Do you feel like your past gets in the way of God loving you? Do you feel the need to perform in order to earn His favor and approval? In this 5-day reading plan, Pete Briscoe assures us that God has already given you an A+! Find out why there is nothing you can do to make God love you more or make Him love you less.
Oh I hope it’s true
If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.— George Bernard Shaw
Did you ever read something in a book or hear a promise in an infomercial and think, Yeah, that could be true. Maybe it is. Oh, I HOPE it’s true. I feel that way about God’s timeless promise of grace. It’s like I know in my head that I’m loved by Him as I am, but because I’m so used to getting beat up with the performance legalism of the world, my heart is skeptical.
The truth, whether we feel like it or not, is this: In Christ, God has already given you an A+ in the class of life. Because of Christ’s finished work, Christians already have an A. The threats of failure, judgment, and condemnation have been removed. We’re “in” for forever. Nothing we do will make our grade better, and nothing we do will make our grade worse.
In His life, by His death, and with His resurrection, Christ, our substitute, secured for us the A that we come into this world longing for and yet, are incapable of securing for ourselves. We don’t need to add anything to it. Paul said this:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
All the pardon, the approval, the purpose, the freedom, the rescue, the meaning, the righteousness, the cleansing, the significance, the worth, and the affection that we crave and need are already ours in Christ. That’s not just our hope; that’s God’s promise of truth for life today.
Father, I thank You that the same operative power that made me a Christian is the same operative power that keeps me a Christian: Your unconditional, unqualified, underserved, unrestrained grace through the completed work of Christ. Show me, right now, the implications of this truth. Amen.
The finished work of Christ
It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.—A common phrase… spoken only to losers
The Bible isn’t all good news. The book of Romans, for example, is brutally honest about our starting GPA in life. In chapters 1 through 3, Paul dishes out the evaluation: We all start with an F. It doesn’t matter if you’re a religious person, a totally hedonistic person, or a really judgmental person; every single person starts with an F because sin has separated us from God.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23)
But then, chapter 4 and 5 of Romans describe the stunning way we get an A. This is the cram sheet for the most important exam question in all eternity, and this is the stunning answer:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
You get the A not by your works. It’s by trusting in the finished work of Christ. We “make the grade” with God by totally different standards than the way the world judges us. And I’m telling you, this higher truth is one of the indispensable keys to unlocking a life of freedom.
Holy Spirit, I stand in Your grace, by faith, ready to face this day. I celebrate God’s glory and the hope grace gives right now. Set me free to dance with Christ because of what He has done. Amen.
Don’t blow off the class
When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin, but when I found God so kind, so good, so over flowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.—Charles Spurgeon
I respect people who fear that dancing in a honky-tonk could lead to sin. Yeah, I sure wouldn’t step foot on the dance floor with anyone but my wife. Some people also fear that if we quit marching for God and start this crazy dance with Christ, sin could be the result as well. I mean, if the teacher gives you an A, why not blow off the class?
- You would miss out on all the richness the teacher has in store for you.
- You would have to live with a mess of consequences.
- You would find yourself a slave to sin again anyway, marching for this tyrannical master.
All true, yet there is an even more fundamental, deep-down core reason: Dancing in Christ sets us free not to sin.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Get this! It’s through the grace of God’s power that we are “given everything we need for a godly life” today. You already have your A in the grade book because of what Christ did on the cross and through the resurrection. When you really come to grips with that fact, you would never for an instant consider blowing off His class.
Jesus, thank You for giving me Your divine power. Allow me to grasp the incredible truth that I “participate in the divine nature” because Your Spirit lives in me. I’m Your student, in class, ready to learn. Take me dancing this weekend. Amen.
Live like you have an A+
People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.—Martha Graham
Back in the day, the church at Corinth was an absolute mess. Sure, they were a holy mess because they were saints in Christ, but their behavior was pathetic. Paul could have started his letter to them like this: “Hey, what’s wrong with you people? You’re a bunch of idol-loving, sex-crazed, unfaithful, egotistical, self-centered, greedy babies! Stop that! Get your act together!” But do you know what? Paul never starts his letters like that. He always starts by telling them who they are in Christ first.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours… I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:1-2, 4)
This is the pattern throughout the New Testament, and it’s a powerful pattern that sets us free to live as God created us to live. First we realize the truth about who we are in Christ, then comes the “expression” part. “Marching” focuses on the commands without even thinking about who we are in Christ. “Dancing” begins when we rest in what He has done and who we are because of it.
Listen, when someone realizes they really are an A+ student because of Christ, they will start to live like it. That’s totally backwards from the way it works in the world… but then again, isn’t almost everything Christ did?!
My Heavenly Father, I am a mess too, just like the Corinthians. I thank You from the bottom of my heart for the grace You have given me in Christ Jesus, that I’ve been set apart. I thank You that I am called to be holy, chosen by You to be Your child. Amen.
Your final grade is an A+
Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.—Steve Maraboli
Okay, confession time: this whole idea about getting an A before you even take the class? I didn’t make that up. A student named Robin, found herself enrolled in a really difficult English literature course. Certain that she was going to fail and that everyone else was much smarter than she was, she and her father went to the teacher to beg for a transfer to an easier class. As soon as the door was closed, she began to cry. The teacher said, “Robin, I know how you feel. What if I promised you an A no matter what you did in this class?” Robin couldn’t believe it, but agreed. The teacher opened up the class roster, wrote in Robin’s name, put a big A as the final grade, and said, “Now, get to class.”
I told my kids this story and they were like, “Dude. Where’s that teacher at my school, right?” I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in that class? Who wouldn’t want to be taught by that teacher? I would!
How does knowing you have an A before the class even starts change your experience in that class?
- There’s less pressure.
- There’s less bragging.
- There’s less competition.
- There’s less self- flagellation.
- There’s no fear of failure.
- There’s more joy.
- There’s more life.
- There’s more focus.
Why? Because for people with transformed hearts, there’s freedom.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Leader of the Great Dance, I’m tired of marching. I’m tired of comparing myself to others and feeling either inferior or superior. I’m tired of being afraid of failure. Some days, I just want to give up and disappear into the crowd. By Your unchanging, unfailing Word, convince me that I have an A in Your class of life, not because of anything I have done, but because of what You did. Now set me free to learn like I have never learned before as we dance through this life. Amen.
1) Do you believe that there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more or love you less?
2) What’s getting in the way of you believing that He loves you this way?
3) How would you live differently if you believed you already had an A+ from God?