Search Results: grace
Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite.
A 12 Point Cure for Complaining:
1. God commands me never to complain (Phil. 2:14).
2. God commands me to give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thes. 5:18).
3. God commands me to rejoice always, and especially in times of trial (1 Thes. 5:16; Jas. 1:2).
4. I always deserve much worse than what I am suffering now, in fact, I deserve hell (Lam. 3:39; Lk. 13:2-3).
5. In light of the eternal happiness and glory that I will experience in heaven, this present trial is extremely brief and insignificant, even if it were to last a lifetime (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:19).
6. My suffering is far less than that which Christ suffered, and He did not complain (1 Pet. 2:23).
7. To complain is to say God is not just (Gen. 18:25).
8. Faith and prayer exclude complaining (Psm. 34:4).
9. This difficulty is being used by God for my good and it is foolish for me to complain against it (Rom. 8:28).
10. Those more faithful than I have suffered far worse than I, and did so without complaint (Heb. 11:35-39).
11. Complaining denies that God’s grace is entirely sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
12. The greatest suffering, the worst trial or difficulty, can never rob me of that which is of greatest value to me and my greatest joy, namely the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).
Why is it that so many professing Christians make no spiritual progress, and indeed make no efforts to grow in grace? Why? Because they care nothing about it! To take up a “mere profession” is all they desire; but to proceed from one degree of piety to another; to grow in grace – is no part of their desire… Is it possible to be a Christian and yet destitute of this desire to grow in grace? No, it is not! I tell you, it is not! If you have no concern to grow in grace – there is no grace in you! You are a piece of dead wood – and not a living branch! You are a spiritual corpse – and not a living man! In this state there can be no growth – for dead things never grow!
Love is a grace which many professing Christians think far too little about; but it is of infinite value in the eyes of God. Love is the most characteristic feature of Christ’s image in a renewed man. Love is the most precious fruit of grace; and yet the fruit which too many of His professed followers seem to think themselves hardly under any obligation to cultivate.
In every society, there must be authority vested somewhere, and some ultimate authority, some last and highest tribunal established, from the decision of which there lies no appeal. In the family constitution this authority rests in the husband – he is the head, the law-giver, the ruler. In all matters concerning the “little world in the house,” he is to direct, not indeed without taking counsel with his wife. But in all differences of view, he is to decide – unless he chooses to waive his right; and to his decision the wife should yield, and yield with grace and cheerfulness.
They who would grow in grace, must love the habitation of God’s house. It is those that are planted in the courts of the Lord who shall flourish, and not those that are occasionally there.
Only a Christian of strong grace can bear the strong wine of commendation without the spiritual intoxication.
[Grace is] the free and benevolent influence of a Holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserved sinners.
The prayer meeting answers to this demand of the spiritual brotherhood, with more exclusiveness and direct fitness than any other ordinance of religious worship… There is a power in conferring and covenanting, on the part of kindred spirits, to come before God, and plead together some special promise… The prayer meeting is a divine ordinance, founded in man’s social nature… The prayer meeting is a special means of developing and cultivating Christian graces, and of promoting individual and social edification.
Properly remembering our past sins with shame will deter us from repeating them and help us receive God’s saving grace. When we recall our failures through the lens of Christ’s mercy, God produces in us ongoing repentance and deepening humility.
When reminders of your past invade, don’t question your kingdom usefulness. That is Satan’s ploy to derail you. Instead, thank God for His commitment to work through your folly to make you more sensitive to fellow sinners. Ask Him to open doors of relational ministry and to give you the wisdom and courage…to testify of His life-changing grace in your life.
When we let our past memories springboard us to higher views of God’s grace, it energizes our praise and solidifies our Christian confidence.
A motive is an emotion, desire, a felt need, or an impulse of some kind that impels a person to action or to certain pursuits. Thus, motives are crucial to everything a Christian does. They not only have temporal repercussions, but God’s promises of future and eternal rewards are related to both faithfulness on the job and to motives. Proverbs tells us, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives” (Prov. 16:2). Thus, motives are vital to whatever we do. To the Corinthians he wrote, “For our reason for confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that with pure motives and godly sincerity, not by human wisdom but by the grace of God, we conducted ourselves in the world, and all the more toward you” (2 Cor. 1:12). Then in 1 Corinthians he wrote, “So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).
We need to draw our assurance from faith in the facts of Scripture and not from our works. Works or the biblical changes that occur in our lives as a result of the grace of God can confirm the reality of our life with God. We must be ever so careful, however, in making such subjective ground the basis of our assurance, for when a believer is out of fellowship he or she can have the appearance of an unbeliever especially if the condition lasts for any length of time.
If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.
For Jesus, there is no better way to illustrate God’s free unmerited grace than pointing to a child. For unlike many adults, children are generally entirely unpretentious about receiving a gift. Moreover, “little ones,” that is, the least, regardless of age, are a repeated focus in Jesus’ teaching on discipleship (Mt. 18:5; Lk. 9:48). Indeed, God’s kingdom must be entered in a childlike spirit, a lesson that was yet to be learned by Jesus’ followers.
[Common grace is] that act of God by which negatively He curbs the operations of Satan, death, and sin, and by which positively He creates an intermediate state for this cosmos, as well as for our human race, which is and continues to be deeply and radically sinful, but in which sin cannot work out its end.
The tide will begin to turn in your struggle against pornography when you begin to grasp forgiving grace and transforming grace, as you learn to repent.
Jesus’ grace to change you is stronger than pornography’s power to destroy you. Jesus’ grace is stronger than your own desires to watch sex.
Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed. Porn trades joy in the reality God has graced you with for greed in the counterfeit world He has not.
This is the vicious cycle of lust. Lust never has what it wants because it never has enough. Lust steals joy by creating an endless state of discontentment in the constant search for that one next thing you don’t have yet. Lust is never happy because lust is never full.
Marriage matters…because God created it, not society, and therefore God as God alone defines it. It matters because it’s a picture of God’s gospel love, hard-wired into creation. Change or redefine marriage, and you’ve gone a long way toward defacing and obscuring one of the most significant common-grace pointers to the love of God in Christ.
In Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant, Jeremiah explicitly says, “It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers, when I led them by the hand out of Egypt” (Jer. 31:32). How will it be different? For one thing, it will be unbreakable (v. 32). For another, all the members of that covenant will be regenerate, the law written on their hearts (v. 33). Yet another difference will be that the covenant will not operate according to natural lines of birth and descent, but through spiritual birth (vv. 29-30). Here the discontinuity between the new covenant and the Mosaic covenant is enormous: a covenant of grace, not works; a covenant that regenerates rather than kills; a covenant entered into through spiritual rather than natural birth. And yet for all this discontinuity, Jeremiah is clear that this new covenant is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, made to their forefather Abraham.
Many of us, I think, fear that doctrine will simply become the dead wood of orthodoxy in our church, and so we cut it out whenever we can. In fact, doctrine is the fuel God has given us that, when lit by the fires of grace, burns in a white-hot devotion of Christian worship and discipleship.
Whenever and whatever God creates, it’s an act of powerful, irresistible grace. Nothing forces God to speak. He only speaks when He wants to. But when He does speak, things happen… God speaking is God acting… When the voice of God rings out in gracious, creative power, not even death or unbelief can resist Him.
A life of resolve comes with a price tag. You will be tested by the lure of the world. But you must turn a deaf ear to the crowd and live instead for the approbation of Christ. There will always be a cross before a crown, sacrifice before success, and reproach before a reward. The call of discipleship will cost you popularity, possessions, and position. But God will use your commitment. The grace of God will be multiplied in you if you cultivate a fixed resolution to live for the glory of God.
The American brand of cultural Christianity results from well-intending adults handing out the candy of cheap grace to five-year-olds and twenty-five-year-olds alike. You ask them if they want to be with mommy and daddy in heaven or pressure them into walking an aisle. The point is, you play on their fears, emotions, or appetites to get quick, unconsidered professions of faith. Then you immediately affirm those professions.
Must Membership Look the Same Everywhere? by Jonathan Leeman taken from Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman, copyright (2012), Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 122.
The noun [mercy] and its derivatives always deal with what we see of pain, misery, and distress, these results of sin; and grace always with the sin and the guilt itself. The one extends relief, the other pardon; the one cures, heals, helps, the other cleanses and reinstates. With God [grace] is always first and [mercy] is second.
The present is the only time in which any duty may be done or grace received.
Love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.
You and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus… When Paul looks at the past and sees his sin he does not stay in a corner and say, “I am not fit to be a Christian, I have done such terrible things.” Not at all. What it does to him, its effect upon him, is to make him praise God. He glories in grace and says, “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
Never look back; never waste your time in the present; never waste your energy; forget the past and rejoice in the fact that you are what you are by the grace of God, and that in the Divine alchemy of His marvelous grace you may yet have the greatest surprise of your life and existence and find that even in your case it will come to pass that the last shall be first. Praise God for the fact that you are what you are, and that you are in the Kingdom.
We must never separate the Spirit and the Word. The Spirit speaks to us through the Word; so we should always doubt and query any supposed revelation that is not entirely consistent with the Word of God. Indeed the essence of wisdom is to reject altogether the term “revelation” as far as we are concerned, and speak only of “illumination.” The revelation has been given once and for all, and what we need and what by the grace of God we can have, and do have, is illumination by the Spirit to understand the Word.
The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.
Even adultery is not the unforgiveable sin. It is a terrible sin, but God forbid that there should be anyone who feels that he or she has sinned himself or herself outside the love of God or outside His kingdom because of adultery. No; if you truly repent and realize the enormity of your sin and cast yourself upon the boundless love and mercy and grace of God, you can be forgiven and I assure you of pardon. But hear the words of our blessed Lord: “Go and sin no more.”
I am a Calvinist; I believe in election and predestination; but I would not dream of putting it under the heading of essential. I put it under the heading of non-essential… You are not saved by your precise understanding of how this great salvation comes to you. What you must be clear about is that you are lost and damned, hopeless and helpless, and that nothing can save you but the grace of God in Jesus Christ and only Him crucified, bearing the punishment of your sins, dying, rising again, ascending, sending the Spirit, regeneration. Those are the essentials… While I myself hold very definite and strong views on the subject, I will not separate from a man who cannot accept and believe the doctrines of election and predestination, and is Arminian, as long as he tells me that we are all saved by grace, and as long as the Calvinist agrees, as he must, that God calls all men everywhere to repentance. As long as both are prepared to agree about these things I say we must not break fellowship. So I put election into the category of non-essentials.
Grace is favor shown to people who do not deserve any favor at all… We deserve nothing but hell. If you think you deserve heaven, take it from me, you are not a Christian.
If the Lord should bring a wicked man to heaven, heaven would be hell to him; for he who loves not grace upon earth will never love it in heaven.
But every last drop of poison is poison; every spark of fire is fire; and the last bit of flesh that remains in the believer is still enmity. When God’s grace changes our nature, it doesn’t change the nature of the flesh. It conquers it, weakens it, mortally wounds it, so that we are no longer Captain Ahabs by nature; yet his defiant malice smolders in our flesh. By the time Paul wrote Romans, he must have been as Christlike as anyone can expect to be on this side of heaven, and he surely spend his days putting his flesh to death. Still he cried out for deliverance from this irreconcilable enemy (Rom. 7:24).
Ways to fight the flesh:
1. Meditate on the cross to see the rottenness of your sin and the fullness of Christ’s love.
2. Keeping watch against sin’s deceit.
3. Filling your affections with heavenly things.
4. Applying your will to every means of God’s grace to fight temptation.
5. Renewing your first love for Jesus.
6. Hungering for a glimpse of God’s holy glory.
7. All these must be combined with FAITH.
If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he know nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved to be steady… [It] is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point [of attack].
#6- The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God. #27- They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. #32- Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers. #53- They are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others. #62- The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. #68- [Indulgences] are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross. #76- We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them. Learn Christ and Him crucified. Learn to pray to Him and, despairing of yourself, say, “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken upon Thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is Thine. Thou hast taken upon Thyself what Thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.”
For almost twenty years and I still feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal with God that I may contribute something, so that He will have to give me His grace in exchange for my holiness. And still I cannot get into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace.
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.
Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul. If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing.
Why twelve? Why not eight? Why not twenty-four? The number twelve was filled with symbolic importance. There were twelve tribes in Israel. But Israel was apostate. The Judaism of Jesus’ time represented a corruption of the faith of the Old Testament. Israel had abandoned divine grace in favor of works-religion. Their religion was legalistic. It was shot through with hypocrisy, self-righteous works, man-made regulations, and meaningless ceremonies. It was heretical. It was based on physical descent from Abraham rather than the faith of Abraham. In choosing twelve apostles, Christ was in effect appointing new leadership for the new covenant. And the apostles represented the new leaders of the true Israel of God – consisting of people who believed the gospel and were following the faith of Abraham (cf. Romans 4:16). In other words, the twelve apostles symbolized judgment against the twelve tribes of Old Testament Israel.
To some measure even unbelievers benefit from God’s grace. Theologians call that “common grace” because it is common to all mankind. Common grace is God’s continual care for all creation, providing for His creatures’ needs. Through common grace God restrains humanity from utter debauchery and maintains order and some sense of beauty, morality, and goodness in society’s consciousness.
There is perfect unity in divine revelation, and the way of salvation revealed in the Old Testament was the same as salvation after Christ’s work on the cross. Salvation was never a reward for human works; it has always been a gift of grace for repentant sinners, made possible by the work of Christ… In the Old Testament salvation was not a payoff for those who observed the law; it was a gift to those who humbly and by faith sought redemption from their sin.
Anything added to grace destroys it just as surely as does anything taken from it. When law – even God’s own law – is added to grace, His grace ceases to be grace.
God gives us His grace in the hour we need it. If we worry about the future now, we double our pain without having the grace to deal with it.
Sadly, many evangelical churches today deny in practice the sufficiency of God’s grace for all of life’s problems, supplementing it with the humanistic theories of psychology. The idea that the grace of God is sufficient for even the most serious issues believers may face is derided as antiquated, simplistic, and naïve, like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It is suggested by so-called Christian psychologists that divine grace may be sufficient for solving shallow problems, but deeper issues require therapy.
The Bible is the Holy Spirit’s book! It is the instrument He uses to convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is the sword by which He energizes the proclamation of the gospel, piercing the hearts of the spiritually dead and raising them to spiritual life. It is the means by which He unleashes His sanctifying power in the lives of those who believe, growing them in grace through the pure milk of biblical instruction.
We cannot sin beyond God’s grace, because as wicked and extensive as our sins might be or become, they will never approach the greatness of His grace.
Not to use our gift is an affront to God’s wisdom, a rebuff of His love and grace, and a loss to His church. We did not determine our gift, deserve it, or earn it. But we all have a gift from the Lord, and if we do not use it, His work is weakened and His heart is grieved.
What is the New Covenant then? It is the unilateral, irrevocable, unchangeable, eternal promise by God that He will save sinners by forgiving their transgressions and regenerating them from the inside to love Him and obey Him… The New Covenant embodies grace and peace and the Holy Spirit and regeneration and the knowledge of God and the forgiveness of sin and a new heart and pure fellowship with God and love for God. This covenant was personal and individual.
The more you know Him, the better you know Him, the more confident you become, the more secure your joy is… Joy is related to your knowledge of God: little knowledge, little joy; much knowledge, much joy. The more you know of God’s glorious truth, of God’s great covenants and promises, of God’s plans, of God’s faithfulness, of God’s power, the more joy you experience in life… Our joy is connected to the goodness of the Lord. And the more you understand His grace and mercy and goodness, the more stable your joy becomes, no matter what circumstances may come.
There are only two ways that you can believe you can come to God; either on the merits of Christ or on your own merits. It’s either by grace and grace alone or it’s by works or some mixture of grace and works. It’s only two things. There’s only two kinds of religion in the world. The religion of divine accomplishment, the religion of human achievement, Christianity, the true gospel is the religion of divine accomplishment: God does it all, you simply believe. Every other religious system in the world is a religion of human achievement.
Christ Creates Conflict in the Synagogue. The sermon originally appeared (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-182/christ-creates-conflict-in-the-synagogue) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
I believe that the most universal gift, the most universal blessing that comes from God’s common grace to humanity is time; time to repent, time to believe, time granted by God’s patience, God’s patience. He is patient because He is merciful.
Your top-priority job as a parent, then, is to be an evangelist in your home. You need to teach your children the law of God; teach them the gospel of divine grace; show them their need for a Savior; and point them to Jesus Christ as the only One who can save them. If they grow up without a keen awareness of their need for salvation, you as a parent will have failed in your primary task as their spiritual leader.
Mothers, don’t let anyone ever dupe you into thinking there’s anything ignoble or disgraceful about remaining at home and raising your family. Don’t buy the lie that you’re repressed if you’re a worker in the home instead of in the world’s workplace. Devoting yourself fully to your role as wife and mother is not repression; it is true liberation. Multitudes of women have bought the world’s lie, put on a suit, picked up a briefcase, dropped their children off for someone else to raise, and gone into the workplace, only to realize after fifteen years that they and their children have a hollow void in their hearts. Many such career women now say they wish they had devoted themselves to motherhood and the home instead.
One of the Old Testament names of God is El Shaddai, meaning “the All-Sufficient One.” It is a name rich with meaning. Those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth find Him adequate for every necessity of life. They do not need any supplementary experience, a stronger dose of His redemption, or any other spiritual or emotional accoutrements. God has given to every believer abundant grace that is utterly sufficient to fulfill our deepest longings, our most intense cravings, our most profound needs – every human requirement.
He offers peace from God (Romans 1:7) to all who are the recipients of His grace. He makes peace with God (Romans 5:1) for those who surrender to Him in faith. And He brings the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) to those who walk with Him.
Ten steps to becoming a “Pragmatic Church”
1. “Easy-believism” gospel.
2. Place emphasis on some “work” for salvation and not the need to recognize and approach a holy God.
3. Teach half-truths.
4. Teach that grace replaces (instead of produces) holiness.
5. Teach that love and truth are opposed and obedience is legalism or optional.
6. Use fleshly things to attract unbelievers for evangelism and teach them that carnal, worldly lifestyles are acceptable.
7. Avoid the Biblical teachings that create humility in man and exalt God.
8. Teach the means of grace are optional.
9. Be “seeker-friendly” and avoid being “offensive.”
10. Place being “relatable” above “biblical accuracy.”
We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8) and in grace we stand (Rom. 5:2). Grace upholds our salvation, gives us victory in temptation, and helps us endure suffering and pain. It helps us understand the Word and wisely apply it to our lives. It draws us into communion and prayer and enables us to serve the Lord effectively. In short, we exist and are firmly fixed in an environment of all-sufficient grace.
God does not call His people to a ministry of inquisition. Now is not the time to rip the tares out. Our mission is not a political or military crusade, and this is not the time of judgment where we are called to distribute retribution. We are sent out rather to be ambassadors for Christ, emissaries of His mercy and grace.
Another guarantee of our inheritance is our persevering faith. Peter said we are protected by God’s power through faith (1 Pet. 1:5). Faith is God’s gift to us; we don’t generate it on our own (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29). Faith is aroused by grace, upheld by grace, and energized by grace. Grace reaches into the soul of the believer, generating and maintaining faith. By God’s grace alone we trust Christ, and by grace we continue to believe.
We have only the time allotted by God, and none of us knows when it will run out. Every Christian life runs by His divine timetable and against His divine clock. We do not know how long He will hold open the door of a given opportunity or of our entire time of service. “Be careful how you walk,” Paul counsels, “not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). God gives us many things without limit – His love, His grace, and many others. But His gift of time is strictly measured.
A spiritual gift is a supernaturally designed ability granted to every believer by which the Holy Spirit ministers to the body of Christ. A spiritual gift cannot be earned, pursued or worked up. It is merely "received" through the grace of God.
God’s grace is His unmerited favor toward the wicked, unworthy sinners, by which He delivers them from condemnation and death.
If, as some Christians maintain, salvation can be forfeited, it then would be obvious that God’s grace lacks everlasting power, that the life He bestows on believers is not eternal. A believer’s hope could only be temporary. He would be in continual danger of losing salvation, because it would be dependent on his own faithfulness and power to avoid sin that would cast him back into lostness. If that were true, one’s own power to sin would be greater than God’s power to save, and any testimony given to unbelievers to bring them to salvation would be undermined.
What the Lord laments and opposes, Satan applauds and fosters. Few things demoralize, discourage, and weaken a church as much as bickering, backbiting and fighting among its members… Because of quarrelling the Father is dishonored, the Son is disgraced, His people are demoralized and discredited, and the world is turned off and confirmed in unbelief. Fractured fellowship robs Christians of joy and effectiveness, robs God of glory, and robs the world of the true testimony of the gospel. A high price for an ego trip!
Spiritual joy is: The settled conviction that God sovereignly controls the events of life for the believers’ good and His glory. Spiritual joy is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstance. It is the deep and abiding confidence that regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord. No matter what difficulty, pain, disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of that eternal well being established by God’s grace in salvation. Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God. It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God.
Grace does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies power to live in the Spirit.
The conscience entreats you to do what you believe is right and restrains you from doing what you believe is wrong. But don’t equate the conscience with the voice of God or the law of God. It is a human faculty that judges your actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard you perceive. When you violate your conscience, it condemns you, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace, and even fear. Conversely, when you follow your conscience, it commends you, bringing joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being, and gladness.
Do we have sufficient grace? Or do we not? Is the Word of God so insufficient which is perfect, totally transforming the whole person according to Psalm 19? Is the wisdom from above which confounds all the wisdom of man and calls it foolishness so insufficient? Is the Lord Jesus Christ in whom we are complete, in whom we have all things that pertain to life and godliness and have been made partakers of the divine nature and possessors of all His fullness so insufficient? Is the Holy Spirit who has filled us with all strength in the inner man and all the fullness of God so that we can do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think according to His resurrection power so insufficient? Is the package of spiritual resources we have received in salvation which enables us to do all things through the power of our Christ unable to sufficiently give us victory in life? When Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:5 “our sufficiency is from God,” was he ignorant?
The Law was never intended to be a means of salvation. The Law provides no grace, mercy or forgiveness. It has no power to enable the sinner to be righteousness. Its purpose was to reveal God’s holy, pure standard and drive exposed sinners to the Savior (Gal. 3:24; Heb. 4:12-13). But to those who rely on it for salvation the Law has a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7).
Old Testament saints were not saved by keeping the Law, but being broken over their inability to keep it, they came to God as penitents, hungering and thirsting for righteousness and mourning over their sin. God then mercifully and graciously forgive their sins based on what Christ would accomplish in the future by His substitutionary death. Having been saved by grace through faith, the Old Testament saints found the moral law a source of blessing and joy. They could then exult with the psalmist, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psm. 119:97). The Law then became to them “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psm. 19:10). It was not their attitude toward the law that saved them; rather, salvation changed their attitude toward the Law, and they repented and in faith sought God’s gracious forgiveness.
All that the old covenant was ever intended to do was to drive men to despair and then the despair to plead for mercy and grace from a kind and loving God… When an Old Testament person saw the Law for what it really was, a ministry of condemnation, a ministry of death, and when they were slain, as it were, and when they feared hell, and when they realized their sinfulness, and when the Law had done its work and they had a repentant heart and they came to God and pleaded for mercy and pleaded for grace and pleaded for forgiveness which they didn’t deserve but which they pled for, and God in grace looked at them and forgave them, that work of transformation that occurred there was the Spirit of God’s work. And He was applying the new covenant work of Christ retroactively to that penitent sinner. But it was the Spirit’s work. Salvation any time whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament under the old covenant or the new covenant was, is, always will be the work of the Spirit who is none other than the Lord. And isn’t it marvelous, the same God who wrote the Law is the same God who liberates the repentant sinner from the bondage of the Law?
Scripture never assumes that God must explain His actions but rather asserts that He has the right to be trusted… According to Exodus 33:19, God will not submit to man’s judgment but will show grace and mercy to whomever He wills without needing to explain His actions… God’s Word is absolutely reliable, and Scripture is clear: God is holy, not unjust.
Scripture shows some ways in which God uses evil to further His purposes: to display divine grace and justice (Rom. 3:26; 5:8, 20-21; 9:17); to judge evil in the present and future (Matt. 23:35; John 5:14); to redeem through Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 3:18); to expand gospel witness through the suffering of Christ’s people (Col. 1:24); to shock unbelievers, get their attention, and call for a change of heart (Zech. 13:7-9; Luke 13:1-5; John 9); to discipline believers (Heb. 12:3-17); and to vindicate God (Rom. 3:26).
We would never know God’s righteousness unless there’s a backdrop of sin; we would never know His saving love unless there’s the backdrop of unworthiness and unloveliness. We would never understand His wrath if there were not an opportunity for judgment. We would never know His mercy if there were not an opportunity for forgiveness. We would never understand grace if He could not bless those who are unworthy.
Table Talk on Trouble and Triumph, Part 2. The sermon originally appeared at: (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-271/table-talk-on-trouble-and-triumph-part-2) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.