The Sound of Grace

By: James Schulze

“Do you hear that horrible sound? What is that? The grinding, shrieking, and squeaking rumble seems to be getting louder and louder by the minute. What a terrible noise! WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?”

Well the truth is, it’s possible that not everyone reading this may hear this hideous shrill sound, because it’s only heard with spiritual ears. But if you have heard it or you are hearing it, you probably already know what it is. It’s actually something we’ve been hearing for quite a while, yet it seems to be being magnified at this moment in time. It is a very harsh noise! It penetrates your soul! When you hear it, you can tell that it is something massive and mechanical, and yet it is also very human. If you listen closely you can actually distinguish individual voices that make up the collective clatter.

When you separate the sounds, you can hear a pastor and his wife who cannot handle the thought of one more day in ministry. You quiet yourself further and hear the screams of a believer who is drowning in condemnation. He is seemingly surrounded by and even being attacked by the constant reminder of his sins. Sins, that he was once promised, were buried in the deepest parts of this sea and never to be remembered. The hum is becoming deafening now. You can hardly stand to listen for another second. Just as you’re reaching up to cover your ears, suddenly the clamor dies down and settles to an almost tolerable level. You listen yet again, desperate to understand the abrupt change that just took place, yet all you hear above the sound of the original rumble is a soft whisper saying, “Grace to you.”

What I’ve just described to you is what God showed me a few mornings ago while in prayer. That morning I was talking to the Lord about how I could not understand how the church has missed this incredible message of grace for so long, and the “fallout” that has taken place as a result of it. As so many others that have come to the knowledge of this grace, I have my own story. And I know how costly the absence of the “message of grace” is in the life of a believer. I (could personally) remember sitting behind my beautiful desk in a lush office, flooded with ministry opportunities, but I was constantly frustrated with the religious message I had been “programmed” with. Something inside of me was saying, “There’s absolutely no way that we are preaching the same message that Paul preached.” I knew intuitively and understood that the sound I was hearing was the sound of the religious machine grinding its gears and wounding the Saints.
What I didn’t know was what the Holy Spirit said to me next. He said, “James, what’s happened in religion is this. Instead of trusting in the simplicity of Jesus Christ and making grace the centerpiece and power source of life, men have used grace instead as a lubricant to oil their religious machines.” I asked Him what He meant. He said, “These religious machines always break down and wear out. So whenever that happens and whenever their systems, principles, patterns, and programs don’t do the job, THEN they apply some grace in order to keep things functioning. And in a sense it has, and does, because even a little bit of grace is incredibly powerful. Tragically and typically My grace is used to manipulate things in the direction already chosen by the system.”

This immediately made perfect sense to me and settled some things in my own spirit. Recently I have noticed a spike in interest regarding the subject of grace, everywhere. It has become an extremely popular subject in churches. Grace is the “buzz-word” post 2010. Pastors everywhere are doing Sunday Schools and series on it. I have also noticed, however, that hardly anyone is actually preaching on “the finished work of Christ” with any real revelation, boldness, or impact. The potential for the transforming power of grace in the life of the believer is not being actualized. Everyone wants to say they have grace, that they believe in grace, and that they are preaching grace; but having come to a revelation of grace myself, I know that when it comes in its pure form, it leaves no stone unturned in your faith. It changes everything!

All of this brings the question, with all of the buzz—why is there no massive change or shift in the church at large? The answer is simple. Religionists have looked at the huge storage towers of heaven, filled to the brim with God’s amazing grace, which is ready to fuel the lives of believers here on earth. Then instead of connecting the church to these unending resources, they’ve grabbed a few gallons of grace and used the “oil of joy” to lubricate their own failing operating systems. No Christian group has ever been able to survive with a total lack of grace. Therefore every movement in history has believed in and instituted this truth to some measure, for without it they would be terminal. But few have seen the sufficiency of it and sadly the church for centuries has not fully believed what the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I had the opportunity to share what I believed the Lord had taught me with James Barron. He completely agreed and said it back to me in these words- “It seems that many preachers talk about grace but it’s really just lip service. I never thought about it that way but you heard from the Master correctly. Grace is being used merely as a lubricant to keep their legalistic machines running instead of seeing grace as the source of power! I love it! Their religious machines only produce a form of godliness while they deny the very source of power of godliness which is the grace of God in Jesus!”

Grace is enough! Grace is the whisper that overpowers the screams. Grace is the oil dripped upon the religious machines that does keep them going and doing some good in the earth. Can we just imagine if they ever got the revelation that what they had been using as a lubricant was actually the fuel and that the church is an organism fueled by God’s gracious Spirit and not a man-powered machine? Oh Lord, let that revelation come; the revelation of your grace and the revelation of your Holy Spirit of promise! Amen!

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