption for us. Even more specifically, the word “Gospel” describes the grace that enables us to receive this forgiveness.

Just saying that Jesus provided salvation for us is not truly the “nearly too good to be true news” unless it is emphasised that all Jesus provided is available to us by grace. The grace of God is the heart of the Gospel.

In Acts 20:24, Paul said he was testifying of the “gospel of the grace of God”. He said the same thing in Galatians 1:6: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”. Paul equated the grace of God with the Gospel. Any statements about God or the salvation He provided without highlighting the grace of God are not the true Gospel. In most of our churches today, what we are referring to as gospel, is just motivational talk, laced with a few scriptures here and there or religion. Legalism and human performance are also the main dominant forces in most of our preaching today.

We need to preach the true Gospel. Telling people that they are going to hell if they don’t repent is true, but it is not the Gospel. Even telling them that Jesus provided an escape is not the Gospel if we tell them they have to live holy lives in order to obtain salvation. Putting any stipulations on what we have to do to acquire God’s provision denies grace and therefore is not the Gospel. You don’t get salvation by living a holy life. You are saved by grace not works. The holy life comes as a result of the salvation you receive.

This sounds very radical and I know most churches don’t define the Gospel this way, but that is the way Paul defined it. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The power that we need to get saved and obtain everything that Jesus provided for us is in the Gospel. If we seem powerless to receive, it is because we don’t have a full revelation of the true Gospel.

All that Jesus provided for us is a gift accessible only by faith (Romans 5:2). Yet we preach in our churches that we have to live holy lives to receive from God.

The religious system of Martin Luther’s day preached Jesus. They talked about the forgiveness of sins and the wrath that awaited all who rejected the sacrifice of Jesus. They placed such a burden of personal holiness on the individual in order to receive what Jesus provided that they perverted the true Gospel with all their requirements. They were not preaching the Gospel. Martin Luther received the revelation that it is only by grace that anyone can be saved (Romans 3:28) and it changed his life and the history of the world.

Mainstream Christianity has lost the understanding of grace just as surely as it was lacking prior to Martin Luther’s revelation. We need another reformation centred on the grace of God.

Evangelical Christianity preaches grace as the heart of the Gospel for the initial born again experience, but then it reverts to personal performance in order to receive everything else from God. That is a perversion of the Gospel too. Paul said in Colossians 2: 6 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him”. That means that since we can only be born again by putting faith in God’s grace, everything else in the Christian life has to come the same way. Are we so foolish to think that we got saved by grace, but now we can be made perfect through our own efforts? (Galatians 3:3).

This is why Paul wrote the book of Galatians. The Galatians had received the Gospel and been born again, but after being saved, they left grace and went back trying to earn the blessings of God through their adherence to rules and regulations. This brought some of the harshest rebukes the Apostle Paul ever gave to anyone. He said in Galatians 3:1, “O foolish Galatians who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?’ He also said in Galatians 5:4, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace”.

Every great revival in history had the grace of God at its core. An awakening to the grace of God will release the power of the Gospel, and revival will be the result. Revival isn’t the result of holiness. Holiness is the result of revival.

Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: drdoug@corporatemomentum.biz or Twitter @dougmamvura

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