The Seven Conditions of Grace
Monitor #12 sprang to life. Stinky was talking with Dirtsy about how to get to the Tree of Grace.
“Hey, Dirt. I’ve got an idea. See that Tree? Let’s sneak over there and grab a bite.”
“Whyzat, Stink? What will that do?”
“I been reading the label. Says all about Grace. I looked it up. You get Grace, and God will leave you alone! No more punishment! No more of that Fire!”
“Must be a catch.”
“Nope. No more rules. Don’t have to do nothin. Don’t have to think about God again. Couple of bites, and our troubles are over!”
We were puzzled, watching the monitor. Angelo asked, “Why do they think Grace means God will leave them alone? Don’t they realize the whole point of Grace is to draw closer to God?”
“And the closer we are to God, the more God works on us to make us all that we can be?”
“And that God is Fire?”
“How is any of that what Stinky or Dirtsy want?”
VerseScout: Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
“Who was in charge of the label? Did they leave off the conditions?”
“No. The label is clear. Stinky just remembers the parts he likes. The parts he doesn’t like, he doesn’t believe.”
Just to double check, I looked at the label. Sure enough, it was all there.
“The Tree of Grace. The fruit of this tree gives Eternal Life, Eternal Happiness, and Eternal Escape from the penalties of all sins, including many of the natural consequences of sins, with the following conditions.
“1. User must extend the same mercy to others. The mercy one receives will be in proportion to the mercy one extends.”
VerseScout: Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (See also Matthew 18, especially verses 23-35. )
VerseScout Relevance Report: Matthew 18:23-35 tells of a man who was forgiven a great deal, but that Grace was withdrawn – he became “unforgiven” – because he would not “pass it on” by forgiving someone else even for something very small.
These verses raise the question, especially for Protestants who trust that a one-time simple “Decision for Christ” is all the preparation one needs for Heaven: “How can anyone get into Heaven if Grace has any conditions at all? Especially a condition this huge, by which perhaps no one could become cleansed enough for the purity of God’s Presence in Heaven?”
Some of the ways God rescues us despite these conditions are addressed in the next chapter. But first let’s consider more of God’s conditions.
“2. User must repent of – turn away from – error. Grace will not erase the consequences of sins which users intend to continue.”
VerseScout: Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
VerseScout Relevance Report: Not all repentance is the same. Repentance is relative. It is not equally permanent, nor does it equally pervade every corner of our lives. Neither is it equal from one person to another, nor, within each person, from one time to the next.
The whole point of God’s punishment is to correct; see Hebrews 12. No other purpose for punishment is specified in the Bible. Therefore it is only natural that to the extent we turn from error, God will see no further need to correct those past errors. They will be “blotted out”.
But to the extent errors remain unrepented of, needing correction, God will continue working with us. Besides Hebrews 12, consider Mark 9:49-50, where Jesus equates the cleansing qualities of salt with those of fire, and advises us to keep it within ourselves always.
“3. User must not use liberty from penalties as a license to sin.”
VerseScout: Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
James 4:1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members?2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. 4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.
VerseScout Relevance Report: Grace is not a repeal of the laws defining actions that merit penalties. Not everyone is pardoned. Not everyone receives God’s Grace. Not everyone keeps it who receives it. It has conditions, just like parole, and those penalties return when those conditions are violated. See Matthew 18:34-35.
Therefore, Grace is not a license to violate God’s laws deliberately – by choice – or worse yet, to not even bother reading God’s laws, just because we are free from their penalties! Those who try that won’t remain free from their penalties!
“4. The user must be determined, even without the prod of penalties, to live by the principles of God’s laws.”
VerseScout: Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, [ISV: “an opportunity to gratify your flesh”] but by love serve one another.
“5.The user must love others as himself, and sacrifice for others as for himself. Especially for those most in need.”
VerseScout: Luke 6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful….38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Matthew 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as [as much as, or to the extent that] ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
“6. The user cannot be proud. God really hates pride, because it is hard to help someone be better who already thinks he is the best. Pride is the feeling so poisonous that it will put your heart in Hell even if your soul is in Heaven. Ask Lucifer how that works.”
VerseScout: James 4:5 Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.
“7. To the extent your actions differ from your intentions, Grace is measured according to your intentions. Of course, if you only intend to intend, or to act without your heart, soul, and mind fully engaged, that, too, will be measured.”
VerseScout: 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore, stop judging prematurely, before the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is now hidden in darkness and reveal the motives of our hearts. Then each person will receive his praise from God. [ISV]
Our fallen brothers left some graffiti in some sand next to the Tree, which we had to clean up: “Lookit all the work God makes everyone do before He will be happy! You really have to EARN God’s respect before He will love you! Not so here! We are FREE! Here, we don’t have to make anyone like us!”
I thought about leaving it there and just adding my own answer. But I thought better of it, for Adam’s sake when he gets this far. I’ll limit my answer to my Diary.
Here it is:
“Meeting Grace’s conditions is not the same as ‘earning’ Grace any more than qualifying for a loan is the same as paying off the loan!”
VerseScout: Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Oops, there I go again, using examples from my viewing of “Future Possibilities”. I need to stick to terms people right here in the present will understand.
“God loves me, and you, and even you, Dirtsy, way before you even wish you could do something to ‘earn’ love!”
VerseScout: Romans 5:6 Christ died for us when we were unable to help ourselves. We were living against God, but at just the right time Christ died for us. 7 Very few people will die to save the life of someone else, even if it is for a good person. Someone might be willing to die for an especially good person. 8 But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us. [ERV]
“To ‘earn’ something means to pay for what you are about to receive, with something of equal value. So what we need from God is Eternal Life, which cost Him His blood, as you see on this Tree. What are we going to give God that is of equal value to that? Or, for that matter, that is of any value at all to God?”
VerseScout: Job 35:6 If you sin, what will that do to harm him? If you add transgression to transgression what will it do to him? 7 If you are righteous, what will you add to him? What can God receive from your efforts? 8 Your wickedness affects only yourself; and your righteousness, only human beings. [ISV]
“Look at all that God asks of us. Does He ask anything for Himself? No! He wants us to forgive each other, says #1. He wants us to love each other, and sacrifice for each other, #5. He doesn’t want us to act like we are better than each other, #6.
“So what about 2-4? God wants us to live by His laws. But who do His laws benefit? Is there a single one of them that is for His benefit? Are they not for our own benefit, and for the benefit of each other?”
Oh, look, here’s a bit more graffiti that I missed: “Lookit how God makes you worship Him and give Him glory! What low self-esteem God has to make that the condition for you to get near Him!”
OK, Diary, are you still ready? “You actually think God needs your praise before He can look Himself in the mirror in the morning? He asks our honor for the same reason He is going to want children to honor parents: not for the parents’ benefit! But so that the children will grow up smart and safe, able to live many years, safe from dangerous foolishness. Just as parents who honor God will live safely and wisely, and be a blessing to each other.”
VerseScout: Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
“Where do I begin to answer your boast that you don’t have to make anyone like you?! Are you actually comforted by the probability that no one likes you?!
“Here, our joy is in our Love. Being loved is nice and relaxing, but loving gives meaning to life! We love whether or not we are loved! We serve those who can’t repay us, just as God serves us! We love our enemies, and find, thereby, the truest of friends!”
VerseScout: Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Chapter Fifteen: The Tree of Laws