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God’s Church (II): Discerning Patience and Grace

I have been through the phase of seeing other people’s flaws and even recalling what people have said and done to me. Whether those things were intentional or accidental, I do not know. But one thing that is eye-opening to notice is how God’s grace abides with people despite their flaws. When I talk about flaws, I am not talking about those who speak against the truth or preach a different gospel than that in the Scriptures; such are cursed according to the word of God (Gal 1:6-9).

But for those who have had an oversight, who did not realize what they did wrong, God’s mercy extends to them when they realize and repent (cf. Lev 4:22-31). Are we patient enough to be patient with others?

There was one time I was injured by one of God’s workers. I could not believe my ears or indeed accept what I saw. How could it be possible? I was filled with a huge, unsurmountable unwillingness to forgive. The indignation thankfully was short-lived because God shone His word into my heart, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6:37; cf. Lk 11:4).

Suddenly, I found my own salvation in the balance! If I don’t forgive, how can I ask God to forgive me? If God does not continue to forgive me, how can I be saved? The fear of God’s judgment gripped me. As long as I held on to grudges of people’s past trespasses against me, I myself fall into God’s judgment. There was no way around it. I had to release from my heart other people’s misdeeds.

From this personal encounter, over time, I had not only gained a greater freedom to forgive (and as I have confessed, if it was not by God’s grace I could have been consumed and blinded by my own self-righteousness), but a much better discernment of God’s patience with His church.

God Has Accepted Us

In the past, I had often felt disappointed by others not achieving what God expects. Then my mind was renewed by comparing my weakest points with others’ strongest points. Also, I looked closely at God’s people in the OT and the apostolic church. There were a few prolonged period of days when the church was ever completely perfect. Then when I compare today with those days, I understand that through God’s mercy, His church can still exist and will flourish because God has shown His ever-abiding presence not only through His Spirit, but also the truth, which is confirmed by signs and miracles.

Then I began to knit together and understand the passage in Ephesians 3:14-19 about being strengthened through the Holy Spirit, so that we may be rooted and grounded in love, and comprehend the love of Christ. With God’s great love in our heart, we can know not only His love to us as individuals, but His love in a greater dimension—because God’s love accepts all of us in His grace. If we want to find fault with anybody under the sun, it is quite easy. For one, you could pick at Paul’s unwillingness to take Mark on the missionary journey just because Mark had indeed departed from them and proved to be unreliable (Acts 12.25; 15.37-38). But guess what, God’s grace is indeed great enough for all to learn from.

Sometimes, it is not others who have disappointed us. It has more to do with our heart of unbelief in the gospel, extended to God’s people throughout the generations, that has limited how we see God’s salvation plan and indeed His beautiful church, which He is beautifying spiritually.

Be Set Free from the Waterless Pit

The key is to walk by faith rather than by sight (2 Cor 5:7). When we focus on what God has done and will do, we allow the Holy Spirit to lift us up out of the “waterless pit” of doubt and transport us into the vision seen by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 40-48). God says to all of us, “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope, even today I declare that I will restore double to you” (Zech 9:11-12).

Why are we stuck in the waterless pit? Because we are not filled with the Holy Spirit. We have allowed what we see and hear to affect our faith. We should pick up the shield of faith in what God has promised, fight against all feelings to depart from the true church, and rejoin in heart and mind to trust in God’s way. We can ask the Lord for “rain in the time of the latter rain, the Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone” (Zech 10:1).

Let us re-establish our faith on the truth of God’s word where He Himself is fully determined and undeterred by mere human unfaithfulness (Zech 1:6, 8:14-15). For it is God who has declared His unquenchable fiery zeal (Zech 1:14, 8:2-3).

Brethren, let us renew our mind and heart, and once again pursue to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can be filled with conviction regarding His plan through the true church in the end-time. Our joining together as one in Him, based on His word and moved by the same Spirit, will indeed glorify His name in the world we are witnesses to (Jn 17:20-23).

Why not join in sweet praise of God’s holy name and repeatedly rejoice in God’s grace upon His church by saying, “Grace, grace to it!”? When Satan accused the High Priest Joshua, was he not rebuked by the Lord (Zech 3:2)? If God does not condemn, who are we to? And if we don’t condemn, why not be filled with the promises of God and the Holy Spirit to join in the great salvation plan of God that starts from His church?

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Zech 4:6)

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