I hope the title of this article gets not only the attention of the “grace lovers” out there, but also those who are still trying to live by a legalistic system that chokes life and kills freedom. If there was one thing Jesus and the Apostle Paul attacked more than anything else, it was self righteous, legalistic mindsets. The harshest rebukes of Jesus did not fall upon the prostitute, thief, drunk, homosexual or liar. The harshest of rebukes fell upon the Pharisees and religious leaders who had embraced and taught a legalistic way of life that completely blinded them and their followers to the God revealed in Christ.
Let me boldly say that I love being a greasy grace preacher. I make no apologies for not only preaching greasy grace, but living by greasy grace. Let me also say that I have several good friends in ministry today that think my position on grace is too extreme. I would have to agree with them! Can grace be anything but ridiculously extreme and extravagant? My belief in the amazing power of God’s amazing grace is not a reason to not walk together with those of different opinions. I have just come to realize that it is only by grace that the body of Christ will ever be what we were born to be.
Normally when someone uses the term “greasy grace”, they are referring to what they personally believe is a teaching or doctrine that promotes sinful living in the name of the goodness of God. Opponents of greasy grace usually make statements like “That preacher is soft on sin”, or “He is just giving them a license to sin” and even statements like “You just don’t understand what it means to live holy.” Greasy Grace is usually used in a negative connotation, describing grace in such a way that sin itself is justified. Let me say this right out of the gate here. God justifies the sinner, not the sin. God hates sin. as do I. God did not overlook sin and say “it’s ok.” God Himself sent His beloved Son to become sin itself so that we could be made His very righteousness. (2 Cor 5:21)
I completely understand all the objections that any opponent of “greasy grace” may hurl my way. At one point in my life, I was the guy hurling those same objections at other grace preachers that I knew. Since I came to believe in Jesus, there has always been a fierce passion in me to know God, and for the Church to be everything Jesus said we could be. Before the “grace light” came on in my own understanding, I misunderstood the message of grace being preached by those “notorious” grace preachers and thought that all their theology came down to was a watered down, worldly, immature way of living for a believer. Man was I wrong!
Some say that the Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin diluted the gospel, and that they themselves had no real knowledge of what God was saying through the scriptures. I totally disagree. I say that Martin Luther and John Calvin were just scratching the surface of what grace is all about. (I DO NOT agree with all of Luther’s or Calvin’s doctrinal positions.) One thing that I have learned recently is that my deepest thought about the goodness of God is but just a drop in the bucket when it comes to God’s endless, limitless grace revealed in Christ. In fact, the highest thought any human has ever thought about grace is not high enough. Through the revelatory ministry of the Holy Spirit, we can come into greater light concerning God’s goodness and grace that will shatter all preconceived ideas and false projections that we may have invented ourselves and about God.
Can we go too far with grace? That question comes up quite a bit. That’s like saying “can we go too far with Jesus?”. Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved favor, blessing and goodness given to the unworthy. Grace is getting what Jesus deserves, regardless of your behavior. It can also be said that grace is the divine influence upon the heart of a person, expressing itself in ordinary human existence. Grace can also be described as the power of God. No matter what your definition of grace may or may not be, living by grace through faith is the only way to live for a New Covenant believer. If you are going to get into any ditch, it better be the grace ditch! It’s a whole lot better than the legalism, condemnation, guilt, works, and death ditch! Grace is not something detached from the person of Jesus. The Gospel of Grace is Jesus!
Believers today throw around the word “atonement” and only think of the events of Jesus incarnate life such as the cross, but atonement is not an event, it’s a person. The Gospel of Grace is not some detached message outside of God. The Gospel of Grace is Jesus Himself. Jesus came to us full of grace and truth (John 1). Atonement simply means “at-one-ment.” Jesus united Himself to us by taking on Adam’s skin, and by becoming flesh. He assumed a human mind, soul, emotions and body, and whatever He assumed, He healed! We cannot separate the work of Christ from the person of Christ. I see that happening in the church today. Even people who are proclaiming the message of the kingdom can drift into preaching “kingdom” in such a way that it is this “thing” instead of a person. Jesus is the embodiment of the kingdom. It is possible to preach the kingdom of God without preaching Jesus, but it is impossible to preach Jesus, the King, and not preach the kingdom as well.
To all those who say we need to stop with all this grace talk, I say we need more greasy grace! It hasn’t been “greasy” enough! For too long, we have had too many dry lectures preached by intellectual communicators instead of greased messages ablaze with the fire of God’s love, boldly proclaimed by true Kingly Ambassadors, full of grace and truth. I have heard several preachers calling for reform in the church while basing all of their “reformation theology” on Old Covenant mindsets and principles. That is not the reformation we need. What is needed is a Grace Revolution and that revolution is currently sweeping the world!
We need greasier ministry, not less. In fact, the Hebrew word for anointing implies a pouring and a smearing of oil upon an individual. If you are smeared up and down with oil, you’re pretty greasy! I am praying for an entire army of greased up, grace-filled ministers of the New Covenant to cover the globe with the revelation of the goodness of God.
Sure there those who, in the name of “grace” live a lifestyle that is not empowered by grace at all. Grace doesn’t empower me to be rebellious or dishonorable to God-ordained leadership. Grace doesn’t empower me to lie, steal, cheat, covet, murder, worship idols, or commit sexual immorality. Grace empowers me to be fruitful and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in my ordinary, day-to-day life. It is when we begin to strive, sweat and try to work for something from God, that we enter into the works of the flesh (Gal 5). It is only when we stop trying, and start trusting that the life in the vine has the opportunity to flow through me and produce the rich, ripe, juicy fruit God desires.
IF you think “greasy grace” preaching is giving people a license to sin, let me drop a bomb on you. People already are sinning with or without a license! It is the Law that stirs up and arouses sin! (Romans 7:5) I absolutely believe in living in such a way that expresses my true new creation identity, but I also now understand that the Gospel is not a call to a different type of behavior. The Gospel is the call to a new identity in which we freely share everything Jesus is and has by grace.
Does this mean I am soft on sin? Absolutely not! At the cross, God didn’t say “it’s ok you sinned, I forgive you.” At the cross, the judgment, wrath and anger of God towards sin was relentlessly unleashed upon Jesus, our substitute. Sin was condemned in the flesh, in the body of Jesus (Romans 8:3).
God didn’t excuse sin; He became it! He didn’t justify it; He absorbed it into Himself without being contaminated by it. I once heard someone say, “The Doctor became the patient in order to heal us.” The Incarnation is one of the biggest mind-blowers there is, if not the biggest. Every time I really allow myself to think about the Creator becoming a creature in order to redeem us spins my mind. From Genesis to Revelation, we see a God who has constantly and consistently been for the sinner while against the sin. This is my position as well.
Let me close with a quote from The Message Bible out of Romans, chapter 5 verses 20-21.
All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end
Grace wins hands down!
More “greasy grace’ please!
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