I get emails —
In your “2008 Update” posting you included the following:
“And (do you believe it?) David Graves will be teaching a class on my The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace at the Union Valley Church of Christ <http://unionvalleychurch.com/index.php/news> . He’s actually put the full text on the church website for the students to download. Not bad for a 1994 publication.”
I wanted to give you an update on David and this teaching effort.
First of all, David is my best friend in the world and has been for over 30 years. About a year ago, he and I were discussing the fact that we had rarely if ever experienced teaching, sermons or even discussion on either the Holy Spirit or on God’s grace. During this time, I came across your book (I’ve read it 4 times) and sent it to David.
At virtually the same time, he and I both came to the life changing realization that we were actually saved. I had questioned my salvation and David had actually believed that he wasn’t saved. (When asked if I were saved a couple of years ago, I answered “I’m working on it” – how very sad) Both of us have been faithful Christians for over 30 years but it wasn’t until we read and discussed your book and studied more deeply what the bible teaches about grace that we finally came to a more accurate understanding of and belief in our salvation.
Based on this newly found joy in our salvation, David and I both decided to teach a class on the Holy Spirit and grace – David at Union Valley in Texas and me at my home congregation of 16 years in Georgia. David’s class went so well that he was asked to teach it again for the youth group. My experience with teaching on grace and the Holy Spirit was not so positive. The elders decided that they did not want the topic taught “at this time” and when it was taught they wouldn’t want me to teach it.
This helped me finally make the break with this conservative congregation that I still love dearly but the break was needed.
On his birthday (Sept 4) of this year David went into the hospital and on December 18th, he went home to his reward. I wanted to update you on David because of the impact a true understanding of God’s grace had on his life and mine.
He was 51 years old and an elder in the Union Valley church but he didn’t believe he was in a saved relationship with the Lord UNTIL he came to truly understand God’s grace.
Though losing him was and still is so very difficult for his family and the rest of us who love him so much, I am thankful that David came to know the confidence in his salvation before he went into the hospital.
He probably knew that he wouldn’t be coming out of the hospital and facing this reality without the assurance of salvation would have been unbearable.
Thank you for sharing God’s grace and the Holy Spirit with David and me (and so many others) in such a transformational way.
Thanks Jay and may God continue to bless you in your good works.
Oh, wow. That’s a remarkable story. I’m so glad that David came to appreciate what Jesus did for him.
And I really appreciate this email. I am deeply touched.
Do you mind if I post this email? Many among the more progressive churches see no value in continuing to interface with the conservative churches – seeing it as futile – and messages like this will do a lot to encourage people to continue to spread the word.
I would be honored for you to post this note. Spreading the message of grace to those who continue to carry the burden of working to earn their salvation (and knowing they can never be worthy) is very important to me and had also become David’s passion. Losing this works based belief has been such a relief and I didn’t even know that I believed the way I did in this area.
If my update about David encourages one person towards sharing God’s grace, I will be thrilled. My passion and I believe my calling is to evangelize this message to Christians like me who have missed this blessing and the relief it brings.
I constantly run into people who question the wisdom of trying to change the minds of those in the conservative movement. They argue that the conservatives are too stubborn to listen. They say the conservatives will slander me for my trouble.
Certainly there are hardhearted people among the conservatives (and even a few among the progressives). And I’ve been called all sorts of things, even on this blog, for my trouble. (I really should make a list …)
But, you see, I get emails like this — just often enough to keep me going. These emails remind me that the obstreperous, obnoxious, offensive few do not speak for the entire movement. In fact, many — perhaps most — just need to be exposed to a better understanding.
I’m firmly convinced that there are hundreds of thousands within the conservative Churches of Christ who will change their views just as soon as they are given a sensible scriptural justification for so doing. There are many others who will be persuaded after a period of resistance.
In fact, several years ago, I was walking in the mall only to find myself grabbed from behind in a bear hug. A woman who had been in one of my classes years before — a woman who is bigger than me — held me so tight I was nearly breathless. When she let me go, she exclaimed,
Thank you so much for teaching me grace! I thought you were wrong, but my husband and I spent night after night to prove you wrong and, well, we decided we were the wrong ones. Of course, that was after we’d changed membership. But you were right! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
So sometimes they even leave your church before being persuaded, but if you take the time to explain the problems with legalism and how to understand grace, well, sometimes God does the rest later.
For all my readers who labor to persuade the members of conservative Churches to understand grace, be encouraged. You’ll never know how much good you’ve done, well, not until you meet all the people you helped in the New Heaven and New Earth. And then you’ll have thanks aplenty.