This blog was originally posted on October 31, 2013. I mention that I was homeless in this blog. That has changed. I and my family are no longer homeless. I am now employed. The job I have is probably the very best job I have had in over 25 years. (Truthfully, nothing compares to full time ministry, IF you are actually serving the Lord, and not your own desires).
Since writing this blog, and getting employed, I am met with new challenges as a baby believer. It is easy to take one’s eyes off Jesus when the cares of work and living confront you. As I re-read this blog, I was reminded how strong my faith was when I wrote it. Life was much harder then. The difference between then and now is, then I was keeping my eyes continually focused on Christ and His finished work. Re-reading this blog has reminded me that I need to remember, “The main thing is to always keep the main thing, the main thing.”
I hope this blog reminds you, my fellow struggling traveler, that there are much more important issues than what you think you are facing. Keeping your eyes on Jesus will sustain you.
You have all my love and prayer, whoever you are. DGP Romans 8:28
The other day, I decided to turn off the auto-delete feature in my email program. Suddenly, my inbox was stuffed to exploding with e-mails suggesting that if I ingest a little blue pill, my wife would suddenly be a happy person, or that my auto insurance was inadequate for me, AND that my house needs new siding. I found that one delightful, as it is very difficult to side a homeless man’s house.
Buried in the midst of that deluge of magnificent offers was a question sent from one of the roughly 20 million alert readers of my blog. She asked this question: “Is Saving Grace the same as Sustaining Grace?”.
That is a very good question.
The short answer is: YES!
If you are busy, or need to run, go ahead, I just answered that question, but if you need me to fill that answer out a bit, read at your own risk, the best answer I could come up with. CAVEAT LECTOR: Have your own Bible available, and never take my word, or anyone else’s word for anything. Read the Bible and see if what I am saying is true, or not. If it is not, please let me know BEFORE you unsubscribe to this incredibly stimulating and popular blog. And that would leave just me and my mom as subscribers.
The long answer is:
I have to make certain assumptions of the person who asked me this question. Here is the list of assumptions I am making.
There IS a God.
That God is the SAME God mentioned throughout the Bible (Christian).
God sent His Son into a sinful world.
His Son, Jesus, did for us Humans what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus made the broken bridge of communion with God whole again so we can have fellowship with God, and live in eternity with God in Heaven.
Jesus accomplished this feat by being nailed to the cross. When He did that, he nailed the Law on the cross with him. The Law led to the awareness of sin. Jesus, who committed no sin, became all sin. When Jesus became all sin, he was cut off from the Father: “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is (Aramaic), “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
When Jesus died, He descended into Hell and received the full wrath of God. Jesus paid the full price for every type of sin that ever existed, does exist, and will exist. He purchased your freedom when He gave up His life. But God did not intend for Jesus to stay there. While Jesus was in Hell, He remembered the promises of God, and spoke them, that God will not leave Him in Hell, nor forsake Him, and that He will commune with God again, and will sit on the throne of the Heavens. Jesus confessed all this while he was in sin and receiving the full wrath of God. And God sent the Spirit, His own Holy Spirit and brought Jesus back to life.
Jesus rose from the dead to prove that He has the authority to be called the Son of God, and that He has full authority over life and death.
Jesus became every sin imaginable and conquered it in Hell. He rose again and gave gifts to all who will accept them. Here is a list of the things Jesus gave us through His resurrection:
- Rom. 6:4-8 We were crucified with him, died with him, buried with him and united with him in his death.
- Rom. 6:5, 8 We will (Do live) live with him, united with him in his resurrection.
- Rom. 8:17 We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
- Rom. 8:17 If we share in his sufferings, we will also share in his glory.
- Gal. 2:20 We have been crucified with Christ, and he lives in us.
- Eph. 2:5-6 God made us alive with Christ, God raised us up with Christ, and seated us with him in the heavenly realms.
- Col. 2:12 We have been buried with him in baptism.
- Col. 2:12-13 God raised us and made us alive with Christ, through faith.
- Col. 2:20 We died with Christ to the basic principles of this world.
- Col. 3:1 We have been raised with Christ.
- Col. 3:3 Our life is now hidden with Christ in God.
- Col. 3:4 When Christ appears, we will appear with him in glory.
- 1 Thess. 5:10 He died for us so that we may live together with him.
- 2 Tim. 2:11 If we died with him, we will also live with him.
- 2 Tim. 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him.
When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you were born again. When you were baptized, you were crucified with Him. When you came up out of the water, you were raised again with Christ. You are now a resurrected being. We were dead in our sin, but because Christ became all our sin and died for them on our behalf, and we accepted this free gift, we are now new creations (II Corinthians 5:17).
Look at the list above again. Look them up in your Bibles. These are not theoretical constructs. These statements are the absolute truth.
The same Grace that gave you a new life IS the same grace that sustains that new life.
THEN WHY DOES MY LIFE BLOW CHUNKS?
This happens to almost every believer who is not exposed to the truth. You were not exposed to this truth because most people don’t know enough to tell you this truth. Religion and religious tradition do not share this truth for fear of losing control over you.
You were saved, and life seemed sparkly and good. God answered every prayer you prayed. His presence was felt everywhere you went, and the meanings of the words in scripture were finally making sense to you. But then, life happened, and your joy dimmed to a cold ember, and you no longer felt God’s wonderful presence.
When this happened, you were probably told that that is all part of growing up. That God coddled you while you were a baby Christian, but it is now time to grow up and handle things yourself.
You were never informed that the same Grace that saved you will sustain you forever to the day you arrive in Heaven and meet Jesus face to face.
It is all about how you look at things.
If you go back to worldly thinking to solve your problems, you will get the same results that you got before you were saved. You now have the Mind of Christ. You have His Holy Spirit in you. You are God’s righteousness already. You are complete in every way possible in the spirit. The difficulty comes in when you forget this fact, and return to your old way of thinking and handling problems. If it didn’t work the first thousand times you did it, why do you think it will suddenly change?
If you want to live the walk of Christ, you have to make Him your Lord of life, too. When you commit to do that, you must teach your heart what the scriptures declare about you (See the list above). The Spirit of God will help you write these truths on your heart. As you read the scriptures, and pray, you will get revelation on how to change your heart to what Jesus has said is true of you. To walk after Christ is to rest in His completed work. You are a co-heir to the very throne of Heaven. You are God’s beloved child. You are no longer guilty of any sin. And the Spirit of God will change your mind about sin so that whatever sin you struggle with will become less important than your desire to walk after Christ.
If you are saved by the grace of God, you will also live in it, if you chose to. It really is that simple. It is all in what you chose to believe is true as regards what Jesus accomplished on the cross and his resurrection.
This is not a license to sin, either. Grace is God’s ability to make you righteous in Christ. Jesus’s righteousness in now YOUR righteousness. You are righteous and holy before God. Your desire for God will grow and your desire for sin will diminish.
It is also not about giving up anything, but learning how to enjoy the things God invented without perverting it as the world has done.
Change your heart, and your life will change. It all depends on what you focus on. Remember that it is written: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Matt. 6:33
I became a Christian on October 27, 1986. And for a while, life in Christ was amazing. Then the world got in the way and I went back to my old way of thinking about it. I did this because I was told that that is how it is when you become a Christian.
I was never taught that God’s saving grace IS God’s sustaining Grace. Grace is from God, and is permanent once you have accepted Jesus as your lord and savior.
If all you wanted was the fire insurance and not the walk, fine. But your life will be as miserable as it was before you were saved, and probably more so, as you are now a child of God refusing to learn from Him.
To be sustained in Grace (God’s ability), you have to learn to see the world and all things as God sees them. You have to believe that what Christ accomplished at his death and resurrection is permanent, not just a one time deal.
I am new at this whole grace experience. It took me 26 years to finally see that being a Christian didn’t work out for me simply because of what I believed was true about God.
God is not mad at you, he is not out to get you or punish you. You are His beloved Child whom he loves. Jesus already took on God’s wrath in Hell. You no longer have to fear God. He is now your real father. And He loves you.
When you slide back into your worldly view of things, you reject the gift Christ gave His life to give you. (See the list above). You are telling Christ that His grace is not good enough for you and that you need to take the wheel from here.
But if you really want to experience the sustaining grace, you need to make Jesus your Lord, too, and trust that what He has done for you is real, is now, and is permanent. The Spirit of God will honor that faith and teach you how to manifest all the gifts of God in the material world. THIS is, after all, why you were not raptured when you first believed. We are to exist as Christ existed, and lead all men to salvation.
Like I said before, the difference between a victorious life in Christ and going back to your old life is all in what you believe to be true about the Grace of God. It is always in you. It is always with you. Even when you sin, God’s love for you never departs from you, and your salvation is not taken away. The ones who fall from grace are the ones who think works righteousness will please God and make him love you. You are already loved by God and He finds absolutely no fault in you. This is all because you have accepted what Jesus did for you.
I may be new to this whole Grace thing. I was raised in a very legalistic tradition by the Southern Baptists. I went to a Southern Baptist Seminary. But like Paul, I count all that as so much “dung” (Insert your own preferred aphorism here). Compared to the amazing Grace of God and the truth that it reveals to my heart, nothing else matters. The changes this has made in my life has been so powerful that many people have commented on what a completely different human I am. That is also true. My old self died when Jesus died. My new self rose, righteous before God, when Jesus arose from the dead. I simply needed to understand what all that meant.
So, yes, the sustaining Grace of God is the exact same thing as the grace that saved you. One happened in a single point of time, and the other is just the same grace walking through time sustaining you, if you will accept the truth of the Scriptures.
Change your mind and change your life. God’s grace is really all you need to walk in the likeness of Christ. If you received Him as your savior and want to experience His sustaining Grace, then change what you believe about being saved.
Let’s be about it.
I love you,
David G. Perkins