GRACE

July 16, 2018

 

Ephesians 2:4-10,  “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ [by grace you have been saved],  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

 

Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

 

God created a perfect universe, governed by perfect laws, “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:10,12,18,21,31). It was a perfect world of ecological perfection. God is perfect, so He created things perfect; anything imperfect is due to sin, not to the way God made it originally. Indeed, God calls His creation “good” seven times in Genesis 1, and seven is the biblical number of perfection.

 

God created a perfect man and woman. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were created in the image of God with His capacity for love and companionship. Their nature is such in that they are in perfect harmony with God and with all of creation. He gave them perfect personalities modeled after His own image. He gave them perfect minds with an incredible power to learn. He gave them perfect emotions with a strong sense of self-worth. Then He simply told them to multiply and subdue the earth. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).

 

God gave them perfect companionship with no guilt, no shame, no inhibitions, imagine that, they had nothing to hide. “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25).

 

God crowned them glory and honor.  “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels,  and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6).

 

“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

 

Then in Genesis 3 we lost everything! I’m certain that mankind has never realized how far we have fallen and how much we have lost in the fall.

 

We lost natural and ecological perfection. “For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy. For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event” (Romans 8:19-22 TLB). All of nature is out of balance because of the fall. So Storms, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, all of the conflict of nature is due to the fall.

 

We lost physical perfection. Pain, suffering, disease, deformities, deterioration and death, all are due to the fall. The very moment we are born we begin to die. No matter how much exercise, nutrition, and thank God for advances in the medical world, death cannot be halted but only delayed. It is an absolute truth that the mortality rate for death holds steady at 100 percent.  We will ever get out of this world alive, and our bodies will wear out sooner than we want.

 

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2).

 

“Yet you do not know (the least thing) about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are (really) but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears (into thin air)” (James 4:14 AMP).

 

3. We lost mental perfection. Adam had incredible mental powers. He named and classed all living creatures. “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:19,20).

 

4. We lost emotional perfection. Adam and Eve were created perfect by God, because whatever God makes is perfect. However, because of their sin, they lost that perfection. God’s intention for man was for him to forever be perfect, and sinless, in the earthly paradise He prepared for him. When he sinned, his troubles were only beginning: He will be plagued by fears, doubts, worries, anger, rage, jealousy, self-loathing, irritability, perfectionism, and defensiveness. These are the all to often feelings we express, even toward those we love, and they will haunt man as long as he lives on the earth.

 

5. We lost relational perfection. The innocent openness of Adam and Eve is gone. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24,25).

 

We have developed an automatic defense mechanism to hide our true selves. We seem to be afraid to bare ourselves emotionally and let our true selves be known even to those closest to us.

 

Meaningful relationships are difficult for us, even among Christian believers. I have heard many Christians say things like, “I don’t like to be around other people.” “I hate it when they ask us to move around the Worship Center to shake hands with others.” Many get rigid when someone attempts to give them a hug, or when the Worship Leader asks us to hold hands and sing or pray.

 

Don’t you wish you could retain the innocence and spontaneity of childhood? Nothing seemed to phase us then!

 

6. We lost spiritual perfection. This is the fundamental loss from which all others progress, or digress! Man’s God-centeredness became self-centeredness. What was once perfect is now divided and unbalanced. The personality which was once in harmony with God, with nature, and with itself is now in conflict with every good thing God created in him. We have defaced what God created and intended to be called “Son,” and changed the middle letter to an “I,” so now it spells “Sin.”

 

When we compare the natural, ecological, physical, relational, mental and emotional perfection of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 with the chilling wreckage of Genesis chapter 3, were are struck by the terrible loss we have suffered. And there is no way back! “Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23,24).

 

So now we are living in a “Paradise Lost.” But we have not lost the memory of that paradise. God left a longing for the perfection within us, but the fall left us with no way to attain it. We long to be perfect, but we are under the bondage of sin. So we are forced to live with a drive for perfection. There is a God-shaped blank within each of us, only the perfect, sinless Son of God can fill it.

 

Enter the amazing grace of God.

 

What is grace? In the New Testament grace means unmerited favor. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…” Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and be received into heaven. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT).

 

G R A C E: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!

 

“The Greek word for grace is Charis, that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, ie: grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, favor of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.” –Bible Study Tools.com

 

Grace is God's unmerited or unearned favor, His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect divine favor. Salvation is not by our achievements, but it is a gift from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

 

The word Charis, Grace is found 155 times in the New Testament, it is used 100 times in Paul’s epistles,

 

Grace is opposed to the rabbinical teaching of justification by works. The contrast is obvious. On one side is grace, a gift, the righteousness of God, super-abundance, faith, gospel, and hope. On the other side is reward, law, sin, works, accomplishments, one’s own righteousness, worldly wisdom and futility.

 

Job asked the pertinent question thousands of years ago: “How should man be just with God?”  “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 9:1,2; 25:4).

 

Justification is the legal act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his or her sins. The sinner does not become sinless but he is “declared” sinless. His sins are covered by Jesus death, burial and resurrection. God imputed (credited to our account) the righteousness of Christ, at the same time our sins were imputed to Christ when He was on the cross. “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:21, TLB).

 

What does God say about justification?

 

Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

 

Romans 3:28, “ Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

 

Romans 4:3, “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

 

Romans 4:5, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

 

Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

 

Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”

 

Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

 

Galatians 2:20 NLT, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

 

Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 

Apart from Christ there is no grace.

 

“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:30,31, NLT).

 

 “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16,17).

 

 “John (the Baptist) bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me’” (John 1:29.30).

 

I am living proof of the amazing grace of God. In October, 1958, God found a drunken, gambling, dishonest man named John Sparks, He forgave my sins, and came into my life, Colossians 1:27 NLT, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Then the Holy Spirit moved in, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Then He sealed my salvation with His Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  God, that day, called me into His service as a pastor, and for 60 years I have fulfilled that calling.

 

Samuel Porter Jones 1847-1906, American evangelist was born at Oak Bowery, Alabama, and reared at Cartersville, Georgia. He studied to be a lawyer, but drinking and gambling soon brought him to the brink of ruin. This is his story of amazing grace.

 

In August, 1872, there was a dramatic change In Sam. News came while he was on a six-week drinking binge that his father was seriously ill. On his deathbed, his father's words pierced the heart of young Sam. “My poor, wicked, wayward, reckless boy. You have broken the heart of your sweet wife and brought me down in sorrow to my grave. Promise me, my boy, to meet me in Heaven.” Overcome with emotion, Sam fell to his knees and took his dying father's hand, and shouted “I promise, I'll quit drinking and set things straight. I'll meet you and mother in heaven.” The father died and Sam kept his vow. He tells about his last encounter with drink:

 

“I went to the bar and begged for a glass of liquor. I got the glass and started to drink and looked into the mirror. I saw my hair matted, the filth and vomit on my clothes, one of my eyes totally closed, and my lips swollen. And I said, ‘Is that all that is left of the proud and brilliant lawyer, Sam Jones?’ I smashed the glass on the floor and fell to my knees and cried, ‘Oh God! Oh God, have mercy!’ The bartender ran to my side and thought I was dying...and I was. I said, ‘Just let me alone.’ I picked myself up and staggered to my cheap rooming house and said to the ladies running it, ‘Would you do me a favor?’ They answered in the affirmative. I asked them to bring me a pot of black coffee. I went through three days and nights of hell, but when the morning came, something had happened to old Sam Jones. I went down to the clothing store and said, ‘I want you to give me a new suit. I got saved last night. Sam Jones is coming back.’ Not only did I get a suit, but a shirt, ties, coat, everything I needed and as I left, the merchant stuck a $100 bill into my hand. I went to the barber for I had not had a shave in over a month. I asked for a bath, a shave, a haircut. I put on my new clothes, looking pale and weak. I left to go to my wife whom I had beaten till she was black and blue. She didn't even recognize her own husband. I said, ‘Honey, God has given you a new husband and the children a new daddy, and I wonder if you will forgive me and start all over again.’ She grabbed me in her arms and cried, ‘Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I have been praying for this!’ And I have been going round the country bragging about Jesus ever since.”

 

Sam was twenty-four years old. A week later in the agony of keeping his vow, he walked down the aisle of the little country church where his grandfather, Samuel G. Jones, was preaching and said, “Grandfather, I take this step today. I give myself, my heart, and life, what is left of it, all to God and His cause.” He felt an immediate call to the ministry. A week after his conversion, Sam preached his first sermon in his grandfather's pulpit.

 

Tennessee business man, Tom Ryman conceived the idea of an auditorium as a tabernacle for the evangelist-preacher Samuel Porter Jones. He had attended one of Jones' 1885 tent revivals with the intent to heckle but was instead converted into a devout Christian. He built the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle in Nashville, for a place for Sam Jones to preach.

 

That’s God’s AMAZING GRACE!

 

If this has been a help to you please let me know. You may write me at pastorbigjohn@sbcglobal.net.

 

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

 

Marlena and I support this ministry with our Social Security plus donations from a few of our friends. We need more friends! Will you be a friend to us and God’s word For You? Your financial support of this ministry is much appreciated. You may send your support to God’s Word For You, 25413 Alpha Street, Moreno Valley, CA 92557

 

 

 

 

 

 

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