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The words “I was bad, and now I am good” no longer make sense. It should instead be said I was lost, and now I am found; I was dead and now I am alive.
Bad and good is taught in religion, but Jesus teaches us to have a relationship.
Jesus brings about grace! John 1:16-17 from His fullness, we received grace upon grace.
“We live off of his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-expression, who exists at the heart of the Father, has made him plain as day (John 1:16-17 MSG.)”
I want to tell you this story: There is a woman, who was a wife. Her husband gave her a list of things she could and couldn’t do. She agreed to follow the list because she loved her husband. She tried very hard to stay in line with the tasks on the list, but she never could succeed, so she became bitter. Her husband would then tell her that if she really loved him, that she would follow the list of rules he had given her. Then her husband died. She was very sad because she did love her husband, but because he was gone, she tore up the list. She felt so free. She remarried later to a husband who was so full of compassion and mercy. She kept waiting for this new husband to give her a list of things that she could and couldn’t do, but he never did. Instead of constantly trying to abide by a list of rules, she was able to learn how to live in relationship with her husband instead. One day she found a copy of the old checklist. When she was reading it, she started to cry. As she read the list, she realized that she was doing everything on that list for her new husband without even thinking about it. She was doing them perfectly because she was doing them out of love for her husband and not because she was being forced to do them. She was doing these things in freedom. She knew that if she messed up or if she missed something on the list, she would be loved because she was living in freedom. She tore up the copy of the checklist and she never looked at it again.
This is what the grace covenant looks like. This is an image of law vs. grace. This is a picture of religion vs. relationship.
Anything that forces you to look back at that list is legalism. Legalism is a life that says, “if you stop smoking, then you are a “good Christian” and if you mess up, then you are a “bad Christian.” If you read your Bible, then that means Jesus loves you, but if you forget then Jesus is disappointed in you.” Legalism produces self-righteousness. It causes you to rely on yourself and your own works and makes you feel far from God.
Grace says, “I am right with God because of what Jesus did for me. I am made righteous in Christ.”
While we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. He chose to make himself a love sacrifice so that he could give us grace in love. Jesus gave himself in your place because he loves you. When Jesus died on the cross, anything that was standing between us and the Father was canceled.