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Let her who is without sin…

Last weekend, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) installed its first openly transgender bishop, Rev. Megan Rohrer, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California.

President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler condemned the ELCA’s actions and called the move “a new religion.”

Mohler, interviewed by Fox News, said:

“The entire transgender revolution is a revolt against the order of God in creation and God’s intention for humanity.”

A revolt against the order of God. Isn’t this sin?

In church don’t we hear that sin is rebellion against God?

Aren’t we all sinners, saved by grace?

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace.

  • Romans 3:23

and

By grace you are saved. And this not of your selves, so no one can boast. Nothing you do. It is the gift of God.

  • Ephesians 2:8-9

Isn’t every single Christian, including every Christian leader, a sinner, until we put our faith in Christ when His blood cleansed us, once for all, and made us perfect, righteous and holy.

For you have been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all.

  • Hebrews 10:10

Being holy, pure, sanctified, is nothing we do.

Christ sanctified us, on the cross.

To say we can contribute towards our salvation is self-righteous.

We cannot make ourselves holy.

No matter how much we try to lead better lives, be better people, we will always fall short of the glory of God.

The true beauty of the Christian gospel is this:

Because of Christ’s work on the cross we stand holy, righteous, perfect before God.

Nothing you do, as Paul says.

Nothing we do.

Nothing.

Christ did it all – on the cross.

There is absolutely nothing we can do that can make God love us more. And there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love for us doesn’t depend on us but on Him. It doesn’t depend on our actions but on His action, on the cross.

Sure, God wants us to live better lives – for us! Not for Him! Jesus already lived a perfect life because He is a perfect God. His love for us is perfect. He loves us no matter what.

Isn’t that amazing?!

Sure, improving ourselves, living well, being good people, are all great things and admirable things – but they don’t save us. This is a ‘good works’ gospel.

Our good works are a shining light so people may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven, and come to know Christ.

Yet, isn’t it reassuring to know that if we fail, ever, we are secure, that our place in Heaven is because of what Jesus did, not because of what we do.

It is Christ who makes us perfect. Who makes us holy.

By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.

  • Hebrews 10:14

and

He is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

  • 1 Cor 1:30

So, while Al Rohrer fights Bishop Megan, who overseas 200 congregations, I hope he remembers that he, also, without Christ, rebels against God.

If Bishop Megan is not ‘fit’ to be a leader, then no one is – because without Christ we are all the same – sinners rebelling against God.

But because of His love for us, we are saved and perfectly loved.

Because of Him. Not because of us.

(Breathes a deep sigh of relief.)

It is by grace we are saved. Nothing we do.

And so, also, to Al Rohrer who is attacking Bishop Megan, it is by grace you are saved – nothing you do.

So…as Jesus said (John 8:6):

Let her who is without sin cast the first stone.

What do you think? Should transgender people be allowed to be leaders in the church?

Too Good to be True News!

Since I had a revelation of the meaning of God’s grace, I have not confessed sin. Why is this? Isn’t that heresy? Aren’t I outside of God’s presence? Doesn’t the bible teach us to confess?

All good questions.

First of all, the verse that has given rise to the ‘confession’ is 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and purify us from all righteousness.”

Yet later, in chapter 3, John writes:

“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”

And then again, in chapter 5, verse 18:

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”

  • does not continue to sin.

Also, think about this verse, in 1 John 2:1

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

It is not us who speaks to the Father when we sin, it is Jesus.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon put it like this, in The Precious Blood of Christ:

“Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved.”

Singaporean preacher Joseph Prince says it like this:

It’s as if we are stones in a waterfall, constantly washed clean.

It is not our confession which washes us clean. We are already washed clean through Christ’s work on the cross.

In fact, to say that we still have sin, is to declare the cross not powerful enough to cleanse us of our sin. But Christ crucified our sin on the cross. He destroyed it. He did away with it. Once for all. And in doing so he made us perfect forever:

“We have been made perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, once for all.”

– Hebrews 10:10

When Christ destroyed our sin, he gave us His righteousness, as a free gift.

Isaiah has a revelation of this, and can’t believe it, proclaiming:

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has draped me in a robe of His righteousness.”

  • Isaiah 61:10

They cast lots for his clothes, leaving him naked on the cross. At the same time, he draped us in a robe of His righteousness.

Christ did it all!

To say we can have a part in cleansing ourselves of our sin by confessing, is giving us a part to play in our salvation. But we have no part to play. Christ did it all. It is finished.

To say we can have a part to play by our action, is to say the cross wasn’t powerful enough to cleanse us once for all. That there is something we can do that can cleanse us once for all.

It’s saying that unless we confess, we are still sinners, day in day out. We have to confess in order to be holy. We have to do it.

Isn’t this a kind of self-righteousness? A works gospel. To say there is something we have to do? Christ didn’t do it all. The cross wasn’t enough?

“Now, at the end of the ages, Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself, once for all.”

Once, for all. By the sacrifice of Himself.

Some people like to confess, to see themselves as sinners. But the truth is, all of us, without Christ, are sinners. But when God sees us, he doesn’t see us as sinners, because of our faith, he sees Christ in us. It is not us as sinners that God sees. He sees us righteous – as righteous as Christ.

He is our holiness, righteousness and redemption.”

1 Corinthians 1:30.

If it makes us feel better confessing our sin to God. Go ahead. It can do no harm. As for me, I relish in the complete freedom I have knowing my sin was destroyed once for all on the cross. I am completely, holy and pure forever because of what Christ did for me on the cross.

But what about 1 John 1:9 ?

If we confess our sin He is righteous and just to forgive us our sin.”

This is the sinners prayer, when we first accept Jesus.

Now, when I say sorry, God says to me:

“Steve, I have forgiven you once for all on the cross. You are completely holy, righteous, perfect and holy in my sight because of what Jesus did for you. Your faith has saved you. You are already as perfect as Christ. Sin cannot touch you. You are washed in the blood of my Son.”

As Paul says:

“Nothing you do, it is the gift of God.”

  • Ephesians 2:8

I know it’s a difficult concept to grasp. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yes, it does. But that’s the gospel. It’s not just good news. It’s too good to be true news!

Articles by Steve Edwards on THREADS

Have You Had a Grace Revelation by Steve Edwards on Amazon:

The Taliban & Emma Raducanu

This week we have seen the rise of two new tennis superstars, Emma Raducanu and Leyla Fernandez, aged just 18 and 19 respectively, who fought out the US Open final with passion, youth and inspirational commitment.

Conversely, we have also been informed of an announcement by The Taliban that women are to be banned from sport in Afghanistan.

There is surely no starker contrast to thought and ideology in today’s world. No brighter example of the difference between the western world and a world where an autocratic male-dominated government oppresses women’s rights.

There is $9 billion in funds, frozen by the US government, that have been promised to the Taliban if they can prove they have ‘changed’. To prove by their actions, as Boris Johnson has said, rather than their words. One of the criteria, as well as allowing safe passage to those entitled to seek refugee status in the west, was to allow women into the cabinet and education and to stop their oppression of women.

Emma Raducanu and Leyla Fernandez have both shown the world that the Taliban’s ban on women to play sport, as well as being a grave violation of human rights, highlights why their actions in oppression of women in sport is ludicrous, not only damaging to the talented individuals who may thrive but damaging to the nations who could enjoy the victory of their stars as we do, perhaps increasing tourism and therefore wealth.

And perhaps there is an Emma Raducanu or Leyla Fernandez in Afghanistan, waiting to blossom and take the world by storm.

Imagine if Emma or Leyla had been born in Afghanistan under this Taliban rule. They would not even be allowed to pick up a racket.

The Lord’s Prayer & Grace

I’ve just discovered we can write emoji’s in our blog posts 😀

But back to the post:

After church yesterday, chatting about God’s grace (as you do) over a cup of tea with Rob, the conversation went something like this:

ROB:

What have you been doing this week?

ME:

I’ve been working on the follow up to my book Have You Had a Grace Revelation?

ROB:

Have You Had a Grace Revelation? What’s that about?

ME:

Oh you know, about how nothing we can do can make God love us more and nothing we can do make God love us less.

And the fact that we don’t have to ask God for forgiveness anymore – because we have already been forgiven, once for all, on the cross.

We ask for forgiveness once, when we first accept Christ, but after that, we don’t have to keep asking God for forgiveness, because we have already been forgiven, once for all, 2000 years ago.

We are free.

We have been forgiven of all our sin, past, present and future, because of what Christ did on the cross.

Isn’t that amazing?!

That is why grace is amazing.

That is why the Christian message is ‘good news.’

Not even good news.

Too good to be true news!

(Stunned look from Rob).

ROB:

Hmmm….

(I can see the cogs spinning inside his head. Suddenly, his eyes light up)

What about The Lord’s Prayer? Jesus teaches us to pray ‘Forgive us our trespasses’.

ME:

Hmmmm. Good point, I say. But this was before the cross.

ROB:

(Eyes squinting, thinking)

Hmmm….this is a very deep conversation to be having with someone I just met 20 minutes ago….

(Rob takes his phone out and makes a note of my book and my name)

Have You Had a Grace Revelation

Steve Edwards.

ME:

I think it’s also important to know who Jesus was talking to when he taught The Lord’s Prayer.

ROB:

Who was he talking to?

ME:

Good question. I don’t know. Thanks. You’ve just given me my next blog post.

So, that’s my next blog post, coming soon.

😀

Amazed by Grace

Dear Friends,

It’s been a while.

Great to be back blogging.

As I’ve been editing my magnum opus Have You Had a Grace Revelation? ready for publication, scouring the bible to make sure I got the quotes correct, I was amazed at how many other verses about the wonder of God’s grace jumped out at me.

Another book to write!

But first I’ll be blogging these thougths of Paul as he, like you and I, tried to get his head around the good news of the gospel.

Or rather, we should say, Too good to be true news of the gospel!

That God’s love for us does not depend on what we do.

Praise the LORD.

God’s love for us depends on Him – and Him alone.

And God never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.

Amen!

I’ve two new books published on Amazon:

Have You Had a Grace Revelation

Jesus or SEX.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0949QB9B3

Jesus or SEX is a collection of 5 essays also published in ‘Grace Revelation’ so when you buy ‘Have You Had a Grace Revelation?’ you get those five essays included.

Jesus or SEX is only $2.99 and explores what it is to be sexual and follow Jesus.

Ciao for now.

Grace and Peace,

Steve.

What gift will you bring?

I’d never heard The Little Drummer Boy before.

I’d heard of it, but had never actually listened to it.

Then, this Christmas, I saw this video, and it tore me apart in tears.

The story goes something like this:

A little boy hears that a new King has been born and that everyone is bringing their finest gifts to ‘honor’ Him.

Intrigued, the little boy goes to see, but, feels ashamed that he has ‘no gift to bring’ that is ‘fit for a king.’

So he offers to play his drum.

I played my drum for Him.

I played my best for Him.

What do these beautiful, simple words tell us about what it means to follow Christ.

All Jesus wants us to do is play our best for Him.

Even if we think we have no gift to bring, we do, because we all have something to offer.

God has blessed each and every one of us with a gift.

Whether we are highly qualified in positions of influence and power, or whether we are a little boy with nothing but a drum to play, all Jesus wants us to do is ‘play our best for Him.’

Not perfectly, not amazingly – as long as we do our best for Him.

Then, He smiled at me.

As long as we are ‘playing our best’, Jesus is happy with us.

We don’t have to be perfect – we cannot be perfect – but just doing our best.

Whatever gift God has blessed us with, let’s honor Him.

And remember the first line of this song:

Come, they told me.

The Little Drummer Boy is invited to come to Jesus.

This is the gospel, in the very first word: Come.

So, like The Little Drummer Boy, let’s come to Jesus and play our best for Him.

Come.

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Click this image for another amazing version.

 

 

 

 

The Bartender of Bethlehem: the unsung hero.

A young pregnant woman and her husband were on the run from their country. The Government was trying to kill them.

The young woman was about to give birth. With no money to rent a room they begged to stay at a pub. It was full of drunkards, laughing and shouting. But the baby was close to arriving. The water was breaking. It was the young couple’s last chance. They had no choice.

But the barman told them “No room here.”

But they begged and begged. They begged for shelter. They pleaded for refuge.

“My wife will give birth any minute,” the man said.

The bar tender was struck with compassion. How could he throw a pregnant girl out in the cold. She only looked about 17.

“Here,” he said. “It’s the key to the barn on the farm, next door.”

So they rushed to the barn and a baby boy was born kicking and crying amid the cows, the sheep and the squabble of the chickens. It was chaos.

There were no blankets to keep the baby warm, so the young mother  wrapped him in rags.

There was nowhere for the baby to sleep, so her young husband grabbed some hay, stuffed it into the ‘manger’ which was the long wooden box the cows ate from.

And so the young family were safe. Thanks to the barman.

And today, on our European borders, we are also turning away young pregnant mothers, desperate fathers, letting them freeze in the cold – families on the run from a government trying to kill them.

Merry Christmas.

So let’s thank God for that barman – the unsung hero. Without him there might not have been a Christmas. Baby Jesus may have died in the cold.

 

Sons of Anarchy / Children of God.

SOA5_BW_1

I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy recently.

It follows the story of Jax Teller – a young man struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps as leader of a biker gang.

Jemma is Jax’ mother.

She’s a real tough cookie – a biker mom. In one scene she talks to a priest who tells her:

Service to others is the only thing that keeps the self-loathing to a tolerable level.

I think he’s implying that his self-loathing for his own sin is so extreme, that his gratitude to God for taking His sin away can only be expressed through service to others.

Step 12 of the 12 Step Recovery Program is also all about service to others.

Jemma said she didn’t know how to serve others. She didn’t feel she had anything to offer. The priest told her she was serving him, now, just by listening to him, just by being there and being a listening ear. After all, we all need someone to listen to us.

The priest told her to look out for opportunities to serve because God presents them to us every day. We don’t have to sign up to volunteer for homeless shelters or drug rehab centers. We don’t have to train to be medics or join the Red Cross, although of course God needs people to do this work. But God presents opportunities for us to serve others every day in small, simple ways.

Look out for them.

It makes you wonder if it’s really going to be the people we think sitting closest to Jesus at that Great Wedding Celebration between Christ and His church in Heaven.

Me, I’m such a ‘bad’ Christian, I fail so much every day that I’ll just be happy to be there. I’ll be happy to be the homeless guy sitting on the floor, waiting for scraps to drop from the table (and I probably will be). Seriously, the way I fail in my life every day I don’t even deserve a place at the table.

But thanks  be to God it doesn’t depend on how good at being a Christian we are. It doesn’t depend on what we do. It doesn’t depend on our good deeds. It isn’t our own ability to be great human beings that gets us an invitation to that Great Feast. Being ‘a good person’ doesn’t open the door for us to spend eternity with God.

We only get to go to God’s great party because He loves us so much. We only get to go because He loves us enough to die for us, in our place, on a cross. We only get to go because He has made us supernaturally holy by the power of His spirit as a free gift.

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ…

  • Hebrews 10:10.

I’ve received some messages on my blog recently about how, if we don’t live up to God’s moral standard for the rest of our lives, we will lose our place in Heaven.

I’ve received some messages saying we can lose our salvation.

I pity those who believe this.

I really pity them.

If they really believe their acts of goodness is the reason God invites them to that Great Feast then they have missed the good news of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that God has invited us to spend eternity with Him because of His great love for us. It is a free gift. Paul makes this clear:

Not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.

  • Ephesians 2:8.

Those people who believe they can spend eternity with God because of their own ability to live good lives will be so proud while sitting at that table. I expect they expect to have a seat next to Jesus. I expect they hope to be like John at The Last Supper reclining with their head on Jesus’ chest.

And I hope they are.

I must admit, that does make me a little jealous.

I want to be close to Jesus at the table. I want to recline with him. I want to be ‘the disciple who Jesus loved.’

Yet I know, in my heart of hearts, I’ll be lucky to even be there.

I believe, absolutely, that I will be there.

But I won’t be at the head of the queue.

If Heaven were a nightclub I won’t be the one who the bouncers wave in first. I won’t be given the royal treatment. I’ll be the one who has to wait out in the cold for ages, and then only get in because I know someone ‘cool.’

I’ll only get in because I know Jesus.

Perhaps, once inside, the Prince of that Heavenly nightclub might wave at me from a distance, across the dance floor. He’ll be sitting, enjoying the best wine, surrounded by beautiful angels and all those superstar preachers will be with Him. Mother Theresa will be there. So will Billy Graham. TD Jakes will be sitting there in that VIP section. So will Benny Hinn, Joseph Prince, Creflo Dollar. CS Lewis. John The Baptist. The VIP section will be awesome. All those superstar preachers and old school teachers. I wonder if John the Baptist will be dressed in a loin cloth or will he upgrade to Versace?

Me…I’ll just be a nobody, as usual. I’ll be lucky to be there. But I’ll be grateful. And if Jesus were to come over and say hello, shake my hand, or even give me a hug, I would be so proud – not of myself – just proud to know Him. And if he were to offer me a drink at his table, I’d be so delighted, so excited. But overall, I’d just be so grateful to be there.

Because I feel like Paul, who says:

Here is a trustworthy saying which deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.

To get invited to the party is something to celebrate.

We prodigals come home and our Heavenly Father kills the fattened calf, puts His best robe on us and puts a ring on our finger.

And in gratitude for that great gift, that gift that cost so much suffering, that gift that cost the blood of Christ on the cross, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open for those small opportunities for service.

Because Me, I want to say thank you. But not because I want a better seat at the table. Not because I want a seat with the cool crew in the VIP section of Nightclub Heaven. I know I don’t deserve that.

No. I want to help people because I know how much He has helped me. I myself am an ex-addict, ex-homeless, ex-criminal.

I want to help others because of these words of Jesus:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me.

  • Matthew 25:40.

Like Jemma, let’s look out for those small, simple opportunities for service that God presents to us every day.

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