The Mystical Teachings of Christianity by Jim Lewis
A traditional definitive statement about the Grace of God is this: “God’s unmerited free spontaneous love for sinful man revealed and made effective in Jesus Christ.”
What does this mean? First it means that man is a depraved sinner incapable of being helped directly by God, for he is out of favor with God. He is therefore undeserving of help or good in his sinful state. We cannot earn God’s love through good works; it is given freely to us if we will accept it. God’s love is revealed in the experiences of Jesus Christ. Traditionally this means that Jesus’ death and resurrection is an atonement or ransom or payment for our sins which are so horrible that we are incapable of paying the price ourselves. Jesus paid the price for us to be reconciled with God.
The whole concept of grace, which from this viewpoint is meaningless, presents some serious problems. If grace is God’s saving love, why doesn’t He save us now from our immediate problems of sickness, poverty, wars, natural disasters, and other tragedies?
For example, when an airplane crashes and everyone is killed except one or two it is said, “They were saved by the grace of God.” Why didn’t God’s grace save them all? In fact, why doesn’t God’s grace prevent any tragedies from taking place? If there is a God and He is all-powerful then why does He permit what is called “evil”? Evil here refers to unnecessary and undesirable misfortunes such as babies dying of cancer or leukemia, for example. When we don’t understand why these things happen, the soul cries out seeking to make sense out of the notion that God is love and God is all-powerful. When these things happen it seems that He is anything but loving and powerful.
To truly understand the concept of grace we must understand something of the nature of God as Life. God is good and only good. At our present level of understanding we cannot even begin to comprehend the full meaning of how great and good and loving God really is. He is eternally the same; He never changes. We may think that He has human characteristics but He doesn’t. He never plays favorites even though it may appear to us that He does. Everyone is already equal with God. Unequal appearances can be explained; there are reasons and causes as to why everything happens. If we really knew and understood, we would be able to see very clearly that God has nothing to do with any tragedy.
The principles of life are eternally fixed; they are good and only good. God cannot change them, for He is the Principle of Life and Principle cannot change itself. God is the Principle of Absolute Good. If He changed from good, He would have to be bad or mediocre.
When we say in Unity that God is the Principle of Absolute Good we mean the intent of Principle is always to express and manifest health, peace, supply, and any other good that can be desired. God is therefore free to be any good, but He is not free to change. In order to change, He would have to deviate from Absolute Good; we could then no longer depend on Him.
Man is the image and likeness of God. This means that in his true essence he is the same as God. A cubic inch of air is the same as all air. A drop of water from the ocean is the same in essence as the full body of water.
When man lives in harmony with truth, principle, then he experiences only good. When he thinks what is true, not just what he has been taught is true, then only truth, only good, will express in his consciousness and manifest in his life and affairs. We have been taught many things to be true and yet they are false in principle. Much of this teaching has come from well-meaning teachers of religion. It has been a very slow and painful process to get man to change his beliefs. Long before the time of Moses, an Egyptian pharaoh named Akhnaton came forth with the idea of one God. The Egyptians, who believed in and worshipped many gods, killed the pharaoh for trying to teach them the truth. Moses had a rough time trying to get the Hebrew people to believe in only one God. They believed there were other gods even though they professed to believe only in Jehovah-God. There were times when they were faithful to Jehovah, but there were many times when they worshipped other gods that did not exist.
Tradition is good if based on truth, but it is worthless when it is based on false premises or beliefs. To discover truth, the truth that Jesus said would set us free, we must be willing to give up misconceptions as they are discovered. This is especially true in relation to the Principle of Cause and Effect. If we are willing to put aside the belief that God or satan causes evil or sickness, poverty, wars, and other disasters we will be able to discover the true causes. Then we will be able to do something to correct them.
According to the Principle of Cause and Effect, for every action or expression of thought and feeling or belief, there is a compensating reaction. If all thought action is true, based on principle, then the results will always be good and desirable and enjoyable.
At some point in our existence we have erred in expressing the truth. We have always existed, in many different body incarnations; we did not begin with birth and we do not end with death. Where we are, the condition we are in, the parents we have, the culture into which we are born, the race, the sex and everything about us is determined by our consciousness and not by fate, chance, luck, or the whim of a changing god. Trying to determine why we are where we are, experiencing what we are, is very complex; we can become very frustrated trying to find out. It would probably be best to forget the past for the time being. When we discover the truth, learn it, accept it, develop it in consciousness and become strong in it then if we still want to know about the past we can accept it a lot easier. By the time we get well established in truth, however, we will find that the present and the possibilities of the future are so great that past glories will pale into insignificance and past miseries will not be worth contemplating.
As humans we tend to think that being born physically perfect in the most luxurious surroundings is the highest and best of all possible conditions. Although this may be pleasant, it may also be the worst possible situation into which to be born. There may be nothing to challenge us to develop our potential, to seek the truth.
Now, the nature and intent of the law or principle of Cause and Effect is that it should always express in positive and beneficial ways; it never would express to the detriment of man. This idea is brought out in the Garden of Eden story. Adam and Eve were told that they could eat of all the fruit of the Garden except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were told that if they did eat from this tree there would be dire consequences. It wasn’t because God was jealous of them or that he wanted to keep some good from them. It was because God didn’t want man to experience any form of limitation.
You may recall that as a child when your parents told you not to do something, you probably thought they didn’t want you to have a good time; you never considered that it might be for your good. When you went ahead and did it, you encountered difficulties and realized they were right.
Evidently man was living and expressing in a state of mastery before he decided to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In this state he did not experience death or sickness or any other form of limitation. Therefore, there was no need of birth and the long struggle to grow and learn. There was no hard labor in producing food. The truth is, we had it made and didn’t know it. However, the suggestion was made by experience, the serpent, that if we would further stimulate ourselves sensuously we would have greater wisdom, happiness, enjoyment and greater mastery for we would become like God. The deception here is that we were already like God.
In the story we are told that Eve and Adam broke the rule of a balanced expression of their senses and they brought upon themselves limitation. How do we do this today? We do it when we do not listen to good inner judgment, but rather listen and respond to the suggestions of the senses. We break the rule in regard to eating, drinking, and the taking of drugs for illumination, happiness, or a sense of well-being. Some people rationalize the acceptance of detrimental practices by assuming that if society puts the stamp of approval on something, it is not going to hurt them. There are many things that are permitted socially and by law and yet are very detrimental. There are even some things that are supposed to be mentally or physically beneficial and yet in principle are detrimental. As we grow in spiritual understanding and begin to listen to the spirit of truth as it seeks to express through us, we will come to realize what is right, good, and true.
When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they had an eye-opening surprise. They were knocked out of their bodies—not immediately, but eventually. They lost contact with the Source of light or intelligence, God. They were very much in tune with the sensory world of appearances. When we have inner “know how” anything is easy to do. When we don’t have it, it is tough going. When we do things without “know how” we even make mistakes in addition to the difficulties we have and this leads to greater problems.
Let me repeat that the nature of Principle, the intent of Principle, is that it should express only in good and beneficial ways. Every time we apply it in such a way that we get into difficulty, principle provides a way out. In the case of being knocked out of the body, Principle provided the means of reentry into another body and the opportunity to grow out of the limitations brought about through disobedience.
We cannot partake of the “tree of life” and live in limitation forever. This is against the nature of the Principle of Absolute Good, God. God loves us so much that He sustains us and is helping us even when we think He isn’t. One reason we may not think He is helping us is that we are in the darkness and we do not know any better.
The Grace of God is therefore the love of God that is supporting us in our limited development of consciousness. The more developed the consciousness, the more His love can and will help us. He doesn’t give more of His grace, His love, to one person than He does to another.
Grace depends on receptivity rather than on the age or physical helplessness of an individual. That is a sympathetic concept based on human attitudes. Grace doesn’t depend on religious affiliation nor does it depend on who we are in the eyes of the world. It depends on what we are in consciousness.
Many try to earn benefits or help from God by doing “good works”. Paul told us this would not work. It is our consciousness that determines the degree of God’s saving grace. If we insist on holding to beliefs and concepts that are limiting, we are limiting the acceptance of His love, His grace. You have no doubt had the experience of trying to help someone who rejected your help and you may have said, “I wanted to help him, but he wouldn’t let me.” Or you may have said, “He insisted on going his own way and I couldn’t stop him.” God doesn’t force himself on us; He doesn’t force us to accept His loving help even though it is there at all times and is freely given.
When we pray and ask for His help and it seems that we do not receive it, it isn’t God’s fault. We must learn to receive, to be open and receptive so that He can help us. Someone has said truly that “God can only do for us what He can do through us.”
It is through study and prayer that we open up in consciousness and are able to live more fully by the Grace of God. Through study we learn to train the intellect in positive and constructive thinking. It is the intellect that influences the subconscious with beliefs and attitudes. If we let it continue in its negative thinking and negative acceptance of false beliefs then we are limiting ourselves and limiting the expression of God’s love as Grace through us in our time of need.
The more flexible the attitude the more His grace can express through us. If we are dogmatic and unyielding, we are not receptive; the help will not be there when we need it even though in truth it is always there. We do not have to be perfect in understanding in order to be helped, we just have to be open and receptive. Then when we make mistakes in applying principle, God’s love will help us get back on the track. His love will support us and sustain us when we find ourselves having problems and difficulties that we have brought upon ourselves through ignorance or in our moments of weakness.
Remember, the nature of God’s love, His grace, is always to save and to help. In our time of need His love is comforting, reassuring, strengthening, and sustaining. As the Bible tells us, “I will love them with an everlasting love.”
© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.