September 20 Esight, 2010

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. Romans 5.15(Part 3 of 3)

Let’s finish up this week with a final look at Christianity’s history regarding the concept of Grace.

First, too often religion has been used to control or manipulate the masses. We have used hope of reward (heaven) or fear of punishment (a skewed view of hell) to motivate and even manipulate the behavior of the adherents of the faith. This should not ever be done.

During the Dark Ages, the church, under the above pretense, painted a picture of God’s grace that made it very expensive. Through performing religious duties or disciplines, even sometimes paying money, a person could secure God’s grace. But these “commodities” were never easy. Religion was difficult. And God’s grace was costly, expensive, something that must be earned.

Then came the Reformation. I want to say from the beginning that I believe the Reformers were moving in the right direction, but they did not go far enough in their reasoning. First, let’s see what they taught. God’s grace, to them, was not something difficult to procure. All a person had to do was believe, repent, or confess being a sinner in need.

Please note that although this sounds very familiar, because the practice is rampant in modern Christianity, whether something is true or not has never been decided by how many are preaching it. The question is, “Is it biblical?”

You see, this view did make God’s grace less expensive. Yet, inadvertently, it only served to make God’s grace “cheaper” as the coined phrase “cheap grace” indicates. The problem is that even though those espousing this view use correct lingo like “faith,” “confession,” and “repentance,” they still make God’s grace dependent on “something” we do before we can receive it.

The Bible teaches that God’s grace is neither expensive nor cheap. It’s FREE! It is not simply bestowed on those who do something first, whether that act be difficult or easy. God’s grace is right now being bestowed on ALL people, regardless of whether they have believed or not.

Remember our two verb orders.

Love Give Believe

Love Believe Give

God is right now giving to all regardless of whether they have believed with the hope that they will!

Moreover, the law stated that while offenses might abound, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Romans 5.20)

Another verse tells us: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. (Titus 2.11)

God is right now giving to you, simply because He loves you. He is giving to all right now, simply because He loves all. His giving is based on His love! It is not based on whether the object of that grace has believed yet or not.

Does this mean that all will be saved? No, not by any means. However, the judgment will reveal that full and free salvation was given to every person and that if any are lost, this would not occur because they did not do enough to procure God’s grace but because they threw away the grace and the salvation that had been given to all.

I wish you God’s best this week.

September 10 Esight, 2010

He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.—Ephesians 5:2, The Message(Part 2 of 3)

Okay, before we finish up on the different types of Grace, let’s pick up where we left off last week and look at those ten lepers first.

To refresh your memory, we were looking at the order of verbs in John 3:16.

Love Give Believe

Remember that, with the verbs in this order, a person’s giving is based solely on his or her love. However, one’s belief—or, rather, one’s response—is a completely different subject. Although it does play an important role, it is not a factor in whether or not a person loves you and gives to you.

Let’s look at a quick story.

“While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’”

—Luke 17:11-19

Only one man came back and said “thank you”; only one responded. But please note: did Jesus take back His healing of the other nine who didn’t believe? No, He had given to them because He loved them, regardless of whether they loved Him back.

We glimpse a similar kind of love in the story of the woman at the well, which we looked at a few weeks ago. Jesus was seeking to give this woman the “living” water of His love. Although some people have unjustly used this story to prove that we have a right to point out others’ sins, I’d like you to consider it more honestly. Why did Jesus bring up the fact that this woman had been repeatedly married and divorced? Look at it carefully. What was Jesus really revealing? I believe with all my heart that He was saying to her, “Listen, I know everything there is to know about you, and my offer is still on the table.”

He gives simply because He loves!

He loves you, dear reader. Do you believe this? He knows everything there is to know about you. His love is not blind. On the contrary; it is well informed. Even with knowing all there is to know about you, He is saying to you today, “Yes, I know about that, but my offer is still on the table. Take my hand, and let me give you all of Me.”

“He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.”—Ephesians 5:2, The Message

“As our Mediator, Christ works incessantly. Whether men receive or reject Him, He works earnestly for them. He grants them life and light, striving by His Spirit to win them from Satan’s service.”—The Review and Herald, March 12, 1901

Something to think about.

I wish you God’s best this next week.

September 3 Esight, 2010

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (1John 5.11).(Part 1 of 3)

I am convinced that the judgment will reveal that salvation full and free was given to every man, woman, and child. If any people are lost at last, it won’t be because they didn’t do enough to convince God to save them, but rather that they threw away the salvation God had so fully placed in their laps.

It’s a question of verb order. But it’s more than just grammar. Upon this subtle difference depends everything.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3.16, emphasis supplied).

God loves, and therefore He gives. His gifts always precede our belief in them. Yes, our belief is, in effect, a “receiving” of those gifts; from God’s perspective, His grace has been given to all.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Titus 2.11).

Yes, but although He is the Savior especially of those who believe, this does not change the fact that He is also the Savior of all men, believers or not, as well (see 1 Timothy 4:10).

What does all this mean in regards to our picture of God?

Much!

God loves, and therefore He gives. His giving isn’t dependent on our acceptance. His giving is based on His love for us. It is universal in its scope. And yes, it’s with the hope that we will believe, but God’s grace must needs precede our belief in order that grace be not cheap but free (more on the comparison of expensive, cheap and free grace next week).

But God’s grace is right now being poured out on all “as real as the air we breathe.”

I want you to write two verb orders down on a piece of paper this week.

1) Love Give Believe

2) Love Believe Give

Look at both of those orders carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

What type of person is each of these orders describing? Write down one adjective at a time. What type of person loves you and therefore just simply gives to you based on that love? And what type of person, by contrast, loves you, but requires you to do something first before they will give to you? There is a comparison to be made between reservation and extravagance; calculation and generosity; someone conservative in the expression of love, and another liberal. One efficient, the other wasteful.

We’ll pick up here with your list next week and a story about Jesus and two leapers.

I wish you God’s best this week. Happy pondering.