Jesus has called me to shepherd some of His sheep. I attempt to fulfill this
commission on two levels, namely, the pastoral level for my local church family
and for those in the wider global apostolic sphere over which I have charge. My
writing in this particular teaching is applicable to both levels; this truth covers
all of us both saints and elders alike. One aspect of being a shepherd is
guarding the souls (Hebrews 13:17) of those over whom Jesus has given me
stewardship. With this “guarding” in mind, I want to address an issue that is
presently creating confusion and error in the Body of Christ. To illustrate the
problem refer to right of this page to a segment of a letter we received:
A correct thinking on the role of faith is distorted here. First of all, the “mustard
seed” references in Scripture are not intended by God to establish a doctrine on
the level of our faith, implying that our faith is to remain very small as a mustard
seed. On the contrary, our faith can vary in power-levels and faith is intended to
grow. (Luke 7:9, Matthew 16:8, II Corinthians 10:13-16) So let’s align our thinking
and beliefs with the Word of God and accept the truth that each of us has been
given the measure of faith (Romans 12:3) and although it begins small it is meant
to increase as we mature in Christ.
The doctrine of the finished work of Christ continues to be a problem area for some believers; I see this especially in those whose spiritual
diet is primarily teachings on grace. The message of grace is a timely one and I for one am pleased Jesus has strongly resurrected this truth for
His Body. However, just as with any truth, an unbalanced approach to it will yield error and confusion. I have seen over the years this same thing
happen with the doctrines of prayer, worship, faith, spiritual gifts, and evangelism. Therefore, let us always take the whole of Scripture to
develop our beliefs and not isolate certain passages that seem to reinforce what we want to believe. To do otherwise is not wise nor is it fruitful.
The doctrine of the finished work of Christ is critically important for the Church to understand. If we fail in this regard, saints will continue to
gaze up into the heavens pleading with God to answer their prayers and Christians will continue to walk in unbelief toward the promises of God
since they cannot figure out how to make them work. The doctrine of the finished work of Christ simply stated is the proclamation that everything
God needed to do for fallen man has been done through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. In other words,
Jesus’ work is finished. We must believe this if we are to experience the abundant life promised to us by covenant.
The question arises, “Since the work of Christ is finished, is there anything I must do as a believer?” The answer to this question is a key
ingredient to our doctrine of grace. The grace of God is not intended to displace faith on our part but rather to work in tandem with it. As Paul
puts it, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) This verse reveals the
two doctrines working hand-in-hand to produce the will of God. The finished work of Christ has purchased salvation for mankind, but if there is
no faith in the one who hears the Gospel it avails nothing. (Hebrews 4:2-3) This underscores the need God has set in place for every part of the
finished work of Christ to be received by faith if it is to be enjoyed. We are commanded to “walk by faith.” Graphically, this principle is illustrated
in the ministry of Jesus when He returned to His home town of Nazareth; because of unbelief there in the people He could not do mighty works
there. We must see that God sent Jesus there to do His work but when faith is absent even God Himself can do little.
Another important ingredient in our understanding of grace is the doctrine of rest. Much is written especially in the Book of Hebrews about
resting in the Lord. Again, if we have a skewed view of this doctrine the result will be error and confusion not to mention the absence of
pleasing the Lord through our failure to fully enjoy all He has promised us. The Lord compares our abundant life in Christ Jesus under the New
Covenant with the nation of Israel occupying the Promised Land under the Law of Moses. Grace for the children of Israel was God’s favor
extended to them to provide a land flowing with milk and honey. They did not deserve this gift from God nor did they somehow merit it through
their good works. It was a gift.
Grace is certainly a gift. We see in Hebrews 3 the reason why the first generation of Israelites died before they reached Canaan; they did not
enter His rest because of unbelief. It is very important to understand that the word “rest” does not mean inactivity for us nor does it imply no
responsibility for us who are the recipients of God’s grace. God told Israel that He would go before them and it would be His power that
overcame the enemies but they still had to get involved and fight the battle. Their fighting did not detract from their rest; on the contrary, it
reinforced their utter dependence upon God for victory. Resting simply means a total reliance upon God; it understands that the results are
always God’s problem but we participate in the process. (see Ephesians 3:20) Jesus teaches us that when we encounter the mountains in our
lives, there is something we must do along with His provision of power – we operate in faith and speak to the mountain and then God’s power
causes it to move. We see the duality of responsibility between God and us that it takes to fulfill the will of God and please Him.
The letter to the church at Rome addresses the doctrine of rest from another perspective, the perspective of works to achieve
righteousness. The apostle Paul carefully navigates through the teaching on works of Law in chapters 9-11 of this Book. Read this passage:
Now we see that “works” is addressed differently with respects to grace. Through grace we enter into the rest of God (salvation) and then the
gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) is applied to us who believe in Jesus. The one under the Law of Moses attempts to earn his right-standing
with God through adherence to the many ordinances and regulations under the Law. This man is works-oriented rather than rest-oriented. The
works of man can never achieve righteousness; only by the grace of God can fallen man be deemed righteous in the sight of the Holy God.
In conclusion let us correctly partner the doctrine of grace with the doctrine of faith to achieve the doctrine of rest.
|The Grace – Faith Question
By Bishop Randy Barnett
“…. Why is she [referring to
another woman of God] relying on
how much faith she is producing
to get her results? Aren't we just
supposed to have faith as a
mustard seed? Pretty sure we
should just let Jesus' finished
work and HIS doing (not ours) be
what we rest in... Not in how much
faith we can conjure up to make
God work for us."
But Israel pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of
righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by
the works fo the law. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone."