It Is Easy!

By: Åge M. Åleskjær
From: August - September 2012
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
Jesus Himself said that His yoke was easy and His burden light.

All religions have an underlying foundation of demands of works and achievements. This is why temples and places of worship are filled with rituals, sacrifices, penitential exercises, and works of religion.

The gospel is the total opposite! In this case, God is the one who did something. He has in Christ reconciled the world to Himself, and is now offering a free salvation of pure grace – without works. This is such good news that people have problems taking it in, and so the religion of works has slipped into the Christian ranks as well.

This is such good news that people have problems taking it in, and so the religion of works has slipped into the Christian ranks as well.

Many people believe that God will judge them according to their deeds, and that their eternal blessedness is dependent upon if they did “as best they could.” This delusion is a product of preaching “the law and the gospel.”

Luckily, Christians know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.

Still many Christians start striving and struggling in self effort after they are born-again. They try to do works “worthy of the conversion,” and they end in struggles to satisfy God. So in a creeping way, Christianity has become a religion of works as well.

Rest

This is why the invitation of Jesus brings such freedom! He is inviting everybody who labors and are heavy laden and is saying, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.”

The entire chapter of Hebrews 4 is all about this rest of faith: “We who have believed do enter that rest.”

The chapter explains that those who died in the desert did not enter because of disobedience and unbelief. Neither did Joshua lead them into this rest, because in a later generation David prophesies and says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” So by this, he is speaking about a day when one can enter the rest. That day is now; it is the “day of salvation.”

It is not heaven or eternity he is speaking about, because there one cannot harden the heart. He is speaking about something that is for now, and this becomes a great testimony about what the rest of faith really is. You get to rest from your works, just like God rested from all His works.

Many worn-out Christians have never experienced what it means to lift their wings like eagles and run and not get weary.

The works are already finished. They are prepared beforehand that we should walk in them and in Him we have all the power, all the equipment, and all the energy that is needed. This is a fantastic gospel to all the Christians suffering from stress.

This is a rest from fleshly works - a rest in God where He works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Many worn-out Christians have never experienced what it means to lift their wings like eagles and run and not get weary. But those who wait on the Lord have learned to live the kind of life that takes all the energy from Him who lives in them.

It Is Easy to Be A Christian

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

This is the message! Jesus wants to set you free from all heavy burdens, and lead you into an easy life.

Many Norwegian Christians have sung, “It became so easy when the burden fell off, it fell into the ocean of oblivion….” In other countries there are other songs that are similar. We sing about the freedom that came when the burden of sin fell off.

But unfortunately the time is often short before Christians experience that someone is “putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples,” just like Acts 15:10-11 is talking about. But Jesus is offering a life where one continues in liberty. It is possible to lay the burdens on Him all the time.

My Yoke Is Easy
Jesus says that He has a yoke that we should take upon us. At the same time He says that His yoke is easy, and His burden light. How can a “yoke” be easy and a burden light?

Since I grew up in the countryside, I know what it means for oxen to work in harness. One puts a yoke upon their shoulders so that they can pull together. Jesus is offering us to work in harness with Him. The secret is that He takes the heavy part, and the light part rests on you. In fact, He is pulling the entire load, but you are allowed to walk next to Him and feel that you have a part. When you see the result after plowing, you say, “Wow, take a look at what we did!” But in reality it was not you, but the grace of God who was with you. Paul says it like this:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward 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 Cor. 15:10)

No Sweat In the Presence of God
The Old Covenant is full of pictures. There is a great picture of this in connection with the priests who were to serve in His presence. In the context where it says they are to dress in linen, it says, “They shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat” (Ezek. 44:18). This symbolizes that the Lord does not want anything that represents human effort or works of the flesh. No sweat in the presence of God!

On the other hand, we are “laboring more abundantly than they all!” But it happens through His grace, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Another way of saying it is that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). This is not something by which one gets “terribly exhausted!”


Through the Cross We No Longer Are Conscious of Sin
The cross of Jesus Christ is at the centre of the gospel. All the symbolism, the sacrifices and the services in the Old Covenant are examples of the perfect sacrifice that was to come. This is why Hebrews says that they were examples and shadows of the things that were to come, but now the real thing is here.

The problem was that the sacrifices could never make perfect or free from the consciousness of sin. So one always had a constant reminder of sin, and the sacrifices had to be offered continually year by year. Hebrews 10:1-2, Revised Standard Version (RSV) expresses this perfectly:
“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin.”

The problem was that the reality had not come; the law had but a shadow of the good things to come. But now the reality has come. Now “the good things to come” are here.

The perfect sacrifice of Christ has come: 
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).

Once for All
A key expression is “once for all.”

“For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.” (Heb. 10:2)

“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

This is the foundation of our complete salvation.

“Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him…” (Heb. 7:25, AMP).

Notice some wonderful details:
Hebrews 10:2 is saying that if we had been cleansed once for all, we would no longer have any consciousness of sin. We have been cleansed once for all. Consequently, we do not have any consciousness of sin. Instead we have received a “consciousness of righteousness.”

The key to live by the perfect law of liberty is for man to see this so that a change takes place in his mind. One gets conscious of not being a sinner anymore, but being righteous! Then one can live and walk in the privileges belonging to the righteous.

To Glory In the Lord

Because Jesus became one with us, and we became one with Him, it is simple to catch the truth in 1 Cor. 1:30-31:
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

Many Christian really need to attend a course in how to glory in the Lord!

Many Christian really need to attend a course in how to glory in the Lord!

Because we have been indoctrinated to think that we have nothing to boast about, we have missed what it means to boast in the Lord. But it is where the secret lies: We have nothing to boast about in what we did ourselves; all our boasting is excluded by the law of faith.

It is because Christ is our life that we indeed have something to boast about. We can glory in the Lord. It means that we boldly can confess who we are in Him and who He is in us.

He is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. So with that our righteousness is the best in the universe - it is perfect. He is our righteousness. That is what we can glory in. He is also our sanctification.
Moreover He is in us. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. That makes us conquerors. We can reign in life through Jesus Christ.

In this we glory!

It means that we boldly confess what the Word of God is saying about us. That is not pride - that is humility. Can you see it? Humility is to bow to the Word. You should not be prideful and insist that you are miserable and weak, while the Word tells you that you are seated with Him in heavenly places, and you are reigning as a king in life.

We Glory in Christ Jesus
“For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3, RSV).

Paul testifies and says that He could have boasted in the flesh, but he does not. The reason is that what he gained in Christ is of so much greater value. The righteousness he has in Christ, and the union with Him, completely outweigh everything else.

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:14-15).

The only thing Paul would boast about was the work of Christ in his life. He would boast about the result of the cross. By the cross, he is crucified to the world and is now a new creation in Christ. That is what he would boast about! Paul knew that the message of the cross was foolishness. As a Jew he was persecuted because of the cross and Jesus. But Paul prided himself in Jesus and the cross. He said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ!”

Some people did not like to be persecuted for the sake of the cross:
“As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6:12).

Jesus Christ and His cross are our glory. We take glory in our righteousness through His blood, in our death with Him to sin, the law, and the world, in our healing through His stripes, in the resurrection with Him to a new life, in being seated with Him in the heavenly places, in having authority in His name over sickness and evil spirits, and in being like He is in the midst of this world!

Grace Rules!

“In order that as sin has ruled as king in death, so also grace might rule as king in righteousness which issues in eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, – ours!” (Rom. 5:21, MNT)

Jesus came to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:19):
“To proclaim the accepted and the acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound” (AMP).

In the Norwegian translations, the acceptable year is called the year of grace. Grace means “undeserved favor,” “joyful surprise,” “God abounding toward you.” The acceptable year was a year of grace where the free favors of God abounded.

In the Old Covenant, the fiftieth year was a year of Jubilee. In the year of Jubilee all the debts were released, all the slaves were released and the land was returned to him from whom it was bought, to the one who owned the land as a possession.

This is why Jesus calls it an acceptable year of the Lord - a year of grace. He added good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed and captives.

Grace upon Grace
All Christians carry some sort of understanding about grace. Everybody knows that we are saved by grace:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).

However, there are many Christians who are sweating and struggling simply because they do not understand that everything is by grace!

Fortunately most believers have understood! However, there are many Christians who are sweating and struggling simply because they do not understand that everything is by grace! The great discovery is to see that sanctification is by grace, ministry is by grace, fullness is by grace, gifts of the Spirit are by grace, and everything concerning the Christian’s life is by grace.
The Christian life is grace plus nothing!

Personal Observation
As I have touched on earlier in this book, my experiences with different Christian environments have showed me how easy it is to end in a Christian life where one has fallen away from grace.

When it comes to salvation people understand it is by grace, but in other areas they end up in works. When I was searching to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, the preaching I was given told me that it was going to be a struggle. But the Word says:
“For of his fullness we all have received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16, DBY).
We are talking about many levels of grace: grace upon grace! It is not only salvation that is by grace. Fullness is also by grace.

The Sanctification
Some believe that a focus on grace will make people free to sin more (this is discussed in the article “Certainly not!”). But the Word is showing us that sanctification is a work of grace - it is free, it is undeserved, and it is a joyful surprise. Titus 2:11-12 explains that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. This grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts…

T.B. Barratt called this “the sanctifying work of grace.” Peter calls it “the sanctification of the Spirit.” No room is given for self effort and works of the flesh.

The Ministry
Paul is giving us a glimpse of the secret of the ministry:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward 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 Cor. 15:10)

His great working capacity was a work of grace! Just like it was for Jesus, it was “food” for him to do the will of God. Just like Jesus, he did nothing on his own initiative - he only did what he saw the Father do.

This is the rest that will be the medicine against all burnout in the ministry.

This is the rest that will be the medicine against all burnout in the ministry.

In the same manner signs and wonders are by grace (Gal. 3:5). Therefore, it is wrong when someone is emphasizing the price you have to pay for the miracle power of God. That is a price that Jesus already paid! Paul says:
“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, …” (Rom. 15:18-19).

And at this we neither have something to boast about in ourselves! If God uses you, it is by grace. If God performs miracles in your ministry, it is by grace.

“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6).

By: Åge M. Åleskjær

Former Senior Pastor at Oslo Christian Center, now spending most of his time ministering all over Norway and internationally.

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