Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Fall to Grace (the latest email from RELEVANT magazine)

A Fall to Grace (the latest email from RELEVANT magazine)

I agree with Ed Young so much on this… we have turned Grace into something God never intended it ot be… just a bar of soap… in these times when there are so many failures and people who are ashamed to seek help on issues that the “church” deems as beyond grace… we need to get back in touch with Biblical Grace.


Here is the article from Ed Young…

A Fall to Grace

We call it "a fall from grace": a Christian man or woman caught in some type of sexual, financial, legal or other ethical or moral indiscretion who falls from a position of high esteem. The most recent example involves Ted Haggard, founder and former senior pastor of New Life Church and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).
Have you ever wondered where that phrase, "a fall from grace," comes from? Galatians 5:4, "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (NKJV).

How telling that we use that particular terminology to describe an incident (usually of the high-profile variety) of moral failure. By doing so, we tip our theological hand. While we talk a lot about God's inexhaustible grace and unconditional love, when it comes right down to it, we still believe that grace is exhaustible. We know that we owe our salvation to Christ's grace-giving work on the cross. But it doesn't take long before we trade in that boundless grace for the boundaries of the law.

In biblical terms, a fall from grace is not the sinner saved by grace who is caught in moral failure. That is a fall to grace. A fall from grace is the self-righteous person who tries to earn his or her salvation through the guise of moral living, declaring that Christ's work on the cross was unnecessary—at least for them.

Let me ask a simple question: Do we really believe in grace? Or not?
When scandals hit the news wires and our TV screens, I'm reminded how easy it is to preach and teach grace, but how difficult it is to live out on the rugged plains of reality. And I say that as I search my own heart and attitudes. I say that because I struggle through the gamut of emotions, sometimes throwing critical glances toward a "fallen" man or woman in the Church.

"Can you believe he did that?" I'm tempted to say with an air of arrogance.
And then I recall my own shortcomings, and a not-so-popular verse comes to mind, "How can you say, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:4, TNIV).
In Matthew 7:4 the word plank in the original language is a picture of a crossbeam that holds up an entire structure. Some of us have this critical crossbeam that holds up the entire structure of our lives, blinding us from our struggles—and blinding us from the way God views others and our own lives.

"Hypocrite!" Jesus says in verse 5. If you are trying to assume God's throne of righteous judgment, then you are a hypocrite.
People say to me, "I don't go to church anymore, because churches are full of hypocrites."
Let's just lay our cards on the table. We're all hypocrites! Being a hypocrite means assuming a role that is not yours to assume. Sadly, too many churches are communities of criticism instead of communities of compassion.

Criticism is like a boomerang. Matthew 7:2 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." So, if you want to get what you are giving, go ahead and give it. But be ready for its return to smack you on the back of your head.

That's why we need to humbly allow Jesus to yank the plank of criticism from our eyes. Once we do, two things happen. One, we can see the mercy of God in our own lives. And two, we can extend the mercy of God to others. Because I am not getting what I deserve from God, I have the power to release others from what they deserve. I'm able to give them what God has given me—love, acceptance and grace.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not justifying, rationalizing or any other type of "-izing" the moral indiscretions of Pastor Haggard or any other Christian leader ensnared by sin. What I am saying is that it's time to let God be the judge and take our proper role as fellow sinner saved by grace. And maybe it's time for us to stop putting other human beings—who can't possibly live up to our expectations—on moral pedestals. Maybe it's time to remember who the standard bearer of our faith is: Jesus. Maybe it's time to put aside our human nature and, as the apostle Paul suggested, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

Maybe, just maybe, it's time to yank the plank. Search your heart today and take some time to pray for Ted Haggard, his wife and family, his church, his accuser and the thousands who have been impacted by his ministry. Regardless of the extent of his moral indiscretion, let this be yet another wake-up call as to how spiritually vulnerable we really are. In situations like this, we scream for accountability, but we have to realize that no matter how much accountability we have, we're still vulnerable to the enemy's tactics to deceive us and bring us down.
When it comes to temptation, particularly in the sexual arena, we always overestimate our power to resist and underestimate the enemy's power to persist. Only as we walk daily in the grace of Christ can we find the humility to say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
"What once was hurt / What once was friction / What left a mark, no longer stings / Because Grace makes beauty out of ugly things." ("Grace" by U2)

Ed Young is pastor of Fellowship Church. He is the author of several books including The Creative Leader: Unleashing the Power of Your Creative Potential and You!.


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Anonymous said...


You are right- that is well written. I find myself in a church with a fellow pastor who has also "fallen", and Ed's words hit home for me. Thanks for posting them.

And, how are you doing? How's your ministry going?

iggy said...


I am glad that Ed Young wrote this as it was how I felt... I could not express it as well as he did though...

I could only see in scripture Romans 2 that we should not judge one another... even that I felt was coming across judgmentally on my part... which was not my intention...

Yet, that is why that very warning is there... to warn us to be careful about judging others sin, when we have our own to deal with... and the only way to deal with sin is by the Grace of God... through Jesus Christ.

Grace was never intended as a back up plan incase we fall... it is there to save us, and sustain us... then later to glorify us! And all that is in and through Jesus Christ... and none of our selves.

On a personal note... things are going great... the Billings Vineyard offered me to be an intern, and I am on the leadership team. We have moved from being a house church to a new building... (Warehouse really). God has been blessing us immensely!


Steve said...

Well said, thanks!

iggy said...

God is good isn't He...