Until Grace Called My Name - Purity 778
Purity 778 7/8/2022 Purity 778 Podcast
Today’s photo of the big blue sky filled with clouds over farming country comes to us from yours truly as I captured this simple but beautiful scene back on June 17th as I was walking up Waite Rd in Easton, NY.
It’s Friday, Thank God, and I share this simple view because I am rejoicing that, the Lord willing, at the end of the work day, I will be going back to my country side home where my wife resides, but I also chose this photo because it reminds me of my salvation experience, when the heavens seemed to open up and welcomed me into a new dimension of existence as the big picture of God’s kingdom came into view.
My view of the world before coming to Christ was rather dismal. I didn’t take a lot of time out of my days to look at the beauty that surrounded me in God’s creation because I was self-obsessed and kept my eyes on “what I wanted” and was locked in a pattern of reactivity where I was on an emotional rollercoaster ride that was directed by every changing circumstance.
But then my worldview and my life were changed as I discovered that God was real and that He called me to a new eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The forgiveness of all my sins and the invitation to life everlasting was made available to me through a radio gospel message and when I saw the truth and love behind it, I surrendered my life to the Lord and have endeavored to follow Him ever since.
This love, this joy, this new life in Christ has led me to try to show others of the wonders of God’s love and wisdom that can give the hope and promise of heaven but can also bring heaven to earth when we simply decide to walk in the Lord’s ways.
Last night, I met with my wife and some friends via Zoom as we decided to do a study of Freedom in Christ Ministries’ “The Grace Course” and it was such a joy to gather and discuss the “Amazing Grace” that set us free and how God’s unmerited favor continues throughout our lives after salvation and how our whole experience of life can be changed when we walk in the grace that God has given us.
All of the participants of last night’s study shared testimonies of how their lives have been positively changed since experiencing their freedom in Christ and how God’s grace is continually being experienced in their lives as they have to chosen to abide in Christ with the spiritual practices of seeking the Lord through prayer, Bible study, and just seeking the things of God and living according to the principles drawn from God’s word.
Grace is an ever present reality in our lives because we have answered God’s call to follow Him, and God is so personal that while we have many things in common in our faith walks none of our journeys are the same.
This morning as I was exercising and reflecting on how blessed I am to have these fellow travelers on the path of Christian Discipleship, the Tauren Wells & Gary Levox song, “Until Grace,” came on and it wrecked me. The lyrics say:
“I knew I was broken but there was no one that I could tell
Praying felt like I was throwing pennies in a wishing well
And I started believing I was cursed to carry this weight
I was listing the reasons of why I should walk away
Until grace called my name
Oh, I didn't know I could be free
Until grace found me
Until grace broke these chains
Oh, I didn't know I could be free
Until grace found, Your grace found me” https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/taurenwells/untilgrace.html
I’m sharing a link to that song on YouTube today on the blog, https://youtu.be/vqSvTJeGU0k , if you don’t know it you should check it out. I also added it to the “MT4Christ “Worship” Playlist that I started on my YouTube Channel, the link for that playlist is on the blog today too. (https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYr9n4D1yfkqTat0ovqY0CRkhIJ2Tq61r), The playlist only has 9 songs on it currently but I will add more as when I get motivated or as the worship songs that have been a part of my journey come into remembrance.
Anyway, like the song says – Until grace found me….
Until grace found me, I didn’t know I could be free! Until God called my name, my name, I was lost man. I was alone and hopeless in so many ways. I was in so much pain, of my own making, because I didn’t know that God’s grace was for me, that God was for me, and that all I had to do to experience God’s grace was to surrender to Him, through faith in Christ.
That’s antithetical to everything the world teaches us. Victory through Surrender, Freedom through Surrendering to Someone else’s Lordship: Those concepts cut across everything we believe about our self sufficiency to affect changes and to accomplish things in our lives. We are taught to have faith in our own abilities and not trust others. When we live that way we set up walls to protect ourselves. We cut ourselves off from the love of God and the love of others.
Until grace calls our name, until we know there is a God that is good and holy that loves us and calls us to an abundant life that is filled with His grace, we keep our heads down and usually keep our eyes on things of this earth.
But when grace calls our name, our fears depart from us as we know we have the ultimate love, acceptance, security, and significance that comes from the Creator of the Universe, our heavenly Father. He called our name and called us into His peace and joy. He invites us to continually experience His grace by walking into the purpose He has for us.
The fear of death, the fear of man and their opinions, the fear of lack, and all the walls we build to protect ourselves all fall down as God’s grace invades our lives and the heavens are opened to us.
So keep walking and talking with God. Remember the day that God called your name and rejoice! Thank God It’s Friday and thank Him for the grace that called you to life everlasting and an abundant life of freedom and victory that you can experience, here on the earth, when you keep answering the call and accepting the invitations that God presents to a life with Him.
I didn’t know that I could be free until grace found me! But it did find me! God found me! So let’s get to know the grace of God in increasing measure by seeking the Lord and His will for our lives. The more we know Him the more we will love and trust Him and be motivated by our love for Him to go where He leads and to find that His grace goes before us wherever we go.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Matthew 5:7 (NLT2)
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Today’s Bible verse comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and verse 7 here is one of the Beatitudes – the blessings listed by Jesus, and it speaks of the reception of mercy by those who are merciful.
This reciprocal concept – that you will receive what you give, in essence, and also that you will give what you have received - is something that is highlighted throughout scripture and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But this concept, is not some magical formula or karmic principle that is a “spiritual law of the universe” that exists devoid of God’s will. There are cause effect relationships that God has established through His creation but even scientific principles and laws are not over and above God. Miracles show us that even scientific laws can be overruled by God’s will .
In Christ’s teachings, like today’s verse, Jesus is not making guarantees necessarily. These principles are generally true but in a universe that is broken by sin we may not always receive mercy from others that we give to them.
Is that fair? Maybe it doesn’t seem so to us. But generally when we go through hardships, where we don’t receive mercy, those trials are instrumental in developing our Christian character and in developing our reliance and trust of the Lord.
So even though we may encounter what seems like merciless treatment at the hands of our fellow man or the circumstances of life, we should remember the big picture of our security in Christ and the fact that we have been provided for both in the “real world” and in the ultimate sense. So regardless of what we receive from others, we should be merciful because the Lord has been merciful to us.
We have been blessed in countless ways. We have been forgiven of all our sins, and we need not fear death. The fact that we will not be sent to hell is great mercy. Our just punishment has been suspended because of Jesus. So while we can’t pay back God for His mercy, we can show we understand and appreciate the mercy we have received by choosing to be merciful. So we show our love for God by being merciful.
And we also show that we are God’s people, when we give mercy to others. If anyone should ask why we are being merciful, we are to point to the cross and let them know that our mercy was born from the mercy we received from God through Jesus Christ.
So be merciful, because if you are in Christ you have already obtained mercy, and you may receive more of it through trying to live like Him.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Source of Paul’s Vocabulary for the Powers
An important question we face is whether Paul depended primarily on the Jewish demonology of his time or on an understanding of evil spirits rooted more in pagan popular belief. It is not adequate to say Paul derived his terms for evil spirits exclusively from the Old Testament, although quite a few of the words he used appear in the Greek Old Testament (the LXX, or Septuagint). While the terms “Satan” and “devil” are common in the Old Testament, the name “Belial” never appears (see 2 Cor 6:15). Whereas the word translated “powers” (dynameis) is quite frequent in the Greek Old Testament, Paul’s most common expressions for the powers, archai and exousiai, are never used.
Most scholars believe Paul’s vocabulary for the powers reflects the Jewish demonology of his own day. All of the terms Paul used for the powers can be found in Jewish documents of the Greco-Roman period. The Judaism of Paul’s time had a highly developed angelology, as evidenced by the following citations from Jewish documents that contain many of the same terms used by Paul:
And he [God] will summon all the forces [dynameis] of the heavens, and all the holy ones above, and the forces of the Lord—the cherubim, seraphim, ophanim, all the angels of governance [archai], the Elect One, and the other forces [exousiai] on earth and over the water. (1 Enoch 61:10)
And I saw there [in the seventh heaven] an exceptionally great light, and all the fiery armies of the great archangels, and the incorporeal forces [dynameis] and the dominions [kyriotētes] and the origins [archai] and the authorities [exousiai], the cherubim and the seraphim and the many-eyed thrones [thronoi]. (2 Enoch 20:1)
There with him [God] are the thrones [thronoi]) and authorities [exousiai]; there praises to God are offered eternally. (Testament of Levi 3:8)
While all three texts refer to the angelic hierarchy surrounding God’s throne, the Jews believed the same hierarchy existed in the kingdom of evil. Furthermore, many of these terms were commonly used to refer to various ranks of human leaders in governmental positions of authority. The angelic kingdom was widely believed to be structured in an analogous way to earthly political kingdoms.
Although Paul used many terms for the angelic powers known to Judaism, this does not mean that what he had to say about the powers of darkness would have been incomprehensible to the non-Jew. While “principalities” (archai) and “authorities” (exousiai) seem to be uniquely Jewish expressions for the unseen realm, many of the other words he used were also used by Gentiles to refer to the world of spirits and invisible powers. Words like “powers” (dynameis), “dominions” (kyriotetēs), “thrones” (thronoi), “angels” (angeloi), “world rulers” (kosmokratores), “demons” (daimonia), “elemental spirits” (stoicheia) and “rulers” (archontes) were known and used by pagans, as evidenced in their magical and astrological texts.
It is very important to remember that a very thin line separated Jewish and gentile religious belief in many quarters during the first century. On the one hand, many Jews practiced magic, believed in astrology and borrowed religious concepts from the cults of their pagan neighbors. On the other hand, the Gentiles took many religious ideas and cultic terminology from Judaism. This is seen most clearly in the Greek magical papyri, where in a magical recipe Yahweh, Solomon and Jewish angelic names are invoked together with Hekate, Helios, Serapis and a host of other Greek and Oriental deities. It is thus very difficult to separate what is “Jewish” and what is “Hellenistic” when the topic of good and evil spirits is approached. In some ways it becomes an unnecessary question because of the spirit of the times (Zeitgeist). All believed in the existence of good and evil spirits and shared a basically stock vocabulary for referring to it.
The matter of crucial importance then is what Paul believed to be true about this realm. In this respect Paul was deeply indebted to his Jewish heritage and the teaching of Jesus.
What About Gnosticism As the Source?
A few scholars have interpreted Paul’s references to principalities, powers and authorities as the angelic rulers who control the seven planetary spheres in the Gnostic belief system. They find a striking similarity in vocabulary between Paul and Gnosticism and assume Paul had taken these terms from Gnosticism. For this and other reasons these interpreters then contend that the readers of Paul’s letters were struggling with Gnostic influence, and thus Paul was writing to counteract this encroaching and dangerous teaching. This contention has been especially true in the history of the interpretation of Ephesians and Colossians, which have sometimes been regarded as Paul’s teaching against Gnosticism; or, as in the interpretation of a few scholars, the author of these letters (often considered not to be Paul) betrays the influence of Gnosticism on himself!
The difficulty with any Gnostic interpretation is that there is no clear evidence supporting even the existence of Gnosticism prior to the advent of Christianity. One evangelical scholar, Edwin Yamauchi, has presented a very convincing case that Gnosticism did not come into existence as a coherent system of religious thought until after A.D. 70, and perhaps not even until after A.D. 135. A number of scholars are pointing to these two dates because they are convinced that Gnosticism actually arose in Judaism and that the catalyst for its inception came from disappointed Messianism associated with the decisive victory of the Romans in the two Jewish wars.6
Rooting the origin of Gnosticism in the second century A.D., however, does not mean that many of the concepts found in the developed Gnostic systems of thought (of the second to fourth centuries A.D.) did not exist in the first century A.D. Gnosticism was not an accumulation of entirely new concepts, but drew from a wide variety of religious traditions. Gnosticism displays an extraordinary eclecticism, or borrowing of ideas. It adopted its central concepts and ideas from the multiplicity of Greco-Roman religions, astrology, magic, Persian and Iranian religion, Judaism, and at many points, even Christianity. The terminology for the angelic powers in Gnosticism probably came from the reservoir of terms for spirits, angels, demons and gods, which virtually all religious traditions shared. In Gnosticism, however, these powers were given well-defined functions as rulers of ascending planetary spheres. This appears to be the unique contribution of Gnosticism to the history of religion (influenced strongly at this point by Mithraism). Therefore, Gnosticism is not as relevant for understanding Paul’s references to the principalities, powers and authorities as some scholars suppose.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 90–92.