by Pastor Bill Snell
I was raised in a healthy Christian family who always attended church. I never remember a day in my life in which I was not aware of God’s love for me through Jesus Christ.
There was a day, however, while I was in fourth grade, when I decided to make a public decision to invite the One into my heart whom I had known all my life, so He could do what He always wanted to do – save me, and make me one of His own.
I never doubted my salvation experience – never. And, I never doubted its permanency (that’s the first “dot”).
Later while in my young adult life, attending seminary, I learned from my father in law, what my identity in Christ was – righteous, holy, and complete lacking in nothing (second, third, and fourth “dots”).
I continued to learn about the gifts of the Spirit, the character of the Spirit, the victory of the Spirit-filled life, as well as an increased awareness of the person of Christ dwelling within (fifth “dot” – dot, dot, dot…).
There were nuggets of truth like these that had transformed my thinking about God, and about me. Yet, the “dots” had not been fully connected concerning the finished work of Christ on my behalf.
More than 30 years later, when James Barron said that he hadn’t “confessed his sins in years” in an attempt to be granted the forgiveness of sins, I winced. When grace and freedom were taught without a strong emphasis on personal responsibility for sin (secrets to effective sin management), I found myself wincing again, and again.
Discussions with friends, Bill and Kenny, found me feeling a need to correct what I perceived were potential errors when it came to the consequence (or lack thereof) of sin in the life of a Christian.
Mind you, I was far ahead of most in the comprehension of “grace”, yet still not seeing the fullness of truth in its unleavened form.
Prior to Clark sending his book off to the publisher, each chapter was read by the staff and discussed in our weekly meetings. I realized when reading the introduction of Pure Grace, that I still ventured into the “sin management” category in my inadequate understanding of all that Christ had accomplished for me. Once I got hold of the fact that Jesus didn’t give his life for me just to let me continue to fail miserably in my attempts to be like him, but instead He transformed me, from Old to New (brand new!).
I already knew that the “sin nature” had been dealt with once and for all by Christ, but for some reason, I had not grasped the truth that the condemning effects of sin had also been abolished.
I realize now that I am forgiven – period! Past, present and future “forgiven”. There isn’t and never will be any condemnation from God, whether I confess or repent. When I change my mind about my behavior or actions and agree with God about it, I am better off, but He is never folding His arms waiting impatiently till I respond rightly in some satisfactory religious manner.
Sin has its consequences! No doubt about it. But not in the way I had believed, and the way most of us have been taught. I’m not nearly as enamored with sin or its consequences as I once was. Thank goodness – it never really helped anyway.
Seeing Jesus and His work on my behalf more clearly has done a far better job at enabling me to live the victorious Christian life than my former sin-conscious efforts.
As a result, I firmly believe with what Clark said in the introduction of his book, Pure Grace:
“I believe the Body of Christ is on the threshold of a new reformation that will impact the world beyond what the protestant reformation accomplished. This reformation will reveal the Father and His great love for His children. Evangelism will change, fellowship between us will deepen and be much more meaningful, aggressive love will sweep millions into the Kingdom. The gospel will once again become truly GOOD NEWS!”
More: Click the book cover image in this post or here to order Pure Grace.