Heaven is Now
- Thursday, July 05, 2012
Heaven Speaks inspired by Hebrews 3:15; 4:9–11; 6:19; John 14:27; 16:33; 2 Corinthians 12:8–10; Ephesians 3:18.
Sense 1: Feel the Freedom of Grace
Skydivers carry an extra parachute. You know, just in case. After all, anything can happen up there. Who’s to say the first parachute is going to work? So in the event of a wardrobe malfunction, they’re ready to deploy plan B.
Now imagine that I invite you to go skydiving with me, but only under one condition: you can’t carry a backup chute. Would you take me up on that offer? For some of us, skydiving is scary enough on its own, much less without a backup plan! It takes a gutsy person to put all their stock in the one chute, trusting they won’t fall to their doom.
It’s the same way with heaven’s grace, our trusty parachute. God invites us on the skydiving adventure of a lifetime. He invites us to trust his way of grace that will never fail. But when we discover that his invitation means we’re supposed to forego the “backup chute” of self-effort, our knees start knocking: “Are you sure it’s safe?”
Graceis a word we’ve heard thousands of times in our lives, especially in church. We think grace means we aren’t punished when we should be. We think grace is there to pick us up when we’ve fallen.
While these are true, I’ve found that grace has no depth to it apart from a solid understanding
of what heaven calls “the new covenant.” Without an awakening to this covenant, our understanding of grace will be limited to what we know or feel is true about the character of God. We will walk in grace only to the degree that we feel God is gracious toward us. The result is that our view of God’s grace may be way off base without us even realizing it.
But through the new covenant, heaven defines grace in precise terms for us. When we have our senses awakened to the new covenant, we perceive exactly how God demonstrated his grace toward us. And it’s grace we can sink our teeth into.
Heaven’s Perfect Standard
For years, I only knew “new covenant” as the nameof the church down the street—New Covenant Bible Church or New Covenant Chapel of God. So what exactly is the new covenant? And how does it help us feel the freedom of heaven’s grace? To answer
these, we’d better start with the old covenant.
The old covenant was the Jewish law that God gave to Israel. It consisted of about 613 dos and don’ts. Scripture tells us that the law never saved anyone (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; 3:21). The law was intended only as a shadow, a picture of the Christ to come (Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1). It’s true that many looked to the law for hope of salvation, but in the end they found that the law only brought condemnation and death (2 Cor. 3:7).
Today, the law serves as a tool for unbelievers (1 Tim. 1:8–11). It makes us humans aware of our sin problem (Rom. 3:19–20). Within ourselves, we have no adequate response to heaven’s perfect standard. The law’s strict demands make it quite clear
that we fall short: For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal. 3:21–22)
The law doesn’t encourage or praise us. Being under law is like being married to an abusive perfectionist.
Even if you please your spouse and only stumble in one way here or there, they treat you as if you’re a good-for-nothing, sorry excuse for ahuman being. They act like you’re guilty of disregarding everything they’ve ever asked of you: “whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles in one point is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
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