December 2, 2019
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (The Revelation 22:21)
The verse above is the last verse of the Bible. Let us read it again: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. The “all” really means all, everyone who reads or hears it and everyone who does not read or hear it. The weight is on the word “grace”. And we are thankful that these are the last words, the last bite, the last thought that God wanted us to have before leaving the table and going out to live. They are the last words that a good and righteous God would and does give to us. He is sending us off with the assurance of what we have. What all of us have: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (II Peter 3:18)
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 1:11-12)
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21)
Have you ever felt or thought that the grace thing seems vague? It seems to be used for anything and everything. The pastoral matriarchal system has defined it as something that God gives to us that we do not deserve, or despite ourselves, we get it. More recently it has expanded to finding favour with God, and then getting blessed because of His favour (grace) on us. Grace is used in talking about the one big bolus shot that brought us salvation through faith, but it is also used to describe not failing a class even though we did not study much and rarely went to lectures. These two extremes and all that is said when defining “God's grace” are not what Scripture says about grace. It is not a quantitative big shot of grace given to us at the time of salvation, nor is it the hope of getting grace nuggets or sprinkles of grace dust for the rest of our natural life to avoid near misses or to have things go our way. Grace is a truth that was and is given to all men (Titus 2:11). It is not a, well I hope that I get a little grace now and then, or may grace come to you just in the nick of time when you need it, or may grace be with you all to give you many things because of His favour towards you. No, we must look into the Word to help us to see what grace is. When we dive into the pool of God's Word and begin the journey of understanding what He speaks to us, with the Holy Spirit teaching, guiding, and directing us, we always find that God is so much more and so much better than we could possibly have thought of. Father, may we grow and understand You and Your ways. May Your Will be accomplished in our lives. May we understand what Your grace is. In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, King of all kings, we pray. Amen.
Grace is described in the Bible as something that we grow in (II Peter 3:18); something that gives us favour with people we are afraid of, with important people, or with God (Genesis 33:10, Genesis 47:25, Ruth 2:10, I Samuel 20:3, Ezra 9:8); something that can be upon someone (Luke 2:40, Acts 4:33); something that we can fall from when we want to be justified by the law rather than in Christ (Galatians 5:4); as a wreath on the head that comes with hearing discipline and not forsaking instruction (Proverbs 1:9); as a wreath on the head that wisdom can give (Proverbs 4:9); as abounding much more where sin abounded (Romans 5:20); as something we are to be strong in (II Timothy 2:1); we are saved by grace that brings salvation (Titus 2:11, Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:8); and by the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for all men (Hebrews 2:9). The list can go on, but these are just a few examples of the many times and ways grace is talked about in Scripture. The Hebrew noun for grace, “chen”, is in Scripture 69 times and is also sometimes translated as “favour”. And “charis”, the Greek noun for grace, is found 156 times. Grace is also seen with other words like mercy and peace (I Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, II John 1:3), truth (John 1:14, John 1:17), love (Ephesians 6:24), knowledge (Ruth 2:10, II Peter 1:2, II Peter 3:18), and faith (Ephesians 2:8, I Timothy 1:14), to give just a few examples. It seems to be all over the place. And if we try to pin grace down to isolate it in order to describe or define it, it slips through the words and pages like water or air. Grace seems to not allow itself to be put into a container or formed into a specific shape. We see that grace is even described as deceitful (false) in Proverbs 31:30. It is interesting to note that some translations use “charm” for “grace”, however it is the same Hebrew word “chen” that is used for “grace” or “favour”.
30 Favour [grace] is deceitful [false, a lie], and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
The verse above exemplifies that grace can also be seen and used incorrectly by the soul to deceive or lie. Grace is utilized by and how the receiver chooses to use it. In order to peg our understanding of grace down, we will begin where we first see the word “chen”, the Hebrew masculine noun for “grace”. The first time grace, “chen”, is found in the Bible it is describing Noah as having found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Conflict with the Holy Spirit came because of evil men, resulting in the need to wipe out even the animals, creeping things, and fowl from the earth. We can begin to see with Noah that grace is connected to our relationship with the Spirit of God, which then leads to regeneration. Grace in the eyes of the LORD meant a lot of work ahead, much ridicule, a lot of faith to believe what God said, and the willingness to act on what God instructed him to do. The grace, favour, that Noah attained meant change ahead, not getting a break for things to go his way on a particular day or year.
5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found [attained] grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect [upright] in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:5-9)
3 And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh [erring or sinning flesh]: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)
Before Jesus Christ came on the earth, grace is talked most often as “finding it” in the context of being granted favour as in Genesis 6:8 above, Genesis 19:19, Genesis 39:21, and Jeremiah 31:2 to list just a few of the many references to finding (attaining) favour. But when Jesus Christ came to dwell on the earth and then ascended into heaven the Spirit of grace was poured upon the house of David and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and then was available to all men.
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11)
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:5-9)
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. (Titus 2:11)
The below passage is a summary of the history of man and his relationship to grace, and how it is connected to salvation.
13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:13-17)
So, before Christ, grace is more often spoken of in terms of individuals or specific peoples, and then once Jesus Christ came on earth grace is spoken of for individuals, those who follow Christ, and also for all men. In addition, it is also still spoken about as some seeming to have more of it or to be given much more.
23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied [abounding] with favour [grace], and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south. (Deuteronomy 33:23)
19 And Hadad found great favour [grace] in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. (I Kings 11:19)
13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. (Psalm 102:13)
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10)
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (I Peter 5:10-12)
As I Peter 5:10-12 above starts to unveil to us what “true grace” is, Hebrews 2:9 below gives us a further awareness that the grace of God is quite different than how we tend to think of it. It is by the grace of God that Jesus should taste death for every man. How did it work out that way? What is it about grace that allowed the whole thing to happen? It seems much more than reasoning, well, God loved us so much (Ephesians 2:4-9) that He sent Jesus down to earth to take care of us and give us something that we “do not deserve” like receiving salvation and a house in a relatively good neighborhood. Do not get me wrong here, of course salvation and God's love for us is way up there in importance. But there is something much more and greater that is missed. Remember we are to go past the basics of salvation and grow (Hebrews 6:1) because those principles have been set down over and over again. As we saw with Noah, grace was towards the beginning part of the process of regeneration into something new, just as Jesus Christ's death was and still is. By the grace of God, may we go into His understanding.
9 But we see [observe] Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)
Operation of the Holy Spirit
Grace is an operation of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) on earth and in man. We get the indication of this when we try to corral it but are unable to. The Holy Spirit is free and can only operate in His fullness when He is not quenched, grieved, frustrated, or blasphemed. And when we talk about the Holy Spirit we have the awareness that we are not to try to explain grace without grace, and that grace is likely very different than what our own perception might be. When we think about breathing, do we right away think about its involvement with oxygenated blood going through an artery? No, because we breathe without conscious awareness of doing it, just like our heart beating and most other functions in our body. This is how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. The Holy Spirit is much more complicated, much more beautiful, and much more perfect than we can imagine. The avoidance of talking or delving into the Holy Spirit comes from fear or the desire from those who want to contain or control it. In addition, verses like John 16:13-14 below are used to make sure that we do not worship the Holy Spirit, and then it is concluded somehow that we are not to spend too much time learning about the Holy Spirit. This is not true and one of the reasons why the matriarchal church is stunted and impotent. Therefore, by mere default, most functions of the Holy Spirit are treated and thought of as how we (man) would divvy grace out and how it is to operate or to be administered. However, God has already taken the responsibility for distributing grace and His ways have very little to do with what man thinks or how man tries to define it. Below, Jesus Christ is speaking about His pending death and what to look for next:
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove [convict] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:7-15)
This is a passage that we can embrace and embrace again. It is similar to The Revelation 22:21 quoted at the beginning of this post. It is a breaking off preparation guide, but it is done with the assurance that Jesus Christ leaves us in a better state than had He stayed (verse 7). Even though we want things to be how they are and we get settled in to “what is” we must no longer stay the same or life begins to enter into stagnation and then into erosion. There is pain with departure, but the Holy Spirit is ready to take over to bring us to the next step. Jesus' work on earth was finished, and now it is our work that must be finished with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is good to read the above passage again slowly. The love of Jesus Christ is palpable. His voice is kind to us but firm in His resolve. He is beautiful indeed. May we bring what He is giving to us fully into our chests. When you read it again or if you read the passage one more time, what did God want for you to specifically see? Was there something that seemed to be magnified? If so, you were just given God's understanding by grace, an operation of the Holy Spirit, as you accepted the fresh and new understanding of Jesus. It can be something that is pointed out by this article or not. Did the passage look different the second or third time you read it? That is when we know that it was done by grace and we were able to receive it by grace. The operation of making it available to us and then giving us the ability to receive it in the understanding that He wants us to have are both works of the Holy Spirit by grace. The Holy Spirit knew what He wanted to point out for us to see and what flower He would open for us to see in its bloom. God knows at this moment in time, while we discuss and read His Word, that we can expand a bit more in our understanding and growth by grace. This is not a transient thing, and it is now to be planted into our hearts of good soil so that the awareness and knowledge of how much He loves us today will produce more fruit that will glorify Him another day. He wants us to grow. He is not selfish. Even when He was preparing to sacrifice Himself, He gave instructions stamped with high expectations and hope by telling us that He has many more things to tell us in the future (verse 12).
We see in John 16:13 above that the Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself. This does not mean that therefore we do not speak of Him because “His job” is to glorify Jesus and not Himself (John 16:14). It is because that is how the Holy Spirit operates, without being the focus. When we have an excellent teacher, the teacher is able to keep the focus on the material that is being taught. A good tour guide wants people to focus on what is said and what is being shown. The Holy Spirit does all of the work described in John 16:7-15 quoted above and much more, but without being seen. The reason why the Holy Spirit's likeness is often associated with the wind and air is because we are unable to distinguish a beginning or an end to His work, but we do know when it has been there or if it is missing. Just because the air we breathe is not declaring to us that it is being taken in, this does not mean we are not to study the lungs, the capillaries, the heart, or anything related to the air and oxygen coming into our body. Likewise, we can trace and learn about what the Holy Spirit does and learn how we are to respond to His convictions of sin, righteousness, and judgement. The Holy Spirit also guides us into all truth by and in the will of God (John 16:13, Romans 12:2). There are many options and angles to study grace and they most always end up talking about the affects it has on someone or something. This is because grace is a work of the Holy Spirit and things of the Holy Spirit are fluid and wind related. It is like trying to track an inhaled breath of air that eventually is exhaled yet goes through the process of giving us oxygenated blood to deoxygenated blood. We see that there is a break down and then a build up into something else where in between there are life sustaining operations that occur, which are distributed throughout the whole body at a cellular and even biochemical level.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
Growth is accomplished by grace and is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is because of grace that we grow from faith to faith, grace to grace, abound more and more, increase in love more and more, go from glory to glory, shineth more and more, and go from strength (army) to strength (army). When we saw Jesus a bit more clearly in the above John 16 passage than what we knew of Him before, that was an example of allowing ourselves to be transformed into His image and to abound more and more.
Grace is something that we notice and understand when it is not there or has been removed. But it is also something that we instinctively desire more of. We typically do not know and feel the growth process when we went from the size of a toddler to being over 4 feet, but we can pin it down to maybe the year or the month. And other times we are fully aware of growth and change, like after completing an education program or riding a bike for the first time without falling. We are able to declare ourselves as having completed a program or now being able to ride a bike. These transitions (regenerations) of growth are without gaps. They are seams in the textile that will attach another piece of textile. However, we notice when we do not grow or when we are unable to complete something. There is no new cloth or there is such a gap while putting additional pieces on that the garment or textile is unusable. We notice breathing when we cannot breathe. We do not say, “I have no air to breathe.”
Before we go any further, let us scrape out of our hearts, our minds, and our emotions the idea that grace is when we get something (like salvation) from God that we do not deserve, or in spite of or despite ourselves. Some of us have this perception wall papered within our hearts that is actually a false humility (Colossians 2:18-23) with painted tiny hearts, daisies, and smiley faces on it. When we go that route, we start to perceive God as having a bag of grace and dispensing it accordingly after He sees a person pull the correct trigger rope from earth to heaven. A way to chisel that thinking out of our thoughts and hearts is to take it all the way home with something like, we breathe but we do not deserve to breathe, but by God's grace I am able to breathe air. Or by God's grace, I exist, but I never did deserve to exist. In man's attempt to define grace without and apart from the Holy Spirit, it gets into a ridiculous thinking pattern. Of course, we are thankful for air and the ability to breathe, and of course some of us are thankful to God that we exist, but that has nothing to do with deserving or not deserving to. Grace is given to us by His parameters, His choice, and His pleasure. All men are given it to live on earth. And some desire to grow in Him, which gives us more grace to grow more. And that is why Paul was able to speak about topics, because of the grace given to him that he was exercised in, which he spoke about often (Romans 12:3, I Corinthians 15:10, Galatians 1:15-16, Ephesians 3:7-8). Here is another way to look at it: a person who put in the time to learn a trade, like becoming an electrician, does not say when he gets his first job, I do not deserve it. Is the person thankful? Yes, but deserve and does not deserve is not thought of because the process of growing and learning to become an electrician had been completed. Let's go at it another way. God's grace is also depicted as a cloud full of rain and moisture (Proverbs 16:15). A cloud full of rain has the potential to rain and allow growth when it hits the earth.
The idea of deserving and undeserving, or in spite of ourselves when talking about grace originated when men took it upon themselves to declare what they think is good or godly, what they think is bad or ungodly, and then putting a value on it. Grace is valuable, and we need it, but it is available to us by God's choice (Romans 3:24-25, Ephesians 1:4-7). It is in the very air that we breathe. Do we even think about whether we deserve it or not? Or that we somehow got it in spite of ourselves? No. Somewhere along the road, we need to leave off from that type of thinking. God is not detached from His grace. And we are not detached from His grace unless we choose to stop growing in Him. Everything that He gives to us that is freely given by Him is to be appreciated to the point that we are willing to see that they are to expand us into becoming transformed into the glory of Jesus Christ. Our focus is not on grace, but on the One who supplied us with the gifts and then to pay attention to the lessons He tailors specifically and individually for us to grow in them. Oh, we can go back and forth and try to get and find more grace in a temporal form. God allows a person to do that if they choose to and take all of their spiritual substance on earth now. We can be very spiritual looking without God, especially when man views spiritualty in their own understanding. We are thankful to God for grace. We do not try to siphon or tease it out of context and isolate it. We thank the chef for inviting, preparing, and serving a great meal to us. We thank the chef for the whole meal, not the water that was used to cook the pasta or the sauces because the water part is the part we really believe we did not deserve even though the chef decided to use it in his meal preparation. And then some may request that they want more water in their meal. Yes, water down the food, please, the next time you prepare a meal for me. I would like it much more in the form of market liquidity to verify to others that I got a lot of water from You. This is when grace gets exchanged into the temporal from the eternal. And still others say, thank you so much for the meal, but my stomach cannot possibly handle but one bite. I really only desire the water that has evaporated off of the once hot single roll. Thank you so much, I am so graced. These are people who are not given the ability to enjoy the labour of the Holy Spirit (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 6:2) and see God as tight fisted and a withholder of grace.
The way we talk and think about God's grace is an indicator of how we perceive God. It is a dew point measure of how much of Him we breathe in. It is the percentage of how much water vapor we take in by our spirit of the Holy Spirit that is in the atmosphere. When we are not breathing Him in, we choose to look at Him in parts and take what we want from Him with the perception that grace comes as a wand flick of fairy dust that God decides to touch us with or a tapping into God or the Holy Spirit with a hose from heaven to move in the Spirit. Can we squeeze the Holy Spirit into those roles? Yes, at an eternal cost. The Holy Spirit then becomes a puddle of water to us that is actually a mirror of ourselves. We then see Him in the image of ourselves and how we are. If we are stingy, we see grace as divvied out in tiny pieces of candy that we get now and then. If we are manipulative and want to control others, we try to prevent them from flourishing into greater growth. Let us really examine the idea of God giving us something that we do not deserve. Would a righteous God even talk that way? Did Jesus ever say something that even alluded to that idea? Think about it seriously. It is only spoken of or thought of by men in the midst of being exposed to God's glory and greatness like David (I Chronicles 17:16) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5). These men responded with gratitude and readiness, not with false humility.
Yes, we can be awestruck by what God has afforded to us and how much He has given to us. David talked to the LORD in grateful astonishment when He revealed to him His future plans for not only David and his household, but for the people, and our future (I Chronicles 17:16-27). David's initial response was:
16 And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 17 And yet this was a small thing in Thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O LORD God. (I Chronicles 17:16-17)
David was the established king at this point. He followed with 10 verses of specific declarations of praise to God and concluded his praise by saying, “Now therefore it hath pleased Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may be before Thee for ever: for Thou blessest, O LORD, and it shall be blessed for ever” I Chronicles 17:27. Isaiah went from being aware of who he was before the LORD to being all in to serve Him:
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone [ruined]; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:5-8)
Notice that David and Isaiah both did not stop interacting and participating with God, even though they were both humbly thankful or were unclean. It is an expected reaction for us to have a deeper and more accurate awareness of ourselves when we are in the midst of God. Remember Peter's reaction to seeing the boats loaded with fish (Luke 5:5-8) or seeing the resurrected Jesus (John 21:7)? Moses spoke similar words to those of David's initially, but it was in resistance to God's direction (Exodus 3:11). Others spoke out of shame of the nation's iniquities and trespasses like Ezra (Ezra 9:5-13) while being aware of the mercy (not grace) that was given to them because of how far into the depths of sin the nation had gone and also of being punished less than their iniquities by giving them a remnant to escape captivity. Psalm 103:9-12 also speaks along similar lines of “not being dealt with after our sins” and not “rewarded according to our iniquities” in relation to God's mercy, not grace, like in the Ezra 9 passage. Psalm 144:3 and Hebrews 2:6-8 talk in wonder about God even taking knowledge and being mindful of us. Bildad, one of Job's unhelpful friends, states in Job 25:6 that man is a worm and argues that men cannot be justified in God's sight. However, David (also speaking of Jesus Christ) in Psalm 22:6 describes himself as a worm while going through green horse suffering in Sheol, where a person is separated from God's presence in sacrifice for others. And in Isaiah 41:8-29 Isaiah speaks the Word of the Lord and describes spiritual Jacob as a worm (Isaiah 41:14), also in the midst of green horse labours, and is admonished to fear not while he is in a lowly and unseen state. Those who created and promote the idea that grace is when we get something that we do not deserve or get it despite ourselves are believers who refuse to have their spiritual feet washed by our Lord and Master, and have no desire to spiritually wash their brethren's feet (John 13:8-17). Grace does not produce false humility (self-abasement, false modesty), which has a layer of pride in its lining. Grace is a growth process accomplished by work of the Holy Spirit to grow in Jesus Christ's likeness. God's Word does not tell us to relive humility that we felt in the past when we go through our wake up calls when God reveals to us yet another layer He desires to have discarded from our life. We come into those periods already and quite often when we are growing in the Lord. And the humility becomes deeper as our love for Him grows. We instead recall all the wonderful things He has done in the past, present, and future with thanksgiving and praise because we hopefully have received of Him with a clear conscience that no strings were attached.
We can see by the examples given above that grace is not talked about as being based on deserving or undeserving on our part. When we really examine the thinking of defining grace as something we do not deserve or in spite of ourselves we are incorrectly attempting to describe God's mercy, not grace, and also ignoring that Scripture speaks clearly that salvation is by grace through faith, it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast. Let us not be tempted to boast (glory) in how undeserving we are in God's gifts. We are His workmanship that He chooses to give salvation to by grace through faith. It is His plan, His way, and it is good and perfect for us to receive with praise and thanksgiving.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
God does not give a follow-up whisper in our ears: by the way, you really do not deserve this and do not ever forget it. Only a heavy handed parent would tell a child that they are giving them something, and oh, by the way, you do not deserve it. God is the giver of good gifts and does not do a bait-and-switch like giving a serpent when we ask for fish (Matthew 7:7-11). And God does not give with strings attached so that He can yank us back to Him by trying to shame us. The wicked interweaving of God giving something with the recipients not deserving it would make God unjust and Jesus' sacrifice unholy. It is also a major slap in the face to the work of Jesus (Hebrews 10:29). These concepts of having things that we do not deserve or despite ourselves are straight from the pastoral matriarchal system and the spirit of Jezebel. It is how the spirit is broken and how a harness is kept on anyone who desires to break from their bondage. It is used to keep a leash on people to take their tranquility, confidence, and joy in Him away, all of which are our strength (Isaiah 30:15, Nehemiah 8:10). As mentioned above, the Greek word for grace is the noun “charis”, and “charis” comes from the Greek verb “chairō”, which means to rejoice or to be glad.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. (II Corinthians 13:14)
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 1:25)
It is important to stop defiling the Holy Spirit's and Jesus' work by trying to redefine what salvation is after we have believed it and accepted it from God at face value. We do not then talk about the process of salvation with the grace component being underserved or in spite of ourselves. May we be free as we were when we first received Him to continue to be free to receive more of Him. When there is something that we do not understand and do not have a clear direction on how to perceive God the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, that is the time to put the brake down and stop. And then we go back to the beginning, the place that never moves. Back to remembering that God wants us to look at all things through His perspective. A way to fully put the brakes on is with one verse:
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)
The Holy Spirit is sent to us by Jesus. He is not far off. The moment we try to divide or compartmentalize Him incorrectly, we frustrate and grieve Him. And when we try to hinder (quench) Him by defining His work incorrectly, we fall from the grace of God. And the moment we start thinking about grace as trinket giving from God, we start comparing ourselves with the brethren, which is the door for envy or lifting others up as our princes and kings who seem to have more of His temporal favour. May we not travel in those paths.
6 And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (The Revelation 21:6)
According to the grace given
As stated earlier, God's grace is an operation of the Holy Spirit. Grace is described as a gift to be able to minister (I Corinthians 15:10, Ephesians 3:7, 4:7-12). And grace helps us to receive and operate in the gifts and the ministries that God chooses to give us.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. (Ephesians 3:7)
The gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 are often referred to as the “grace” gifts. And they can be matched to the 7 candlesticks or facets of the Holy Spirit, which are described in The Revelation 2 & 3. After each church's angel is addressed the words are spoken, “he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (The Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22). Each of the grace gifts is an operation or function of each pillar (candlestick) of the Holy Spirit, which in turn is lit, ignited, by the Holy Spirit's power. The manifestations of the gifts operating by the Holy Spirit result in growth, growing step by step, and is done “by the effectual working of His power” according to the gift of grace that God gives to us, Ephesians 3:7 above. Before the grace gifts are listed, Romans 12 explains that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God. The rest of the chapter gets us underway on how to do that. Paul continues to remind us that this is our reasonable service as followers of Christ and how we are members of one body. He tells us that through the grace given to him he can speak to us about no man thinking more highly than he ought to. In other words, Paul had grown enough and learned enough (by grace) to be able to teach what he knows in the Lord about that subject. We can recall that Paul spoke candidly that if anyone could boast in the flesh, he could even more (Philippians 3:4-12), but that those things and the gifts he was given do not give the privilege nor should it give the desire in us to think that we are “all that” because each of us have different offices and are many members in the one body of Christ. Let us be very thankful that God has taken responsibility and has given us the Holy Spirit to continue by grace to grow. In verse 2, we see that Paul talks about being transformed by the renewing of our minds as a process, and not a one-time event.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:1-5)
The passage above lets us know that the gifts work together. And in verse 6 below, we see that they operate in progression of one another.
6 Having then gifts differing [surpassing] according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on [in] our ministering: or he that teacheth, on [in] teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on [in] exhortation: he that giveth [imparteth], let him do it with simplicity [in singleness]; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)
The grace gifts can be mapped to each of the 7 candlesticks, churches, which the Holy Spirit operates in and brings life to. The gift of prophecy is an expression of prophecy (Smyrneans); the gift of ministry goes with pastoral ministering (Thyatira); teaching with teaching (Sardis), exhortation with exhortation (Philadelphia), imparting with justice (Laodiceans); ruling with apostolic diligence (Ephesians); and showing mercy with evangelistic might (Pergamos). [The mapping within this paragraph of churches to the grace gifts was furnished by the author of Shamah-Elim, May 2, 2019.]
The introduction to the 7 churches, which are the candlesticks of the Holy Spirit and lighted by the Holy Spirit in The Revelation, begins with “grace” and gives us the heads up that we are talking about the Holy Spirit and His work.
4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince [ruler] of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (The Revelation 1:4-6)
We can now go through each of the gifts to get a taste of the unfolding of what God's grace is. The gifts listed in Romans 12 come with an instruction to guide us and let us know how they operate in the gift by grace. These are not the work of perfecting the ministries listed in Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor / teacher), but they are manifestations that come from them and also from the two additional operations that are not linked to a specific ministry, which are exhortation (Philadelphia) and imparting of justice (Laodiceans). In other words, they are not the arm, but they are the movement of the arm, like the arm moving to lift a glass of water. This is why exhortation (Philadelphia) and imparting justice (Laodiceans) are not connected to a specific ministry because they are able to operate without a fleshly body. All gifts from God have the Holy Spirit working in them, and they operate in us often without identifiable form and are more attune to breathing. These flow without form to us, but present a form or movement within us or outside of us. It is good to keep refreshing in our minds that we are talking about going from step to step like glory to glory or strength to strength, which are spiritual in nature.
Before we begin, we should recall that God has given gifts to all men (Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:7-8). Regardless of whether a person is saved by His grace through faith, gifts operate in the world. It is not just the Christian who has the gift to teach or to build, etc.
18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. (Psalm 68:18-19)
We will go through the 7 grace gifts in an outline type method for this article, although books could be written on each one. We are just getting a taste in order to see a larger picture later.
prophecy; let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith:
This grace gift is the operation of prophecy (Smyrneans) and by it we grow from faith to faith. We are instructed to prophecy “according to the proportion of faith,” (Romans 12:6). So what this would mean is seed planting. By God's grace, He will present the new thought or direction (a seed) to us. He always suggests more than what we are comfortable with because He will simultaneously build our faith from the last time we planted a seed (prophecy) in faith. That seed will be given to us by the Holy Spirit and then we choose to sacrificially plant it in good soil, use it for ourselves without burying it, or try to store it for later use where it could be stolen or rot. Some prophetic seeds are even attempted to be sown artificially without the Holy Spirit and without being sown in good soil. The seed can be in the form of asking God a question. It can come by dreams, in our sleep or while we are awake. Or it can be very practical with something that we are thinking about like, is it feasible for me to get my electrician's license? Well, I have had that in the back of my mind for some time now, and there seems to be a door that I can see. Am I willing to tighten my belt to get through? Am I willing to sacrifice my time to study? Or it could also look something like, I know that something is not right (by faith I know it and feel it). I am going down a wrong path and I can see it leading nowhere. Am I willing to go back and start again? Am I willing to sacrifice myself and past work to get things back on track?
To prophesy according to the proportion of faith is given to all men, and it involves looking into the future with faith. It is looking for an answer to a question that we have asked God or planting a direction (seed) with the faith of it prospering in the future. As our faith grows, we see much more ahead and the sacrifice to get there will be correspondingly larger also. And as our faith grows, our prophetic gifts are clearer. We know what God wants to work in us. We can adapt to change more easily. We move in a more fluid fashion by the Holy Spirit. The justice of God is revealed to us as we grow in faith to faith.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness [judicial decision, justice] of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
A good way to lock this grace gift in our minds and to know what God is talking about by prophesying according to the proportion of faith is to scan back in our own life and allow the Holy Spirit to recall to us a time when we had an idea and then acted on it, or when we asked God a question that might have taken many years to have the framework built within us in order to be able to receive the answer. It could be a small thing or a big thing that the Holy Spirit recalls, but that is what it means and what it is. The idea is given by the Holy Spirit, it is a direction (prophecy) for the future and we are given the same measure of faith to go into it, work in it, or even wait for it until we are able to receive it. Godly sacrificing unto the Lord, not only for ourselves but also for others, will develop when we are willing to prophesy according to the proportion of faith. This is God's grace.
ministry; let us wait on [in] our ministering:
The words “let us wait on” were translated from the Greek preposition “en”, which means “in”, and in Romans 12:7 “en” is used to mean going into or towards something that is from or out of something. So basically, it is a gift of ministry ministering from ministry. To minister is an operation of pastoral ministering (Thyatira). This can be easily described as getting the car serviced. The car is important to serve us if we need transportation to go distances. We need to be alert enough and caring enough to take care, minister, to it. This can be applied to anything that needs taken care of that we have that ministers or serves us like our body, our dwelling place, and anything that serves. It also refers to gathering and keeping up our supplies to minister like buying tools or food to have in the house. This ministry is important because out of its work God builds confidence. For example, when we get new tires or get the car serviced the immediate fruit of that ministry is confidence. Our confidence that the car will be able to go more miles is immediately increased. Confidence grows proportional to the amount we are willing to minister from ministering just the way faith grows proportional to prophecy. The planted seed is taken care of and ministered to in order for it to prophetically (in the future) minister.
The gift of ministry from ministering is strengthened when we minister. Children who are given responsibilities at home will grow in confidence and the awareness to take care of themselves, possessions, and others. They become reliable and aware that someone needs to consistently minister to keep where we live in a sustainable and livable condition. Maintaining what we have has much physical and spiritual application.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. (Philemon 1:21)
6 But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. (Hebrews 10:35)
True humility is required to be given grace (James 4:6). It builds confidence, and it takes the oil of the Holy Spirit to minister in ministering. We see a need and take care of it today, not tomorrow. All people operate in the pastoral gift, even if it is just at a survival level of getting a drink of water for ourselves when we are thirsty. It is ministering within a closed system of what we are given to maintain and nurture. It is taking care of our personal responsibilities that will build our confidence in order to care for ourselves and others as unto the Lord, without expecting or demanding anything in return from those we serve because we are growing simultaneously in grace to grace in the Lord. This gift keeps working to insure that whatever is needed for the prophetic seed to grow and to become viable is supplied. Ministry in our ministering is a manifestation of God's grace working in us by the Holy Spirit. God does not call us to minister to seeds that are not of Him.
teacheth; in teaching:
This grace gift works in a similar way to the ministering gift. A teacher must be taught from another teacher. Every person has the grace gift to be one who teaches. In its most simplified form it is done by example. A child is taught by a parent by observing the parent's behavior. In order for the gift to grow, a person must be willing to learn from someone who knows more than they do. The first “teacheth” in “he that teacheth, in teaching” (Romans 12:7) is the Greek verb “didaskō” and means “to teach”, however the second “teaching” is the Greek verb “didaskalia” and comes from the noun “didaskalos”, which is often translated as “master”. So to teach we must be taught by master teachers. This is important and a significant problem in the pastoral matriarchal churches today and also in the public school system and universities. When there is no master teacher learning will fall to the lowest common denominator of the group, class, or family. And the students become or stay malnourished and anemic. God has also put master teaching in our bodies. One example is when the muscles and nerves develop and learn according to His direction, they are perfected to be able to crawl after rolling, walk after crawling, etc.
If we fill ourselves with good substance by a master teacher, we can teach others what we have learned with the same substance. The more a teacher learns of God from the Holy Spirit, the more they are able to distinguish what milk is, what meat is, and what are additives or preservatives that may look good but will not be a solid building block long term.
35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: 36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. (I Kings 8:35-36)
A good teacher knows, by the Holy Spirit, what their pupils need and will be able to supply it because they themselves are full. They will give milk with repetition as needed until their students have teeth for solids. And in turn, will give meat with as much repetition as needed in order to progress further. The teacher must be taught by the Holy Spirit. The ability to be taught by a master teacher in order for the prophetic seed to be completed for it to sprout is the operation of teaching (Sardis) by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This gift is told to be watchful and to strengthen the things which remain (The Revelation 3:2). When we learn under the Master, we abound more and more.
exhorteth; on [in] exhortation:
This grace gift also works in the same manner as ministry from ministering, and teacheth in teaching. It is exhorteth that comes from exhortation to exhort (Romans 12:8), and is the operation of exhortation (Philadelphia). This gift is hearing or seeing a beckoning and operates without form yet reveals a future form. It is beckoning back to the beckoner or caller. It is being able to beckon because we heeded, or took to heart, a beckon from the Caller to come by His side. While we work in this gift we increase in love more and more. Love grows in those who exhort from the Holy Spirit's exhortation.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
This is a relationship calling and confirming grace gift. We hear and know His voice when He calls us. We know to ask God to explain to us the dreams and visions we have that He gives to us. Are they warnings? Are they direction? Are they confirmation to keep going? And we trust Him that He knows what information He has allowed to come our way.
Exhortation is often connected with comforting (Romans 15:4, Acts 9:31, Acts 27:22, II Corinthians 1:4-6, II Corinthians 7:13), beseeching (I Corinthians 14:3, II Corinthians 8:4), and also admonishing (Hebrews 12:5, Hebrews 13:22) to give just a few examples. All of the ways that “exhortation” is described in Scripture apply to the operation of this grace gift. And operates according to the need a person would have to keep them going. Sometimes beseeching is required, sometimes admonishing is required when we are not heeding to the Caller's exhortation. And other times the need for comfort is required, not as a pastoral ministering type of comfort, but the comfort that is needed with the awareness of tearing away from the past. It can be in something like a death, where a child no longer has a parent, or seeing our loved ones walk away from us as they go into war. The gift to exhort from exhortation is given to all men. For example, comfort is given by the Holy Spirit for the tug of the heart when a mother packs up clothes that her child has outgrown or when high school friends part as they go on different paths after graduating. The soon to be electrician cannot go back to the time before he had the skills that he has now. Something has occurred that a person cannot go back from or to. Mourning is often in the picture, but it is for a purpose. It is felt, but it is not to be immersed in. The gift of exhortation does not deny the mourning, but it will not allow the mourning to overtake or thwart the prophetic vision. The gift operates in knowledge of the circumstances and those involved (II Corinthians 2:4, Colossians 4:8).
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
7 For we have great joy and consolation [exhortation] in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. (Philemon 1:7)
Exhortation is manifested to us while the pastoral ministry is still ministering and also at the tail end of the teaching ministry for each particular prophetic seed that is growing. In the electrician hopeful, this is when they have a short time left in their training and start to discover their love, or liking, for the profession as they continue to learn and stay nurtured in the profession. It is when a person can just start seeing a horizon and can hear the beckoning to them to still go forward. The beckoner is waiting for us to come. Sometimes it is in an actual dream of what is ahead or what is now. Sometimes it is hearing from someone that they are hiring new electricians at a certain location. It is the Comfort (exhortation) that things are getting ready for the change. It is the home stretch without seeing the finish line but being comforted with a second wind to finish, complete the work for the new thing to become manifested. I am here, do your hear me? I love you. Yes, I hear you. Oh, I see it now, I will be there soon. I love you too. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit exhorts: I know you are tired, I know your body aches, keep on going, not much further. Keep on the path that is before you.
13 Therefore we were comforted [exhorted] in your comfort [exhortation]: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. (II Corinthians 7:13)
imparteth; in singleness [justice]:
The grace gift of imparting (Romans 12:8) does not come from a more developed likeness of itself to go back into itself like the previous three gifts do. The giver, imparter, already has enough to impart. The word “giveth” is translated as “to impart” from the Greek verb “metadidōmi”.
11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (Luke 3:11)
The instruction given when imparting is to do it in “haplotēs”, which is a feminine noun that means liberality, simplicity, in singleness or honesty of mind, in bountifulness, or liberty. And “haplotēs” comes from the adjective “haplous” that means “single”, which comes from the verb “plekō” that is a combination from “Alpha” and being “braided or weaved together.” The various translations of this particular gift and how it is to be administered are quite varied. But when we follow the words and their meanings, we can see that all of the translations are correct, but not succinct (just as the gift of exhorteth in exhortation is). The grace gift that imparteth in or with “haplotēs” is a manifestation of the Laodiceans. Recall that Philadelphia and Laodiceans are manifestations of the Holy Spirit without the need of a connected ministry, and therefore will not be as easily fenced in by a tight definition. They both demand freedom to expand because both are more heavily connected to our personal relationship with God. Laodiceans is when the Holy Spirit grants, seals, and marks (usually with a title) a beginning. Laodiceans is an impartation that comes out of the meaning of Laodicea itself, which is “justice for the people.” So this grace gift is the Holy Spirit's manifestation of imparting balanced justice or to avenge man.
Let us look at this gift in a very practical way. The electrician to be has come to the finish line, he has done all that was required and now it is time for him to be imparted with the full amount of the title, which is being a certified electrician. He crosses the line and is given the title. Justice has been given to him by getting a title. Another way of saying it is he has been avenged of all of the labour he put in for heeding and labouring in the prophetic seed. The seed is no longer a seed but is identified out of the ground as a sprout. If a person has finished baking a cake it is now rewarded, fairly, to eat the cake. The cook can be imparted with wages, and in that case does not eat the cake, but has made it for someone else to justly eat from the cook's labour.
8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. (I Thessalonians 2:8-9)
10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (Romans 1:10-12)
1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit [must inform you] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. (II Corinthians 8:1-2)
This grace gift is the way we grow from glory to glory. It is the place of acknowledged completion and manifestation of the labours that went into the prophetic seed. The person is now marked and interwoven with the title “electrician” and is now able to operate in the manifested sprout. The person is fairly justified as an electrician. All people are given the gift to imparteth with or in justice in a temporal form, but not all people imparteth with justice in an eternal form.
ruleth; with diligence:
The gift of ruling with diligence is an operation of apostolic diligence (Ephesians) by the Holy Spirit. It requires the abilities that an exercised apostle works in by grace. This is the actual work that must kick in after the book learning and clinical work under supervision have been accomplished. It is after a person has a new title and can now operate and is licensed to work independently of their schoolmaster. We are ready to embark in the new title and take on the new responsibility. And if it is worked and exercised as unto the Lord, this is when we shineth more and more.
13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. 14 And let ours also learn to maintain (rule) good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. (Titus 3:13-14)
This ministry has in its possession something of great value like a new job title, a relationship, or even monetary wealth; and if it is not ruled with diligence, the value depreciates in a free fall rather than builds with interest or investment. It is best seen when a person is given wealth and does not rule it hastily or diligently just to have it all gone in a year or two and sometimes even resulting in debt. This ministry requires faithfulness and it is a proof to ourselves and to God that we can become faithful in more because we were faithful in small things. It is not using the teaching ministry or the pastoral ministry as foundation builders in the new position. It is utilizing the apostolic ministry because it is a new thing being built with new wisdom that the person must acquire for working in their new title.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)
Everyone is given the grace gift of ruling with diligence. It can be illustrated with an example like when we implement the new rules for driving a car after we get a driver's license that are more advanced than what we previously needed for walking or bicycling as a transportation mode. Every person is given the opportunity to operate and to be exercised to rule with diligence as the Holy Spirit brings circumstances into our life. All things that come into our lives, even our pets, must be ruled with diligence and cared for at the level that they need and are growing in. The chapters in I John talk about walking in the light and the different needs of little children, young men, and fathers. Their needs and requirements are not the same, and we are to be responsible and faithful to recognize their own growth apart from ours. This kind of foundation building is done as we go from a beginner, a young man, and then a father.
When the apostolic ruling with diligence to form good and solid foundations is missing it is observable by the quality of fruit that it does or does not produce. For example, when a parent tries to minister at the time when ruling should occur they are not allowing the child to grow to become independent of the parent; or when a child is ruled with a hand that is too heavy the child is prevented from growing separate and unto the Lord because the parent demands that they are conformed into their own (the parent's) image and likeness rather than God's. Or if the parent takes the position of only operating in crisis management mode or taking the other extreme of passively believing that things will work themselves out, the child learns that life has no stability and will look at life as something to always respond to or as things always happening against them, as though God is not in our midst. Yes, we may limp along, but we rarely go through any further growth in the area that God is attempting to expand in us.
19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. (Proverbs 25:19)
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (I Timothy 3:4-5)
The grace gift of ruling diligently requires implementing God's wisdom, hearing His instruction, and not refusing it (Proverbs 8:32-34). It is operating in the way God wants it to be, not the way we want it to be. He is the One shaping us in our new position, a position we have not been in before. When we do not rule with diligence by God's grace, we work under a law, a different kind of law, which is made up from our own understanding or reasoning from the past or from others around us. Works from grace bear good fruit.
14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:14-15)
[The word “serve” given all 7 times is “`abad” and is translated as “to work” or “to labour.”]
1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
showeth mercy; with [in] cheerfulness:
To showeth mercy with or in cheerfulness is the way the Holy Spirit shows mercy (Romans 12:8). Mercy is right up there in the category of misunderstood things by the matriarchal church and as with “grace” mercy is also interpreted how man wants it to be. And like grace, we notice it more when it is not there because it is an operation of the Holy Spirit. It is to be operated and given in and from the place of cheerfulness. A good start in thinking about God's mercy is to think of it as a pain absorber. This grace gift is the operation of evangelistic might (Pergamos). The spirit can be strengthened and grow in might (Luke 1:80, Luke 2:40, Ephesians 3:16). And in exercising this gift we go from strength (army) to strength (army). This gift is not in the weeping with those who weep category (Romans 12:15), which would be exhortation (Philadelphia) that is to be given in the company of a loved one beside us. Nor is it trying to bring cheerfulness into a situation when a person has a heavy heart, which is actually stealing from a person when they need to express their sadness, even in stillness, which is an example of perverting the operation of Philadelphia and is not a true friend to our heart.
20 As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart. (Proverbs 25:20)
No, this operation is with a ready heart to help lift a heavy load. It does not strip or take the responsibility away from what is being worked in that other person, but it is strong enough to bear a cross that the other person, at that moment, does not have within them to carry while they are on their way to an even heavier load. Simon of Cyrene is such a man (Matthew 27:31-33, Mark 15:20-22, Luke 23:26). Notice the removal of the outer garment as in Proverbs 25:20 quoted above.
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put his own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. 22 And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. (Mark 15:20-22)
26 And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
When we cheerfully show mercy by the Holy Spirit it comes from within us to react to another person while they are in the midst of labouring in their prophetic seed. The compulsion to afford our own strength that is already worked in us is externally prompted to act. For example, Simon the Cyrenian's heart was willing and then the external compelling for him to act came from the guards.
Someone who freezes when another person needs help or is hurting does not have the joy or freedom to show mercy. And others may want to give pastoral ministry type head strokes or soothing words as a substitute for this gift. But that is not sufficient because to show mercy operates from strength because the situation demands action, not words. The compulsion to move is stimulated by something going on externally. A good example of operating in this gift is when we see a person about to fall or has fallen. We rush to them to prevent the fall or to help them up. The evangelistic strength grows as we are aware of what pleases God and act on it, which allows us to grow from strength to strength.
13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you [be] like men, be strong. (1Corinthians 16:13)
The grace gift of shewing mercy in cheerfulness or heart readiness must be exercised and is available to all men. It is as simple as opening the door for someone if their hands are too full to open it themselves. Every person is given the external opportunity to operate in it if they are willing to. This can be further exemplified when the gift is not operating in grace when people react in chuckling or laughing if they see a person fall rather than have their first heart response be to run and help. The external circumstances will be provided by the Holy Spirit and the awareness given to act, also given by the Holy Spirit, is the exercising of showing mercy in evangelistic might, strength, with heart readiness. This is grace.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
The growth cycle by grace
The grace gifts that were listed and described in the earlier section were just a nibble of each of them and can be greatly expanded on. However, the purpose of this article is primarily to understand what grace is in its fuller picture with all of the grace gifts working. As stated earlier, grace is an operation of the Holy Spirit and it is given to all men. It is how we grow from faith to faith, grace to grace, abound more and more, increase in love more and more, go from glory to glory, shineth more and more, and go from strength (army) to strength (army). The grace gifts listed in the previous section (Romans 12:6-8) are in the order and the operation of how we grow. So we grow because of the grace gifts operating by the Holy Spirit in us, but also by the grace process that works in progression, which becomes a cycle. If we look at grace as the thing that makes it all happen, and as existing between the lines, the seams, that are barely noticeable to make a perfectly fitting garment, that is a good position to start from in understanding what God's grace is. It is the growth of each piece of the garment, while at the same time putting the garment together. Another way to look at it is if a person is preparing a meal with 7 different items. Each item will be prepared individually, but they will come together to make a meal. When that meal is fulfilled or finished there will be another 7 item meal to prepare. In order to see the growth cycle more clearly, two parallel examples will be given, one physical and one spiritual. However, this operation of the Holy Spirit applies to all facets of life including mental growth, emotional growth, relationship growth, talents, skills, exercising and strengthening of the spirit, etc. We grow as each grace gift is exercised in us. The bigger picture is when a prophetic seed has gone through all of the gifts to fulfill its purpose. The examples will help to show the unfolding and understanding of this. Father, may we see and understand Your grace and may joy come to all of us as we see your Ways.
Growth by grace starts with a prophetic seed given by the Holy Spirit.
Physically: When we are conceived in the womb, this is an example of prophesying according to faith. It is the beginning of a physical life with all of the information of that life within the sperm and egg. It is a prophetic seed of a human being.
Spiritually: When we are conceived in God's thought with the fullness of all that He intended us to be, that is the beginning of our spiritual life. We became a prophecy that could prophesy by His faith. It is a prophetic seed, in the beginning, of His design made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
Jesus is the purest manifestation on earth of all of the gifts. We can recall that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, which gives the example for us to see that conception of anything new and from God begins with the Holy Spirit coming upon us. All prophetic new seeds are given by God, which grow in faith. We are virgins to the new prophecy (seed) that the Holy Spirit brings to us.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour (grace) with God. (Luke 1:30)
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-35)
We desire much grace from God to receive a new prophecy (prophetic seed) to be planted (prophesy) in us to continue to grow in all ways according to God's will. May we be given much grace to grow in faith to faith.
The prophetic growing seed is given grace ministering by the Holy Spirit.
Physically: The unborn baby is given the ministering of the mother's womb to nurture and safely care for the baby. The mother's body changes enough to externally display that by God's grace she is nurturing something new. This is a 40 week period of nurturing that provides a sustained and maintained environment for the next two gifts (teaching and exhortation) to begin their manifestations. Commitment to the growing seed dispels doubt and also expands confidence that the baby is growing.
Spiritually: After we are conceived in God's thought, ministering of the Holy Spirit works in us and around us revealing the light of God. No man does not see His light, and no man is without excuse (Romans 1:20). The light of God is able to be seen (II Corinthians 2:14, II Corinthians 4:6) in contrast to the world because we are conceived in the darkness of sin and iniquity.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)
We are nurtured by the Holy Spirit's promptings and are moved in our hearts to believe and know that there is a God by His witnessing in creation, our circumstances, and life. The unction towards Him grows as His angels minister to us that confirm with our spirit that God is real and the path to God is introduced.
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger [angel] before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Mark 1:2-3)
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
This ministering period allows and undergirds the next two operations of teaching and exhortation to occur. It will last 40 prophetic weeks in kairos time, which is not in chronologic time, but the time set by God for each individual person. It is when we, as unborn babies, are being nurtured by the Holy Spirit orchestrating events and presenting God's light to us in the darkness of sin and iniquities. We are expanding during this time in grace to grace.
The prophetic growing seed is taught by the Holy Spirit.
Physically: The goal of the Master teacher is for the unborn baby to be developed enough to thrive outside of the mother's womb. Because of the mother's womb providing a continual nurturing ministry, the unborn baby can develop with many differentiated members. The unborn baby has his own blood supply separate from his mother's, which was differentiated and developed from his own cells. The operations of the members are taught in coordination with the mind. Hearing, limb movement, a beating heart, all of the body is learning and preparing to work outside of the womb. The unborn baby is learning emotions, sound, movement, and they are his to utilize in the future.
Spiritually: As we are aware of God and are drawn to Him by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are shown and taught the Way to Him.
15 John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me. 16 And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:15-17)
The Holy Spirit identifies Jesus Christ to us and teaches what the ministry gift is working in us, which is growing from grace to grace. By the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we recognize our own personal need for Jesus separate from others. We are taught truth, Jesus Christ, and the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Psalm111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10).
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (Psalm 51:5-6)
When we are taught by this grace gift, we are abounding more and more.
The prophetic growing seed hears or sees exhortation from the Holy Spirit.
Physically: The mother's body continues to minister and teach for the baby to be born. The water sac breaks, announcing that the birth is imminent. Labor contractions in pain bring the baby into the world as the baby is massaged during the process of going through the birth canal to stimulate the blood supply and the lungs for preparation to breathe air. "This Woman's Work" written and performed by Kate Bush, recorded in 1988. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRggbUTgyJk.
Our heart hears the voice of God beckoning us to Him. We return His beckon. We feel His love, and we love Him in return.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Galatians 1:15-16)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: (John 10:27)
Not all desire Him. They will not increase in love more and more.
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; (Psalm 58:3-4)
The time spent in the Holy Spirit's labours beginning with the prophetic seed to Philadelphia (this step) is in physical and spiritual darkness. Starting from Laodiceans (the next step) through the last two steps, labours of the Holy Spirit are done in the light. So the transition of going from the darkness of night into the morning sun is between this step (Philadelphia) and the next step (Laodiceans). The mystery of Jesus' work in suffering for us is done in green horse Philadelphia and results in Laodiceans' glory. We see that this work is done by the grace of God.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)
The newly manifested sprout is openly identified by the seed Giver. God's glory is imparted by the Holy Spirit in justice.
Physically: The baby is birthed and given a name.
Spiritually: The person who beckoned God's call is born again and is identified as His.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:23-24)
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:6-8)
The Holy Spirit seals us unto God (John 3:5-8, II Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 4:30), which happens at the time anyone believes in Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. They are born of the Spirit and the person has gone from glory to glory as God's glory is imparted by the Holy Spirit in justice. A person cannot be unborn physically or spiritually.
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. 29 My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:28-29)
Jesus Christ was born on the earth full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and was identified as a Saviour, Christ the Lord by the angel and others (Luke 2:26-32 by Simeon, Luke 2:36-38 by Anna).
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
14 And the Word was made 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 1:14)
The Laodiceans were counseled by the Holy Spirit to buy gold that is tried in fire (The Revelation 3:18), which is to buy more prophetic seeds (spiritual gold) that are worked by grace to grow in Him. The Laodiceans had a problem with boasting of gifts (riches) that were not the labours worked in them by the Holy Spirit. They liked tearing apart and wearing the used garments of Jesus Christ. This is when the matriarchal church boasts and teaches that man is perfected because they are born again and say that is enough.
14 Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. (Proverbs 25:14)
27 It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory. (Proverbs 25:27)
The sprout matures by grace to diligently rule the spirit and soul in order to become holy and produce fruit.
Physically: The baby takes in food into his own mouth, milk and then solids. The baby grows into childhood and beyond.
The child of God drinks milk and eats meat given by the Word of God, Jesus Christ, with understanding given by the Holy Spirit. The child, which was a seed but is now a growing sprout, is able to process food from the sun with its chlorophyll because of Jesus' green horse sacrifice. The child of God simultaneously grows a strong root system in the ground, which also provides nutrients. The child grows by grace (Holy Spirit supplied) that is in the soil and also in the atmosphere.
The flood gates of grace are opened to constantly flow into and around the child of God to resist temptation and to be exercised as God tries the heart, reins, and thoughts (Jeremiah 11:20, Psalm 7:9, Psalm 11:5, Psalm 26:2, Psalm 139:23, Proverbs 17:3, I Thessalonians 2:4).
2 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (I Thessalonians 2:4)
To rule with apostolic diligence requires much patience and not fainting during the labours that are being worked by God (The Revelation 2:3). Healing of brokenness, gathering, discarding, removing the burdens of sin, removing the bondage of guilt and shame, identifying iniquities are a constant during this part of the grace cycle. We must not be weary or defiant when the Holy Spirit is chastening or pruning us because it is the Holy Spirit's labours by grace to present ourselves holy and sanctified to Himself and is how we shineth more and more.
26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26-27)
22 In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. (Colossians 1:22)
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him. (Colossians 3:10)
Our minds are purified (Psalm12:6) and renewed during this time (Romans 12:2), our emotions are taught how to be corralled and are given their direction to flow, and we learn how to rule our spirit.
32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
Ruling with diligence is what Paul worked in the most and why his ministry follows the ascension of Jesus, the naming of the 12 apostles, and after the Holy Spirit descended. His work was in providing apostolic foundations after the Holy Spirit was manifested following the completion of Jesus Christ's labours on earth. Paul revealed how to establish oneself to rule and work in grace by faith. Little children, young men, and fathers require different forms of diligent ruling (I John) and the Holy Spirit gives us the ruling if we are pliable to work in it and receive it to accomplish what God wants to in us. Each new seed that becomes a sprout must go through this part of the cycle in order to bear fruit of the same kind of seed. We must implement a different or more developed rule in order to do this. To put it in very practical terms, if we are given a new fruit to bear that is different than the last fruit that we had grown, it is likely that the new fruit would not flourish well or die if we tend to it in the same manner as the last fruit. A peach tree needs different growing conditions applied to it than an olive tree. We must adopt and incorporate the rules that the new fruit requires so that it will also be able to bear its fruit. What is worked in us by grace is very precious and God allows us to be greatly developed by Him and in His ways. God is great and greatly to be praised (Psalm 96:4).
If we start quenching the Holy Spirit and prevent His labouring in us of more advanced apostolic ruling, we fall back into our own thinking on how best to rule ourselves and those around us. We establish a law that we want as the final say unto ourselves without grace (Galatians 5:18) and pull the plug on our growth and our ability to produce good fruit. During this time our apostolic rulership is approved by God, diminished, or lost (Matthew 25:14-28).
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21)
14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isaiah 59:14)
The mature tree joyfully bears good fruit for others to draw strength from who are laboring in their own prophetic seed.
Physically: The mature person rears young ones into adulthood.
Once the quality of our spiritual fruit is of God's standards, we are strengthened in evangelical might. We enter into the joy of producing unto the Lord (Mathew 25:21, Matthew 25:23) and our spirit expands from strength (army) to strength (army). By grace, we labour and show mercy with evangelic might. We are able to participate and eat of the joy of the Lord as He becomes our fortress and our strength (Nehemiah 8:10, Jeremiah 16:19).
19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. (Jeremiah 16:19)
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 1:25)
As we produce good fruit by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the labour results in offering sacrifices of praise to God and confessing our thanksgiving to Him with the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15-16). And then we have strength to show mercy with evangelical might by grace to another who has taken on a new prophetic seed. Our spirit is able to uphold our own souls, or the soul of another, as we or they go on the more difficult road of birthing a new sprout that was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:20)
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (I Peter 3:7)
The growth cycle then begins again when a new prophetic seed of a different fruit is presented by the Holy Spirit to plant and labour in. This will be in addition to the fruit that the mature tree already produces.
Another example of growing by grace.
The following is a sped up look at another example of growing by grace. It is an example of how we grow cognitively while learning multiplication. These are the seven grace steps: 1) We are typically expected to learn time tables during school (the prophetic seed is given). 2) We are in an environment that supplies flash cards, pencils, paper, or whatever tools are needed. 3) A teacher begins teaching and we practice and practice starting with the factors 0 & 1 then onto increasing difficulty with higher numbers. 4) We are told that a test will come at a particular time to test us, meanwhile 2) and 3) are still going on with the expectation that we need to be prepared for a certain time ahead. 5) The test comes, we pass, and we can declare ourselves as a person who knows time tables. 6) Outside of the learning environment, we are in a situation where we are aware, by ourselves, it is easier to count by 2's, 5's, or 10's when called to pick up a large number of things or counting our money. We have applied multiplication in a practical manner and utilized it outside of the classroom and applied it in a way we had not done before. 7) We now are available to use our multiplication skills in a variety of ways. We produce multiplication fruit that we eat or for others to eat. The next prophetic seed would be to go into division.
We can see by the example that we do not lose what we had. We do not forget how to add just because we now can multiply. But we can now use them both together and apart from each other. Sometimes we do not pass the test. And in those cases the Holy Spirit may provide a new prophetic seed to go back to the beginning of the cycle if it is God's will. The retaking part is offered before a person has been given the title of “knowing multiplication tables.” Evil men enjoy giving titles, false glory, without the grace of God's Holy Spirit growth process, which result in only temporal titles that have limited use. Grace is everywhere around us and works within us. It is externally and internally available to us by God. It only goes away or is diminished at our own choosing. Now that we have a better understanding of God's grace and how it is an operation of the Holy Spirit's labours, let us read a couple of verses:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11)
Grace looks differently now. It means something very different than how we first thought of it in man's understanding. Grace is vast, and it is ours to embrace or reject. And in knowing what we know now about it, other verses that we come across about grace make sense. Grace is a just and active operation of the Holy Spirit given to us by God, not an ambiguous thing that we hope we can get a little of or need special privileges to tap into.
Fine sifted flour
Once we have completed a cycle to God's approval we are ready for a new seed, like going from walking to bicycle transportation or from multiplication to algebra; we do not forget how to walk or how to multiply. We can look at it as, when walking is fulfilled by grace, the law and the prophetic word (seed) for walking has been fulfilled. We can later then expand, by grace, into riding a bicycle. We may have to refer to walking at times for our transportation, and we are free in the grace of God to do that, but that does not mean we have fallen from grace or have lost the ability to ride the bicycle. We would be falling from grace if we decided that there is no value in riding a bicycle, or if we ride a bicycle in the future and only follow the rules that are set up for walking or only use the muscles we use for walking, which would frustrate the Holy Spirit.
A very beautiful picture for us of grace is found in the offering of fine flour. It was used for meat offerings (Leviticus 2:1), sin offerings (Leviticus 5:11), offerings for anointing priests (Leviticus 6:20), thanksgiving offerings (Leviticus 7:12), and trespass offerings (Leviticus 14:21) are some examples. Fine flour is also talked about as part of Solomon's daily provision used for bread (I Kings 4:22). God also describes that giving away fine flour for a sweet savour to others is an abomination in Ezekiel 16. In other words, it is an abomination to use things that the Holy Spirit's grace has worked in us and then give it for others to use in a temporal way for their pleasure or for our own motives.
19 My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:19)
The importance of fine flour is that it is sifted until it is balanced. By grace it is sifted until it becomes usable for offerings and also for our daily provision (bread) for labouring in our call. Jesus Christ was an offering of fine sifted flour. He was a perfectly balanced human being. We can see this better in describing what He was not. He was smart, but he did not act or speak like an intellectual academic. He was strong and did physical work, but he was not a buff body builder. He expressed His emotions, but He acted on them rather than wallow in them. In all ways spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally He was balanced. He allowed Himself to be sifted as He grew in each step to continue onto the next as God's grace was upon Him (Luke 2:40, John 1:13-17).
As long as we are alive we should be continually growing. No matter how many demons we bind or slay, no matter where we travel in the spirit realm, no matter how many revelations or visions we have received from God, no matter how many children we have reared, no matter how much we may suffer in the Lord, we all have a race to run to its end (I Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1-4). External and internal conflicts often expose things that we did not see or realize before that are not pleasing to God. This is why the warnings are given and displeasure is spoken of when falling from grace and not continuing to live in it. God will try our hearts and thoughts to reveal what is there (Psalm 26:2, Psalm 139:23, Proverbs 17:3, I Thessalonians 2:4) and grace is the process that will expose where we are unbalanced. God gives us opportunities to grow in those areas. We are thankful for this work that is done by grace. However, God does not waste the Holy Spirit's seed to the ground, nor will He allow us to waste His prophetic seeds (Genesis 38:7-10). There is a point that He will no longer give His seed to us if our hearts are too hard and we will not allow ourselves to be fallowed (Jeremiah 4:3, Hosea 9:16).
The fig tree that had leaves but no fruit withered (Matthew 21:19, Mark 11:13). The significance of the tree being a fig tree is that the fig tree represents the apostolic ministry, and the ability to rule with diligence. It represents the part of the maturation cycle that must occur after the glory of Laodiceans has occurred. It is at this juncture where men fall or retreat from their growing and try to supplement it by going back to the pastoral or teaching ministries. If the chastening of God is believed by us to be intolerable, if we refuse to adapt to His new apostolic ruling, if we deny, quench, grieve, or frustrate the Holy Spirit we are usually left off to spend our life wandering in the wilderness to wait for our death. Remember Moses who smote the rock rather than speak to the rock according to God's instructions. The reason why the 12 apostles are called “apostles” is because once they were given their title and the glory of Laodiceans, the next step was that they were to diligently rule in that title, which is what they did as they allowed themselves to be exercised according to God's Will. They had to have the Holy Spirit to help them grow and operate, just like we do today.
The ability to rule our spirits and our souls with diligence expands with the growth that we are willing to receive. We have to crawl before we walk. We do not forget how to crawl. We have access within ourselves to crawl if we need to in the future, however we do not utilize the same apostolic ruling to crawl as we do for walking. Apostolic ruling is not static, and must also expand. The foundation of walking has to be built on the same foundation as crawling was, which is always the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the most difficult and resistive part of the grace growth cycle where man is tested in because this is where we either want to go all the way back into pastoral ministry and teaching (which we do correctly revisit with a completely new prophetic seed), or we begin to implement our own laws that we are more comfortable living with. People like to regress to the first four gifts of the growth cycle because it is worked underground and in the dark. But once we go into the last three grace gifts we are out in the open, out in the light where everything is exposed and is expected by God to be dealt with. This is the time where we are required to grow strong roots and robust trunks. This is the time that has to be gone through and gone through again and gone through again as we are sifted to become more like Jesus Christ with a renewed mind. With each new concept that God gives to us about Himself we then need to adjust the rest of our thinking and actions based on the new concept. The Holy Spirit is faithful to bring circumstances into our life that will exercise us and allow us to incorporate what we are responsible for. This is the operation of grace. It is just, fair, and good.
24 Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do [make, bring forth] it. (I Thessalonians 5:24)
Is growing by and in the grace of God with the Holy Spirit something that we gravitate towards automatically? Well, not really. It is not enjoyable to be chastened and is described as grievous in Hebrews 12:11. By grace, the Holy Spirit brings our awareness out in the open so we can see what we are doing that is not pleasing to God. It is better to have the momentary shame and be chastened by God rather than quench the Holy Spirit's grace working in us. One of the most important labours of growing in the grace gifts and staying in His growth cycles is that it is the way sin is conquered from our lives. This is just one reason why the enemy has wanted to keep the understanding of the operation of grace in some sort of vague holding pattern up in the sky, because by grace we do not have to be in bondage to sin any longer.
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
My grace is sufficient
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness [infirmities]. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:8-9)
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (II Corinthians 9:8)
When Paul wrote the above II Corinthians 12 passage he was healing, casting out unclean spirits, and steeped in revelations given to Him by God. Paul was not willing to throw away God's grace that would allow him to make perfect his evangelistic might (strength), imparting in justice, and abounding more by being taught by the Holy Spirit master teacher to then teach others. And it was God's grace that kept the thorn in place so that he would not be “exalted above measure” (II Corinthians 12:7) in himself or by others. He states in verse 6 that although he would desire to glory, he “shall not be a fool.” He had much more to labour in by God's grace and he was willing to submit to the way that God knew would bring the best fruit and prophetic seeds forth, which are now available to us that were birthed by him, and likewise from John, and Peter, and many others, and by God's grace, us.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (II Corinthians 12:6-7)
God knows us. He knows our inclinations, especially if we are young men in the Lord and tend to come up against Him harder after we have tasted His good things (Psalm 34:8). Young men have been through enough grace cycles of Laodiceans' glory to glory to experience some of God's power and insight, and there is a tendency to start thinking “more highly” of ourselves “than we ought,” Romans 12:3. This is given as a caution to us in Romans 12:3 just before the Holy Spirit's grace gifts are listed.
29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. (Proverbs 20:29)
It is great and exhilarating to work in His strength, to be given visions, revelations, do warfare, travel and see in the spirit realm, etc. etc. etc., but those experiences and operations are part of Him, they are given to us, we do not own them. It would be like starting a relationship with a wealthy person and then discovering that we are more enamored and enthralled by their wealth than the person. God is beautiful and powerful and good, working in Him brings those spiritual things to us as we grow in grace. But His beauty, glory, power, and goodness are very different from what we are familiar with. God knows how far we will be willing to walk with Him, the person. He knows if we will stop growing in His grace and why, and we can also know that He will take us to the maximum growth that we allow Him to, by grace. He does not force the Holy Spirit onto us when we have pushed the plate away.
Remember the I Am that I Am from Exodus 3:14 earlier in this article? The place where we can go to keep us from going too far off the track and to keep us grounded? The words come to us again, and we cherish them.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10)
May we speak these same words from our mouth and heart also.
The nature of God's fairness (equity)
Creation lives in grace cycles: the rocks, the plants, the animals, the rain, the seasons, the orbiting of the planets. The Holy Spirit resides in all of creation and labours in it. We can understand that all things are in this process and even confined to their own order as God has ordained them to be. God has ordained man to be able to grow, expand, and to be strengthened in many ways. When reading the below passage, read it slowly without a melody or a beat. Let God place a new tune, new rhythm to it. Let it be in the Holy Spirit's rhythm.
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born [bear], and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get [seek], and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10)
The passage is no longer about life and death, building and tearing down. It is about going from step to step. We receive the above passage in how we perceive God. If we breathe in less than 1% water vapor of Him, we read it as a yin and yang passage with life consisting of positives and negatives or even in gradients of good and evil. But when we read it with a good percentage of water vapor we see it as the growth process from glory to glory, faith to faith, or shining more and more, etc. All men are exercised by their labours (verse 10). And it is our choice to answer if the profit is unto eternal prosperity or just a stage of temporal life (verse 9). We determine if the travail is empty or meaningful.
After we have a better awareness and understanding of what grace is, another concept takes a hold and blankets our thoughts. We are aware of others in a different way. We see that God and the Holy Spirit are working in all others, like ourselves, with a plan and direction specifically fine-tuned for each of us. God tailors opportunities that will give the maximum result and be the most effective for us in our growth. The coordination of people, the coordination of circumstances, and the magnitude of His presence and grace around us and working within our spirit, mind, heart, and emotions is outstanding. We are able to understand more clearly just how He is not a respecter of persons (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, I Peter 1:17-20). We cannot breathe for another person. We cannot take in the Holy Spirit for another person. But we can trust that God is not a respecter of persons and is fair in all of His workings with each person.
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. (Acts 10:30-35)
We see that God gives as we are willing to receive of His Holy Spirit. Recall the father's words to his eldest son: “child, thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine” (Luke 15:31). When we put ourselves under the Holy Spirit's guidance, He is free to work in us as He chooses. It will be the most efficient way, and it will be the best way, and it will be fair.
May you prosper abundantly by His grace as you grow in all ways according to the riches of His glory. Amen.