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When the Lord introduced Himself to Moses in the fullness of all His Persons, the Lord, the Lord and the Lord, He said, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God…”[1] The compassion of God, commonly also thought of and called His loving kindness, kindness, mercy, caring and forgiveness, is also but rarely considered the complete passion of God, that is, His consuming fire and zeal. That is why the writer of Hebrews says, our God is a consuming fire,[2] painting for us a picture of the passion, the refining power and the destructive power of God. The destructive power of God in the consuming fire is seen in the way He destroyed the power of sin over us once and for all through Jesus Christ. The graphic display of the demolition of the body and Person of Jesus Christ through His trial, torture and execution as He became our sin offering, was God’s way of destroying sin’s power, and so complete was that destruction that Christ died and rose again by the power of the Holy Spirit Himself.

The refining power of God’s fire is displayed through our discipleship as the Holy Spirit takes those who listen to Him on the W/way of the Lord and permits those who do not listen to Him to be buffeted again and again until their obedience is complete and all the dross is removed. The practice of His word, which is discipleship, allows the Lord to burn away all our imperfections until only that which is flawless is left. And what is flawless? …The word of the Lord, of course. At the end when judgement comes, only that which is of the word of the Lord will be rewarded. Thus, eternal damnation is determined by the absence of the belief of the Lord’s word and eternal reward is determined by the presence of the practice of the Lord’s word. That is why those who do not believe already stand condemned. The refining power of God’s consuming fire is patient and persevering, and the destructive power of God’s consuming fire is sudden and complete. However, the consuming fire of God also holds the passion of the Lord, passion that consumes Him as zeal, passion that is completely focussed on perfection and mercy. In this area, the consuming fire of God is displayed in the perfection of all His words and all His Being. God has a complete passion for mercy and perfection, which are the high points of His own life and Being. Thus, the graciousness of God likewise flows out from Him in a threefold way.

The common grace of God, which is the grace by which salvation is given to all through faith, is the grace that is available for all unbelievers who, if only they repent and believe, would be saved. It is this grace that first meets with us as we hear His word and believe it. It is the grace that allows God to dwell amongst sinners, that allows Jesus to be the Friend of drunkards and prostitutes, and that allows the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all flesh including flesh that is not yet washed by the blood of Jesus.

It is through this common grace that is given us the first and most important blessing from our perspective, because we have only one soul to save or to lose. And though every soul belongs to God and is precious to God, the salvation of our souls is not as personally important to Him as it is to us, even though He desires that all be saved and none to perish. Thus, when we ignore the common grace of God, we do injury to ourselves infinitely more than we do to God. If we end up in the Lake of Burning Sulphur because of our stubborn refusal to accept His common grace, even when Heaven and Earth have been destroyed and He has purified our lips that we may still call on the Name of the Lord one last time[3], it is our loss not God’s, for there is nothing more God can do or feel, but we are the ones who will forever feel the loss.

For after Judgement Day, God will dwell in New Jerusalem with His people forever, and what happens outside of New Jerusalem will no longer captivate His complete passion, only His passing observation, just as common dogs do not captivate your complete passion as your children do. If the dogs outside of New Jerusalem only get His passing observation, then those in the Lake of Fire will receive the benefit of God’s total ignorance. Thus, all who refuse God’s common grace only harm themselves. Repent therefore and believe so that at least you may live in the Kingdom of Heaven.

From those who have accepted God’s common grace, are chosen those destined for God’s refining grace, the grace that He extended to all who, having believed in Jesus, will take up their cross and follow Jesus on the path of discipleship. Discipleship that would cost the individual and reward the individual with many times and many hundreds of times as they give up their lives, families, houses and fields for Jesus, His Gospel and God’s Kingdom. The refining grace of God is found in the word of His grace: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”[4] The practice of His word means that those who attempt it will both fail and succeed as they put the word into practice. The grace is made available for us because Jesus said, “practice,” not “succeed”. As such, both the failures and the successes involved in the practice of His word refine us when we fail.

His grace supports us so that we do not fall back, and if we do, it is into the arms of His goodness, loving kindness and His glory, for surely goodness, love and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,[5] and “the glory of the Lord will be your rearguard”[6] as you put into practice what the Lord has called for. When it came to fasting, He said, “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and break every yoke?”[7] When you practise the words of Jesus, you loose the chains of injustice, which have been placed on Jesus, for the practice of His words proves His words to be true. Thus, the practice that ends in failure will subject us to fire that seems to burn us and hurt us so that we can experience the goodness, loving kindness and glory of the Lord, which changes failures to successes and practice to perfection, so we do not give up. The success of practice lifts us up and inspires us to go further and further than we yet have, and it is the hot and the cold that Jesus wished the Laodicean church had, not the lukewarmness that makes Him vomit. Those who remain in the lukewarmness of God’s common grace remain in the danger of being vomited out by Him when they fail to practise His words, for the Laodicean church satisfied itself on the worldly wealth it had acquired only. There is nothing wrong with having worldly wealth except this; worldly wealth can be acquired by not practising the words of Jesus. Indeed Satan said to Jesus, “All this I will give You, if You will bow down and worship me.”[8]

However, eternal wealth can only come by the practice of the words of Jesus, and when you are eternally wealthy; you will also have all the worldly wealth you desire because all the silver and gold, and all things on this Earth belong to God. When you do not practise the words of Jesus, there is no refinement. God is not refining you after you are saved through circumstances that come by your practise of words other than Jesus’, no; God is rebuking you and warning you. That is why if you are a believer whose business is failing because of your practice of the wisdom of men in your life, then that is God’s sharp rebuke. If your business is failing because of your practice of God’s wisdom in your life, that is just God setting you up for a miracle, for the practise of Jesus’ words does not lead to mundane, commonly achievable results, but always, always, miraculous results which are impossible with man but only possible with God. That is why it is so dangerous to be saved by common grace, but yet to make no effort to move into God’s refining grace by the whole-hearted complete passionate practice of Jesus’ words.

When we lost the command, “Listen to Him!” we floundered in the common grace of God, going nowhere but yet kept safe enough until Jesus came for us, just like the twelve when they did not put into practice the words of Jesus to “Go immediately to Bethsaida,”[9] but instead waited, and then put into practice someone else’s words to go to Capernaum.[10] They got into the middle of the lake, buffeted by wind and waves, going nowhere despite all their efforts[11] and yet they did not drown. Even when Jesus came to them, they were not rewarded with their desire to go to Capernaum nor did they see what was prepared for them in Bethsaida, but instead went to Gennesaret.[12]

When a believer does not listen to Jesus, he is just like the twelve, kept safe enough from destruction, but never able to see what God had prepared for them or to enjoy what they desired. Had they listened and obeyed, that is, put into practice the words of Jesus, and went immediately to Bethsaida, they would have experienced what God had prepared for them. Perhaps it was the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida[13] and the fame of them, the twelve, doing that miracle in the absence of Jesus would have carried them to Capernaum, the city where Jesus Himself could not cause them to repent after many miracles. Perhaps they might have succeeded where Jesus seemed to have failed or in the very least, they would have been welcomed into Capernaum like heroes because of the miracle in Bethsaida. Who knows? God knows what we miss out on when we do not take up His grace.

But the believer who takes the opportunity afforded him by God’s common grace to all sinners, and begins to practise the words of Jesus that He has learned, will do things that he has never found possible before, just like the man who was driving out demons in Jesus’ Name.[14] Even though he was not one of the twelve, he was succeeding because he put into practice that which he heard and probably experienced, for he may well be the man set free of the demons at Gerasenes whom Jesus told to go home. It is interesting that the disciples who couldn’t drive out the demon at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark 9:18 wanted to stop this man who was doing what they couldn’t. As an aside, this is the behaviour of other disciples, or if you like, the church. They are not able to do what they are supposed to and they will stop you doing what you can, which they can’t. Be warned!

Thus, the refining grace of God that is found in the path of discipleship permits us to repent of our failures and be refreshed by our successes without fear of condemnation. That is why, as Paul said, therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death.[15] There is no sin when we fail in our practice of the words of Jesus for the very practice itself is righteous. The success or the failure is irrelevant. However, those who have heard the word and do not put it into practice have already sinned and are in danger of being swept away by the fury of God for all who disobey.

The continued practise of the Lord’s words generates the refining that leads to perfection when practice ceases, and what remains is perfection in action, motion and word. At that point, the disciple has become the overcomer, overcoming all the weaknesses that were revealed in his practice, and being complete in all his overcoming, he is perfect as God is Perfect. In that perfection, the overcomer displays the perfect grace of God just as Jesus displayed the perfect grace of God in all that He said and did, exactly as the Father commanded Him, causing people to remark, “He does everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”[16] Jesus came and showed us all the manifestation of God’s perfect grace, the grace of Someone who does whatever They do exceedingly well. The One who makes things look so easy and so simple to all who watch so that they are overwhelmed with amazement. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement.[17] In the same way, we must achieve a level of perfection in our practice of the words of Jesus that will also overwhelm people with amazement in fulfilment of John 14:12 so that we can come to enjoy God’s perfect grace.

As I said earlier, the practice of the Lord’s word that seems to cause a failure is to set you up for the miracle. The miracle of miracles is that God can take any sinner who is prepared to obey and manifest through that sinner the perfect grace of Jesus Christ, or as Paul said, Christ in you, the hope of glory.[18] The overcomer is one who displays God’s perfect grace. Jesus, the Overcomer, displayed God’s perfect grace, doing everything exactly as God commanded Him and doing it well, exceedingly well. And whoever believes in Him and has faith in Him will do what He has been doing.[19] However, the perfect grace of God does not come through the practice of words, recommendations and judgements of men who have not in mind the things of God. That is why all men who do not come through the Gate, that is, Jesus, are thieves who come to steal, kill and destroy.[20] For when men draw believers of Jesus after themselves to practise their own words, as many have done and continue to do, they have stolen from God His hope of glory, Christ in you, and have killed your life in Christ and destroyed your destiny to be a son of God in the fullness of the stature of Christ.

For the life that Christ gave us is found only in His word, as He said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”[21] So the life of Christ, the abundant life He came to give us is not lived unless we practise His words, making the practice of men’s words death. That is why those who do not believe in Jesus are already condemned[22] and those believers, who have been misled into practising the words of men, live a form of life that is really not much different from any other religious life. Only the words of Jesus afford to those who put them into practice the miraculous life of the Son of God that can bring the disciple into the Divine Life of God to experience God’s perfect grace to God and to God.

Jesus promised, “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death,”[23] and John testified and saw that blessed and holy are those… who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God… who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.[24] The overcomers, both those who are waiting in Heaven to return and those waiting on Earth to be revealed, will display for one thousand years before the sons of Adam, the perfect grace of God as they reign until the final rebellion comes in through Satan, and the ingratiates of Gog and Magog march over the Earth against them in Jerusalem, the camp of God’s people,[25] then shall the end come.

Judgement comes when all of God’s grace has been made known to men, His common grace that saves all who call upon the Name of the Lord, His refining grace that allows men to live the life God had planned for Adam originally, and His perfect grace that allows men to share in the life of His Son forever. When there are witnesses to testify to the goodness of God’s fullness of grace, then judgement is just and righteous and final, and every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is the Lord forever and ever.[26]

AMEN


 

[1] Exodus 34:6

[2] Hebrews 12:29 (Deuteronomy 4:24)

[3] Zephaniah 3:8-9

[4] Matthew 7:24

[5] Psalm 32:6 [NIV, NAS]

[6] Isaiah 58:8

[7] Isaiah 58:6

[8] Matthew 4:9

[9] Mark 6:45

[10] John 6:16-17

[11] Matthew 14:24; Mark 6:48; John 6:18

[12] Matthew 14:34; Mark 6:53

[13] Mark 8:22-25

[14] Mark 9:38

[15] Romans 8:1-2

[16] Mark 7:37

[17] Mark 7:36-37

[18] Colossians 1:27

[19] John 14:12

[20] John 10:10

[21] John 6:63

[22] John 3:18

[23] Revelation 2:11

[24] Revelation 20:6, 4

[25] Revelation 20:7-9

[26] Philippians 2:10-12

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