One thing I noticed that I have heard from both Don and Rob, was how to approach reading and applying the teachings of the New Testament letters. It was Rob who taught me that I needed to get a firm grip on the Grace of God, who God is, what He thinks of me and just really soak in it for a long time before moving on. And even then, continue to immerse myself in grace, as I will never grow out of grace like old clothes. It is the very foundation of my life! I was so grateful for this wonderful advice, as so many Christians seem to be so focused on what we "do" for God, and fear they are not doing enough. Well, that is not God's heart for us. And Don always says, "God wants to be known for His grace." So yet one more reason we can plunge ourselves deeply into being saturated thoroughly in grace, grace and more grace!
What I learned from Don was that if we read the New Testament letters and get to the "to do" parts without first reading and hearing and focusing on the reminders in the beginning of every letter of God's grace to us, through the Gospel, we will very quickly miss the whole point. Oh, we may see behavior change or modification, but it will not be a transformed heart that out of adoration and joy is moving forward in grace.
I guess people tend to feel valued more for what they do, so much that they miss the whole crazy and awesome truth, that God loves us just because He wants to! Not because we ever did one single thing to merit that!
Here's a quote from Rob, out of his book, "Living in the Grace of God," that is so close to what Don shared in a recent message as well.
"There is an apostolic pattern to Paul's letter. He always begins by telling his readers how wonderful they are because of the grace of God; how they're accepted, justified, loved by God, viewed as sinless. He lays a foundation that says, 'You are valuable, irrespective of your performance!'
Then later in the letters he says, 'Because you are accepted, because you are valuable through God's grace, throw off sin. Come on, stop doing that. Sort it out and move on in God!'
This may seem like semantics to some people, but until we get the bottom line right - that we're accepted regardless of our performance - we cannot go on to challenge other believers.
Many Christians don't want to hear another promise of victorious living, or another promise from the Scriptures of the exciting life they can experience, because in their minds they are saying, 'That's torture and torment. I can't attain that! I can't live up to that! I've tried and failed.'
But once they have the revelation 'I am accepted; even if I don't pray, I am still accepted!' they can respond to the call, 'Come on, let's pray. Let's go to the nations,' because they are not doing it to obtain God's acceptance and approval - they already have that.
The majority of Christians who backslide do so because they do not understand this bottom-line grace principle and are constantly living under a feeling of 'I am not doing enough to be accepted. ' (or a feeling of not being worthy....my words.)
"True Christian victory = simply learning to live in the grace of God" - David Devenish