Grace

Grace

Scripture: Romans 5:8, Genesis 22:8, Isaiah 53:4-5
Date: 05/16/2009  Lesson: 7
Once we understand the destructive power of sin, the miracle of the grace God provided at the cross becomes clear.

The Savior and The Serpent (PB) by Doug Batchelor

The Savior and The Serpent (PB) by Doug Batchelor
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Good morning. I want to welcome you this morning and extend a wonderful, Happy Sabbath to those of you who are joining us this morning, from across the country and around the world. We're glad that you are tuning in, whether you are listening on the radio this morning, watching live on our website at saccentral.org, or watching on the various television networks, we are so glad that you are joining us and you're gonna sing along with us this morning, you're gonna study the lesson with us. And we just want to give you a warm welcome. Our first request, we're going to be singing 321, "my Jesus, I love thee.

" This is from annah in australia, dale in California, patrick in Canada, bekezela in england, tulsi and angel in italy, kevin, bertram and sonia in jamaica, Peter in Maryland, pete in Minnesota, gloria in new zealand, irene in New Mexico, harold in North Dakota, elmyr dawn in the Philippines, jasmine in saint lucia, Paul in south africa, tommy in south korea, diana in Texas, and nalini in Wisconsin. , Verses 1, 2 and 4. [Music] I love that song. The words to that song, "if ever I loved thee," it's now. And I hope it's not just now, but it's for the rest of your lives.

If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, you know what to do. Go to our website, saccentral.org, click on the "contact us" link, and send in your requests. And we will get through those as quick as possible so we can to yours. But if yours is one of the fortunate few that gets picked really quickly, then that's great. Some of you have been waiting for a while, I know.

And I told you a couple weeks ago, just in case you forgot, we go through chronological order. And then we go by popular demand. So some of you heard that. And the same person sent in like requests for the same song. Well, that doesn't count.

They have to be different individuals but nice try and we will sing your song though soon. Our opening song this morning is 214, "we have this hope." And this is from ann in Alaska, David, Christiane, and ashley in australia, ann in barbados, ann in bolivia. These are different annes. They're not just picking random countries. Maurita in California, birdie who is a member of central requested this in honor of her mother's passing 2 years ago.

It was her favorite song. Jim, dianne, jamie and buffy in florida, and laural and barbara also in florida, John in Maryland, darryl in Montana, gordon in North Carolina, ikechi in Oklahoma, marilyn in the Philippines, and steve in Washington. Now, we have two verses in our hymnals up here. Some of you have one verse. You're gonna hope that you have two, 'cause we're gonna sing two this morning.

So if your neighbor has two, you're gonna look at your neighbor's. Otherwise you're gonna smile, and you're just gonna sing along, okay. , "We have this hope." [Music] Here we go. [Music] Amen. Father in Heaven, we thank you so much that we are united in you this morning.

We are united in your love. And we thank you so much for--for dying for us on the cross, so that one day we can be in heaven with you. People from all over the world, we have so many different cultural differences, personal differences, but with you, we will be one and we can be one on this earth. We thank you so much for bringing us here again this morning to worship you. And I pray that you will be with us as we open up Your Word and we study together, that you will open up our minds and our hearts, that we will receive what you have for us on this blessed Sabbath day.

And we thank you so much. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, debbie and our singers, our musicians. I never tire of that song, "we have this hope.

" It's got a nice crescendo at the end that is inspiring. And we're gonna be talking about that hope in our lesson today. I want to welcome the international Sacramento central Sabbath school class. It's always exciting to hear the people send in their requests from korea and the caribbean and south africa and all over the world. And we get the e-mails; you don't hear all the different requests that come in.

And it's just fun to be able to greet so many people that have adopted this broadcast that I guess for 14--13, 14 years now we've been doing Sabbath school here at central church. And it's a privilege and exciting to have you studying with us. And a lot of the people who are isolated out there, started with just listening to Sabbath school online or watching the satellite broadcasts--and we want to thank the satellite providers that are broadcasting this--are sort of online members now, 'cause they have no church they can be part of. There's a lot of people that study along with us and they're not members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And I'd like to remind you if--we're going through a quarterly, it's an outline to study these themes of the Bible--if you can find a Seventh-day Adventist Church in your neighborhood or your district or your country, I'm sure they'll be happy to help share one of these with you.

We're going through a lesson dealing with the subject of "the Christian life," the main priorities in "the Christian life." In a moment we'll get to that. We also always have a free offer we like to make available. And the offer, today's offer number 152, it's called, "riches of his grace." That's perfect because our lesson today is on "grace." We'll send it to you free. Call the toll-free number, -788-3966. We're taking a few moments at the beginning of each of our Sabbath school studies and talking about things we can do--we're in the year of evangelism now--to help strengthen us and be better equipped for personal evangelism and church evangelism.

Now there's a website we've given out once or twice, I'd like to give you again. And this is called--and this is in connection with the North American division, "year of evangelism," and it's called sharethehope2009.com. That's www.sharethehope2009.com. At that website, you'll see a number of seminars that were recorded where you can listen to different aspects of personal evangelism and public evangelism, how to answer objections to the Christian faith, two specific doctrines. I see elder c.

d. Brooks has one there. Our own jean ross has one there and the "empowered church program." Amazing Facts evangelist emmanuel beck has a series there. And they're videos you can listen to on how you can be better equipped for personal evangelism. There's a lot of training that's going on in churches around the country.

And I hope you won't mind my mentioning that Amazing Facts and weimar are also having a convocation for those who happen to be in the northern California area, even northwest. You can come from florida; we don't care. But there's going to be a convocation on the beautiful weimar campus, Amazing Facts and the weimar institute are having a health and evangelism convocation, teaching about things you can do using health seminars as well as public evangelism, taking some of the afcoe principles. And that's gonna be June 11 through 14 on the weimar grounds. There's a website there too.

And that's www.weimar.org, scroll down and you'll see about "events." If you want more information. So there's a lot of training available that you can receive, videos you can watch, seminars, some encouraging things you can find at these websites to prepare for the--there's evangelism going on right now. Matter of fact, we're doing evangelistic meetings right now in Granite Bay. I know all over Sacramento there's meetings going on. But there's going to be probably the majority, the lion's share, of evangelism is in the fall.

I've done evangelism for many years. And the best time of year is when people get done with summer vacation, kids get back in school. That's sort of the prime time in the fall there for evangelism. So I know a lot of churches are planning meetings then. Some churches are doing two meetings this year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

So we hope everyone gets involved. Just think. If every member of the church would bring one person to Christ this year--you've heard folks say that before, but just think about it. It's mind-boggling the exponential growth that we would experience. That means that you'd need to do something.

And I'd like to encourage you by love for Christ or guilt, anything would will work, to do something and share your faith. Alright, our lesson today is on "grace," our lesson number 7, "grace," a very important theme for us to consider in the Christian life. And we have a memory verse. Sometimes I see that when I'm giving out different verses, some people feel like, "well, you didn't ever call on me." Well, everyone gets to read this one, okay? So all say this with me, Romans 5:8, here you go, "but God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Grace. How do you define grace? It's one of the more difficult things to explain.

Grace is "a disposition to be generous or helpful, goodwill, mercy, clemency, a favor rendered by one who need not do so, an indulgence, a temporary immunity or exemption, a reprieve." You get a tax extension; you've gotten grace. It's an exemption. "A reprieve, unmerited favor. You've all heard that before. We'll use that again.

Undeserved acceptance and love received from another." A.w. Tozer describes grace as "the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving. That's a good one. Berkoff said, "it is the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man affected through the agency of the Holy Spirit." Now you've heard about a person being gracious. Grace is one of the most important attributes of the Christian life, but it's terribly misunderstood.

And it's difficult to define. Somebody one time said, "grace is a free gift, but when you take it, you are bound forever to the giver." It's a free gift, but once you receive it you are forever in debt to the giver. So is it free? It's not supposed to be free in that it's supposed to be transforming of the heart. If a person receives grace and it doesn't transform them, it would have been better for them not to receive it. You know the story "the unmerciful debtor? Matthew 18, man is found who owns a king--who owes a king the equivalent, it's 100 talents, $52 million, this phenomenal amount he can never pay.

And the King commands him to be sold and pay all that he owes. But he begins to cry. And he deserves punishment. He's guilty. He says, "have patience with me and I'll pay thee all.

" He doesn't say, "I didn't do it." He basically admits he did do it. So he's guilty. "Have patience and I'll pay all." the King has mercy on him, forgives it. Does not set up a payment program. He had the right to do that.

He shows him grace, unmerited favor. Well that same servant goes out. It doesn't change his heart. He does not now feel gracious towards others. Instead he goes out and he finds someone else that's offended him.

And he takes him by the throat. "You owe me $40." And puts him in prison for $40. The grace that he was--or that he received is withdrawn because he does not pass it on. So when you receive the grace of God, it should transform us. Real grace is the Holy Spirit working on our hearts because we've received that unmerited favor.

It ought to regenerate our hearts. What is this grace? In Isaiah 53:4-6, one of the best descriptions in the old testament, and this is in your lesson, is a messianic prophesy. It's not even the new testament, speaking of the Savior that would come, Isaiah 53:4, "surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes," stripes being lashes with a whip, "we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.

" We are all recipients of grace. Now, is it only Christians that receive grace from God? Is there anybody in the world that has not received grace from God? Does God make the sun shine on the just and the unjust? Does he send rain on the good and the bad? Does God send grace to believers and unbelievers? If the penalty for sin is death, why is anybody alive? It's the grace of God that extends probation. It's even his grace that gives us time to accept his grace. Does that make sense? So God is very gracious. He is a good God.

Grace is not deserved. It's not something you earn. Matter of fact in the sermon later today, I'll be talking about too good for God. There's a lot of people who think they've earned the grace of God. And reminds me of a story one time where during napoleon's era, a young soldier was found sleeping while on guard duty.

And back then the penalty for sleeping when you're watching, you're protecting all your fellow soldiers, you don't go to sleep. And it's--many armies, it was a death penalty, including napoleon. Well this mother found out that her son was imprisoned and he was going to be executed for falling asleep while on watch. And she went to the emperor and begged for mercy. And he said, "he doesn't deserve mercy.

He's guilty. They caught him sleeping." And she said, "if he deserved it, it wouldn't be mercy. I'm not asking for justice. I'm asking for mercy." And he said, "well, that's a good point." And he had pity on the young soldier and forgave him. But you think he ever fell asleep again? You know we're like that soldier.

We're under a death penalty. And we're asking for God to extend grace to us and mercy. By the way, grace and mercy are sort of married. They have a lot in common. If we don't understand the process of grace in relation to our salvation, our ignorance will keep us from God.

This is an important lesson to study. It's not just to try and impress ourselves with our theology. We need to understand grace. There's a lot of things that you don't have to understand to be saved. I remember doing some evangelistic meetings in micronesia.

And it's a little bit of an isolated part of the world. And one of my presentations was on the seven trumpets and the different kingdoms. And I started--you know, after I spent some time on the island and actually went twice to pohnpei and did meetings there, and I realized that, you know, part of their curriculum was not ancient european history and the rise and fall of these different civilizations. And I was going to be tracing all the different, the military history of the church. And I thought to myself, you know, I got a lot to cover with these folks.

And maybe they don't need to understand the seven trumpets. And so I replaced it with something else I thought was a little more relevant, of certain things are essential. And one of the essentials to understand in salvation is the grace of God. And misunderstanding it can be fatal. If we don't understand how important it is that we're saved by grace, even Paul said that people who think they're saved by works can be under a curse.

It's crucial that we understand we're saved by grace. Genesis 6:7-8, first appearance of grace in the Bible, "so the Lord said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that they've made 'em." What had happened, when The Sons of God, the descendents of seth intermarried with the descendants of cain, the daughters of cain were beautiful. Then through these mixed marriages, they lost their distinct identity. The Sons of God had been true to God. And pretty soon wickedness filled the earth.

And the thoughts of men's hearts were only evil and violence filled the land. We're getting to that place today. I'm preaching a little later on--we're having the spanish ten commandment program here this afternoon. My assigned commandment is "thou shall not kill." It's 4 o'clock today. Notice how I squeezed an announcement in there for Sabbath school.

And I'm thinking about violence. I've been studying a little bit about violence. And I think Jesus is coming because conditions today couldn't have been much worse back in the days of Noah when violence filled the land, when you have more murders in North America in 1 year than the whole iraq war, we sometimes forget that, domestic murders, than all that has happened in both iraq wars. And we lose perspective sometimes. We got a lot of violence in our own land.

And in most cases, it's domestic violence. It's families. And God said, "I am grieved that I've made man. The thoughts of his hearts are only evil continually. I will destroy man.

" And after God makes that statement, he right--he has the right to eliminate everybody on earth because the penalty for sin is death. And they've all sinned including Noah. But it says, "but--" I'm so thankful for that word b-u-t-- "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." That's the first reference you'll find. Noah found grace. And God spared Noah.

Did he owe it to Noah? He showed mercy on Noah. Noah had a relationship with the Lord. Noah did his best. It says, "he walked in all the commandments of the Lord." Noah walked with God. He prayed to God.

Noah guided his family with God. And Noah found grace. And he was spared. God didn't owe it to him. It was mercy.

It was grace. Now grace is such an important subject. Somebody, I don't have anybody picked out, someone go to the last verse in the Bible. Verse 21, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always. Amen.

" Revelation 22:21, last verse of the Bible. The what? "The grace." The Bible ends with a benediction of grace. And you know, I in my notes, I don't know if I still got it here. Just for fun I went through just some of the things Paul says about grace. And I don't want to be tedious, but he opens and closes all of his letters, virtually, with grace.

Romans 1:7, "to all who were in rome, beloved of God called to be saints, grace to you." Romans 16 closes, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Corinthians 1:3, "grace and peace from God." Corinthians 16, closing the book, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Corinthians 1:2, "grace to you and peace from God our father." Galatians 1:3, "grace." Galatians 6, he's closing the book, "brethren, the grace of our Lord." Ephesians 1, opening the book, "grace to you." Closing the book, Ephesians 6:24, "grace be with all of you." Philippians 1, opening the book, "grace to you." You getting the picture? How important was grace to the apostles in the early church. Philippians 4:23, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Colossians 1, "the saints and the brethren in Christ who are in colossia, grace to you." Colossians 4, "this salutation in my own hand, Paul remember my chains. Grace be with you all. Amen." Now is grace just sort of an interesting doctrine that we could think about, or is it crucial theology? I mean look at all the books that are opened and closed with grace. Are we gracious? You know, it's interesting, you think of Ruth in the Bible, and you think of someone who is compassionate.

Don't ever call anyone Ruthful. They are a Ruthful person. But if they don't have compassion, what do you call 'em? Ruthless. We don't really ever call anyone--i guess you can say someone is graceless. Yeah.

Sometimes you think about grace and you think of elegance. The opposite of grace in some terms would be crude. You know, it's good that you can be graceful with people. I used to think that, you know, I was really pretty rough when I first came to Christ. I mean I lived in the hills.

And I won't go into detail, but I was really rough, very abrupt, very blunt. And you know, I thought that was cool and machismo. And as time went by and I read the Bible, I thought, no, it's crude. It's--you know, you're not a good representative for Jesus when you're rough and you're harsh and you're blunt and you're crude. And you know, I've tried to study and I don't think I've gotten there yet to be more graceful.

And God wants Christians to season what we do with grace and be kind. It's good to have good manners. If you say you're a Christian, you burp in the middle of your meal, unless you live in certain parts of the world, there's nothing gracious about that. You know what I'm talking about? Christians should be a graceful people. But that's not the definition of grace that we're dealing with today.

We're not talking about elegance. We're talking about forgiving and merciful to people, giving that unmerited favor. It's a very important point. Alright, somebody look up for me, a good example of grace. And it's in our lesson.

We're under the section, "God provides salvation." Genesis 22:7-8. "But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'my father!' And he said, 'here I am, my son.' Then he said, 'look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' And Abraham said, 'my son, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.' So the two of them went together." This of course is the story when Abraham and Isaac are going up the mountain. And until that moment, Isaac, you know, he had been wondering, "where is the sacrifice? We have all of the maKings for a sacrifice, but the lamb." He finally inquires of his father. He thought maybe he'd buy one along the way from one of the other tribes or something. They're heading up the mountain to the place of sacrifice.

They're not gonna find one. And he says, "where's the lamb?" And he then answered in those immortal words, "God will provide himself a lamb." Now that's an example in the Bible of a dual prophecy. What is the greater meaning of that prophecy? "God will provide himself a lamb?" It's Christ. God provided--God The Son provided himself as the lamb of God. Now did--of course, Isaac was going to be the lamb.

Abraham didn't know what was gonna go on at the top of the mountain. But then providentially this is also a dual prophecy because God did provide a lamb that day to replace Isaac. And by the way, God has replaced our children with another lamb. Christ has not only died for us, he's died for our children. And so God provided a lamb.

That is grace. And so the whole plan of salvation is summarized in this. And of course you've got the next verse, John 1:29. And why don't I have you read that now, Gospel of John 1:29. "The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, 'behold! The lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!'" So all from the time of Abraham, even from the time of adam and eve, when God established the sacrificial system, they all knew that pointed forward to the day when God would come to earth and be our sacrifice.

Man had been living under grace for 4,000 years. Finally when John the baptist points--i remember when I was a kid, I was born in burbank, California. And my mother was in show business. And we lived in tujunga where you got universal city. And they used to take us to grauman's chinese theater periodically.

I remember the opening of "flubber," the disney black and white movie, "flubber." My mother took us there. And they were giving out silly putty and called it "flubber." Back then it was, silly putty was new. And they had, you know those lights, when they've got those four lights that go through the sky and they're showing, there's a big premier. And it's like something's happening, you know. And everybody in the city can see there's a big premier opening.

And they had these big flood lights shining into the clouds and you could all see. How many of you know what I'm talking about? They still rent those and do those around town. And it was the grand opening, the announcement of some big event. Well, you know, it seemed pretty quiet on earth when John the baptist was on the river there and he pointed to Jesus. And with no artificial p.

a. System, he said, "behold! The lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" But the significance of what he said that day was like a grand announcement with great amplification and premier lights and I mean it was the red carpet. When Christ walked down to the Jordan river, this is the one you've been waiting for. That was--that was--and of course, when Christ came out of the water, did the heavens open and punctuate the event? Did God also speak and say, "this is my beloved son?" So you've got the testimony on earth, John the baptist, the greatest prophet. You've got the testimony of God The Father in Heaven.

You've got the testimony of the Spirit. And you've got the testimony of The Son. So this was the lamb of God, not to mention you've got the testimony of the law and the prophets on the mount of transfiguration. Again, God said, "this is my beloved son, Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets." So this was the grace of God summarized or encapsulated in the life of Jesus. Now there's some pictures.

The second section in your lesson talks about pictures of the miracle of grace. Oh, the Bible's filled with scores of them. You know for me, one of the--it's almost disturbing, Philip yancey in his book, "what's so amazing about grace?" He talks about the scandal of grace. Sometimes we look at the grace of God and we think, "well, I like to be recipient of your grace, but not them. That's going a little far.

" And in the Bible when I read the story of manasseh, even when you say the word, manasseh, if you know the Bible story, it's kind of a scandalous name, because the King--i mean there was a tribe named manasseh, but they didn't make much of a Mark. the King manasseh made a Mark. Here he had a good upbringing, raised in a Christian home. Hezekiah is his father, surrounded with good prophets, had every advantage, and he just became so wicked. He went basically as far from God as he could.

He got not only involved in all the pagan religions, but he tried to force it on the people. And he killed the prophets of God. And he killed those who tried to turn him away. He had Isaiah, tradition tells us, put in a hallowed log and sawed in two while he was alive. And slew the prophets and made his own children pass through the fire.

Wicked king. God withdrew his protection from him. The assyrians came and arrested king manasseh. And they drug him through the thorns. And they put him in prison.

And while in prison--you can read this here in Chronicles 33:12-13, "now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and he humbled himself greatly before the Lord of his fathers," the God of his fathers, "and prayed to him; and he," God, "received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem in his kingdom." Not only did he forgive him and say, "alright, I'll give you eternal life, but you're gonna die in an assyrian jail," he not only forgave him and said, "alright, I'm gonna let you go free." He forgave 'em. He let 'em go free. And he gave him back his kingdom. That is totally unheard of. I mean when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he carried away jehoiachin.

He stayed 37 years in jail. And finally The Son of Nebuchadnezzar let him go out of jail, but he never got his kingdom back. I mean you just go down the line. When they arrested you and took you off, they didn't let you go back to your kingdom and then be a king again. I mean talk about the grace that God showed manasseh after he killed the beloved prophet Isaiah.

You would think that...he'd say, "look, for Isaiah's sake." That's a great example of grace. You know there's another sample of it. And we all can relate to this a little bit. It's the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Somebody look up for me Matthew 20:15.

Now before you read it, let me just set this up, okay? A man goes out into the Marketplace where they used to hire people. That's where they sort of had manpower labor. It's during harvest time early in the morning, he gets some workers. He goes out, they begin to work in his vineyard. They're working all day, but he knows he doesn't have near enough.

The vintage is right. He's gotta get more people working faster. So he goes back and he finds a few more that hadn't been hired. They came late he hires them. Little later in the day around noon, he goes and he finds some more.

And he hires them. And you know, 3 o'clock he finds some more; he hires them. O'clock, he goes back, he hires some more. And they're coming the end of the day. He says, "I'll pay you what's fair.

" The first ones he hired, he says, "I'll pay you a penny." They agree. And so at the end of the day when it's time to pay--matter of fact, why don't I have you read that verse now. Matthew 20:15, "is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is thy eye evil because I am good?" I actually stopped the story too soon. When it comes time to pay, he starts with those who worked just part of the day, the shortest part of the day. He pays them the same amount that he pays the one who'd been working all day long.

So when he gets to the ones who've been working all day long and he pays them what he agreed to pay them, they're murmuring. They're upset. Instead of being thankful they were hired and they got what they were paid--they were treated perfectly fairly, they're upset because others got more. They didn't get more; others got the same thing and worked fewer hours. They expected they'd get more.

And so they're mad. They're upset. It isn't fair. See, it's almost scandalous, the grace of God. You're not that way, are ya? Mom and dad says, "you know, you've done a good job, and you cleaned your room and so we're gonna take you and get you an ice cream cone.

" So you go and you get your ice cream cone. And you're so happy you're gonna get your ice cream cone until you see the other family taking their kids. They get triple scopes and you only get one. And you're no longer happy. You got exactly what you were promised.

You would have been happy if you hadn't seen someone else get more. And so read that verse one more time, Matthew 20:15, you still got your mic? Yes. "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is thy eye evil because I am good?" Allow me please to use the word, grace, instead of good. "Is your eye evil because I'm gracious?" Can you think of some stories in the Bible where it just seems like the Lord went a little bit far with his grace? What about the example of Paul? Paul killed stephen. He was out arresting Christians.

He thought he was right. He was a pharisee. And God--Paul wasn't even praying to know the truth. He thought he knew the truth. At least manasseh prayed.

Manasseh repented. Paul wasn't even repenting. He was very arrogant. Sure he was going the right way. And he probably had some doubts I think when he saw stephen stoned and saw his face illuminated.

And God showed mercy to Paul, just showed him grace. That's why Paul, in all of his letters, he talks about the grace of God. He refers to himself as the chief of sinners. And he says that, you know, "I was so far from God and God showed grace to me." Receiving grace from God is not something you do once in your life like Paul on the road to damascus. How often did Paul draw from the well of grace? How often do you and I need the grace of God? Grace is not an attribute in the Christian life that you receive at one point when you say a prayer, you come to Christ and you repent.

That's where you may get a good dose of grace, but as you live the Christian life, every time you need forgiveness, you're drawing upon God's grace. Every time you need power to resist temptation, it's grace that gives you power. Grace is not just forgiveness. We always think about grace in the context of, "well, I deserve punishment, but God's gonna forgive me." When God gives you power to keep from sinning, is that the grace of God? Does he owe that to you? When God provides your daily bread, is that grace? Does he owe you that? He's gracious and opening his hand and satisfying the need of every living thing. God's grace goes way beyond just, "uh, I'm in trouble.

I need more forgiveness." Every good gift is an act of grace from God. He's a gracious God, 'cause all we deserve is death. Frequently people say, "so how are you doing?" I say, "much better than I deserve." That's a common answer for me. I always think about God is so good to me. And even when I go through troubles, I realize it's nothing compared to what I deserve.

I don't want what I deserve. You don't want what I deserve. You don't want what you deserve. You know, we're all living under grace every day. D.

l. Moody put it this way, "a man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last for the next 6 months. Nor can he inhale enough air in his lungs in one breath to sustain him for a week. We are permitted to draw upon God's store of grace from day-to-day as we need it." Someone also asked moody one time, "I'm afraid that I wouldn't have enough faith right now to die for what I believe. I wouldn't have enough grace right now, if I was tortured I might deny Christ.

" And moody said, "I don't think I would have enough either. But I have confidence that when that time came, God would give it to me then." God does not give you grace in advance of when you need it. Kind of like, you know, these mother polar bears, or even the black bears in the northern regions. They tank up, and then they hibernate. You and I can't do that.

We just sort of have to forage as we need it. We--you know, Jesus compares us to the birds. Birds, unless they're woodpeckers, they sort of store things, don't they? Most of the birds, the sparrows, they live from day to day. Squirrels, they'll stuff food in their cheek. And they'll bury things in the ground, but the sparrow, it's just day by day God has to feed them.

He has to provide for them. And does he provide for them on a daily basis? You and I are more like sparrows than woodpeckers and grizzly bears, right? We've got to daily trust God that he's gonna open his hand and give us the grace we need as the situations arrive. And it's not even just one time during the day. All through the day you need a bouquet of grace for different situations. For every meal, with God's grace.

For every breath you breathe, every trial when you're tempted to be irritable, you need to pray God will help you be Christ-like. That means gracious. And whenever you sin and you ask for mercy, whether it's in thought or deed or word, you need God's grace to cover you. It's something he provides as you need it. And that's a good reminder.

Next section: what happened? How do we see God's grace demonstrated at calvary? On the cross is the best demonstration of the grace of God. The most radical, outrageous, scandalous example of grace is when Christ prays for forgiveness for the ones who are crucifying him. And he says, "father, forgive them. They don't know what they do." the Lord is extending grace to that group. If Jesus has that kind of grace on his enemies that are torturing him, will he be gracious to you who ostensibly his friends? If God has that much grace for his enemies, will he have grace for you? We need to trust in his grace.

Paul says in Corinthians 6:19:20, "or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, that you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirits, which are God's." You know, we really owe God who we are. He bought us with his grace. He purchased us with his sacrifice. You know, I love the story of the good samaritan. You're gonna find that in Luke 10.

Go there real quick. We're talking still about pictures of grace and what happened at calvary. This is a little bit of both. At calvary you had the great exchange. In the story of the good samaritan, I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but all these articles that are mentioned here, you know, the man "falls among thieves.

" He's beaten up; he's dying-- that's like the human race-- "robbed, wounded, half-dead," can't help himself, on his way "down from Jerusalem to Jericho," going from the city of God down to the sinful city. Priest goes by, levite goes by, and all of the sudden the samaritan comes by. A samaritan does not owe a jew anything. They are technically enemies. But the samaritan shows compassion.

He extends grace to the jew who fell among thieves. He says he "goes to him." This is what Jesus does for us. Jesus is like that samaritan. He "bandages his wounds." Probably takes some of his own clothes and doesn't have a first aid kid with gauze in his donkey. Probably takes his clothes, tears 'em up in stripes, like the righteousness of Christ that binds our wounds.

"He bandages his wounds." He "pours in oil--" what's that a symbol of? Holy Spirit. "And wine." They use that as an astringent, an antibiotic. That's like the blood of the covenant, the grape juice. "And he set him on his own animal." This man has no strength. Does God give us his spirit and strength? And he "brought him to an inn.

" That's the church. And he takes care of him. He actually sits at his bed and he dabs his fever, and he dresses his wounds and-- this total stranger. And then when he leaves, he gives money to the innkeeper. So you think about that.

This samaritan, he's riding along on his donkey. He comes upon the man that fell among thieves. He gets off the donkey. He takes his clothes, gives it to the man, tears 'em up, makes bandages. Takes his oil that he was gonna use for cooking or whatever and gives it to him.

His wine that he was gonna drink, gives it to him. He says, "you ride; I'll walk." Takes his money that was for his night, his comforts and his amenities there at the hotel, and he pays for this man. And instead of him resting, he stays awake and he says, "you rest, and you heal." Everything is about a trading of places in the story. He basically empties his resources to help the man that fell among thieves. This is what happens on the cross.

You know, I can't improve on the words of e.g. White in the book, "Desire of Ages." This is, by the way, page 576, talking about what happened at calvary. "The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, his flesh lacerated with stripes. Those hands, so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars. Those feet, so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree.

That royal head pierced by the crown of thorns. Those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that he endured, the blood drops that flowed from his head, his hands, his feet, the agony that racked his frame, and all that unutterable anguish that filled his soul, at the hiding of The Father's face, speaks to each child of humanity declaring it is for thee that The Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt. For thee he spoils the domain of death and opens the gates of paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walk the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee, who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life, offers himself upon the cross as a sacrifice.

And this is done from love to thee." And so what you see on the cross is the great exchange, where he takes everything that we deserve, and through grace he offers us what he deserves. He takes all of our badness, and he basically embraces that. "He became sin who knew no sin." And he offers us all of his goodness. He takes our sickness; he offers us his life. He takes our weakness; he offers us his strength.

He takes the punishment that we deserve, and he offers us the glory that he deserves. I mean it's a complete exchange of places. And he doesn't owe us any of it. It's all done through grace that he's extending us. That's really beautiful when you think about it.

You know, I don't think you understand it. I don't understand it. If we understood it better, we'd be better Christians. I sometimes pray that God would give me a three-dimensional vision of the day at the cross. I know people that have had those kind of epiphanies.

I know people that have seen--just they said, "you know, I saw Jesus in the garden. I saw everything he went through. And he did it for me." And they somehow, it hits 'em. And I really don't think it's hit very many of us. I think intellectually we say, "yeah, I get it.

I understand it." But it doesn't hit us in our hearts, because if it could ever really hit us the way it should hit us, and pierce our hearts with what he went through, we'd be better Christians. We'd love him better. We'd be more transformed by his grace. Maybe we ought to pray for that, huh? That God'll really help us see and experience the great exchange that he made, how he suffered for us. It'd break our hearts.

I know some people; you can just look at 'em and tell. They've had a conversion experience. They've seen it. Most of us, we sort of vicariously get it through our parents, 'cause we're raised and we hear all the trappings of religion, but it doesn't really hit us. We haven't experienced it, a real conversion.

That comes from seeing the big exchange of what Jesus has done for us. Now while we're talking about the subject of grace and the goodness of God and how it's supposed--by the way, that's under the section, "changing of the heart." God's grace should be in us. You can tell if God's grace has worked on us, because it's in us. That unmerciful debtor who had been forgiven, he went out and he grabbed someone else by the throat. The grace of the King was not in him, because it hadn't changed him.

When you've really received the grace of God, it's evidenced because it then operates in you, and you extend it to others. In 2 Corinthians 8:6, "so we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well." "Grace in you." Corinthians 9:14-15, "and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" It's talking about this grace that works in us. Remember the Bible says "for with what measure you meet, it'll be measured to you." However you treat others, remember how gracious God has been with you. And it's a lot easier for us to be patient and forgiving with others if you really get a picture of how much you've been forgiven.

It then operates in you. Now having said that, there's a way that grace can be abused. Two principle errors in regarding to grace. One is that some people don't understand it, and they think that somehow you earn grace. Grace that is earned is not grace.

At the end of the week, if a man working gets his paycheck from his boss. And the boss says, "I've decided to be graceful to you. Here's your paycheck." You say to your boss, "grace nothing! I worked hard for this! It's not grace!" Right? You'd probably resent it if he said, "I'm showing you grace." You'd think he was implying you didn't earn it. Right? So people who act like they're working for their grace, that's an error. But you know, there's another error that's just as deadly that's very popular, you know.

In the church you got two pendulums: one, a few generations ago I think our church was swinging towards the pendulum of earning it, legalism. Now the pendulum has gone past the center and we're swinging the other direction. Instead of salvation by works, it's salvation by presumption. I want to read a quote from the book, "steps to Christ," page 60, "there are two errors against which the children of God, particularly those who have just come to trust in his grace, especially need to guard. The first," I already dwelt upon, "is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do to bring themselves in harmony with God.

He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone through faith that can make us holy." Amen? "But," here's the other one, "the opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God. That since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption. Notice here that obedience is not the mere outward compliance, but it is a service of love.

The law of God is an expression of his very nature. It is an embodiment of the great principle of love and hence is the foundation of his government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love," and grace I might add, "is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled, 'I'll put my law into their hearts and in their minds I'll write them,'" Hebrews 10:16. "And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience is the service and allegiance of love. It is the true sign of discipleship.

Thus the Scriptures say, 'this is the love of God that we keep his commandments. He that saith, 'I know him' and keeps not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him," 1 John 5:3. "Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith and faith only that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ that enables us to render obedience." That's a very important passage, "steps to Christ," one more time, page 60. Very important. It has one of the most beautiful pictures of the balance of those two dynamics that we need to really pay attention to.

The grace of God: cannot be saved by works, we're saved by grace. But if we are saved by grace, it will be seen in the heart and in the life. There'll be a holiness. It'll operate in the way that we treat others and in the way that we follow and obey God. Amen? I'm so thankful for the grace of God.

And I want more of it. I want a better picture of what he did for us that I can be transformed by it. Don't you, friends?

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