Peter’s Two Swords

Right before Jesus Christ is betrayed and crucified, He tells His disciples that things are about to change.

During Christ’s ministry, the disciples did not need provision or protection; they had the Son of God.

But when the Son of God leaves, they are told to carry a purse and money and swords.

The disciples pipe up that they already have two swords with them.

Apparently, the Catholic Church has taken this episode as proof that Peter, representative of the Pope, has the authority over the two swords, which represent Church and State power.

Yes, this is ridiculous, but alas, that is the sort of application you’ll derive from the Bible if you read it allegorically.

In reading Ellicott’s Commentary, an excellent briefish commentary on the whole Bible, he had this to say about this Catholic interpretation. I think it is awesome.

The mystical interpretation which sees in the two swords the symbol of the spiritual and temporal authority committed to St. Peter, and to the Pope as his successor, stands on a level with that which finds the relations of the Church and the State foreshadowed in the “two great lights” of Genesis 1:16. Both are simply the dreams of a diseased fancy, and find their fit home at last in the limbo of vanities.

“The limbo of vanities” is sheer wordplay awesomeness.

Bravo, Mr. Ellicott, Bravo.

God Tells People What To Do, Not You!

The degree that you desire to dictate another person’s beliefs and actions is the degree to which you do not trust God.

Telling other people what to do, then punishing them if they don’t do it, which can be as subtle as getting mad at them, is dangerous.

If you are telling other people what to do and believe, then you have put yourself in the place of God.

Furthermore, you have become responsible for their actions. If they do what you say, it’s kind of your fault!

Cults and man-made religion are heavy on telling people what to do and believe. They use peer-pressure, intimidation, punishment, conformity, and shame to get obedience.

They do not allow any thinking or diverting from the path. The leader of the cult or man-made religion will become god-like. They may even tell you they are infallible, or speak for God.

Because telling people what to do and then judging what is done is God’s job. People who get used to doing this view themselves as God.

Alas, I’m not just warning you about Jim Jones and L. Ron Hubbard. I’m talking about you and me.

When you get mad because people don’t vote like you, dress like you, eat like you, identify with every little weird thing you identify with, you are getting close to Jim Jones status.

In fact, the difference between you and Jim Jones is only the number of people who listen to you. It always starts with just one listener though!

You better watch out!

Then again, I aint telling you to do anything. Do whatever you want. But what I can do is quote God:

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
–Romans 14:10-12

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
–Philippians 3:14-15

Grace Abounds When We Don’t Sin

The same grace that brings salvation also teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, so we can live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Too many people limit God’s grace to salvation. Now that I’m saved, grace is done. I’m in.

But God gives more grace. Abundant, manifold, and exceeding grace.

This grace helps us overcome sin even now.

God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. That phrase is stated two times in the New Testament.

I’d like to show you the context of both of those times. Perhaps it can help us understand what grace is given to humble people for.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
–James 4:6-7

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
–1 Peter 5:5-9

Both passages about God resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble, have to do with resisting the Devil.

Grace gives you the ability to resist the Devil and sin.

Grace doesn’t just show up after we sin. Grace isn’t passively available to make up for the sin you already did.

No, grace can keep you from sin and keep you from falling for the Devil’s deceptions.

With every temptation there is a way of escape. It’s just that most of the time we don’t really want to escape temptation. Our flesh would actually like to go do the sin.

Our selfish pride, our desire to do what we want to do, gets in the way. We don’t humble ourselves, thus we miss out on the provision grace provides to protect us.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
–Hebrews 4:16

Grace is always available. More grace than we can imagine. We don’t make grace abound by sinning; we make grace abound when we resist sin.

Resisting sin is what grace helps us do.

Yet many have the idea that grace exists so I can sin and get away with it. We think that sinning makes grace bigger.

That’s not true. It’s not that God’s grace is not big; it’s that we’re not using it. We’re keeping it ineffectual because we want to go do our proud, selfish sin.

If we only knew what we had in God’s grace. If we only knew. If we could drop the brainwashing we’ve received about God’s grace, and take God at His word that grace helps us not sin. Imagine, just imagine, what life could be.

The grace is there. Do you want it?

Grace and Works are Not Opposed to Each Other

I have long heard that grace and works are not compatible. If you are saved by grace, then works have nothing to do with anything.

The main proof text is Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The context of this verse is referring to the plan of God in choosing the Jewish people to bring forth the Messiah and God then putting them aside and now going primarily to the Gentiles.

Romans 9-11 has little to do with Calvinism and much to do with God’s plan of salvation and how Jews and Gentiles play their part in this plan.

When it comes to God’s plan, He will make sure there is a remnant that remains faithful to carry the plan ahead. This remnant is there by grace.

In other words, Jews didn’t become the Chosen People because they were so deserving of the honor. Nor are Gentiles now in because they are so much better.

Nope. No one earned that remnant status. The remnant is there because of grace.

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
–Romans 11:5

This elected remnant is there by grace, not by works. If you keep Romans 11:6 in its context, you can clearly see that Paul is explaining the election of the remnant. He’s not talking about how an individual gets saved, nor is he talking about life after an individual is saved.

To take this verse to mean that grace means we don’t do anything is just goofy.

But I have heard the point taken even further–if you do works, you are going against grace. This is even more goofiness.

Grace and works are not opposed to each other. Grace and work actually work together quite nicely.

Again, let me state, no one is saved by works. I think we’re clear on that. We are saved by grace through faith, it is not of ourselves, not by works, but as a gift from God.

And the next verse says we’re created in Christ Jesus by that same grace to do good works that God has ordained we should do. In other words, grace brings about salvation enabling us to do what God has always wanted people to do anyway–His will.

Grace, when properly understood and applied, will always result in good works. But alas, I’m just saying stuff. There’s no reason why you should listen to me. So, take a listen to God’s Word:

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
–1 Corinthians 15:10

You can know Paul has God’s grace by observing how much he labors. Doing nothing means you are taking God’s grace in vain–to no profit.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
–2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Grace brings us consolation, comfort, good hope, and establishes us in every good word and work. That’s what grace does every time it’s tried. It keeps you busy.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
–Titus 2:11-14

Grace doesn’t just bring salvation, it also teaches us to stop sinning and to start doing good stuff. The whole point of God giving grace to save people is to make a people who energetically pursue doing good works.

God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
–2 Corinthians 9:8

I’m not sure how it could be stated any more clearly than this.

The idea that grace and works are opposed to each other is just not true. Yes, there is truth in how people get saved–it is by grace and not by works. There is a definite distinction made there.

But when it comes to life after salvation, the whole point of God giving you grace is so you’d be able to do good works.

Salvation by grace isn’t about leaving you in your sin but when you die you can go to heaven.

Grace transforms and equips us to do good works in this present world. The benefits of grace can be had RIGHT NOW! A new life. A new passion. A new desire. A new heart. A new will. RIGHT NOW!

If you have God’s grace you will be doing good works. If you aren’t doing good works, you have taken His grace in vain, which means you haven’t taken it, folks.

You don’t do good works to get God’s grace. You get God’s grace to do good works.When you receive God’s grace, you do good works. Every. Single. Time.

Irresponsibility Warps Doctrine

Being responsible is hard. Immature people blame others for their problems and look to others to bail them out. Mature people take responsibility for their problems and go fix them as much as possible.

Maturity is hard, which is why most stay in immaturity. It’s easier to let someone else pick up the pieces than it is to 1) stop breaking stuff or 2) fix your own mess.

We want other people to pay for our health coverage so we can continue to be overweight and lazy and yet not have to pay. We want other people to pay for our college education lest we have to like, work. On and on it goes.

Unfortunately, we take this same idea into our spiritual lives.

Remember what happened when Adam got busted? What did he say? “The woman you gave me made me eat the fruit.” Adam blames God and his wife. Never once does he consider his own culpability.

Eve says the serpent made her do it. The serpent, the liar from the beginning, says nothing, which, wow. When Satan performs better than you, that’s not good.

People’s response to sin has been the same ever since. We don’t think our sin is that bad, but if forced to face it, we immediately blame our parents, or the pastor, or the Liberals, or Donald Trump, or the media, or the government, or Big Business, or whatever thing we think is determining our lives.

The real problem with shirking responsibility is that it makes you believe bad things. Getting out of responsibility is the source of much heresy.

The modern warping of “grace” makes people think that fixing your problems is legalism, or works righteousness, or some such thing. Grace makes it OK anyway, why worry?

Calvinism says all things happen by God’s will from eternity past and they all work for His glory. So it makes no sense to beat yourself up too bad, or find fault with anything, nor should you concern yourself with fixing anything since it’s all giving God glory anyway.

Legalism tells you to do some unrelated penance type thing that never really takes care of the problem, but makes you feel better about yourself while continuing to have the problem.

Health and wealth tells us God is happy with us when we get stuff. As long as I have stuff, I can console myself that I’m doing good, never mind the fact that most of my stuff was gotten by my sinful life.

Atheism is structured on this whole idea as well. They deny God simply to eliminate any sort of responsibility or future judgment. They conclude that all things are genetically determined, you can’t help it.

Our fear of responsibility drives much of our doctrine. There is no such thing as secret sin, or a sin that won’t have an effect. If nothing else, it makes us feel guilty, which will warp our doctrine.

Take responsibility for who you are and what you are doing. Understand that every one of us will give an account before God.

He knows what you’re doing and He sees how you handle the results of your actions. He will bring it up some day. Don’t let any warped doctrine eliminate that awareness from your mind.

Grace Gives More than Salvation

When the Bible describes God’s grace, it uses adjectives that describe God’s grace as being big.

Acts 4:33—great grace
2 Corinthians 4:15—abundant grace
2 Corinthians 9:14—exceeding grace
James 4:6—more grace
1 Peter 4:10—manifold grace

People like the idea of God’s grace being big. Unfortunately, the only way we can conceive of grace being big is in relation to big amounts of sin.

We’re stuck with Paul’s question: So, do we sin that grace may abound?

His answer is “no.”

Unfortunately, because people have been listening to theologians more than the Bible, people mostly link grace up with sin.

When we hear that God’s grace is great, abundant, manifold, and exceeding, we think, “Cool! Then it doesn’t matter if I sin! Make that grace big by sinning more!”

Grace deals with more than just sin and salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 gets a lot of air time, as it should, it’s a massively huge point, but most people associate grace with salvation. That’s it. Once I’m saved, grace is kind of done, I mean, other than forgiving all the sin I keep on doing.

Grace and giving go together. But Grace doesn’t just give forgiveness and salvation. Grace abounds to giving way more.

God gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

He has freely given us all things to enjoy.

He who spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He, not with Him also, freely give us all things?

The grace of God that brings salvation goes on to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we can live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Grace doesn’t just take away sin and give you salvation. Grace continues to give you all you need, to recreate you in Christ Jesus to do good works (the oft forgotten Ephesians 2:10).

God likes giving. He loves a cheerful giver because God IS a cheerful giver. God wants to give you things too. Not stupid things. Not things to amuse your sinful flesh. But things that build you up, things that edify and strengthen. Things that equip you for every good work.

Are you interested in these things? Do you ask God for them? Do you take them when they are offered?

God gives grace. To give means to extend, to hold out. His hands are extended toward you. He’s waiting for you to take the abundance of provision He freely gives.

Please don’t cheapen this “abundance of provision” as money and health. He gives what is far greater. He gives things that will last for eternity. Don’t settle for fleshly baubles when He extends toward you heavenly treasure.

Grace is a beautiful abundantly giving thing. Please take what God freely gives and don’t be afraid to take more and more. His grace is abundant!

Theologians Diminish Grace

Satan has focused a lot of his deception on the word “grace.” Grace is an abused word. It’s possible another word carries more theological baggage, but I can’t think of what that word would be.

Theology is an attempt to make the simplicity of God’s Word, something the faith of a child can grasp, and make it confusing so you feel like you need the Initiated Few.

You know when you’re walking into Confusing Theology Land when biblical words start getting adjectives stuck in front of them.

“Will” is an example. “Will” simply means a desire. God’s will is what God desires. It’s quite simple.

It remained simple until theologians became a thing. Now it’s not just “God’s will,” now it’s God’s

Decretive Will
Permissive Will
Sovereign Will
Desiderative Will
Directive Will
Perceptive Will

There could be more, it depends who you ask. Also some of the above may be the same wills, I don’t know. I’m not a theologian.

All of this is just silliness. But the silliness doesn’t stop there. The silliness is extended to God’s grace as well. There’s not just “God’s grace” anymore, now it’s God’s

Irresistible Grace
Prevenient Grace
Common Grace
Sanctifying Grace
Salvific Grace

And on it goes.

Here’s the interesting thing, none of these adjectives before will or grace are found in the Bible.

If you look up grace in your New Testament (KJV anyway) and look for adjectives before “grace,” here’s what you’ll find.

Acts 4:33—great grace
2 Corinthians 4:15—abundant grace
2 Corinthians 9:14—exceeding grace
James 4:6—more grace
1 Peter 4:10—manifold grace

All of these adjectives tell you one basic thing: God’s grace is massively huge! When God describes His grace; He makes grace big.

When theologians describe grace, they make it smaller. They whittle away at the concept. They make it fit their particular theological point of the time.

This is where problems start. After a while, we’re not even talking about God’s grace anymore; we’re talking about some theologian’s ax he likes to grind.

Which is why there’s one more adjective used before “grace” in the Bible:

1 Peter 5:12—true grace

Watch out for adjectives before biblical words. Theologians use them to limit a subject, mostly because the Bible doesn’t speak the way they do about a particular word.

Don’t let theologians confuse you about grace. Keep God’s grace big. That’s how He describes it.