The Grace of God

Introduction:  At the very beginning of time, after God had created the physical universe and all other types of life here upon earth, on the sixth day, God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27).  That is, man was created as a free moral being with the ability to comprehend right from wrong; good and evil, with the power of choice to choose to pursue the one or the other.  Of course, Jehovah God being the perfect upright Holy Supreme Being that He is, cannot lookup on sin or be tempted by it (James 1:13).  He would therefore, not tolerate man sinning and still remain in fellowship with Him.

After having created Adam, God planted a garden eastward in Eden and placed this first man in the garden to take care of it.  ďAnd the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it:  for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely dieĒ (Gen. 2:16-17).  God also saw that it was not good for man to be alone and so He miraculously made woman from one of Adamís ribs.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the ideal paradise.  They had fellowship with God and had that which was essential for their physical well-being.  God loved the man and woman in which He had created.  It was His will that they would honor Him by obeying His commandments to tend the garden and to not partake of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden which possessed the knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted man to love Him, yet for it to be genuine love it was necessary that mankind have the power of choice to love and honor God, or to hate and dishonor Him. 

When Satan enticed Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, she succumbed to the temptation and also gave unto her husband and He did eat.  And because of their disobedience, God drove them from the paradise that they had enjoyed while being in fellowship with Him.

God had known before hand, even before the creation, that when He created man, this man would choose to disobey Him. Therefore, God foreordained that Christ would shed His blood as a lamb for the sins of humanity (1 Pet. 1:18-20).  This was the grace of God made available unto mankind through the death of Jesus the Christ.  At Hebrews 2:9, the scripture states, ďBut we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.Ē 

I.                   BUT, WHAT IS GRACE?

A.    Grace is defined as unmerited, unearned, and undeserved favor.

1.      No man has a right to salvation as a result of his own righteousness, or meritorious works.

ďThere is none righteous, no not oneĒ (Rom. 3:10).

2.      Truly, Godís offer of salvation to man is positively a matter of grace.  The offer of redemption is extended to everyone.

Titus 2:11, ďFor the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.Ē

B.    Another definition that someone has given to grace is ďgetting what we need instead of what we deserve.Ē

II.                GOD HAD WARNED ADAM IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN THAT THE DAY IN WHICH HE ATE OF THE TREE WHICH POSSESSED THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL THAT HE WOULD DIE.

A.    Now we know that Adam did not die physically on that day, so God was not referring to physical death.

1.      Else where in the scriptures we learn that when a person disobeys God he or she dies spiritually.

2.      At Eph. 2:1, the Apostle Paul said, ďAnd you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.Ē

a.       Notice, that those who made up the church at Ephesus, prior to their obedience, were dead in trespasses and sins.  But they had been quickened.  And what does it mean to be quickened?  It means to be made alive.

b.      The basic definition of the word death is separation.  When a person reaches the age of accountability and sins, he becomes separated from covenant relationship with God.

Isa. 59:1-2, ďBehold, the Lordís hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear;  but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.Ē

B.    The Apostle Paul expresses the sentiment of mankind in a seemingly hopeless state, as follows:  ďO wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?Ē

1.      He then answers his own question:  ďI thank God through Jesus Christ our LordĒ (Rom. 7:24-25).

2.      With these words the Apostle Paul was emphasizing that once a person sins, he or she cannot depend upon their own righteousness to be delivered from the consequences of their sins.

a. He clarifies this further at Ephesians 2:8-9, ďFor by grace are    ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.Ē

b. Again, at Rom. 3:27, ďWhere is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works?  Nay:  but by the law of faith.Ē 

C.    MEN CANNOT BE SAVED BY CHARACTER, MORALITY, PHILANTHROPHY RITUAL, ANIMAL SACRIFICE, ECCLESIASTICISM, LEGISLATION, PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIOLOGY, IDEOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY, OR EDUCATION.  WE SIMPLY CANNOT DO ENOUGH GOOD TO PUT GOD IN OUR DEBT.

1.      If we helped all the needy and baptized all of the lost, we would not earn redemption.  When we have done everything commanded of God, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).

2.      As sinners we were helpless and hopeless before our Creator.  Through our own meritorious works, none could be saved.  Once man sinned it was impossible for him to save himself. 

3.      It was necessary as an act of grace for God to provide the means for manís salvation.

Rom. 5:8, ďBut God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Ē

III.             CHRIST DIED FOR ALL MEN (HEB. 2:9), BUT NOT ALL MEN WILL BE SAVED (MATT. 7:13-14).

Obviously, we must do something to receive the benefits of the Lordís death.  Salvation is a gift, but it is not an unconditional gift!

   In order to show the principle that certain conditions must be met before the blessings of God are received, can be readily seen by examples from the Old Testament.  Even though we are not living under the Old Testament (it has been nailed to the cross, Col. 2:14; it was taken out of the way in order that the Second Covenant could be established, Heb. 10:9; nevertheless, we can learn important truths from what is recorded therein.

Rom. 15:4, ďFor whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.Ē

1 Cor. 10:11, ďNow all these things happened unto them for ensamples:  and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.Ē

A.    The reception by the Israelites of the healing from the serpent (Num. 21:4-9).

1.      It is certainly seen from this example that man does not receive the blessing offered by God until he has obeyed all of the commands given by the Lord in His Word relative to the gaining of a particular blessing.

2.      Here then, is the plain order:  (1) Godís blessing offered (vs. 8); (2) Godís word is given; (3) manís faith; (4) manís obedience to all of the commands in Godís word relative to the gaining of a particular blessing; (5) manís reception of Godís blessing.

B.    The reception by the Israelites of the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-21).

1.      God told Israel:  (1) to have all the men of war compass the city; (2) these men should march about the city once each day for six days; (3) seven priests to bear seven trumpets before the ark; (4) on the seventh day they were to compass the city seven times; (5) the priests were then to blow the trumpets; (6) then all the people were to shout.  But Israel did not receive the blessing immediately, it was only after they had obeyed all of Godís commands that the walls of the city fell down.

2.      Again, it is seen that the order is:  (1) Godís blessing is offered; (2) Godís word (instructions) given; (3) manís faith; (4) manís obedience to the commands given in Godís word relative to the receiving of this particular blessing; (5) manís reception of Godís blessing.

Heb. 11:30, ďBy faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.Ē

C.    The receiving by Naaman of the cleansing of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-15).

1.      Godís blessing offered (through Elisha):  ďÖand thou shalt be cleanĒ (2 Kings 5:10).  This was Godís grace (favor); Naaman was, in no sense, to earn this blessing.  Naaman did not receive the blessing at this point.

2.      Godís instructions unto Naaman were:  (1) go; (2) wash in Jordan; (3) seven times (vs. 10).  Naaman did not receive cleansing until he obeyed completely the commands. 

3.      Again it will be seen that this order was followed (1) Godís blessing offered; (2) Godís instructions given as to what man must do to receive the blessing; (3) manís faith; (4) manís obedience to the instructions given in Godís word; (5) manís reception of Godís blessing.

Conclusion:  (Heb. 5:8-9; 2 Thes. 1:7-9; John 14:6; Eph. 2:8-9; James 2:24; Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 5:8; Titus 2:11-14).

   Baptism is not a work of manís righteousness.  No one can be Biblically baptized with the view of earning his or her salvation.  Baptism is an essential part of manís faith response to the grace of God.

--Dub Mowery

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