The Gift of Grace

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I hate it when people use the term “cheap grace” when they are referring to the gift of salvation. Grace isn’t cheap–it is free!

People cheapen grace when they attempt to earn favor with God by moral behavior. Let me be clear, even after we become spirit-filled Christians, we are far from sinless. The law demands 100% perfection. The law condemns everyone who has ever lived with one exception–Jesus Christ.

This is why it is impossible for us to earn God’s favor by keeping His commandments. We cannot achieve sinless perfection while living in our sinful flesh. Only those broken of spiritual pride can appreciate what it means to be saved by grace.

Even though God has promised to bless those who are obedient to His holy law, our best is simply not good enough to win eternal life.

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3: 19-20, NIV

God desires us to be obedient to Him in all things and He disciplines those that He loves, but He offers grace to those who admit their true spiritual condition. Those who are the closest to Christ will feel only shame when they stand in the presence of holy perfection. Our spiritual pride has to be nailed to the cross with Jesus before we can enjoy the peace of God’s promises.

The apostle Paul makes plain the proper relationship between faith and works, “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3: 27-28

Jesus spoke out against the spiritual pride of the religious leaders of His day when asked why He would associate with those of questionable morals: “Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Mark 2:17

The savior did not excuse sinful behavior, but He saw everyone on equal grounds when it came to divine law. This is why He commands us not to judge. Which one of us is without sin? In fact, acknowledging our problem is the first step in the healing process.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. His death paid for our salvation. The only condition for eternal life is to acknowledge our sinfulness and turn to Christ for forgiveness. We have nothing to offer but our filthy rags of imperfection. We have nothing with which to repay. Jesus offers us the free gift of his righteousness. Grace is free, but it cost the life of the Son of God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8

One drop of the blood of Christ is worth more than every human being who has ever lived. He spilled it all for you!

~Stephen Beagles

The God of Peace

cross_19“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2, NIV

The most valuable thing a human being can possess is peace of heart. Billionaires cannot purchase it, and politicians cannot demand that everyone have equal access to this inner state of quiet calm and serenity.

There is only one way to acquire this peace that eludes the most educated psychologists who do not understand its spiritual significance. The only way to have genuine peace is to be right with the God of the universe who created all things for His pleasure.

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11, KJV

The God who created human beings for His glory has encoded our hearts and minds with a basic knowledge concerning the laws of the universe. Those who are in harmony with natural and spiritual law will understand the true nature of spiritual peace as a gift from the creator.

The apostle Paul taught the Philippians the genuine source of peace with the following words inspired by the Holy Spirit:

“ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4: 8-9, NIV

Paul calls the Creator of the Universe the “God of peace” and tells us to dwell on righteousness, purity, loveliness, excellence, and things of a positive nature. How often do we ignore this counsel and focus on the negative things in life that upset us and create anxiety in our hearts? Paul also calls us to practice godliness in our daily life. How often do we get bogged down with doing things that we know are wrong, that give us temporary pleasure, but then haunt us with inner turmoil?

The first step towards gaining peace of heart is to be right with God. The second step is to trust God with our life to the point where we see the good of God in all things. There is no situation where God cannot turn our burdens into a blessing. The God of love, joy, and peace can turn any tribulation into triumph. He can turn any adversity to our advantage.

Jesus told His disciples how to have peace of heart in the midst of adversity. He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, NIV

Give your pain and sorrow to Jesus who is able to heal your brokenness and grant you His eternal blessings. Jesus died so we might have peace with God our father:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Commit your heart to Jesus and experience the grace of God which alone can grant the peace for which you are searching. Trust God with all things and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe rest into your soul.

~Stephen Beagles

The Essentials of Christianity

johnny_automatic_little_angel_and_BibleSCRIPTURE: The Bible is the inspired word of God.

TRINITY: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

ATONEMENT: Jesus bore the wrath of God for our sins as He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary.

RIGHTEOUSNESS: God declares us righteous by faith and makes us righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit.

SALVATION: Jesus is coming again to set up His eternal kingdom, and eternal life is granted to all who trust His saving grace.

These are the primary doctrines of the Christian faith. We can agree to disagree on the secondary issues, but these doctrines define what it means to be Christian.

FOCUS = Focus on Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice.

~Stephen Beagles

The Butterfly Effect

Viceroy_Butterfly

Sometimes I look back over my life and meditate on what might have happened if I had made different decisions in my life. For example, if I hadn’t put in a job application that led to me being hired by a particular company, or if I hadn’t stopped to talk to a military recruiter that led me to spend a large portion of my life in the military–where would I be today?

How much different would my life be if I had I turned left instead of right, or if I had said “yes” instead of “no”?

One thing is for certain, my life would be completely different. The lives of other people would be completely different. It is a scary thought!

But this also helps me stay motivated to be a positive influence.

Everything we do has a ripple effect throughout the universe. One positive action can lead others to make choices that lead to huge changes in the cosmos. One negative decision can affect others for eternity.

This is called the Butterfly Effect in the world of physics. One small action sets off a chain reaction of cause and effect that can have a major significance in other places on planet Earth.

A cheerful smile might save someone’s life. A kind word might prevent a major act of violence. We might never know how our simple actions can affect the entire course of human history.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator door that reads : “To the world you might be one person. But to one Person you might be the world.”

One person can make a difference in the world. What kind of difference are you making? Think about it…Let’s be the channel of God’s love!

~Stephen Beagles

The Simple Truth about Bible Doctrine

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I have a confession to make that may surprise some of you. I hated school when I was a kid. It wasn’t the English, the Spelling, or the History classes that I hated. But I dreaded Math. Most of the time my homework was only half done in those classes, and I was lucky to pass with a “C”.

Since then I have made some improvements. I have done well in college courses that required me to exercise my math skills. However, I am still not convinced that I understand all I am supposed to know about balancing formulas and solving equations. I am grateful if I get my order of operations in the correct sequence during a math quiz.

Because of my prior experiences with math, I can understand why some people get scared of Bible doctrines that might as well be advanced algebra to many who are barely able to remember the multiplication tables.

But the good news is that God doesn’t expect us to solve a doctrinal formula to get through the gates of heaven. All that is expected is some basic math that we learned in elementary school–and we are even allowed to use our calculators! Even better news is that we are given the answers.

The basics of Christianity are simple enough for a small child that has parents who expect them to obey and punishes them when they don’t. Most parents demand an apology from their children before they are able to get out of trouble. Children are also rewarded for good behavior.

Well, as human beings we are all God’s children. We have broken God’s rules and now we must be punished. However, if we apologize to God then we can get out of trouble with him. He also rewards us for good behavior.

I am not saying that learning advanced doctrines is not beneficial, but I am emphasizing the point that the basics of Christianity are simple enough for a small child to comprehend. It requires some basic reasoning skills, and if we get stuck we can find all of the answers in the Bible.

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15, NIV

~Stephen Beagles