Grace of God
Bible study 04/29/09
Delivered by Bishop Walker
When you talk about grace, you are talking about one of the greater attributes of God. Some people don’t understand this and take it for granted. In Acts 17, Paul has a conversation with the philosophers. A lot of these philosophers were talking about how they felt it to be important that you worship in temple with religious apparatuses and rituals. 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. Acts 17:25 (NLT)-Paul explains that there is nothing we can do by hand that will please God. God is simply a giver by nature. God gives himself freely to us. Grace is something that God gave to us that we did not deserve. It is all in how we:
I. Approach God
a. Grace is about getting what we don’t deserve and receiving God’s unmerited favor.
b. As a result of our relationship with Jesus, we are assured grace and peace. God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood. May you have more and more of God’s special favor and wonderful peace. 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT)
c. We are receiving the goal of our faith. 9 Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:9 (NLT)-the goal of our faith is salvation.
d. The Old Testament prophesied of Jesus’ coming and he represents that which we did not deserve. 10 This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean. 1 Peter 1:10 (NLT). When Jesus came that was God giving us what we did not deserve (grace). We ran the bill up (with our sins) and owed the debt, death was the cost, and Jesus came and took the debt away. The fact that we are saved is an extension of God’s grace. If we really look at this, we realize that God is a giver and grace must not have anything do with us. Grace is about God and who he is. We can’t earn grace and we certainly don’t deserve it.
e. The Prodigal Son. Luke 15 tells us about the prodigal son. The focal point of this story is not the straying away of the son or even the son that stayed behind. It is about the response of the father. The prodigal son leaves and hits rock bottom and on the other side, you have another son that was faithful and never left home. When the prodigal son returns home, the father has the servants bring him the best robe and has them to kill a calf for a feast he would have in honor of the lost son returning home. The son that never left represents the nature of us today. He questions why his father would fuss over the son that foolishly left, when he remained firm the whole time. The son that stayed home is angered that no one ever bothered to make a fuss over him when he has done right, yet they fuss over those who have done wrong. We must realize that Grace is not about who you are, it is about God bestowing favor on whomever he chooses. We think we earn brownie points because of what we do for God, but God’s grace will bump anyone up in line ahead of us at his discretion. Who are we to think we deserve grace before anyone else. None of us have earned it anyway. We are all recipients of unmerited favor.
II. Grace versus the Law
a. The law was what the Hebrew people lived by. The law was a task master. This next scripture is a Theologians dream scripture. This scripture is like a modern day CNN. It will give you and insight on the law verses grace like you never have seen before. 23 The son of the slave-wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. 24 Now these two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. Hagar, the slave-wife, represents Mount Sinai where people first became enslaved to the law. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery. 26 But Sarah, the free woman, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. And she is our mother. 27 That is what Isaiah meant when he prophesied, “Rejoice, O childless woman! Break forth into loud and joyful song, even though you never gave birth to a child. For the woman who could bear no children now has more than all the other women”! 28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. Gal 4:23-28 (NLT)-Paul is making a reference to Abraham. Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, Hagar (Ishmael). She was given to him by Abraham’s wife, because Sarah thought she was barren. Ishmael was born the ordinary way. The other son was born by Sarah. Sarah was 89 years old when the Lord opened her womb and allowed her to be able to conceive a baby. Ishmael was born by the standards of human law. Abraham and Sarah thought since she was too old to conceive, it would be logical for Abraham to sleep with Hagar and get a son. Isaac was born through the promise of God. Isaac was born through extra ordinary circumstances. He was born into a situation that should have been impossible, because Sarah was 89. The son born the ordinary way (Ishmael) and his family persecuted the one born by the spirit (Isaac). As a result, they were banished from Abraham’s land. This led to a struggle that is still going on today. The decedents of Ishmael are still at odds with the descendants of Isaac today. The struggle between the two nations still exists today. It is a struggle over law and grace. Muhammad, a descendant of Ishmael, has brought over one billion people on to his side of this ancient conflict through the religion of Islam. (more on this can be found at http://www.therefinersfire.org/ishmael_and_isaac.htm)
b. Ordinary is the natural way of the law. Ordinary is a way rising up through the ranks through ordinary religion and doctrines or a religious system so to speak. The ordinary way represents the Old Testament Law (the task master). Jesus came in and brought folk in by the promise. Through the promise, it doesn’t matter how long you have been doing anything. God will elevate your through grace. There will always be a conflict with those who live by grace and those who live by the law. The law was a task master. It was a set of rules that did not promote spiritual growth.
c. What will we do with the law? Ex- How does the law manifest? There was a woman in the bible that was caught in the very act of adultery. The religious leaders quote the law. Jesus says I am not going the ordinary way, he is going by grace. He asked them without sin to throw the first stones. They had to all drop their stones, because no one had escaped sin. God says that he is not impressed with our human energy. You will not work your way to a place where you will have bragging rights in heaven. In fact God says heaven will be a great surprise. We will be surprised who didn’t make it to heaven. 1 Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. Gal 4:1-2 (NLT)-We have been trying to work through a system of laws instead of doing things God’s way. The whole time, we are getting further away from God which is what Satan wants. 10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all these commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Gal 3:10-11 (NLT), 8 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Eph 2:8-9 (NLT)-We can’t boast about where we are. It is by God’s grace that we are still here. This is nothing more than an extension of God’s grace.
III. What it means to be under the law
a. God did this to demonstrate his justice. 21 But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. 22 We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. Romans 3:21-25 (NLT)
b. God left what was done before hand unpunished. 26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. 27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law Romans 3:26-28 (NLT).The wages of sin is death, and we were left unpunished.
c. If you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law. Gal 5:18 (NLT); We have been delivered from the law. 4 So this is the point: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. 5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced sinful deeds, resulting in death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit. Romans 7:4-6 (NLT)
d. The relation between law and sin. 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 1 Cor 15:56 (NLT)-the power of sin is found in the law. The law arouses things in us. 7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” Romans 7:7 (NLT)-Imagine if you were told that under your chair is taped a 100 dollar bill. You are told not to look for it. This represents the law. Think about it. You had no desire for $100 bill until you were told not to look for it. The law aroused something in you that makes you long to know if it is true. This is what makes the law complicated. When Satan asked Eve about the tree, she did not long for the fruit until she recalled what the law said about not touching the fruit. The fact that God says not to do it, is what makes it more appealing to us. We have no problem doing the “dos” or the things the bible says to do. Our struggle is with the “don’ts”. We have a strange desire to do what the bible says not to do.
e. The commandment produced all of our covetous desires. 7 “But,” some might still argue, “how can God judge and condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” 8 If you follow that kind of thinking, however, you might as well say that the more we sin the better it is! Those who say such things deserve to be condemned, yet some slander me by saying this is what I preach! 9 Well then, are we Jews better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is good— not even one. Romans 3:7-10 (NLT)
f. Sin is deadly. When the commandments came, sin sprung. The commandment that intended to bring us life caused our death. The law and commandment is Holy, it produced death in us, by what was good. Sin was aroused by the law. The sin in us stimulates all of our desires. This is why Paul says we couldn’t live under the law. Paul says the thing I want to do, I don’t’… Paul says he has this war in his flesh and he can’t figure out how to break it.
g. Who is going to save us? The law can’t save us. 20 For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. Romans 3:20 (NLT), 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. Romans 3:28 (NLT), 16 And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ—and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.” Gal 2:16 (NLT)
IV. Justification and grace (reconciling it)
a. We hope that while we have studied these scriptures, the knowledge has gone much deeper than we assume. Watch how revelation knowledge pops out at us now:
b. 1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Since we have been acquitted, we don’t have to worry what you think about our past, because we have peace with God. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Now we have access to stuff we didn’t think we would have though grace. Because we were standing in grace, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. Now that we have received unmerited favor, we go through without whining. 4 And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. Our perseverance is producing character and that produces hope. 5 And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Hope doesn’t disappoint us, because God poured it into our heart. 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. You can’t find someone that is willing to die for a righteous man, let alone one who is not righteous. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. Romans 5:1-9 (NLT)- While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
c. 20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant. Romans 5:20 (NLT) – We were added so the trespass might increase, but the more mess that came, the more grace God gave more grace. We were guilty of the charge that the jury read, but instead of the sentence of death being imposed on us, Jesus stepped in and acquitted us of all the charges. Not only did he grant us grace, he made it like the crime never happened.