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Progressions of Grace
By Stephen Craig
Grace begins with God, who is self-existent. God predestined the elect and creation ensued. We are born into this earth, spiritual and physical beings. Jesus Christ is God, the Incarnate Word, come into the world to save.
The elect receive Godís Word by the grace of God such that they hear and heed. In salvation, one experiences the equivalent in wholeness, e.g., health, power to act, life, those things that enable life. God sustains. Receiving salvation and the Word of God brings wholeness, or health generally. Health, after being created, becomes a most important thing foundational to life.
Many recognize the importance of health and well-being to existence. Bill Gates, it is said, when considering the funding of educational programs around the world, re-focused his attention on health because he felt health more important than education.
Godís Word provides nourishment to the spirit as does food to the physical body. Godís Word and salvation are provisional for the believer, giving spiritual and physical health, or wholeness. The physical health follows spiritual health and comes from Godís Word and salvation. To be spiritually healthy, one must eat and drink of Godís Word. The physical analogy of spiritual health becomes physical health.
After health, the next thing people seem to desire is knowledge. But does a person simply grasp after knowledge following salvation? The world grasps for physical health but not spiritual health or salvation. With Godís Word and salvation, one desires knowledge, i.e., to learn something. Grasping to learn things in the physical as a believer might be achieved, but not spiritual knowledge. Just as a believer cannot truly achieve spiritual health without God, so also one cannot achieve spiritual knowledge without God either. To achieve spiritual knowledge one needs the Spirit of Grace, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to receive truth and have understanding. Truth comes by revelation, not intellect alone, Spirit to spirit. Spiritual knowledge with physical knowledge following requires the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who guides into truth and teaches all things.
When I received the Holy Spirit, I found that the most "charismatic" experience I had was when I read Godís Word. Others called me "lover of the Word." The Spirit of Truth revealed truth to me from Godís Word. Only then did the "light" go on. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth gives the believer what is necessary to know when it is necessary to know it. He allows for spiritual knowledge with physical knowledge following.
In the work of scientific research, discoveries come by Godís general grace. George Washington Carver, a favorite of mine, consistently maintained that God gave him divine inspiration and revelation. He would go into the forest and ask God what He wanted him to do that day and would quote things that God said to him concerning the peanut and other things. I like to give the Holy Spirit credit for these discoveries and divine inspirations about Godís creation. He reveals them through His Spirit. As Godís knowledge comes and the information is processed, it does so by Godís general grace.
Knowledge alone may not produce anything, however. Application does not necessarily follow knowing. For there to be fruit that remains, death and resurrection are required. The flesh dies and stays dead. It doesnít revive or walk into the promised land. When Christ died, He was flesh and bone. His Blood was poured out as remission for sin. He became sin for the believer, for in the first Adam, the soul that sins will surely die. To have life requires that Christís life be in the believer. The "self-life" dies. The believer dies to sin, to self. God does this as a work of grace in the believer.
Resurrection follows. Resurrection completes the knowledge. Knowledge here is not merely held but applied. God blesses the knowledge so that it produces something. Resurrection equates to spiritual wealth, spiritual victory. God sanctifies the believer, blotting out sin and remembering iniquity no more. God moves to remove iniquity, producing in the believer a holy heart. The believer begins to conform to the image of Jesus Christ. The physical counterpart would be joy, a mindset of being rich in Christ, a mindset of Christ being all in all. Character and attitude fall in here and living responsibly.
After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended to be received by the Father. This seals the wealth and establishes relationship. Jesus goes to the Father in a resurrected body, with manís iniquity problem removed. Jesus physically moves to His Father in a physical place and relationship. Grace here allows fullness in the relationship with God. No flesh glories in the presence of God, who is a burning fire. The fire of His holiness consumes all that is contrary to Godís nature.
Venture capitalists speak of a "burn rate" as they consider putting money into something unprofitable. Money just gets burnt in that case. In this case, flesh is unprofitable and gets burned by the fire of Godís holiness. Thus believers need a resurrection body without corruption, without the sin nature, without iniquity to stand in the presence of God. Believers stand in Christ before the Father to live in relationship with the Father.
The physical analogy would be human relationships, God-directed and spiritual. Here Godís grace engenders love without hypocrisy, love for others from a pure heart and good conscience. God may withhold the physical for the spiritual to develop. Many times in life, if we have it easy we never learn. If teachers didnít make us do things, we wouldnít do them. We wouldnít progress. God judges and determines the lessons we need to learn or that He desires for us to learn.
After Christ ascended, He sat down at the right hand of His Father as Judge of the Living and the Dead. Believers are seated with Him in heavenly places. In this position, the believer moves truly into spiritual service. Christ is a High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, and believers are a royal priesthood, exhorted to be living sacrifices unto God, such being our spiritual service of worship. Being seated at Godís right hand is a place of service, a place of reigning over Godís enemies, of dominion. The physical analogy would be service to God as He directs and according to His heart. At this point the believer lives in dominion, not domination, not in greed, not in idolatry, but in Christ, with His heart and mind. God establishes spiritual service in heaven and on earth. Believers serve one another in love. This seals the spiritual and physical relationship of the previous.
I look forward in time to what comes next. Jesus is coming again. Whatever the next step, it will seal the service. Surely there is more. Jesus will return in great glory and power. When He does, the door of grace will close. It remains for believers to avail themselves of the time they have to grow up in all things into HimÖas God gives grace.
© 2000 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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