Grace: the Gift of God

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53.3 God’s Gift to Man

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.144000sealed.com, October 2009


Topics:

Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb

Justification: the Free Gift

Atonement

Grace: God’s Free Gift

Gospel

Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb

There is a popular concept that Jesus came to earth, and died on Calvary to show us what God is like. That He is a God of love. But in this view, there was nothing to indicate that He died FOR us.

Yet, there are many references using words like redeem, ransom, paid for, etc. pointing to the substitutionary aspect of His death. The very sacrificial system of Old Testament Israel pointed to this. Sacrificing a lamb for sin tells us nothing about "how good God is" except in the promise of the sacrifice of His Son. And it tells us everything about Jesus’ substitutionary death for us.

   "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18).

This verse tells us that in the free gift of Jesus Christ we have life. There are other verses that emphasize this aspect. This free gift was given to Adam and Eve after they sinned in Eden.

   "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

Because of their sin, Adam and Eve forfeited their dominion to Satan. They and the whole human race became enslaved to Satan (Romans 6:16). By the command of God "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"(Genesis 2:17). But that very same day, Christ came to give them the covenant of grace. He would write the law in their hearts (put enmity between thee and the woman) and would destroy sin and sinners through His own suffering.

This was a remarkable event. Satan had won dominion of this earth, and taken mastery over the human race. Then Jesus Christ came and "bought back" the human race, on the basis of the sacrifice He would make far in the future. Adam and Eve were again given a desire to do right, yet they would suffer the temptations of the evil one. They were free to choose in this way either Christ or Satan. They were given a new probation, a second chance to choose Whom they would serve.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary would atone for the sins of the human race – of all who would confess His name. The covenant of God throughout the Old Testament was now confirmed (Hebrews 9:15). All the sacrifices for sin in the Old Testament period were now made effective. All the decisions for Christ made during the probationary time given to Adam and Eve were now confirmed.

Men now stood before the throne of God without condemnation.

Justification: the Free Gift

Through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross is justification, atonement, salvation, and freedom from guilt and condemnation for all men. This is a free gift. A clear understanding of meanings is important for us to know. Here are three translations of an important verse:

   "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18, KJV).

   "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men" (Romans 5:18, NIV).

   "So as one sin of Adam brought the punishment of death to all people, one good act that Christ did makes all people right with God. And that brings true life for all" (Romans 5:18, NCV).

The free gift is Jesus taking the sins of the whole world on Himself, and taking the death penalty on the Cross for all men. His one sacrifice is sufficient for all men. The free gift that Jesus made on Calvary is just as full and free as if no one should accept it. It is also fully effective for all the millions of earth who are lost and need His grace. The gift has been made, it is ours for the taking.

In making this gift He has atoned for all men. He has opened the way through the veil (Hebrews 10:19,20), to make possible for man to approach the throne of grace for help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)..

The free gift has been variously described as justification, salvation, or atonement among other terms. Does it require faith to appropriate the free gift? Some will say it does; others will say that all men are truly justified, even before faith. If faith or any other kind of response is required, is that a work? I believe that faith is the antithesis (opposite) to work.

Works is something that you do, something that you can take pride in It does not require a change in the life. Faith is an intuitive relation with God, a path to His grace and power to change your life. If justification can be equated with "prevenient grace" it is easier to understand; as this grace is what God gives to all men to awaken in them a desire for faith and salvation.

However a person cannot be saved unless he exercises faith and learns to trust in Jesus Christ.

Atonement

Jesus’ death on Calvary provided atonement for the sins of men. The atonement was complete, full and free. The one sacrifice on Calvary was fully sufficient. Repeated sacrifices were not needed (Hebrews 9:12, 28; 10:12, 14, 18).

Confusion on this issue comes in understanding the two fold priestly ministry of Christ in Heaven. Jesus paid the penalty at Calvary. Humanity was bought back and condemnation removed. Man were given a probation to allow them again to choose Christ or Satan.

At this point it becomes personal. A person must respond to the free gift of Christ. That response is to decide for Christ, to consent to the work of His grace. Jesus is pictured standing outside the door (Revelation 3:20). His knocking awakens in each person a desire for righteousness, an enmity against evil, an inner desire to keep the law He writes on the heart. Those who spurn the love of God are eventually lost. Those who respond to Christ will open the door, they will exercise faith, and will be made a "new creature." This becomes the beginning of fellowship and a new life in Him.

Please find the article on "prevenient grace" which was taught by John Wesley. Prevenient grace is that grace that comes to a person, before faith, to awaken in him a desire for righteousness. It is that grace that makes it possible for a person to exercise faith.

Some will deny that men have any part in their salvation. But God has given each man free will. If God should choose to over ride men’s free will, then the sacrifice on Calvary would have been unnecessary!

Men are saved by grace one by one. Each person must choose Christ. In the priestly ministry of Jesus in heaven, sins are forgiven by the cleansing blood of Jesus as each case is examined. In this the Atonement at the Cross is applied to each of His people.

The second phase of Jesus’ priestly ministry in heaven is called the great day of atonement. This is NOT another "atonement." It is the time when sins already forgiven, already atoned for, are blotted out of the record – and even from the memories of all those who sinned and those sinned against (Jeremiah 31:34). . This is discussed in article #26, Judgment, the Day of Atonement.

Grace: God’s Gift to Man

The following is adapted from Robert J. Wieland, Dial Daily Bread for Jan. 2, 2009.

When Adam and Eve sinned, this presented a special problem for a loving God. He is omniscient and knows all things. He is all powerful and can do all things. He is also loving and gave created beings free will so as to promote a love freely given to be returned to Him. So what He does must also appeal to the free will of all created beings. He must be seen as just and as merciful.

"To the utter surprise of the vast unfallen universe, the Lord solved the problem in the most unthinkable way: He frankly forgave us all." The apostle Paul thought it through, and he has written out the story for us in Romans 5:

   12 "It was through one man [Adam] that sin entered the world, and through sin death, and thus death pervaded the whole human race, inasmuch as all have sinned. [That last phrase in the Greek suggests that we can’t blame Adam entirely for our plight, because we have all done what he did—sinned].

   15 "... But God’s act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam’s wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many [everybody!], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many [everyone] by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. 16 And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man’s sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a [judicial] verdict of acquittal. ... 17 Much more shall those who in far greater measure receive grace and the gift of righteousness live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ."

   18 "It follows, then, that as the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (Romans 5:12, 15-18, Revised English Bible).

See also these same verses in the New Century Version. Romans chapter five explains central concepts of the Everlasting Gospel, which affect the Christian walk of each one of us. Here are more thoughts on Romans 5.

(a) If the Lord’s "free gift is of many offenses unto justification" for "all men," does that mean that "all men" are going to be saved? Does Paul teach "Universalism"?

(b) No, the fact that justification is a "free gift" to "all men" does not mean that all men have opened their hearts to receive the "free gift." The latter is our part in salvation: God’s part is in His giving; our part is in our "receiving."

(c) "Receiving" means making room in our hearts for His "much more abounding grace" (Romans 5:20); there is no room for anything else! All the world and its worldly pleasures are out, in order to make room for this heavenly grace.

(d) To "receive" means a heart appreciation; a comprehension of the great extent of that "grace" which means that on His cross the Son of God gave Himself to go to hell for us, that is, He did not merely go to sleep for a weekend—He "tasted" our second death (Hebrews 2:9).

(e) Jesus committed Himself to the second death; hope did not present to Him His coming forth a conqueror in the resurrection; therefore His commitment equaled the dying of our second death. (My God, why hast thou forsaken me?)

(f) While on your knees, think about what Jesus has done for you. Praise Him for His love. Now nothing will ever be the same again.

Gospel

How then can you be changed? Not education, not wealth or fame, not counseling, not even sitting in the pew at church. And, let me whisper, not even by meticulous keeping of the law! It is only by abiding in Christ and becoming a new creature that you are changed. Only in this way can you be lifted out of your selfishness. It is the God who delivered Israel from Egypt who will deliver you from sin . Only in this way can you truly obey. This obedience must be rooted in faith. A faith that begins with knowledge, is confirmed by action, and is completed in love.

When you are drawn to Christ, you are also convicted of sin (Galatians 3:24). You confess your sin, are forgiven, and "cleansed of all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). You are born again and become a new creature. You now want to be like Christ. The ten commandment law is a guide to tell you what Christ is like. It is in Christ that you keep the law.

   "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

   "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Galatians 3:24, 25).

   "Therefore if any man be inChrist, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" ; (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When you are converted or "saved" it does not mean that you have "arrived." The direction of your life is now towards Christ. By observing Him, you increasingly see the sinless purity of His life and you increasingly see your own sinful nature (Romans 7:24). This produces a growing gap between your view of who Jesus is and a recognition of who you are. This can be discouraging, but Jesus has bridged that gap by the cross.

The grace and the love of Christ are needed in the life every day. By meditation on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will impress you with what He has done for you. Your relationship to Him becomes your highest value. By beholding Him, you become more like Him.

   "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).