When the ministry of Jesus began on earth, He confronted the ‘Senior Pastors,’ scholars and teachers of His day and exposed the heavy burden of legalism they had dumped on God’s people. He stood against anything which contradicted the message of God’s grace and the truth of the Gospel. He came to lift the burden of expectation off the back of God’s people – a burden which the religious leaders had placed there over hundreds of years. The spirit of religion had enslaved the people of God and so Jesus came to demolish those strongholds as He preached, lived and demonstrated God’s amazing grace.
I have been called by God to do the same: to challenge the religious spirits which have enslaved God’s people by false teaching and to lift the burden from His disciples and set the captives free. I want people to bear the rich fruit they were created and called to bear.
Trees in an orchard bear fruit because the life is in the tree to produce that kind of fruit – it just happens – the tree doesn’t need to grunt and groan and strain to bear fruit – it simply needs to be fed and watered and the rest comes naturally. So too with Christians who are filled with the joy of the Lord. They will produce the fruit of the life of Christ within them and it will take very little effort on their part. They just need to be fed the right spiritual food and immersed in the living water Christ promised to give them.
When you understand and embrace the grace of God in all its truth, before long you will just overflow with fruit. Then, people who are starved for joy are going to look at you and say, “Where did you get that? I want some too!” Then you’ll be able to say with great enthusiasm, “I got it from the Lord Jesus Christ as a free gift – let me tell you about it …”
So grace permeates my teaching and ministry because of the radical healing that it produces in people’s lives and the fruit it produces. I have had the joy of seeing people set radically free in so many ways when they finally understand the grace of God. It’s like they have met God for the first time! Their joy has become mine as I’ve read letters and emails from around the world and spoken to many whom God has touched in the depth of their being as I have unpacked the central truth of the gospel: God’s amazing grace.
When people believe the truth of the gospel and embrace it personally, profound changes occur in them. I’m not talking to unbelievers here. I’m talking to the Church. There is an urgent need for the people of God to be reintroduced to the radically free grace of God and the power which His grace brings to our lives. I have seen people, some having wasted many hours in counselling, set free in one glorious moment as the power of the living gospel of God’s grace transforms their hearts. So the main reason why I continue to preach the gospel of grace is summed up in Colossians 1:6.
“All over the world this gospel, (this gospel of grace) is bearing fruit and growing, (spontaneously and habitually) just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it (first) and (then) understood God’s grace in all its truth.”
Hearing and understanding God’s grace in all its truth produces more than just joy – it produces all the fruit of the gospel, the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness – etc. Everything you want in life; everything that makes life worth living as an authentic human being; everything that makes the gospel attractive; everything that we love and appreciate about the personality of Jesus Christ. That’s what is birthed within us when we understand grace in all its truth. I don’t just want people to be joyful and happy. I want to play some significant part in advancing the kingdom of God on earth – and I want others to catch that too. I want to understand God’s grace in all its truth and I want to lead others to do the same. It’s the power of God unto salvation. Grace is the power that releases fruit-bearing energy in Christians and in Churches.
I don’t put my efforts into Church growth techniques or counselling techniques, although they may have their place. I don’t rely on exhortation, manipulation, wrenching money out of people, self-promotion or even Church promotion! There are a dozen different ways proven to be successful in making Churches grow numerically. However, they don’t interest me and I don’t believe they excite God much either.
As Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16, the gospel is itself the power of Almighty God for the salvation of everyone who believes. So I want to help build and be part of a real Church. If it’s a little smaller than some, then so be it, as long as it’s real. However, I believe if it’s real it will not be small for long.