I hope you find this short introductory video from Dr. DeKoven to be educational and fruitful.
Below are a few samples of Dr. DeKoven’s books for a complete selection vision our website at www.booksbyvision.com
I hope you find this short introductory video from Dr. DeKoven to be educational and fruitful.
Below are a few samples of Dr. DeKoven’s books for a complete selection vision our website at www.booksbyvision.com
The fact is, grace does not remove consequences for our decisions and misdeeds for the scripture still states that seed time and harvest or sowing and reaping would never cease (Gen. 8:22). We can, however, walk in truth by grace, as empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can avoid experiencing the ultimate outcome of sin, no matter how well deserved, as a result of this gift we call grace.
Again, truth is a twin of grace and is defined as:
• Fidelity, constancy, sincerity in action, character and utterance, the state of being the case, fact…a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality; the body of true statements and propositions. In truth: in accordance with fact or actually, we see demonstrated by attitude and action, such as in…
• Joshua 24:14, as in sincerity the children of Israel were to put away idols, and though they struggled with this issue their whole journey with the Lord, it was always God’s desire that they walk away from idols, and embrace the Word of God in fullness.
• In I Kings 2:4, the word states that they were to follow the Lord with all their heart. If they did so, He would always provide leadership capable of leading them in truth and towards truth.
Of course, according to Psalms 25:5, 10, 51:6, truth must be taught, and God’s people must be lead; God calls leaders and followers to keep covenant with Him. That was always the challenge for God’s people, and the failure to remain in covenant with the Lord led to all the difficulties throughout the Old Testament history.
Remember, it is not just grace and kindness, or truth and righteous, but it is both grace and truth, flowing together that makes for our balanced and effective life in Christ (Proverbs 3:3). This Old Testament principle is echoed over and over in the New. It is seen in John 8:32, 14:6, 18:37, 38. The Word abides, so we must know and apply the truth. This leads to true freedom when we follow fully the One who is truth, for Jesus is Truth.
There is a song I remember so well from my childhood, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” written by William Cowper, 1731-1800, that speaks of the fountain that washes away the guilty stains or the results of sin in our lives. It is the blood of Jesus that washes us clean as snow, by God’s grace. We need to get in the flow and allow His grace balanced by His Truth to lead us into the paths of righteousness.
This awareness should lead us to renounce former ways of behaving that do not line up with God’s word, and embrace the truth of God’s word (2 Corinthians 4:2.) This includes putting off of the old and putting on of the new, renewing our minds, and putting on the new self as described in wonderful detail in Paul’s writing, as well as James (Ephesians 4, Colossians 2, James 1, and Hebrews 12).
Most believers today are interested in and desperately in need of grace. They desire to live a grace filled life, counting on the forever forgiving grace of our Father. They may often think of God more as a doting grandfather than Father, but God is our Father, providing abundant love and care, mixed with a healthy dose of discipline as needed. Most believers, especially young ones, struggle to live the principles of a Christian life (truth). It is not a relative truth but is demonstratively stated in the Bible for our benefit; Grace and truth -both are needed, and in healthy measure. Thank God, our Father, through his Son, has fully provided to us all that is needed for life and godliness – through Christ. As I have written more extensively in my book, “Transferring the Vision” Paul writes this personal and intimate letter to his son in the Lord, Timothy. He reminds him, no doubt based upon previous teaching, that the goal of the teaching ministry is transformation. Seeing true change come to a person from the inside out is transformation, made available to each of us by the gift of grace. Grace is the gifting of God, in this case given through the Five Fold ministry gift of the apostle/teacher. The goal of any teaching or training is change, growth, or maturity, as demonstrated by a change in the heart, mind and behavior of the recipient of the teaching.
The goal of grace and truth was for a disciple of Christ to grow in:
• Love (Agape), which meant both a change in affection and orientation, from self to God and His purposes, and also from selfish ambition to compassion, or love that is acted upon.
• Perception or Thinking. Along with a change in the heart of a person, there should also be a change of thinking, which is what Paul calls a good conscience. This comes from a purified heart, one cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the washing of the water of the word. A good conscience is essentially a God consciousness, having the mind of Christ. This develops as we repent (change our thinking from the world to Christ and His word) and believe what the word of God says to us in our daily walk with Him.
• Behavior or Lifestyle. Finally, there should be an outworking of faith, which is a change of behavior. Paul calls this a sincere faith. Another way of stating this is that a believer exposed to the word of God, over time, should change from the inside out. His heart first, then his thought process, and then behavior.
Much of church history has focused on external change which is important, but should be the result of inward change, not in place of it.
Another way of discussing the results of Grace and Truth applied to our lives can be seen in Paul’s writings to the church in Colossi.
Colossians 2:9-15. It reads:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead; And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities He made public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Notice the author’s emphasis.)
Please note the tense of Paul’s writing. It is past tense, the significance of which is enormous for the believer. Because of all Christ has done for us, having our sin nailed to the cross on our behalf, we now can live full and gloriously free from the guilt and shame of the past. We can walk in victory through the empowerment of the Spirit in us. This truth is difficult for many believers to grasp.
If fully comprehended, this reality leads us to being who we already are; free, cleansed, forgiven, loved, and graced! All of these benefits are given to us. It then flows from a shared life, for we must remember we share this together, not just individually. It helps to remember Christ is in us, and He is the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)
Because He lives in us by grace, as we walk in truth, we can live a balanced life, (Luke 2:52). This balanced life was essential for our Lord Jesus, who grew in wisdom and knowledge and in favor (grace) with God and man. As He grew, so can we naturally grow, by His grace lived out in truth. For He has called each of us to live fully with a…
• Kingdom Perspective (Rom 14:17), where our focus is always on living right (we have been made righteous, and now must live right as He gives us strength), walking in peace (Christ is our peace, and we can live at peace in the midst of any storm) while filled with the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. In other words, we can grow in:
• Freedom and Maturity, going beyond childhood and adolescence to maturity or fatherhood is truly possible. As John Grubb stated in his teachings in Japan, “Fatherhood has forgotten his own growth, is free from his own concerns, and is occupied in service to others. God doesn’t live for Himself. God is the everlasting servant of His own creation in infinite grace, and in an endless stream for self-giving. In His infinite grace He is concerned about us. And so, to know Him, that is from the beginning, is to have His exact character, and to have that by nature (our new nature in Christ).” (For more on this, see 1 John 2:12-14 and my book, Journey to Wholeness).
In Christ, we are (now) new creations, the old things have (past tense) passed away, behold all things (in Christ and in us) are new (2 Cor. 5:17). The goal in the Christian life, and the difficulty for most of us, is walking out what we have already received in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With God’s grace, and as we walk in truth, all things are possible – if we believe. Grace and truth: The Twin Towers of the Father’s Heart…and a final word from my boy Ben.
Benjamin lied. He lied as habit; often lying when he didn’t need to. In many ways, this was understandable, considering his early life of abandonment by parents and rejection by peers. He had bounced around from foster home to foster home, leaving him feeling less than loved and wanted.
In his late teens, Benjamin had a true encounter with Christ. He was, in his own words, “radically saved.” Soon after he joined a church and enjoyed initial forgiveness but still had trouble grasping the full concept of grace – let alone truth.
As he grew in the Lord, having settled into the church, and which is common for all believers, issues of life, rooted in false beliefs, born from his early abuse and neglect, emerged. His propensity to lie when convenient and inconvenient resurfaced. He knew truth and The Truth, but struggled to walk in it frequently suffering the consequences of choices made. But in time, truth won, as an atmosphere of grace in his church allowed the former liar to enjoy the freedom of becoming a truth seeker and liver with the help of loving friends who confronted him with truth in grace.
It is this atmosphere of grace, where truth seeking, and living out the truth is needed today. Believers need time to work through life’s problems, and the church is the perfect place, designed by God, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and grace and truth.
Terrorists destroyed many lives on September 11 of 2001. As the twin towers in New York tumbled down, the terrorists were guilty of taking the lives of many innocent victims. They also robbed us of important symbols of American prosperity, power, and influence. This was indeed a crushing blow to the people of this great nation, and it left many feeling vulnerable and afraid.
Yet the terrorists were unsuccessful in destroying this nation’s identity. The towers that represented success, power, and prosperity may be gone, but this nation’s identity remains intact. It is still based upon a fundamental truth that continues today, for we are still “One Nation under God.”
Ultimately, as much as we love this nation, our primary allegiance must still remain to our creator who is Jesus Christ. We have no king but King Jesus, and all of our national allegiance must be subordinate to the Kingdom of God.
There is no terrorist attack big enough to destroy our identity in Him. Our salvation and our destiny, both as individuals and as a body, remain, regardless of what tomorrow holds. Even if this great country ceased to exist, our identity would still remain as believers in Him.
As we pause each year to pay tribute to the lives that were lost in this horrendous attack, let us not be so quick to forget the towers that remain. They are the twin towers of our Father’s heart, that is, grace and truth.
Jesus, who is full of grace and truth, revealed to us the very nature and character of God our Father. He did this by the words that He spoke and the deeds that He did. These two characteristics, grace and truth, are to be seen in the church, in our homes, in our work places and in our personal lives.
Think about it. Grace, the unmerited, but extremely costly grace of God is exactly what the world is searching for, although unwittingly at times. They do not need our judgment or our criticism, but our genuine love and acceptance. After all, they were created in the image of God. They also need the truth, the truth that salvation is found in Jesus Christ.
As previously stated in the Old Testament, the Law of Moses was in fact full of mercy and grace, as God was gracious to His people, the children of Israel. He gave them such wonderful benefits, especially compared to other nations in their region of the world. This includes (not a comprehensive list):
The Word or law
To govern them, which was not unheard of by other nations, for many nations had laws to follow, but all such word, was backed by an earthly deity, a Pharaoh or King. We know that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses and etched upon stone, a type and foreshadow of the day when the law would be written upon the table of our hearts. We are living epistles.
The Word of God
The law to govern His people was, as described by King David, truly perfect.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous all together. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold, Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalms 19:7-10).
The Promise of Success and Prosperity
The word of God had the power to make them powerful, successful, and prosperous. See the instruction given to Joshua.
Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Again in Psalms 1 we see:
“1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.“
The Promise of Protection
Further, God provided to the children of Israel, His chosen protection in the wilderness; the cloud by day to protect them from the sun, the pillar of fire by night to ward off fear, and the Manna from heaven that fed them. These miraculous provisions were grace for the people as they journeyed in the wilderness. Of course, one must be careful to not over generalize any promise of God, as they were, in many cases, specific to the day and time, and also, often exaggerated (using the concept of hyperbole) to emphasize the important point being made.
The Promise of Provision…
Also, God provided leaders to help them, including Moses, Joshua, Aaron, Miriam, and eventually others, with the greatest leaders being Moses and David. Of course, none of these leaders were perfect, but were chosen and anointed to assist the people to stay on task. Even though they seemed to resist at every turn, God continued to provide key leaders to guide and care for them, even as God would.
The Promise of His Presence
Along with key leaders, God himself walked with His people, showing patience in His longsuffering journey with them, and significant mercy to rescue them, even after He divorced them to marry another (the New Covenant church, consisting of Jew and Gentile) He continued to reconcile them because He simply loved them, chose them and watched over them.
In His Will
Grace presented God’s will concerning man and His good will towards us, but it was also fearful and dutiful. It was clear that to follow God and to fear Him was really not an option for the people of God. Yet in Christ, as we have previously stated, we have grace and truth. In fact, in Christ grace goes beyond that of Moses, for it provided what Moses or the law could not; for we were;
Her name just happened to be Grace, but she was anything but gracious in appearance or graceful in action. Tall, exceedingly thin and awkward, even her smile was more crooked than straight. But, ungraceful Grace was a woman full of grace – true grace she lived and grace she gave to others. She was an amazing woman.
I came to know Grace while pastoring a local church many years ago. She introduced herself with her crooked smile and warm handshake, and in time I learned her remarkable story.
Born in Eastern Europe under communism, she suffered in extreme poverty. At 3 years of age she was abandoned by her mother (the father had left before her birth) to an orphanage, as the mother had no money to feed or cloth her. While in the orphanage, she suffered more deprivation and abuse until 11 years of age, when she was, as she stated many times, rescued by God, who used an American family for His purposes. Though a frightening change, she assumed that this would be the end of her suffering, but sadly no. In fact, she related that her adoptive mother was a lovely woman, but her marriage was unstable and home life unhappy. One bright spot, which she was always thankful for, was the fact that her new mom took her to church on a regular basis.
Within a year or so after the adoption, her adoptive father left the home, divorcing her mother, leaving mom and Grace to fend for themselves, but the mother was heartbroken and never really recovered from her loss, dying a short time later, leaving Grace alone again.
Hearing her story brought tears, and I expected her to be filled with anguish, bitterness and regret, but not Grace. In fact, she was more than philosophical. She was truly grateful, a key result of a life filled with grace. She was thankful to be alive, for she knew that, in spite of all that she had experienced, God and God’s people loved her. Yes, life was difficult and confusing at times, but she was convinced of God’s love and grace. She was genuinely grateful for the gifts of an orphanage, a father, a mother and an opportunity, but most importantly, her really and most personal encounter with Jesus Christ. She truly experienced grace, and exuded grace to all she encountered.
An Important Parable of Two
When I first read the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I was taken back a bit. It did seem somewhat unfair that all the workers no matter when they were hired (and thus how long they served or worked) were paid the same. This certainly did not seem to be the democratic thing to do. But of course, our sovereign God is not democratic but theocratic. In His kingdom He determines what is fair, and His grace is always lavish and seemingly unfair; but it is delightful, complete, and for His glory. Thus no matter when we come in or how much we serve, our rewards are the same. We obtain eternal presence with the Lord, eternal blessings from Him, and an eternal life flowing from His eternal well of love.
The story of the Father and the Prodigal is classic. In brief summary: a father, representing the Lord of course, a father of considerable wealth had two sons. The younger, against all protocol of the day, asked for his inheritance early. He then took off to a foreign country and squandered his wealth.
In time there was a famine, and no one was willing to help him. There was a lack of appropriate work, and as a Jewish boy he was obviously not prepared to work a pig farm. As a result of his own personal choices, he was in dire circumstances. He determined in his heart to return to his father, not as a son, but as a servant. Perhaps he felt unworthy because he had cared less for his father and more about the father’s provisions. When he does finally get home, he is welcomed unconditionally. He was protected by the father and loved for who he was, not for what he could do. What a picture of the grace of God.
The attitude of the elder brother was typical of many in the church today. Unlike his (seemingly) unworthy brother, he felt that he deserved the father’s wealth and a party as well. He had been both loyal and faithful. Didn’t that count for anything? Certainly it counted, but not in terms of our salvation. As we readily acknowledge, faith and grace are essential. Ephesians 2:8, 9 “for by grace we are saved through faith (which is also a gift), and it is not of works.” Works will no doubt follow our wonderful grace filled relationship with a Father who loves us, but no amount of works will save us or keep us saved.
Our salvation which is all by grace provides for us multiple benefits. Those include healing, restoration of loss, eternity, and a purpose to live. It also includes a life abundant in blessings, flowing from the throne of God to the heart of every man who will receive his grace. (John 10:10) His grace is immeasurable to all who believe. We should be forever grateful.
Shortly after the assassination of President John Kennedy my mom gave her heart to the Lord (in her normal, dramatic style…going to the “altar” before allowing the poor preacher to even give the invitation.) This began a change in everything in my family. My mom suffered many a malady in life, some brought on by her own Irish temper and some by multiple abuse situations. One thing was clear in regards to her experience with Christ. She loved Jesus, for he first loved her.
I think this must be a most important launching point for all believers, to really know, not intellectually, but to the depths of one’s soul, that Jesus loves us. We have the privilege to love him. Grace was a reality for my mother, complicated as she was at times. She received the Lord’s forgiveness for the past, the present and the future. It was the transforming substance of her life.
She, unlike many other believers of her time (and of today) never forgot where she came from, who saved her, and how undeserving she was. She was grateful on a daily basis that the God of the universe had chosen her to be a member of His family. I am convinced that as she pushes her way to the head of the line to see Jesus in heaven, she continues to rejoice a bit louder than most. Someday because of His grace, perhaps the whole family will join in the throng. Blessings again until next time. Dr. Stan
Perhaps one of the most endearing hymns in Christendom is “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. The Wikipedia article on Newton states “Amazing Grace is a Christian hymn written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton, (1725–1807), published in 1779. Its message was that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit, and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God. “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.
Newton wrote the words from his own personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed into the Royal Navy and became a sailor. Eventually he became involved in the trading of slaves. One night a terrible storm battered his vessel so severely that he became frightened enough to call out to God for mercy, a moment that marked the beginning of his spiritual conversion. His career in slave trading lasted a few more years until he quit going to sea altogether. That is when he began studying theology.”
Anyone who has experienced firsthand the amazing love and forgiveness of God through Christ by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can truly declare that His grace is amazing. It is no doubt from this vantage point, which as a former son of Thunder and now fully converted to be a lover of Christ alone; John the apostle writes his gospel (truly good news). In the gospel of John in the first chapter we read:
“6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘ He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'”
16For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
The words of John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, who literally heard the heartbeat of God (see John 13:25), presents a picture of God the Father who was virtually unknown to the Jews of that day. The people, guided by religious leaders, did not understand the heart of the Father towards us, and Jesus, who with intention and purpose, as written so intimately by John in this passage, came to reveal or manifest Grace and Truth. First, presented here is the grace of God and its importance for us all.
The Grace that Dwells
14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word dwelt among us…… He was full of grace and truth. In Matthew 1:23 the prophet Isaiah was quoted. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
God himself came to dwell among us in the form of a baby, and that baby was full of grace and truth. That baby brought with Him the redemptive cure for sinful man that he might once again live in harmony with God. All that God ever wanted, from the very beginning, was an intimate relationship with man.
The relationship God desired was first seen in His relationship with Adam and Eve in the garden. Daily they walked and talked with God, communicating with Him on an intimate and personal basis. The grace that dwells with us speaks of the intimate relationship we are permitted to enjoy with the creator of the universe. But how can we have a relationship with deity? It is only because of this wonderful thing called grace. His grace was evident with the man and the woman in the garden; His grace was given from the beginning.
God did not desire distance in relationship. He wanted a close one, an intimate one; but God’s people were filled with fear. They were intimidated by His presence. As seen in the Exodus, God wanted a relationship with the children of Israel, and as with all relationships, one built upon trust…their trust in Him as sovereign, as creator and sustainer of the universe, and as provider and protector for them. But they refused. They gave in to their fear, and withdrew from the Lord, placing Moses between themselves and God. It was that same fear that eventually caused them to err in disobedience at the edge of the Promised Land. Because they were unwilling to develop a genuine relationship with the Lord, they did not have the faith to believe Him and to boldly enter into the land of promise.
It is out of genuine relationship that one can exercise faith or trust. Faith and trust in relationship requires maturity for it to grow, and one can assume that the children of Israel were simply not mature enough for healthy relationship. An intimate relationship takes us into greater depths and higher levels of understanding in the knowledge of the person we are relating to, including God. The bible states the people perish for lack of knowledge. In order to advance in the Kingdom of God we must know who He is, for in so doing we come to understand who we are. An understanding of one’s identity is crucial to the exercising of the authority that was freely given to us as His adopted children. As His children, we were made in His image and His likeness, that we might exercise dominion over all God created (Gen 2:26-28).
The desire of God to dwell among His people, to cultivate an intimate relationship with them was the plan. In spite of the disobedience and in spite of their sin, He still loved them. How could this be possible? It is only by God’s grace.
Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor. It goes beyond mercy (which was shown to Old Testament saints) and speaks of being spared from the punishment for sin, no matter how well-earned and deserved by most men and women. Grace goes beyond mercy, as it speaks of the positive benefit of God’s blessings, blessing that we do not deserve. Christ came to reveal the Father, and to fulfill the promise he made to Abraham, the friend of God, to be a blessing to all nations (people groups).
Of course as we shall see, grace and truth are to flow seamlessly with one another. They are not mutually exclusive, although in some ways they must be kept in dynamic tension with each other. Let’s look at several scriptural insights into grace and the dwelling presence of God as found in the scripture.
There are times in life when things happen beyond our control; we often do not understand where God is in the midst of our circumstances. The death of a loved one, a business that suddenly goes belly up and all of one’s assets are lost. It may be an illness or disease, a tragic accident. A loved one that gets caught in the trap of an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or worse; it is called life, and it happens. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers but we do have with us One who knows, cares and walks with us through the most difficult of circumstances… His name is Jesus.
Paul recounts in 2 Corinthians 12:7 “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
God’s grace is sufficient. No matter what dilemma we may be facing, no matter how difficult it may seem, we have this same assurance that Paul had. God’s grace is sufficient for every single need.
Blessing until next time… Dr. Stan