This is my praise to report – My second book is finished! For the next several weeks I want to share excerpts from the book. I hope they challenge and bless you… The book is about living in grace.
A allegory called Edge of Eternity describes a man who is in a cage. He stays in the cage believing that he must serve his sentence. There is one catch: the cage’s lock is broken. The hero of the book opens the cage door and encourages the captive to leave. He is free! The man doesn’t leave. He just stays in the cage. The hero leaves, but as he prepares to go over the hill and lose sight of the cage he looks back. The last time he sees the poor man in the cage the man is closing the cage door on himself once again.
Sad, isn’t it? It is sad that a man set free won’t believe it. Even sadder when a man set free closes the door on that freedom to remain a captive. What would cause such a reaction? Ignorance is one possible answer. When we are ignorant of our blessings, we can miss out on the fullness of them. We can come to believe that our limited understanding is all there is. Such ignorance is hard to overcome. Bad teaching is another possible answer. This reason may even be harder to overcome. Ignorance leads to pride. We believe arrogantly that we don’t need to know anything more about a subject. Being taught incorrectly by a respected teacher doesn’t just leave us ignorant. We are ignorant and we now have a tear in our loyalty. In other words, will I be loyal to the truth of God or what that beloved teacher has told me? How does a person decide?
When we are ignorant of our blessings, we can miss out on the fullness of them. We can come to believe that our limited understanding is all there is.
Beliefs are tricky things. So often it isn’t facts or truth that persuade us. It may sound odd, but often what persuades us to believe or not believe something is our other beliefs. Our perceptions and feelings toward the truth can limit or control what we are willing to accept. When we find a truth hard to trust, we may say that believe it, but, when we act, we act on what we truly believe. When an idea is too big for us, we often don’t adjust our beliefs. Instead, we adjust the new idea to fit what we already believe. We make the idea smaller so we can embrace it. We may let it challenge us a little, but we also shrink it enough so that we can feel that we have mastered it. Then, right or wrong, we live by those beliefs. They may be true. They may be false. Many times it isn’t that they are right or wrong. Instead, they may only express part of the truth. Regardless of what is true, it is those beliefs that we follow. Like the man in the cage, our beliefs have the power to set us free. They also, no matter how free we can be, have the power to keep us in bondage. This is the power of our beliefs.
When it comes to freedom and bondage, the Bible has a very succinct word to describe how we are made free. That word is grace. In the Bible grace is the word for freedom. When speaking of what Jesus brings us, the apostle John writes that, “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1: 16) The apostle Paul declares that grace is the key of freedom when he says, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) In those two verses we have the summation of what is happening in this salvation that we are experiencing. The scriptures declare that Jesus has come to give us the grace of God to free us from our bondage to sin.
Here is the rub: it is possible that our beliefs about grace are limiting that very grace that we are depending upon for our freedom. This happens when we make grace smaller than it is. What do I mean? I mean this: we make grace smaller than it is when we make grace into our ticket into Heaven but it makes no substantial difference on how we live everyday. Grace should make us completely free, but too often we make it simply a ticket out of Hell. Do we look forward to Heaven because of its freedom and miss the fact that grace frees us now?
Something to think about,
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