A COMPLETED VICTORY ~by Paul Gray
Santo Calarco wrote, “The purpose of preaching the Gospel is to inform the world that it is finished and so enter into it and enjoy it! The Greek word for gospel (evangelion) literally means finished work! The English word evangelism comes from the Greek word (evangelizomia) for gospel and simply means the proclamation and declaration of a finished work! It is finished!
This word was used in the ancient Greek world to announce a completed victory! The work of Jesus is not finished when we respond! When we hear about the finished work, we do respond and enter into and enjoy that which is already finished!
The Finished Work includes God's mercy. Many of us used to believe that mercy was connected to God withholding punishment for breaking His laws and instead He punished Jesus. We believed that we sin, we break a law, we deserve to be punished but because of the death of Jesus, God punished Jesus instead of us and withholds punishment from us, which is mercy. However, those beliefs were incorrect!
We saw mercy in terms of withholding punishment for sin which we defined as bad behavior, or breaking the law! However, Psalm 41:4 says, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” This verse shows that sin requires healing, not punishment! Mercy is set in parallel to healing, not withholding and transferring punishment! Sin requires healing because it is a sickness: bad behavior is the result of the sin-sickness. Mercy is not withholding punishment, rather mercy is administering healing!
Since sin is sickness, then the cross is about healing!
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in His body at the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been HEALED! Sin is sickness and the cross was mercy and healing… not withholding punishment!”
IN CHRIST BEFORE CREATION ~by Paul Gray
“Gospel” means Good News! The Good News of the New Covenant of the Grace of Jesus Christ is NOT a potential gospel (i.e.: “If you ask Jesus to forgive your sins, He will and He will come in to your life.”) NO! It is a historical fact… an objective truth. He has done it all for you already. Now for you to benefit from what He has done for you; you believe what He has already done and receive what He’s already given you!
Gold doesn’t become gold when you discover it. It was always gold right where it was. Christ doesn’t come into you when you ask Him and believe that He will. No! He has always been there. You were placed in Christ before creation and that manifested itself in time and space at Jesus’s Finished Work at the Cross.
Ephesians 1:4 (MIRROR) God associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about us! He always knew in His love that He would present us again face-to-face before Him in blameless innocence. (The implications of the fall are completely cancelled. God found us in Christ before he lost us in Adam!)
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 The love of Christ resonates within us and leaves us with only one conclusion: Jesus died humanity’s death; therefore, in God’s logic every individual simultaneously died. Now if all were included in His death, they were equally included in His resurrection. This unveiling of His love redefines human life! Whatever reference we could have of ourselves outside of our association with Christ is no longer relevant.
Now, in the light of your co-inclusion in His death and resurrection, whoever you thought you were before, in Christ you are a brand-new person! The old ways of seeing yourself and everyone else are over. Acquaint yourself with the new!
God the Father was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world (cosmos) to Himself, not counting their sins or trespasses against them!
God’s act of reconciliation is the mandate of our ministry. Our ministry declares the Finished Work of Jesus for ALL people! God has placed this message in us. He now announces His friendship with every individual from within us! The voice God has in Christ He now has in us; we are God’s ambassadors. Our lives exhibit the urgency of God to persuade everyone to realize the reconciliation of their redeemed identity.
This is the divine exchange! Jesus, who knew no sin, became our sin and gave us His righteousness…His right standing with God became ours at that moment!
ALL REALLY MEANS ALL ~by Paul Gray
Jesus’s Finished Work included all people…everyone!
John 12:32 (Italics mine) And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself.
Romans 4:24 All have been justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Romans 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
1 Timothy 4:9-10 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
Romans 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.
Hebrews 1:3 Jesus, being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews 7:27 Jesus does not need to daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Hebrews 8:11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
Hebrews 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
ALL MEANS ALL
Jesus began everything. He’s the beginning. He’s the one that spoke everything into existence. He’s in all, through all, for all. Everything was created by Him.
John 1:3 (Italics mine) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
1 Corinthians 15:22 (Italics mine) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Ephesians 4:4-6 (Italics mine) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.
Colossians 3:11 (Italics mine) There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
Colossians 1:15-20 (Italics mine) Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
JESUS DID IT ALL- FOR ALL ~by Paul Gray
Jesus accomplished EVERYTHING by His Finished Work at the Cross. Because of what Jesus did for us in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and pouring out His Holy Spirit on us, we do not have to strive or work to “become like Christ.” We don’t have to work to maintain a right standing with God, or to earn or keep His favor. He has done all that for us in advance! It is finished!
All were included IN Christ!
Jesus took away all the sin of all the world!
God reconciled all the world to Himself!
We all died with Jesus – Adam’s entire race died!
All rose with Jesus – God gave us new life in Christ, who is the last Adam!
All were born again at resurrection!
All were made pure, holy, righteous, innocent, without fault, and perfect!
The Holy Spirit was poured out on all people!
All were hidden with God in Christ!
All were raised to the heavenly realms and seated with Christ!
All means ALL!
GOOD NEWS- THE CROSS WAS A SUCCESS ~by Paul Gray
From Francois du Toit, Introduction to Hebrews in the Mirror Bible:
“In the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith to faith (Romans 1:17). Herein lies the secret of the power of the Gospel; there is no good news in it until the righteousness of God is revealed!
(The good news is the fact that the cross of Christ was a success. God rescued the life of our design; He redeemed our innocence. Mankind would never again be judged righteous or unrighteous by their own ability to obey moral laws! It is not about what a person must or must not do, but about what Jesus has done!)
God now persuades everyone to believe what He knows to be true about them. (It is from faith to faith.) The prophets wrote in advance about the fact that God believes that righteousness unveils the life that He always had in mind for us. “The just shall live by His (God’s) faith.” Righteousness by God’s faith defines life.
The Gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of God; it declares how God succeeded to put mankind right with Him. It is about what God did right, not what Adam did wrong. The word righteousness comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “rightwiseness,” meaning wise in that which is right. In Greek, the word for righteousness is “dikaiosune” from “dike,” which means two parties finding likeness in each other.
If Christ is both the author and perfecter of faith, self-assessment by any other reference would be foolish. It would be just as impossible to attempt to measure temperature with a ruler. Christ defines our original design and our restored innocence. We find our identity and our destiny there.
We have obtained unrestricted access into the intimate and immediate friendship of God! A brand-new way of life has been introduced!”
GOOD NEWS- JESUS FINISHED IT ALL ~by Paul Gray
Just before Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” (Greek: “Tetelestai” - John 19:30).
Hebrews 4:10 (MIRROR) God’s rest celebrates His finished work; whoever enters into God’s rest immediately abandons his own efforts to compliment what God has already perfected. (The language of the law is “do;” the language of grace is “done.”)
Jesus, Papa and the Holy Spirit working together, actually finished everything necessary for all people in our relationship with God! Just because very few people are aware of that great Truth of all Truths, doesn’t mean it’s not true!
Many people have believed religion’s lie that those are potential truths that are conditionally available only after they do some required thing. That, of course, leads to great uncertainty and much confusion. People wonder, “Have I done enough? Did I do it right? Was I sincere? Have I done something to negate what I previously did? Did I miss anything?” However, Jesus seems to think He did it all for us in His Finished Work at the Cross!
There is literally nothing left, nothing necessary, nothing that we can or must do to get right with God. They didn’t leave anything up to chance… they took care of it all.
I know this is different, contrary to what you probably have been taught and believed. It was certainly news to me, even after I’d been a “Christian” for almost 20 years!
Think of how your life can change if you know and are confident that God loved you so much that He took no chances and proactively did everything (at great cost!) to ensure your inclusion not only into His family, but into their divine Triune circle dance of love and everything good that flows from their love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, self-control, compassion, mercy, grace and so much more!
Human failure in every tense and sense of the word was dealt with in Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection!
Jesus wants you to have complete and total assurance…so He did it all. We call that Good News!
GRACE TO YOU ~by Paul Gray
I encourage you today to take some time and ask The Holy Spirit of Christ to remind you of times in your past where another person gave you grace.
And, ask God to bring to mind a situation or circumstance where you hurt someone… intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe it’s a time where you gossiped or slandered a friend. Maybe you took credit at work for something they did. Maybe there was a time in your life when you betrayed a confidence or betrayed a friend or took advantage of someone inappropriately. Perhaps there was a time when you could have helped someone, you could have righted a wrong, you could have validated something, you could have stopped an injustice… but you didn’t. Maybe you actually cheated someone… a business partner or relative or friend… or spouse.
Let the Holy Spirit bring one (or more) of those situations to your mind. He will never do that in a condemning, shaming or accusatory way. God actually chooses to forget our sins and trespasses and chooses not bring them up to us or hold them against us. However, when we ask Him for the purpose of showing us His grace and glory, I’ve found that He will honor our request.
Remember, now, how you felt when you hurt someone, they knew you hurt them, and they forgave you unconditionally, continued to love you unconditionally, continued to accept and include you…when you didn’t deserve it at all. That is GRACE. That is glorious.
That’s how Jesus, Papa and The Holy Spirit always relate to you. When someone else relates to you like that, whether they know it or not, that is Christ in them… the Hope of Glory!
As you revel and bask in the Glory of God’s grace and love, now let Him do what He wants. Christ in you wants to love and give grace to everyone in your life AS you and through you. When He does, you, the recipients and everyone watching experience, enjoy and marvel at His Glory!
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good to the use of edifying and building others up, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
(MIRROR) Instead of cheap talk, your mouth is now a fountain of grace, giving encouragement and inspiration to everyone within earshot.
JESUS VOTED FOR YOU ~by Paul Gray
Remember the last presidential election season in the United States. Supporters of each of the candidates were trying to convince other people, undecided people, to vote for their candidate. They try to give new information about their person – good stuff that people maybe weren’t aware of. They do this by touting the selling points of their candidate. They state what he or she is for and what they are against.
They paint the picture that the country is in dire trouble and only their candidate can fix the trouble and make things right. They tout their accomplishments and background and make a case that they can get the job done.
We’re not in an election for God or for Jesus. We’re not trying to get people to vote for Jesus. Jesus already voted for us and that’s the only vote that counts!
However, the situation is that Jesus is the only one who can ultimately make a difference in people’s lives both right now and in the future in the next life… and forever! The situation also is that most people, even Christians, have no idea what Jesus, God, is like. They have vague, usually incorrect ideas about His nature, His glory.
Here’s where we come in. What if you and I let Jesus live His life of love and grace not only in us, but as us and through us, so that Jesus can give grace to everyone in our lives everyday as we go about our lives? And what if we intentionally make it a point to tell other people that Jesus is GRACE and explain a little bit of what that means to us.
Jesus will actually do the talking. That’s when it gets to be really fun and really helpful to other people. Here’s how Paul put it when he encouraged some people to do just that:
"Philemon 6 (NKJV) The sharing of your faith will become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:17 (MIRROR) I desire that you will draw directly from the Source, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of Glory, ignites the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in you in the unveiling of His master plan.
I desire that you know by revelation what He has known about you all along!
GOD GIVES GRACE THROUGH YOU ~by Paul Gray
When you’re at your lowest and you don’t know how you can go on… when you hurt so bad and you’ve cried so much that your tear ducts are dry… you can’t even cry any more… when that one relationship that was more important to you than any other is no more…when you used to be vibrant and healthy…and that’s gone…when you are so sad that words can’t describe it…
Jesus says, “I know. I’m here. I hurt with you. I’m sad too. And I’m with you. I’m in you and I’ll never leave you or forsake you. My grace is sufficient. You can’t see it right now, but I promise you that it is. My glory is my compassion and grace nurturing you, comforting you and empowering you right now.
“You can do this through Me, and I will be your strength. I am The Rock and I will be your Rock. I am your Rock.
“And most importantly…as bad as this is, there is coming a day when I will make it right. You will be whole and healthy and so will all your loved ones. I am making all things right for everyone. Every wrong will be made right. There will be no more pain, no more sickness, no more grief, no more sin, no more inequality, no more injustice… there will be true justice- Me making everything right for everyone.”
That’s what you can expect to hear from Jesus in the worst moments of your life. He wants you to get to know Him now and learn to hear His voice now and learn what He’s like now and experience His grace and glory now… so that you can more easily recognize and experience it in your time of deepest need.
Jesus is Grace. God’s glory is His Grace.
You know when we meet new people, the question inevitably gets around to, “So what do you do?” I think if someone were to meet Jesus for the first time and asked Him what does He do, He might say “I give grace.”
Christ/Grace is in you, the Hope of Glory!
As you get to know Him more, you most likely will also hear Him say, “Now I’d like to start giving grace AS you and through you to everyone you’re with!”
GRACE IS WITH YOU IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD ~by Paul Gray
Religion tells us that God loves those who keep the rules, who do good, who are “holy and righteous, good Christians.” Religion says that God’s glory is His power that comes against people who don’t measure up to His standards.
But God says that His glory is that He loves people who don’t keep the rules, who don’t do good, who aren’t “good Christians!” That’s how He demonstrates His power!
We all want God’s unconditional love for us. We all want God to forgive us unconditionally. We all want God’s grace for us. Wanting God’s grace for everyone is what Christ in you wants. Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Let’s look at God’s glory, His grace to us and in us, when something bad in our life happens that is not caused by another person.
Cancer happens... so does premature death, disabilities, debilitating injuries. The economy changes and there is no longer need for what we’re good at. Those things happen. We’ve had bad things happen to our family where there’s not another person to blame. Bad stuff happens because we live in a fallen world.
Think for a moment – is there a situation in your life right now, or in the life of a close friend or family member that’s not good, not fair? Where does God’s grace, His glory, come in there?
The biggest thing, and I think the most important thing, is that in those times, God is with us. Don’t ever trivialize that. No matter how bad something is, God...Jesus, is with you. He’s in you and He’s empowering you. That is not a trite, insignificant thing.
Yes, your situation is tragic. It’s awful. You can’t see anything good in it. But Jesus is with you and He can totally relate to you because of what happened to Him at the cross.
He is with you and He will go through it with you. He and His grace will ultimately be sufficient. You will realize that He is enough.
If all that ever happened to you was good stuff, you could believe God is good, but you’d never understand personally how He is good to those who go through bad times… until you experience it yourself.
CHRIST IN YOU- THE HOPE OF GLORY ~by Paul Gray
I want you to see why learning that God’s glory is actually His grace is way more than just a theology lesson.
Stuff happens in our lives. Bad stuff. Doesn’t it? We get taken advantage of, we get lied to. People offend us. They hurt us. They abuse us. Unfair things happen. Our loved ones aren’t faithful.
Now be honest, when someone hurts you, what do we want to happen to them? While we might not admit it out loud, most of us want them to get caught, to be embarrassed and ashamed. We want them to pay for their wrong. We want them to be punished.
Take that a step further. When people do bad things to us or others… we want God to get them. We want Him to make them pay. We want Him to smite them, curse them, cause them financial or physical ruin.
We want God to vindicate us, announce that we are right and we are the victims, thus they are in the wrong.
We want other people to get what they deserve… from God.
We want God to bless us… and curse them.
And how you and I want God to treat other people is usually going to be how we treat them.
I used to talk about people from other religions or about atheists or about people who said that God was different than I thought He was, and I used to say to my friends, “They’re going to get a rude awakening when they die and see God face to face…they’re going to get what they deserve!” Of course, that’s what I wanted to happen.
I thought, “Hell is the ultimate punishment. They deserve it. I hope they’ll burn in hell.” Have you ever said or thought that about someone?
We know that God is all powerful. We believe in Him. We’re “Christians.” So how do we want Him to use His power in regard to those who hurt us… those who are different from us… those whose lifestyle disgusts us? These are questions we really should be asking.
The Holy Spirit has revealed to me that God, Christ in me, wants to treat other people just like He treats me and you. He wants to do that AS you and me, and through you and me… so that other people can experience the glory of God!
Christ in you, the hope of glory!
JESUS CONSIDERS HIS GLORY TO BE HIS GRACE ~by Paul Gray
You can sing about God’s glory and you can use the word glory to praise Him, but you can’t grasp or understand God’s glory – His love and compassion and goodness and grace- except as it reaches out to and touches you personally and those you are with.
The glory of God is understood in the truth that He totally gives Himself away! At the heart of the glory of God…is Grace!
God is the original definer of “give” and it’s not just that He gives to us – He actually is “giving-ness.” Giving is who He is.
Everything God does is good. Jesus Himself is a gift to us … He is both the giver and the gift!
God, the creator of everything, pours His glory into you and me…all of us. He is kind, gentle, patient, good, faithful, joyful and peaceful to you, me and everyone. He loves us all unconditionally. That is glory, His Glory. He is glorious!
John 1:14 And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John said that they beheld – they first-hand witnessed Jesus’s glory – and it was His grace and truth! We’re Christians and we’re told the goal is to be like Jesus. My understanding is that we’re to be full of (which we are!) and give Grace!
Being like Jesus is not having perfect church attendance. It’s not memorizing the bible. It’s not serving at the soup kitchen. It’s not tithing. It’s not being morally perfect.
Being like Jesus is letting Christ Jesus, in you, live His life as you and through you. When you do, it looks like unconditionally loving and forgiving people in your life no matter if they deserve it or not. It’s having His joy and having His attitude.
Being like Jesus is having His peace, maintaining peace. It’s having His patience, having His kindness. That’s being glorious. That’s Jesus’s glory… His Grace!
GOD CONSIDERS HIS GLORY TO BE HIS GRACE ~by Paul Gray
When you search the entire Bible, in addition to Exodus 33, you will find only one other place in the Bible that specifically describes God’s glory. The Apostle Paul, who had been taken by Jesus up to “The Third Heaven,” wrote the following:
Ephesians 1:2-6 (Parenthesis mine) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (remember God told Moses that He would be gracious to whomever He wanted. Because of God’s love for us, He chose us all before creation, blessed us with every spiritual blessing there is, put us in Christ, made us holy and without blame before him, adopted us into His family – this was His will and it gave Him good pleasure!) “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
God did all of this and made us accepted in Christ… to the praise of the glory of His grace. God Himself considers His glory to be His GRACE!
Glory (Opinion.) God’s opinion of Himself is His Grace!
Of all the things God could talk about… all of His power and knowledge and ability, what God considers most important in His opinion of Himself is His Grace!
If you love someone unconditionally… even when they are unlovable… what do you call that? Grace! If you forgive someone over and over again, no matter how many times they hurt you or offend you, what do you call that? Grace! If you are good to someone who doesn’t deserve for you to be good to them, what is that called? Grace! If you are patient with someone who is slow and not catching on and can’t seem to get it right, what is that called? Grace! If you are peaceful even when those around you are full of strife, bitterness and are loud, complaining and obnoxious, what’s that called? Grace!
You know what it takes to give grace in all those situations? Supernatural power.
God is all powerful. And instead of using His power to strike back, to be harsh, to punish… He demonstrates His power by giving grace instead of what we would expect. That is His Glory!