On a recent Facebook post of mine someone commented:
You said "While… legally Christ has dealt with our sin once and for all, Christians often do fall short of the grace of God"… If it is Grace, how does a lack of righteousness cause me to fall short of it? Only trusting my righteousness can do that.
Allow me to refer to the Scriptures:
Heb 12:14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Heb 12:15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
According to the writer of Hebrews, it was possible for his readers – who were spirit-baptized Christians – to "fall short of the grace of God". If it were not possible, why would the writer instruct them to be "looking carefully" so that this did not happen?
We should never allow our traditional theological framework to effectively nullify the Word of God.
My Facebook Friend writes: If it is Grace, how does a lack of righteousness cause me to fall short of it? Only trusting my righteousness can do that.
Might I refer readers to context of this verse. To me it clear, that "a root of bitterness springing up" would cause people to fall short of the grace of God.
Why is that? Well bitterness implies resentment and unforgiveness of real or imagined offenses. Jesus said concerning unforgiving servants of God:
Mat 18:32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Mat 18:33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'
Mat 18:34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
Mat 18:35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
So then, the effectual operation and receiving of the grace of God is CONDITIONAL upon certain heart attituides. One of them is FORGIVENESS.
If we believe that God will forgive us regardless of whether we forgive others, we fly in the face of the plain declarations of Jesus Christ and the Scriptures.
Even the Lord's Prayer says:
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
There is no Scriptural ground for expecting to be forgiven by God when you yourself hold unforgiveness, resentment or bitterness of any kind, unless you let go of it.
Unforgiveness is a killer to all kinds of forms of the grace of God. It keeps God's grace away from your life. I have seen people who could not be healed, healed very quickly after they forgave those who hurt them.
So in answer to my Facebook Friend's question: Bitterness and unforgiveness are clear examples of things that will cause people to fall short of the grace of God.
The context of this verse about looking carefully lest no one fall short of the grace of God says to "Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord". All men will one day "see the LORD" as judge, this is speaking of the kind of holiness required that one may see the Lord in His mercy.
If we view the pursuit of God as an optional extra for the Christian, we may as well say that God will accept unrepentant idolaters into the Kingdom of Heaven. This doesn't sound like Revelation 21:8
Rev 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
I should make it clear that there is a difference having the fear of the Lord which causes one to depart from evil, and trusting in one's own works for salvation. It is important not to confuse these issues. God requires the fear of the Lord, but this does not mean that God requires people to trust in their own righteousness. There is a big difference.