“Grace: The Power to Change” by Jim Richards

One of the misperceptions about the “modern” grace message, is that it makes people lazy. As I explain elsewhere, nothing could be further from the truth. But the misperception is understandable, since grace teaches us to rest from our works and trust in Christ’s finished work.

“Is that it?” says the critic? “We’re just supposed to do nothing?” When it comes to saving you and sanctifying you, the answer is an emphatic Yes! Jesus has done it all.

That said, there is an aspect to grace which is not well understood, and that is the responsibility we have to ourselves to work out the good thing God has put within us. For example, the grace of God is supposed to teach us to say no to ungodliness (Tit. 2:12). If we’re not saying no to sin and ungodliness, something is wrong. We’re not walking in freedom.

“Responsibility” is a word that we need to take back from the works-preachers. It’s not a bad word, it’s just been misused. For years I have insisted that we have a responsibility to believe what God says about us, and that’s true. But that’s a bit like saying I have a responsibility to love my wife. It doesn’t answer the How question. How do we enjoy the gift God is given us? How do we overcome sin? How do we walk in righteousness without falling from grace?

I have been mulling over these questions lately because of something I read in Jim Richard’s classic book, Grace: The Power to Change. Richards writes, “Most Christians want to change. They just don’t know how.”

The holiness-preacher says personal transformation is found in a list of do’s and don’t’s. “Do this and don’t do that, and you’ll be on your way to victory.” The problem is, this approach is only as good as your flesh. As Richards explains, you might enjoy success for a little while, but it won’t last.

The closest thing to victory that many believers ever see is simply tenacity. Tenacity is good. It is better than nothing, but it is not victory… Tenacity and willpower involve using the best of our abilities. They will last as long as we do not get weary. (p.140)

The grace-preacher, in contrast, says you become what you believe, so renew your mind and change the way you think about yourself. For instance, if you see yourself as a sinner who sins, then you’ll sin because of what you believe. But if you see yourself as 100% righteous in Christ, you won’t. As Richards says, “You can’t give in to sin when you feel righteous.”

That’s all well and good, but how do we work that out in practice? What happens when the grace rubber hits the hard road of temptation and desire?

When something has you vexed, you must speak God’s truth out of your mouth. Proverbs 12:6 says, “The mouth of the upright shall deliver them.” Boldly speak God’s word until your thoughts and emotions come back in line and you do not frustrate the grace of God. (p.99)

Let’s say you struggle with unhealthy thoughts. How would you deal with those?

A thought is not cast down by our screaming at it in the name of Jesus. Second Corinthians says to bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. How do you do that? Simple! Jesus conquered every sin; therefore, you don’t have to try to conquer them. When the thought, “I am vulnerable,” comes, the question is not my obedience. The question is Jesus’ obedience. Did Jesus conquer this sin when he rose from the dead? Yes! Am I in Jesus? Yes! Then I am righteous and free from sin. When I begin to acknowledge that Jesus conquered sin and gave me righteousness by his resurrection, then grace to live that righteousness begins to flow through my life. (p.98)

Changing our minds is usually as simple as tossing out the devil’s lies and replacing them with truth. For instance, one of his most damaging lies is that sin brings pleasure. Another is that the will of God brings pain.

We were created to live in the pleasure of total provision and in a completely positive relationship with God. However, the average Christians belief system denies this truth. We do not see sin as destructive and painful. We see it as a list of all the pleasurable things that God will not allow us to do. We consider living a godly life as dull, unfulfilling, limiting, and painful. This is why we habitually gravitate back to sin. When we come under stress, or when hardship, pressure, or difficulties enter our lives, we begin to desire something pleasurable. Since we believe in our hearts that sin is pleasurable. We pursue sin instead of God. Then when the pain and destruction of sin begins to work in our lives, we think God is bringing that pain to bring us back in line. We will never conquer sin with this type of belief system. (p.158)

This is 100% true! The pleasures of sin are momentary and leave a bitter taste. But the pleasures of the Lord are without regret and last forever (Ps 16:11).

Why aren’t we preaching this from every pulpit?

In the past few months I have read two excellent books on how to walk in victory; this one, and The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince.

One book defines grace as “God’s ability working in man, making him able to do what he cannot do in his own ability.” The other says that defining grace as empowerment can lead us back into trusting our own performance. These aren’t contradictory statements. Both are true. Grace is the power of God that changes us but we need to take care that we don’t supplement God’s transforming grace with our own self-trust and effort.

The proof is in the pudding. As Richards says…

All lasting change is effortless. If change comes about by our efforts, then that change will last only as long as we put forth the effort. The moment we stop putting forth the effort, the change we made will stop… (p.170)

Both Richards and Prince would agree that while change itself is effortless, changing your beliefs is not effortless. We have to strive to enter the place of rest (Heb 4:11). The good news is it gets easier with practice.

God gives us grace to change us into the likeness of his Son. Grace turns a sinner into a saint. Grace fills a hard heart with love, generosity, hope, confidence, and abundant life. Grace makes us Real People.

read this bookIf you want to change your life but know better than to follow religious formulas or try and make things happen in your own strength, then Grace: The Power to Change, is a book you’ll want to read. It will help you appropriate the grace of God that brings lasting change.

See all E2R’s book reviews here.

 

48 Comments on “Grace: The Power to Change” by Jim Richards

  1. Dr. Richards book was the very first book that I read on Grace back in 2001. The Lord put me on the grace path because it is truth. Most my life in numerous denominations I realized the sin conscience message is repeated every week. It was by Gods grace that I have been set free. And it was for freedom that Jesus set us free. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t read Joseph Prince book yet but that is my next book. John Sheasbys book THE BIRTHRIGHT is also excellent.

  2. Awesome post – this is the one aspect of grace that I don’t see preached enough, that grace is for change and transformation, in fact that is the goal of the Gospel, our transformation, not us getting our ticket to heaven. Grace is not the ability to receive from God to stay the same, but to have the power to be what God created us to be from the beginning – created in His image, to become love.

  3. Paul, As usual, great post. Another of Jim Richards’ books that I would recommend is “Leadership that Builds People Volume I.”Years ago, we studied through that book‎ for several months during an adult Sunday School at a church where we were associate pastors. It changed our whole paradigm of ministry. For years, we had been trained that the “high place” of ministry was behind a pulpit, and if one was not “full-time” then one was not validated. “Leadership…” book really brings those sorts of things out in a great way.Have a blessed day,Bret Trasamar

  4. Seeing sin for the bad shoes that it is and not secretly running to it can only become reality in your life as you REPLACE it with something better- BEING IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND SEEING HIS PLEASURE IN YOU AND HIS PLAN FOR YOU.
    Meditate on scriptures of His love for you. See Jesus & thank God for Him.Thank God that though you may still sin it simply cannot decrease His love for you.
    Blessings.

  5. Very, Very, True. I was in this same situation a few years back. I found my efforts was added to the grace of God and it only lasted a while. As I was growing in the grace of God and started constantly telling myself who I was in Christ and what he done for me, those little sins started to fall off, for example, short temper, worry, Stress, The Victory is in Jesus and in the finished work. Thanks, Paul

  6. thanks for the great review paul. this one stood out to me in the top 50 grace books list, but didnt see a write up for it… looks like this one will be the next book on my reading agenda!🙂

  7. Paul,this hits the nail on the head,constantly dealing with the “catholic contingency” it gets REALLY OLD trying to make the gospel easy “let he who has ears to hear”,another, is a person who “I think “needs to have a revelation of who they are in Christ and see the lies “etc” for what they are “lies” its hard to explain graces function, and its sounds way to easy for some people to believe that grace can accomplish this change. Im going to stop now,before i confuse myself.

  8. Paul said, Grace is the power of God that changes us but we need to take care that we don’t supplement God’s transforming grace with our own self-trust and effort.”
    This is so true Paul!
    But you also said, “changing out minds is usually as simple as tossing out the lies and replacing them with truth”
    This is also true but herein lies the problem and why we can’t do that without the direct present personal momentary intervention of Jesus. We are (even in our redeemed condition) by default in and of ourselves blind, wretched, ignorant and impotent and cannot in and if ourselves simply know truth and simply change out mind about it. Even if we know truth intellectually out will is so impotent we cannot simply will ourselves to believe it.
    This notion that we can simply replace lies with truth becomes in reality therefore just more self trust in another more subtle form. The problem isn’t that we don’t know how- the problem is our complete impotence.
    “You can do NO THING without ME” Jn 15:3
    Jesus is and must be “the author and the finisher of our faith” Heb 12
    We are not saved by simply rejecting lies and replacing them with truth.
    We are saved entirely and completely from every sin and are enables to walk in victory in everything by Jesus present , continual grace alone plus NO THING of ourselves.
    Telling a man how to walk in victory is like telling a cripple how to walk down the street. He knows HOW but he is impotent to do it.

  9. Thank you Paul!
    This is a grace message I would call truly “balanced” as opposed to a mixed-message of grace & works. …the Truth shall set you free…

  10. Bryan Colbourne // July 11, 2014 at 3:24 am // Reply

    Richard’s book was the first “grace” book I read that began my journey into living in God’s grace. Thank God for all of the teacher’s of grace! It has changed my life and walk with God!

  11. The greatest shift is one from expectation to realization, and this reality is found in the word of God.

  12. In six days God created work, on the seventh day he created rest.God rested from the work he had made not done but made. God does not work. This is the history of creation.

  13. Peter OConnor // July 11, 2014 at 7:45 am // Reply

    Hi Paul,

    Greetings from South Australia.

    Just a brief Thank you for your posts. Have been reading your posts for a while now and believe its finally starting to sink in. After 35 years of self effort and self control, and self everything else, am beginning to believe that Grace is actually what its claimed to be, and that it can work in my life. For years it all sounded just too good to be true, and that it was only for women or at least the more emotional people, but now… am beginning to let go of the fruitless self and starting to absorb the reality of Grace. Have also discovered Joseph Prince and his books and podcasts and am grateful to people like yourself for your constant encouragement to understand grace and live in it.

    Keep up the fruitful work – its very needed and very effective.

    Kind Regards Peter

    Roxby Downs. S.A

    >

    • “Only for women” – hahahaha. I can hear our Father laughing at that one Peter. I would agree that women are probably coming to grace faster than us but that speaks to their wisdom and our pride more than anything. Thanks for writing. Be blessed!

  14. Mark Hritz // July 11, 2014 at 3:48 pm // Reply

    When a gift is given,it is given. It is never taken back. It’s a gift. No strings attached. Not a reward.
    Thank you Father that Grace is a gift,not a reward.

    “and their sins and lawless deeds,I will remember no more.”

  15. I have discovered that I can do by His grace whatever Jesus in me is prompting me to do- these things I can do effortlessly and as I simply consistently respond to Jesus inner promptings doing and saying and surrendering to that alone I find myself being changed by His grace at work in me. On the other hand if I attempt to do anything or change anything independant of His inner promptings I am completely impotent to do anything. Many ask me, “What do you do about all the areas that require change that Jesus isn’t prompting you to act on?” I always answer this way: ” The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all the rest.” I have learned that although I do not always have a CLEAR conscience because of these many unresolved issues in my life I have learned to live with a CLEANESED conscious through His blood. God blesses me and relates to me NOT based on a clear conscience but based entirely on a cleansed conscience. The old way of the law forced people to relate to God based on a clear conscience but the new and living way of the blood enables us to relate to God based on a cleansed conscience. We need to ask ourselves- “Why do I want to change? why do I want to walk above sin?” If our motive is because we believe that God will somehow bless us or favor us more then we are yet subjecting ourselves to the old law code of relating to God. If on the other hand my motive for living in victory over sin is because I want to glorify God by my behaviour then Jesus will honor that desire by faithfully prompting me from within to effortlessly and spontaneously walk in victory by his grace alone but only in His way and in His timing and only for his glory alone and the for the benefit of those around me. The less I sin the more I love those around me since sin is a lack of love and victory over sin is nothing less than a life of love.

  16. One word ‘BRILLIANT’. I needed this today. We need a regular reminder of these truths. It is so easy to fall back into a ‘good works’ mentality. You don’t even realise you are back there again. This word brought joy flooding back into my heart. Thank you

  17. Jerry Nendel // July 11, 2014 at 11:00 pm // Reply

    Romans 8:12 says … We are debtors. But when you receive a gift the debt you owe is to acknowledge you received the gift and to say ‘thank you’!

  18. Terry Bennett // July 12, 2014 at 2:46 am // Reply

    Barry,
    We are not changed by the simple “act” of exchanging lies for truth but we are changed by the work of grace that comes thru faith. And as you know faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God(Jesus is the Word of God). Therefore when we hear the devils lies and recognize them as such because of the truth of God’s word, we speak forth the truth of what Christ’s finished work has accomplished on our behalf and what we are in reality in Christ because of that finished work and faith will begin to take root and produce the desired effect in us. Christ has made us co-heirs with Him; kings and priests. As such we do not “do” we “speak” and rest in Jesus finished work. Just as an earlier post said that God didn’t do when he created, He spoke. As Joseph Prince, Charles Spurgeon as well as the scripture tells you that “as a man believes in his heart, so he is”. Right living comes thru right believing which comes thru right hearing which comes from the Word of God. To finish I agree with you it is all a gift from God and come to us freely through His grace. Peace and Grace.

    • Terry- Thanks for great insight. There is no doubt that for us who have been given the gift of faith that rehearsing the truth seems to help our hearts in some way to navigate towards right believing which ( as you so correctly pointed out) produces right living and right feeling. However Jesus clearly pointed out that the natural flow of the heart seems to be in the opposite direction. Our heart is the fountain head and source of our words not the other way around. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” And Paul too agrees that confession of the mouth springs from a believing heart – not that believing springs from confession of the mouth. “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. “( Romans 10:10 NASB)
      There is a bogus doctrine in the church that says that a man can pretty much confess his way into anything. The biblical reality is that faith (right believing) is always a divine gift- that it is not something we can talk or think ourselves into : ” this (Faith) is not from ourselves . it is the gift of God- not as the result of works lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9.

      • Actually, in Eph 2:8 the ‘this’ cannot refer to grace or faith, which are feminine… but refers to something neutral. Which would refer to a phrase previously spoken (vs 5 “by grace you are saved”) – So, the text would read: “For by grace (feminine) are ye saved through faith (feminine). And that not of yourselves: the gift of God! Not of works lest any should boast”

  19. John Huckle // July 12, 2014 at 6:57 am // Reply

    Thanks, Paul, for your review of Richards’ book on Grace. I just downloaded it to my Kindle & I am reading it as fast as I can. Richards book, “How to stop the pain” years ago, which I read over & over, has helped me stayed off the “judgment seat” as regards other people. I just finished “Knowing & Experiencing God” by Arthur Meintjes, another book on grace, particularly describing Arthur’s discovery of the grace message after years of being a pastor!

  20. Yes I too have just downloaded Richards book. GraceThe Power To Change. I need tobe more than a hearer of God’s word but a doer, by his prompting and by His abilities,
    Thanks Paul for giving us. Review of J. Rivhards book.

  21. Jesus has overcome sin. You never will. As much as you talk about Grace and overcoming sin, you are under law. And you cannot see it.. The Gospel says that Christ has taken your sin away. You are no longer in your sins. A new creation. Born again. Look to Christ to serve the law of God (Spirit of life in Jesus Christ) and LEAVE the flesh to the law of sin. You are dead to sin, so stop playing with your flesh and the law of sin in your members. When it lusts because you are weak in the Spirit, tell it to get behind you. Keep your eyes on Christ and the Gospel with a clear conscience. The blood is worthy of a clear conscience. No more conscienceness of sin. Stop living in the Old Testament and passing yourself of as Grace teachers.

  22. Christ both raises all standards to unobtainable heights and deepens the ocean of Grace. As He enlarges the exclusion, He expands the inclusion. It is Immutable Love whereby all hope is destroyed, and, it is Immutable Love whereby all hope is restored. His Immutable Nature is itself both the unyielding grain whereby our hands are filled with splinters and the unrelenting abolition whereby we are mended. He makes of Himself both our Means and our Ends. It is Christ Who both amplifies the exclusion and upsurges the inclusion. In Christ God manifests within Time to the bitter ends of Physicality and therein comes to us “…..full of Grace and Truth…..” as no other can – all vectors wholly full – and therein the seamless epistemological-ontological Exemplar Himself writes in Word’s Corporeal that which just is the ceaseless grammar of an immutable and timeless language. His Pen is Himself and high atop His Hill He spreads His arms wide and He pours Himself out for All-Men – whom He calls “My beloved” – and thereby He pens exactly what He thinks of us – permanently. He is the Pen whereby we are all found condemned. He is the Pen whereby we are all found ransomed. He is the Pen whereby we are all granted our Means – which is Himself. He is the Pen whereby we are all granted our Ends – our final felicity – which is Himself. His Pen is Himself – He is that Pen – our Means, our Ends, our all in all.

  23. Wayne Nickel // July 22, 2014 at 6:52 am // Reply

    Hi Paul. Read both Michael Browns (MB) book and your response. I appreciated both writings. I do have dear friends whom lives have been changed by the preaching of grace through Joseph Prince (JP)
    You have addressed some of the observations MB made about Hyper Grace Teachers on confession, repentance etc. To be fair to MB, I have witnessed some of the those myths portrayed by my friends coming from their response to listening to JP . I am not saying they have correctly understood JP. I thought your responses provided very good clarity and maybe they need to read your book. While I do not agree (at this time anyway) with everything you have written and of course not with MB either, I will let the Lord guide me into all truth.

  24. Thanks for spot lighting a James Richards book. He is gifted in the realm of faith that works and getting to the heart of the convergence of scripture and real life grace-filled application. I also adore the ministry of Joseph P. Although they present a different definition of grace, I agree that both present valid ministry that points us to Jesus. Thanks for making room for both in your post &for sowing peace in the body!

  25. Both Richards and Prince would agree that while change itself is effortless, changing your beliefs is not effortless. We have to strive to enter the place of rest (Heb 4:11). The good news is it gets easier with practice. Our justification is effortless, however, our sanctification is a GRACE driven effort. A renewing of a minds ….. etc. albeit an effort. The Holy Spirit changes the bias of our will given our new life Christ. Pastor Matt Chandler gave a good analogy. He moved from being southwest of the church to northwest. After he moved, without thinking he turned left instead of right and ended back at his former home. He said for the first while he had to renew his thinking and ensure he turned right to his new home. After a while he didnt have to purposely think on it he automatically would turn right. Initially he had to make an effort in that area. I wish some of the Pastors would quit talking about how effortless the walk as a believer is. Its not a flesh effort but a Grace driven effort and Paul talks about it all through the scriptures. Some people read many of those versus and try to make it fit into their philosophy and try to interpret to mean different.

    • I agree with Wayne. We are to make a effort to live at peace with all men. To love as God has loved us. A “grace-driven” effort. I agree! But I feel as if some like me are bound to the sharing of this gospel and not able called to vocational work in and of our own history. I am identifying with the History of Christ and find that the little that we do share makes a huge difference. But I think I need to practice what this post preaches more and more. (I don’t have a working printer so I’m just going to trust God.) I wonder if I’ll overcome sin everytime I try this. Sometimes I’m afraid my brain doesn’t work.

  26. Warren (South Carolina) // June 12, 2015 at 7:54 am // Reply

    Thank God for Paul and Jim.
    Blessings,
    Warren (South Carolina)

  27. Paul I am a bit baffled by your favourable assessment of Jim Richards.The following is a quote from the above book “Grace the Power to Change” :”When I know I am accepted, I am able to obtain mercy. First John 1:9 was written for Christians. It is not a verse to be used in winning the lost. When I confess my sin, I find mercy and forgiveness. In the peace of God’s mercy, I am able to apprehend His ability (grace).” In the quote(unless I misunderstand him) Richards appears to be advocating the soap bar theory of forgiveness that we are only forgiven as we go along i.e. our sins are unforgiven until we confess them.Any thoughts please?

    • I should also add that if I correctly understood him then Richards position is no different from a mixed grace preacher.And if that is the case then why the favourable review?

    • Warren (South Carolina) // June 15, 2015 at 9:24 am // Reply

      What page are you quoting David?
      Warren (South Carolina)

  28. Warren.Unfortunately my copy is the Kindle edition which as far as I can see does not have page numbers.However it occurs 25 % of the way through the book in chapter 6(a couple of pages in) which is entitled “Grace for Sin”.Please note I am not trying to be argumentative I am just making an observation.If indeed Richards is saying that 1 john 1v9 is for christains ie that we must confess as we go along in order to appease our consciences or satisfy an offended God(albeit a gracious one) then he cannot by definition be a hyper grace teacher and that what he means by grace is totally different from what I understand by grace as taught by other hyper grace teachers eg Joseph Prince.Since I discovered the hyper grace message about 12 months ago I haven’t even bothered to confess my sin at all assuming my past,present and future sins were forgiven at the cross(outrageous isn`t it!!).Reading the Richards quote awakened me to the possibility I could be wrong and gave me cause for reflection.Plz note I do not see hyper-grace as a mandate to live life like an infidel.

    • The quote is on p.53. David, I didn’t read this as soap-bar forgiveness for JR doesn’t say that God forgives us on the basis of our confession but that confession is a way in which we are able to receive his forgiveness, which is something I’ve said here.

      On pp.127-8 Richards writes: “All believer’s sins have been dealt with at the cross. However, that truth will not affect your life if you do not believe and confess it… He has already dealt with all our sin at the Cross, yet we experience that mercy only when we confess our sins.” I totally agree with this but would go further and add that ALL sins have been dealt with at the cross, including the sins of the unbeliever and ALL of us need to agree with God in order to receive his grace. I’m a big believer in Biblical confession. As I say elsewhere, it’s a total myth that hyper-grace preachers are against confession.

  29. @ Paul thank you for your response.So do I still have to confess my sin in order to appropriate the provision of grace set aside by Jesus at the cross?As I said above I have not confessed my sins at all since discovering the grace message-after all why bother if my sins past ,present and future have been dealt with at the cross?As a result of hyper-grace teaching I would say I have become less sin/guilt conscious which I understand to be the intended effect of St Pauls teaching.Am I misguided?Sorry to labour the point but I feel it is an important question to say the very least.

  30. PS I do believe my sins were dealt with at the cross its that I just dont slavishly feel the need to always confess it.

    • Under grace, you don’t have to do any law-mandated thing. All things are lawful. Nevertheless, confession is a very healthy way of expressing the faith that is in your heart, as I explain here. And for my thoughts on 1 John 1:9, please see this post.

      • im ,thinking of when Jesus said….. He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean. as if to say each day we get a little dirty and its good to clean up a little each day

      • Warren (South Carolina) // June 17, 2015 at 8:04 am //

        David & Paul,
        I have recently started to wonder if I (we) get off track by the religious use of the word “confess” or “confession”. I am beginning to understand that it might actually mean to “agree” with God. . . . “that our sins were dealt with forever at the cross,” and that the blessings of that agreement in our hearts, and confessing that fact with our mouths, appropriates God’s amazing grace into our lives. . . .

        So, to confess our sins “one to another”, might be like. . . “Dude, I was a drunkard, adulterer, drug addict (and occasionally slip) but thanks be to God that ALL of my sins were dealt with at the cross of His Son Jesus, and I am righteous in His sight by His Blood!!!”

        What say ye?
        Blessings,
        Warren (South Carolina)

    • A fine line confession may be the very thing to destroy the faith in your heart.

    • Life was dealt with at the cross, in eden the choice for life was there before sin , or without sin, we are in that same position as if we had never eaten from the tree of knowledge, we still have to choose life. Every man still has to choose life !!

  31. Warren (South Carolina) // June 17, 2015 at 8:18 am // Reply

    LOL, sorry Paul, I should have read the post’s you graciously linked in your last reply (June 16, 2015 at 10:20am). Explains it perfectly.
    Multiplied Blessings back to you!!!
    Warren (South Carolina)

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