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Understanding the Grace of God

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Understanding the Grace of God

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Understanding the Grace of God

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What does the grace of God mean?

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Why are you here today? That's not the title of the sermon! There are many possible answers to this – possible answers that we could offer. You're here because you're commanded to be here. You're here because you want to grow in grace and knowledge. You're here because you enjoy the fellowship. All of these are good reasons for being here, but what is the most basic reason that you are here? The most basic reason that you are here is because God, who is love, wants to share His very being with you in a family relationship. Love is the most powerful motivating force in the universe. Of all the things that the Church of God understands – that hardly anyone else understands – is what I call the seven greatest questions of all time. The first one is taken from Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
, if you want to turn there, I'm going to just quote it:

Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
– For those who come to God must, first of all, believe that He is….

So you must believe that God exists. So the first great question is – Does God exist? It is the first article of faith is to believe that God exists. Those who would come to God must first of all believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

So in common language you have to believe that God exists and that He always has our best interest at heart – similar to Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×
all things work together for all who love God and called according to His purpose.

Then the next six questions: Who is God? What is God? What is His purpose? Who is man? What is man? What is his purpose?

God is our loving Father. That's who He is. He is our Creator – our Father. What is God? God is spirit and His great overriding purpose is to bring sons and daughters to glory in the Kingdom of God. And then the corollary to that: Man – who is man? Man is made in the image of God with faculties akin to God, and that he can create and reason – and all kinds of wonderful qualities that humans have. But then we've got the "What is man?" Man is made of the dust of the ground, in the image of God, but not of the same essence. And the great purpose – why were we created, why were we born? To be in the family of God. That is, to me, if you know – and really know that you know the answers to that – you're way ahead of the game.

In summary we could say, you are here because of God's love and mercy. For example, John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
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John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomsoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You're here because God the Father has called you into His marvelous light and you have responded to that calling. In short, now we get to where I really want to go today, you're here because of the grace of God. And, as we shall see, grace is an extension of love. You're here because of the grace of God – if we really know what grace is. I've really never heard a sermon dedicated to the grace of God given in the Church of God, but we shall today.

I want us now to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:10 1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
American King James Version×
. We often refer to 1 Corinthians 15 as the resurrection chapter. In 1 Corinthians 15:10 1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
American King James Version×
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1 Corinthians 15:10 1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
American King James Version×
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God which was with me.

Today we want to explore what that means. Do you really know what this verse means? The Greek word here for grace is charis which means divine faith. Now in the Church of God, very often we hear people – and it's almost like parroting – "O the grace of God – free unmerited pardon of sin," "Grace of God – free unmerited pardon of sin." That is a dimension of grace, but grace is much, much more than that. The Greek word charis appears in 147 verses in the New Testament. It's generally just translated grace there are a few cases where it is translated favor or thanks.

Sometimes charis is translated as favor. Let's look at a verse or two that – in Luke 1:30 Luke 1:30And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God.
American King James Version×
– and really explore, as I said, the meaning of it. The best and the short sentence would be, "divine favor," – those two words – the grace of God. In Luke 1:30 Luke 1:30And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God.
American King James Version×
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Luke 1:30 Luke 1:30And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God.
American King James Version×
And the angel said unto her, "Fear not Mary – this is the angel appearing to Mary, telling her she is going to be the one who gives birth to the very Son of God, Jesus Christ – for you have found favor – and that Greek word is charis or gracewith God.

See, Mary had done nothing to earn this favor. In fact, she was totally surprised and shocked by the whole announcement of the angel regarding this. Now you turn forward just a page or so to Luke 2:40 Luke 2:40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was on him.
American King James Version×
, speaking of Jesus Christ:

Luke 2:40 Luke 2:40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was on him.
American King James Version×
And the Child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God – the divine favor – was upon Him.

So that gives you examples there of charis being translated favor. Now we go to Luke 6:33 Luke 6:33And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.
American King James Version×
– 
well we start in 32. Here we see that charis translated as faith. In one place, which we shall see later, charis is translated as thank worthy, but here in Luke 6:32 Luke 6:32For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.
American King James Version×
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Luke 6:32 Luke 6:32For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.
American King James Version×
–"For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? For sinners also have those that love them. And if you do good to them which do good unto you, what thank have you? This word thank here is charis. For sinners they do even the same. And if you lend to those in whom you hope to receive, what faith have you? For sinners also lend to sinners to receive that again.

So, you see that it is translated, sometimes as favor, sometimes as faith, a couple of places as thank worthy. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated grace is spelled chen, which, once again, is defined as favor, divine favor from God.

Why did God spare Noah? If we turn back now to Genesis 6:8 Genesis 6:8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
American King James Version×
, why did God spare Noah?

Genesis 6:8 Genesis 6:8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
American King James Version×
But Noah found – chengrace – found favor – in the eyes of the Eternal.

Again, we look at Genesis 19:19 Genesis 19:19Behold now, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have showed to me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
American King James Version×
, why did God spare Lot and his family? Why were they not destroyed as fire and brimstone rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah? In Genesis 19:19 Genesis 19:19Behold now, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have showed to me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
American King James Version×
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Genesis 19:19 Genesis 19:19Behold now, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have showed to me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
American King James Version×
– "Behold now, your servant has found grace – divine favor – in your sight and you have magnified your mercy which you have showed unto me in saving my life that I cannot escape to the mountain unless some evil take me and I die." So because of God's divine favor, He spared Lot and his daughters.

Why did God choose Jacob and not Esau? So we go to Romans 9, we could go to other places, but this is perhaps the clearest example. In Romans 9:6 Romans 9:6Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
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Romans 9:6 Romans 9:6Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
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Not as though the Word of God had taken none effect, for they are not all of Israel which are of Israel – which sounds like a contradiction, but the Israel of God includes all Jew and Gentile – neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they the children, but in Isaac shall your seed be called.

Now why would the seed be called "in Isaac?" Because Isaac was born of faith – not after the flesh. Ishmael was born after the flesh, where Sarah and Abraham tried to work it out their own way, but Isaac was born of faith, because both Abraham and Sarah were quite old and Sarah was past the way of having children.

So we continue here in chapter 9:

Romans 9:8 Romans 9:8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
American King James Version×
That is, they which are the children of the flesh – these are not the children of God, but the children of promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise: "At that time I will come, Sarah shall have a son, and not only this, but when Rebecca also has conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the promise of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him that calls), it was said unto her, ‘The elder shall serve the younger,' As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.'" – that is, loved less.

Romans 9:14 Romans 9:14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
American King James Version×
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid! For He said to Moses, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God who shows mercy.

Because of God's divine favor, He chose Jacob and not Esau. But God is not a respecter of persons. This introduces what we shall deal with a bit later and that is, unmerited grace and merited grace. Unmerited versus merited – it's not versus, but in addition to, as we shall see.

Why did God choose Israel? Well God chose Israel because of divine favor, He had to start somewhere. Now Ezekiel 16 gives the condition of Israel when God found them. They were as an unswaddled newborn – still with all of the things that are on a newborn after they are born. And God came upon and cleaned them up and entered into a covenant with them – not because they were more righteous than any other nation, but because of divine favor. And oftentimes students have asked me, "Well why did He choose Israel?" Well because you can read in Romans about "Who knows the mind of God – His great wisdom and all of that?" He knows what He's doing and He had to start somewhere. Why did God choose Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt? Because of grace. Why did God call you? Was it because of works or any other facet of your being? Or was it because of His great grace? The answer, my brethren, is because of God's great grace. For some reason He bestowed His divine favor upon you and called you.

Grace is perhaps the most misunderstood and misused and abused gift of God. It seems that, in the Church, we've somewhat shied away from grace because of the law and grace controversy or the Protestants. And we have, for sure, emphasized the law, but grace is such a large topic and it's so encompassing that it is sometimes difficult to get a grip on. But we're going to continue and hopefully we will.

There are aspects of grace that are totally unmerited. In other words, humanity did nothing to receive God's divine favor when it comes to their very existence. Why were we born? Because of God's love that He wanted to share His being – who He is and what He is – in a family relationship with us. And so He favors us and gives us life. Life is a gift and charis is closely associated with the Greek word charisma which is translated gifts or gift in the New Testament.

So the act of grace…life is a gift from God. Let's notice Isaiah 45:8 Isaiah 45:8Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
American King James Version×
. It is very difficult to sit and watch some of the things that you have to see and hear about in today's world – the way that the world is going to in regard to – from the highest of the land, seemingly, to the lowest – trying to discredit God and trying to somehow prove that human beings came into existence as a result of some kind of evolutionary process. Whereas it is quite clear from the scriptures, and, if I had no other proof of the existence of God other than, nothing else makes sense! Absolutely nothing else makes sense with regard to life and existence. But here, under inspiration, Isaiah declares how we came to be.

Isaiah 45:8 Isaiah 45:8Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
American King James Version×
–"Drop down you heavens from above and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together, I the Eternal, have created it. Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! And all over the world today we see people striving with their Maker. They have forgotten the great Creator God. Of course, that is one of the great reasons we are where we are with regard to world conditions. Hosea talks about: "My people have forsaken Me."

Isaiah 45:9 Isaiah 45:9Woe to him that strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashions it, What make you? or your work, He has no hands?
American King James Version×
– "Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioned it, ‘Why make you or your work?' He has no hands. Woe unto them that say unto his father, ‘Why did you beget me?' Or to the woman, ‘Why did you give me birth, why did you bring me forth?'"

Isaiah 45:11 Isaiah 45:11Thus said the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command you me.
American King James Version×
Thus says the Eternal, the Holy One of Israel and his Maker: "Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; and concerning the work of My hands, command You me. I have made the earth, and created upon it. I, even My hands have stretched out the heavens and all the hosts that I command you. I have raised him up in righteousness…now it goes to a Messianic prophecy…and I raised him up in righteousness and I will direct all his ways; he shall build My city, he shall let go My captives…of course Jesus Christ led captives, and set them free through His sacrifice. Not for price or reward," says the Eternal of Hosts.

Because of God's great grace and divine favor, He created what is – everything that it is – both spiritual, material, animal life, human life – everything that is. And because He so loved the world, as we've already mentioned, He gave His only begotten Son. This is a totally gracious gift. We didn't do anything for God and the Word – the One who became Jesus Christ – who sat down, and planned out, and ordained the great plan of salvation.

Now, on the other hand, you can fall from grace by rejecting God and going the way of disobedience. So, on the one hand you have God's great grace and divine favor with regard to the creation and our very being, but yet, at the same time, it is possible, in the spiritual sense, to fall from grace.

We look at Galatians 5:4 Galatians 5:4Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
American King James Version×
. In Galatia…the very problem there was Judaizing and some saying you had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses in order to be justified. And Paul writes them, instructing them with regard to how one is justified.  (Cough. Sorry, I shouldn't have mowed the yard with all the dust. You can pray for rain. We're in the siege of 103°-105° and no rain for a long time.)

Galatians 5:4 Galatians 5:4Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
American King James Version×
Christ has become of non-effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; and you are fallen from grace.

Now by justified by the law – I would pause briefly here, and take a little side trip with regard to this. If you were to draw a line down the middle of your paper, and on one side – the left hand side – say "in your sins," and on the right hand side, saying "justified," how do you move from one side of the line to the other? You could perfectly keep even the spiritual law, but that would  not justify you. However, in order to move from one side of the line to the other, you must repent of your sins and exercise faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sins that are past to move to the other side. So at the top of the line you would say "repent" and the bottom of the line, "faith in the sacrifice of Christ" can move you to the other side.

Paul here is more referring to the Mosaic law in that they were saying you had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses in order to be justified. If you turn back to Romans 3 – in Romans 3 – just a little bit – about the first part of Romans. This is sort of a little side trip here, but it ties in with regarding this thing of law and grace. There is this great, gracious plan of salvation that we did nothing to merit. We have our calling that we did nothing to merit. But once God does call you, there are conditions to continue in His grace. And if you come up with a notion like the Galatian's had come up with, you can "fall" from grace. In Romans 3…in the first chapter of Romans, Paul takes the Gentiles to task. In the second chapter of Romans, he takes the Jews to task. And in the third chapter of Romans he begins to summarize.

Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
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– All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace – see that plan of salvation is of grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, but to be a recipient of this grace has conditions – whom God has set forth to be a propitiation – propitiation means He went in our stead – through faith in His blood – His life essence – to declare His righteousness for the remission of sin that are past through the forbearance of God.

Now it takes both repentance from dead works and faith in the sacrifice of Christ to move to the other side of that line and you can fall from grace if you insist there is some other way to be justified.

Go to Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×
. Paul concludes Romans 3 there with the statement that through faith we establish the law of God. How is that so? How do you establish the law of God through faith? You see, if the law of God were not in effect, to send Jesus Christ to "die for the sins of the world" would be a farcical tragedy because, if there is no law, there is no sin, as Paul talks about in Romans 7. So because the wages of sin is death, Jesus Christ had to come and redeem us from our sins. So Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
says "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Look at Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×
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Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
American King James Version×
Knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law – similar to 5:4, which was read – that is, you can't move to the other side of the line even if it's perfect obedience. But mainly what Paul is talking about…it had to do with Judaizers or saying you had to keep certain tenants of the law of Moses. But even if it were the spiritual law, you cannot, even if you began to perfectly keep the law, justify that which is past, because the wages of sin is death. …but by faith in Christ Jesus, even we have belief in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified – can't move to the other side just by circumcision or any other tenant, even the spiritual law. Then notice:

Galatians 2:17 Galatians 2:17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
American King James Version×
– But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are also found sinners – see if we haven't repented – is therefore Christ a minister of sin? God forbid!

So you have to repent of your sins – top of the line – faith and sacrifice of Christ. They work together. So it is possible to fall from grace. And on the other hand, one can increase and grow in grace, as we've read about Jesus Christ. He grew in favor with God and man. By Jesus living sinlessly, He grew in favor with God. In other words, God favors those who honor Him and, in that sense, I suppose one could say that that grace is merited. Because if you follow God – if you honor Him, if you obey Him, if you trust Him, if you do those things that are pleasing in His sight – it says, "Draw nigh to Me and I will draw nigh to you" – that is, we grow in favor with God. Now there are other ways we will mention later.

On the other hand, one can follow short of grace, or rebel, because of pride or any other reason that he might go that way – because of disobedience. So God does not honor disobedience and extend grace to the children of disobedience – I mean, even though that great plan is there, which is totally gracious.

Let's notice now Psalm 103 and see that great plan is there. You know, as I looked at the people – we had Mrs. Pyle's funeral – 224 people from all backgrounds and splinter groups and those who left and those who stayed and all of that kind of thing – and you wonder, what is going to happen to these people? Are they going to repent? Are they going to turn back to God? Because I spoke quite freely at that service, there was one leader of one of the splinter groups who was back there murmuring and muttering under his breath. Even at one time, reportedly cursed, you could see some of those things take place. You can more readily understand the scripture in Matthew where it says the time will come when some will hate one another – do all kind of things.

Brethren, we cannot let that happen to us. The great gracious God is loving. He's kind. He's merciful – not willing that any should perish. And of course, we need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves in treading a very thin line. In Psalms 103:8 Psalms 103:8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
American King James Version×
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Psalms 103:8 Psalms 103:8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
American King James Version×
The Eternal is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide, neither will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

If we will repent and turn to God in faith, He will extend us grace and there comes in the unmerited pardon of sin.

Psalms 103:11-18 Psalms 103:11-18 [11] For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. [12] As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. [13] Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him. [14] For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. [15] As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. [16] For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. [17] But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him, and his righteousness to children's children; [18] To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
American King James Version×
– For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the Eternal pities them that fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are just dust. As for man, his days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy – of course mercy and grace are closely connected – but the mercy of the Eternal is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him and His righteous unto his children's children – to such as keep His covenant, to those who remember His commandments, to do them.

When we were baptized we entered into a covenant of sacrifice with God and Christ. Psalms 50:5 Psalms 50:5Gather my saints together to me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
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talks about this covenant of sacrifice.

Psalms 50:5 Psalms 50:5Gather my saints together to me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
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Come now you that have entered into a covenant of sacrifice with Me. Psalm 50 pictures – the first several verses – the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Life, the plan of salvation, our Redeemer Jesus Christ, our calling is unmerited. But when it comes to eternal life, as an act of grace, there are conditions. So let's go Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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Acts 2, describing the day that the Holy Spirit was sent to the New Covenant church and Peter's great sermon and the summary of that sermon is verse 38:

Acts 2:36 Acts 2:36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
American King James Version×
- When they heard these things – it says in verse 36-37 – they were pricked in their heart and said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter responds in verse 38:

Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
- Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you – Peter somewhat gives the abridged condition – you also have to exercise faith in the sacrifice of Christ – be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift - of charismaof the Holy Spirit.

So grace is not cheap, as described by the "only believe" preachers of the day. The grace that frees us from sin and death requires a death of the Son of God. This fact could be viewed as somewhat of a paradox – that is, God created humans in His own image to become members of His spiritual family and God created humans in a neutral state – that is, they have not sinned and yet they were subject to sin and death. God and the Word knew that humans would sin and the wages of sin is death and they would need a Redeemer to buy them back.

Now when you just stop and think about the plan of salvation and how God and the Word planned it out, you think, "Well wasn't there some other way that He could have done it?" See, with the angels...the angels were created perfect spirit beings, but they too were given what we call free will or choice. The purpose of angels is given in Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
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Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
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Are they not all ministering servants sent to the heirs of salvation? They are to help us on our journey to the Kingdom of God.

Now to explain exactly the difference in the spirit in the angels and the begettal's spirit, I cannot do. I don't know if anybody can with regard to this. But with us, we are not created beings when it comes to our interest in entry into the Kingdom of God. We are. Adam and Eve were created –  and we'll get into that in just a moment – and then the process of procreation took place – of begettal and bringing it to birth. So God has a plan whereby His very essence, His spirit would bear witness with our spirit, as in Romans 8:14-15 Romans 8:14-15 [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
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, that we are the sons of God. It's an awesome thing to just contemplate how they thought this thing out.

The gracious plan of salvation into redemption was foreordained before the foundation of the world. Let's look at a few verses along with that that shows that – 2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:9Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
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This is a prison official. Paul was in prison when he wrote this to the young evangelist, Timothy, who apparently was becoming bashful and drawing back and ashamed or whatever.

2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:9Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
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Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace – divine favor – which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Now the Greek word here for world in this verse is chromos – the word from which we get chronology – and its better translation would be time – before time, as we know time began. Of course, you read in Genesis about how He gave the heavenly bodies to mark times and seasons. So how old is the plan of salvation? Really old – before time began.

Now look at 1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 1:18For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
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. When you begin to plunge the depths of God's Word and all that is involved in what He is working out here, it is a mind-boggling thing. It is so awesome. It is so wonderful. It is just incredible. "Why me? Why would He call me? Why would He extend His grace to me at this time?" God has a great purpose of course for you and for every human who has ever lived and ever will live.

1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 1:18For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
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For as much as we know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conduct, receive by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish, without spot, who very was foreordained – proginosko in the Greek – to know beforehand – who verily was known beforehand – before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

How old is the plan of salvation? Very old! Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.

So this great plan, this redemption plan where man could be viewed as sinless and have God's Spirit in him – the very essence of God. God is Spirit. So God created humans and He set in motion the process of procreation through male and female – coming together, having children – in this process the offspring sharing the DNA of their parents. The first humans were created beings, but their offspring resulted from a process of begettal, conception and birth.

God, in His infinite wisdom, designed a plan of redemption and salvation where they are generating the God-kind through a similar process – begettal, conception and birth. The Father doing the begetting and the mother bringing us to the birth. Now one of the interesting things with regard to this in a spiritual sense is the Father begets us. In Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
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it says:

Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
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Jerusalem above – the Church – the mother of us all.

And then it talks about God is the one who brings us forth from the dead. So He is – God the Father – is the begetter, He is our Father and He also brings us to birth. The Father was the one who raised Jesus from the dead. You look at Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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and you'll see this. There are many places in the New Testament that talk about that we were raised from the dead by the Father, especially Christ being raised from the dead by the Father. In Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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But if the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you – that is, the Spirit of God – He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken – or make alive – your mortal bodies by His spirit that dwells in you.

In order for God to dwell in us, we must be reckoned sinless – reckoned as sinless before God. And that, once again, involves the repentance and faith of Jesus Christ. Now we go to Romans 5 – back a page or two. You've got to hang in there all the way and it will be quite one o'clock!

Romans 5:1 Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
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Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace – first article of faith: you have to believe that God exists – understand who and what God is, what is His purpose, who/what man is, what is his purpose. We have access into this grace through faith – wherein you stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

If it were not for the grace of God, we would never have had the opportunity to exercise faith in Christ. It's sort of like a receptacle. If God hadn't ordained this very plan of salvation, we'd never have the opportunity. On the other hand, we have to believe that God exists and the sacrifice of Christ makes it possible for us to be viewed sinless, so that He could give us His Spirit. Look at Verse 6:

Romans 5:6 Romans 5:6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
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For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We didn't do anything to deserve that. Much more being now justified by His blood – blood – the life is in the blood – blood represents His life essence He gave for us – we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we should be saved by His life.

So then after we are viewed as sinless, we're baptized, we're raised to newness of life and we receive the Holy Spirit, the very essence of God comes in to our being. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.

Once again we note that since humans were created to be subject to sin and death, knowing that humans would sin, God ordained His gracious plan of redemption that would cleanse the sinner from all unrighteousness, such as we read right here. As we have noted, God will not dwell with sin, so Jesus Christ the Righteous is our propitiation for sin. So Christ is the ultimate. He is the ultimate grace bringer. I'll show you that in John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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In the beginning was the Word – showing existence – the verb there, was, in the Greek, means to be – existence. Three things are shown here. In the beginning was the Word –  He existed – the word was with God – identity – that's who He was. He was on the God plane and the Word was God. "The Word was with God" shows the relationship – the Word was God –  shows identity – the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life of the light of men.

Now look at verse 12:

John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born not of blood nor the will of flesh, nor the will of men, but of God. The Word was made flesh, dwelt among us, we beheld His glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and Christ, saying, "This was He of Whom I spoke, ‘He that comes after me, is preferred before me for He was before me.'" And of His fullness have all we received and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

So this wonderful plan of salvation that we can enter into – the plan is totally unmerited…. But for us to be recipients, it requires action on our part. But the process of becoming part of the plan is gracious. But to be a recipient, once again, requires action on our part. The ministers of the day love to quote Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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We need to really understand Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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. There are, and have been…. I've discussed it with one long-time…was a long-time evangelist in Worldwide. He's with a splinter group now, this Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Now the ministers of the day claim that salvation is by grace alone. Now, if you really understood, as hopefully we're trying to explain and understand the fullness of the word grace, and what it implies, and all that it means in the most basic sense, such a claim is true if you understand all the dimensions of grace. If it were not for God's love and grace and divine favor, human beings would not have been created in the first place, as we've already said.

So because of God's grace, we can be saved, but this does not mean that we'll be saved automatically. If that were the case, none would be lost. Everyone would be saved, as it were, automatically or axiomatic. So we must note that Ephesians states that by grace are we saved through faith. Now the springboard to all things spiritual is faith, as we started off up front. Remember Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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- …for those who come to God must first of all believe that He is and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

So the exercise of faith is a crucial component of the salvation process. In recent years, Catholics and Protestants have reached a concordant of agreement with regard to how a person is saved and the concordant states, "by faith alone." Now once again, if you understood all the dimensions of faith, you could say that, because faith is inextricably linked to obedience. You know the story in James 2 – the devil believed and trembled. But you know, O man, that faith without works is dead.

For the most part, in the Christian professing world, their definition of faith is simply to believe that Jesus died for your sins, which is an act of grace, and you'll be saved. But the Catholics still teach you have to do all the sacraments of the church to be saved. So as we have mentioned, faith without works is dead – the devils believe and tremble.

One of the interesting things about faith is that faith is a gift of God and a fruit of the spirit. The only thing that is listed like that is that faith is a gift of God and a fruit of the Spirit. Hold your place here in Ephesians 2, and we'll look at 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul instructs the Corinthians on the gifts of the Spirit. The Corinthian's were really hung up on spiritual gifts, especially speaking in other languages. In 1 Corinthians 12:9 1 Corinthians 12:9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
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1 Corinthian 12:9To another faith by the same spirit.… So here faith is listed as one of the gifts of the spirit. Now if you go to Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
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, faith is listed as a fruit of the spirit.

Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…. I liken this, by analogy, let's say, to a tennis game. Jesus Christ says in John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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No man can come to Me except the Father draw him.

So it is through the Spirit of God and the preaching of the Word of God that one is convicted of sin. The convicting agents are the Spirit of God and the Word of God. You can tell all kind of stories. You can do all kind of things, but it is the Spirit of God and the Word of God that convicts. So, as the convicting agents, the Spirit of God and the Word of God work to convict a person of sin. So God the Father draws us, and if we are convicted and hear the Word of God, and we come to realize who and what we are and what our purpose is, it's like God serves – you know, in a tennis game. He serves the ball over into our court, which is a gift. Here it is…here it is before you and then, you, with your mind – your racket in your hand – you serve it back. You respond to that and that becomes a fruit. It's like a receptacle, if you respond to it. Faith is inextricably linked to obedience. So faith is a gift of the Spirit and a fruit of the Spirit. We need to understand that, in the absolute sense, as Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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. So with that in mind, we go back there to Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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and we will read the verse again.

Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Now what we want to settle here is the clause that says, "that not of yourselves." Does that "not of yourselves" modify faith or does it modify salvation? The phrase "not of yourselves" has two possible antecedents. It's either salvation or faith. Most people assume that the phrase "not of yourself" refers to faith rather than to salvation. Now, what is the logical fallacy of that? If that were the case, "that not of yourselves" – if God and Christ didn't give that faith to everybody, then they would be a respecter of persons. And if God and Christ did give that faith to everybody, none would be lost. We know that some will be lost, and some will not respond, and some experience the second death. Therefore, we know just from that human reasoning – of course, it's based on scripture and logic – that "that not of yourselves" is not what is modified.

In Greek, as in English, the pronoun always agrees with the antecedent gender. In the original text the word faith is feminine. Therefore, it cannot be the anteceded or the pronoun that which is neutered. So since faith is feminine and the pronoun is neuter, faith is not the antecedent of "that not of yourselves." The antecedent of it is salvation or saved. Salvation is a gift, so a person is not saved of himself – it is the gift of God. However the gift is predicated on repentance and faith in Christ for the remission of sins, as we've already pointed out, with regard to the line and how to move the inside of the line to the other.

If God automatically gave everyone the faith to be saved, none would be lost, as we've already stated.  And if He gave some faith to be saved and not give faith to everyone, He would be a respecter of persons. So faith requires action on our part. Faith without works, or obedience, is dead. Once again, we're reminded of what Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." So there are conditions.  As noted, the gift of God is dependent upon the repentance and faith. Otherwise Christ would be a minister of sin.

So grace stems from God's love. Love is outgoing concern and is of none effect when not shared. Because God desires to share His being in a family structure, He favored – He extended grace – to human kind by ordaining the great plan of salvation. So as we conclude here in the final minutes, we will somewhat review and put some of this together. Some of this will be repetitive, but hopefully, we would come to a better and much deeper understanding of what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 15:10 1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
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, "I am what I am by the grace of God."

We can correctly state that we are saved by grace, but that statement assumes that a person understands the conditions for receiving grace. In the universal sense, the plan of salvation is a product of God's grace – divine favor. But we cannot get the cart before the horse. God's motive for creating humans stems from love – His desire to share His being in a family structure. God's divine favor also stems from love – God knew that humans would sin and need a Redeemer to buy them back, as we talked about. So He and the Word ordained this great plan of redemption – that is, of grace, as we read from John 1:17 John 1:17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
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– grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

So based on what we have heard and seen up to this point, how would you define grace? Write it down or say it in your mind, Grace is.  How would you say it? Well we know in its simplest terms that grace is divine favor, the favor of God. But to be more inclusive and a little bit more expansive in our definition what would you say?

I would define grace as God's active love, care and concern for His creation – God's active love, care and concern for His creation. We'll note a few scriptures. God's grace pervades the whole creation. For example, God clothed the lilies of the field. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground unless He is aware of it. The hairs on your head are numbered. His thoughts are ever toward you. He created the angels as ministering servants to the heirs of salvation. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. So once again – God's active love, care and concern for His creation. There are many times in life in which you will face situations that seem impossible, but through God's love, His mercy, and His grace, He will provide a way of escape, if you are faithful. Oh you may have to die in the faith! I just went through that. I've been through that many times. There are people who have died in my arms. They died in the faith, knowing that there is this great resurrection – this great change that is coming.

You probably have never heard a sermon on how do you grow in grace. You know there's the command there in Peter, "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." So let's look at 1 Peter 2:17 1 Peter 2:17Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
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, it gives us a short recipe and perhaps there are people who will follow up on how you grow in grace.

1 Peter 2:17 1 Peter 2:17Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
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Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be subject to your own master with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

This is where the rubber meets the road to a large degree. When you look at all the reasons that people give for why do they leave the Church – why did they do this, why did they do that – oftentimes it's because they believe they got the short end of the stick – they were mistreated or they were this or they were that.

1 Peter 2:18 1 Peter 2:18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.
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Servants be subject to your master with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but to the froward. For this is thankworthy – guess what that Greek word is – charis – for this is grace, this is divine favor.

See, when you respond to your trial in the way that God instructs you to respond, you gain favor with God. Jesus Christ, time after time, tried, tested in every point, yet without sin. He grew in favor with God. We can grow in favor with God.

1 Peter 2:19 1 Peter 2:19For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
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For this is – charis or – grace…if a man, for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

See, it is conscience toward God. It is not to look good in the eyes of others. It is, what is our responsibility before God? And when it comes to whatever it is in life, there are no excuses that can be laid at the feet of men. You see the trial may be upon us. It may be great and it may be undeserved, but what God is looking toward, or for, is our response. What shall our response be?

1 Peter 2:19 1 Peter 2:19For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
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Conscience toward God endures grief's wrongfully for what glory is it when you are buffeted for your faults but you take it patiently, but when you do well and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

What do you think that word acceptable is in the Greek? It is charis. This is grace with God. So many things have come our way in life. God says that, if you're faithful, He will deliver you and He always has our best interest at heart. There is never a time to obey those who would have you break the commandments of God. It says in Acts 5, when the apostles were commanded not to preach in the name of Jesus Christ, and they said, "We must obey God and not man." The three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, would not bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar's image that he had made. Daniel refused to pray to false gods. The apostles refused to obey the commands of the Sanhedrin, they continued to preach Christ and Him crucified.

So when we just get a little glimpse of the great grace of God, we should fall on our faces and praise God. As the hymn goes, "Oh that men would praise the Eternal for His goodness or His wonderful works to the children of men." So let's close with the words of exhortation from the apostle Paul.

2 Corinthians 13:14 2 Corinthians 13:14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
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The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Divine favor from God.

Ephesians 6:24 Ephesians 6:24Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
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Grace be with all of them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

1 Timothy 1:14 1 Timothy 1:14And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
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And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

2 John 1:3 2 John 1:3Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
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Grace be with you, mercy and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father in truth and love.

So why are you here today? We answer once again with the words of the apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 15:10 1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
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But by the grace of God I am what I am – and hopefully we understand that much more clearly. The grace of God, I am what I am, which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God which is with me.

And may the grace of God be with you all, now and into all eternity.

Comments

  • michael9776
    Hello Mr. Ward, Thanks for your sermon on the grace of God. It's good that the Church of God is talking more about grace unto itself as a manifestation of the love of God. Without grace - the train doesn't even leave the station. I've been in the Church of God for many years. My early years in the Church were excruciatingly difficult - due to a long-time struggle with homosexuality. Through answered prayer, God granted me a more mature understanding of what His nature is like and what His grace really is. Knowing that God does love me and understanding what His grace really is and how it covers us within that relationship motivates me to want to please my Creator and continue to live a changed way of life. Though I still struggle with this issue, often it is only a shadow of what it used to be. I understand more fully what the scriptures mean when they declare that we are saved by grace through faith, as our Creator calls us to a relationship with Him. God has helped me to more maturely understand that faith is both divinely granted, and also developed as He begins His relationship with us. Faith is confidence and trust in our Creator and His grace toward us is our "state of being" within that relationship. As Romans 8 clearly says, there is no condemnation, for those in that relationship with Christ. I've come to better understand that when God says through Paul that we are "under grace" He means that in exactly the same sense that is meant when He says that those not yet called and chosen are still "under the law" being subject to its ultimate penalty: death. For years, I did not clearly understand what that meant because I kept perceiving "law and grace" through a legal paradigm: You keep God's Laws sufficiently and then God will pardon you through His grace. I never could meet those precise legal requirements on my own - so God's grace to me always seemed tenuous - if He was willing to really give it to me in the first place. Through answered prayer I now see more clearly that grace is our covered "state of being" within that relationship. But, as with any relationship, respect is essential to sustain it - lest we "fall from grace." Our respect toward God is shown through our obedience to Him. Respect and obedience that is our critical part is sustaining the relationship we have in Christ. Thanks again for your sermon. Michael
  • Ahumble1
    "Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else." - C.S. Lewis
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