Post date: Sep 29, 2011 3:50:10 PM
(Reposted from 2011-March-19)
My heart is greatly grieved for my intended audience.
Merriam-Webster defines grace as unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
16 And the Lord God gave the man orders, saying, You may freely take of the fruit of every tree of the garden:
17 But of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not take; for on the day when you take of it, death will certainly come to you.
In the Garden of Eden, God prescribed a punishment for disobeying Him. He said, if Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they will die. God set up a rule (which is essentially a law). This rule prescribed an action and a result from that action. The action of eating from the tree results in death. God then let Adam and Eve make their choice. They chose to eat. Genesis 5:5 cites that Adam died at nine-hundred and thirty years old. Regardless of the time, Adam did die. The punishment for Adam’s disobedience was held back for nine-hundred years. Adam did absolutely nothing to deserve this. This is the first time that God showed grace to mankind.
5 And the Lord saw that the sin of man was great on the earth, and that all the thoughts of his heart were evil.
6 And the Lord had sorrow because he had made man on the earth, and grief was in his heart.
7 And the Lord said, I will take away man, whom I have made, from the face of the earth, even man and beast and that which goes on the earth and every bird of the air; for I have sorrow for having made them.
8 But Noah had grace in the eyes of God.
We know that Noah goes on to make an ark and God floods the earth in the next chapter. Here is the key, Noah was not a righteous man. It says that God gave Noah grace. The unmerited favor of God was upon Noah. He then built an Ark according to the word of God. The rest of the story is readily taught in sunday-school. During the time of Noah, all the denizens of the world did whatever evil thing they could think of. Simply perform a Google search for ancient torture devices, and you will see a glimpse of the evils people can think up. So, God gives grace to Noah by commissioning him to build an ark. Noah accepts this grace and does so.
Lev 4:2 Say to the children of Israel: These are the offerings of anyone who does wrong through error, doing any of the things which by the Lord's order are not to be done:
Yes, this is Old Law. The part you should see is that God offered a provision of grace. Breaking the laws of God is punishable by death (as seen in the original sin). Yet, God offered grace through sacrifices. Animals were put to death in place of the people who sinned. I believe this was God’s provision so that man-kind could see the severity of their sin. Yet, this was also prophetic of what God had purposed in His heart to do.
Rom 6:6 Being conscious that our old man was put to death on the cross with him (Christ), so that the body of sin might be put away, and we might no longer be servants to sin.
The most famous example of God’s grace is the cross. Jesus, who is God, descended from Heaven and lived as a man. Forsaking His power as God, He came to earth to die for mankind. Jesus died, so that we may be free from sin. But, the death of Jesus is often reduced to something God did for us once and that we don’t need to think about it much. We just need to “confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord” and everything will be OK. I want to look at a few aspects of what the cross truly means and dispel some modern myths.
The Old Law is Dead:
Many people will argue that the old law is dead. Jesus, Himself, said:
Mat 5:17 Let there be no thought that I have come to put an end to the law or the prophets. I have not come for destruction, but to make complete.
Jesus was not abolishing the Law. Jesus completed it. Our transgressions are now paid in full. We no longer need to sacrifice nor die for our sins if we are in Christ. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 8:13) talks about the eating of meats and not offending others. There is a principle here about customs that are observed culturally. God allows us to eat meats such as pork, despite Old Law warnings not to. Still, the Old Law does offer good suggestions, like not eating fat. What I am saying is that there are provisions under grace, but by no means is the Old Law dead. To the degree that God places on your heart is the degree that you’ll follow it.
Confess Christ and Receive Salvation:
Rom 10:9 Because, if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and have faith in your heart that God has made him come back from the dead, you will have salvation:
Many people think that you can simply confess Jesus is Lord and *POOF*, you’re saved. The truth is further from that. In Matt 8:28-29, two demons confess Jesus is the Son of God. Do you think that they received salvation? (Quick answer... NO) Matt 7:21-23 tells that many will say to God that they knew Him, but God will tell them that they were never in relationship with Him. Pursuing God is a life long process. The following vers reads:
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man has faith to get righteousness, and with the mouth he says that Jesus is Lord to get salvation.
There’s more to salvation than just saying that Jesus is Lord. You need faith. You need to believe that Jesus is Lord. By extension, James (2:17-18) talk about faith and deeds. It is noted that those believing will show you their faith BY THEIR DEEDS. For this, I believe that we must walk out our faith.
Php 2:12 So then, my loved ones, as you have at all times done what I say, not only when I am present, but now much more when I am not with you, give yourselves to working out your salvation with fear in your hearts;
The fear here is translated as a reverence for God. God is NOT your “buddy”. God is the creator of the universe who has seen it fit to offer salvation to His creation.God is a friend and a king. If you were friends with the President of the United States (POTUS), would you take the relationship so lightly? Suppose you angered POTUS, do you think that you would still have the same amount of access as you did in good graces? Just as POTUS could have you imprisoned on charges (that may be false), God has the RIGHT (by His own name) to do whatever He chooses. Treating the relationship lightly can put you outside of His grace. For this reason, the reverential manner (fear) in which we should approach our relationship with God is highly important.
There are righteous people:
That is a load of polished crap. I understand that God counted many in Hebrews 11 as heroes of faith, but by no means were they righteous.
Isa 64:6 For we have all become like an unclean person, and all our good acts are like a dirty robe: and we have all become old like a dead leaf, and our sins, like the wind, take us away.
I’ve been using the Bible in Basic English because not many read old King James. I honestly do not like this translate. The words “dirty robe” is actually translated as menstrual cloth. If you know anything about menstruation, the blood released is super nasty. The prophet is confirming that the righteousness of any man/woman/child is on the par with God’s equivalent to bloody tampons. Think about it for a moment. If someone gave you a bloody tampon and expected you to be excited and praise them for it, how absurd is that? Yet, the best people can do is offer God on of the nastiest items you would find in a trash can.
So, what is Grace?
Grace is this.... The God (whose resume includes creating heaven, earth, and all of existence) chose to come down in the form of Jesus. Who was Jesus? Jesus was a peasant. His father was a laborer (Matt 13:55 & Mark 6:3). He became the son of a single mother (Matt 1:18 & Luke 1:27). He became a curse by being hung on the cross (Deut 21:23 & Gal 3:13). Jesus suffered a severe beating then an excruciating death (Matthew 27, Mark 15, & John 19). All of this was done for a people who deserve death by nature of their sins.
Jesus best illustrates His act in the parables of the treasure in the field (Matt 13:44) and the parable of the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46). Jesus gave everything He had, for us. Think about it. As a god/man, Jesus was not all-powerful, all-seeing, nor ever-present. Jesus gave this all up so that He could come down and be the sacrifice that fulfills the law of sin (which is death).
I strongly recommend reading the first five books of the Bible. While contemporary churches try to play down the Old Law, the truth is that understanding the Old Law gives a greater understanding of God’s grace at the cross.