The quick link to the introduction to this course is http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1102
The quick link to this teaching is http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1095
Part 1: The Gospel of Grace
An important part of understanding grace that is ours through the living Word, Jesus Christ, is that grace be based on firm biblical and historical foundations. When we have strong biblical foundations then the intimacy, hope and blessings that come through Jesus and his grace cannot be undermined. As you go through this study course please spend time looking up all the scriptural references quoted in brackets and allow the Holy Spirit to establish the Word in your heart and mind. As you go through each part, at first,there may unanswered question that arise. Many of these will be answered as the course progresses, so hang in there. If by the end of the course you feel any question has not been answered sufficiently please spend time in prayer and the Scriptures asking the Holy Spirit for revelation. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you still feel clarification is needed and we will endeavor to help.
We are privileged to be living in an amazing time for the church and the kingdom – a time as the church has never known before. Five hundred years ago, the Holy Spirit gave the Reformers, one of whom was Martin Luther, a revelation that we are saved and justified by grace alone. This revelation started to free the church from the false doctrine of salvation through good works. The revelation that salvation was by grace and not by dead works was the catalyst that brought mankind out of the Dark Ages. Sadly, history shows that the revelation of grace was not fully received and implemented by the Reformers. The majority of church Reformers, who taught salvation by grace alone, ultimately established theologies and governmental church systems that were founded on a mixture of grace and Law. The good news is that God is rectifying this shortfall. This is a time of amazing Holy Spirit revelation and new reformation that is revitalizing the church. The church is once again focusing on the centrality of Christ, his Cross and his grace – for these are the foundations of His kingdom. For the first time since the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit is bringing the church back to the understanding that not only are we saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but we are called to live everyday by the grace of Jesus. Correctly understanding grace is crucial to the effectiveness of the church in this era where there is an increasing flood of harsh legalistic religion. Without a revelation of the grace and the love of God (1 John 4:16), it is actually impossible to know the truth of God’s purpose for mankind and the church. Grace, truth and Jesus Christ are inseparable (John 1:17).
1. The Scriptures
One of the crucial aspects of understanding God’s grace is that we correctly use the Scripture in the context of the Holy Spirit’s progressive revelation of Jesus’ gospel of grace and His kingdom. This gospel is found in shadows and types throughout all the Old Testament scriptures. If we accept the fact that the ultimate purpose of all Scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ, his righteousness, his salvation, his grace and his kingdom, it will affect the way we read and interpret Scripture.
1.1 Principles of Bible Reading
John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
These are some of the principles we will be applying when reading Scriptures:
We believe that all Scripture is from God and in its original language, is without error. It has spiritual authority and power. It is alive and active for each new day. It reveals spiritual truth about the spiritual kingdom of God and therefore can only be truly understood in its fullness through the revelation of the Holy Spirit to “born again” believers. To correctly interpret any scripture;
1. Scripture is used to interpret scripture.
2. The principle of first mention is helpful i.e. the first time something is mentioned will shed light on all subsequent mentions.
3. Scripture, especially the Old Testament, is highly symbolic, poetic and prophetic. The Jews would have picked up on these nuances and hidden meanings which form a thread through their generations and history.
4. The Scriptures reveal one of the core underlying themes since the Fall of man; God dependant righteousness, which pleases God, as opposed to man’s independent self righteousness, which God hates (more on this important truth in part 5).
5. Because of God’s different covenants (which we will look at in part 2) not all Scripture applies to born again believers, but all Scripture is valid, important, useful and insightful.
6. The New Testament is a fulfilment of the Old Testament and it is directly linked and does not stand on its own.
7. Jesus acted in a specific ways so as to fulfil the Old Testament Scriptures, the Jewish people knew and recognized this.
8. The mindset with which we approach Scripture affects what we are able to receive from Scriptures. To those who seek Law, it teaches Law, to those who desire grace, it reveals Jesus as grace.
1.2 The Eight C’s
There are many varying opinions on the way to use the Bible. Applying the following eight “C” points can be a helpful way to gain revelation and understanding of any scripture, especially in the context Jesus’ grace:
- Christ: How does it reveal and point to Jesus as Lord and Saviour and our intimate relationship with him?
- The Cross: What does it say or imply about the finished work of the cross?
- The Context: Who and what issues was it originally addressing? Have we read the whole message or just taken a scripture out of its context?
- The Covenant: Which covenant applies to this scripture, Law or Grace?
- Citizenship: What does it say about the kingdom of God, our citizenship thereof and the Holy Spirits leading?
- The New Creation: How does it point to the new creation – the born again believer?
- The Church: What is it telling us about God’s people – the church and fellowship?
- God’s Children: What does it say about the children of “Abba” God?
1.3 The Scriptures Reveal Jesus
Jesus is the living Word and Scripture is the revelation of the Word (Greek: logos), who is Jesus. It is not a rule book, but the revelation of Christ. It reveals God’s plan to save mankind through Jesus. The Scriptures cannot save anyone, only Jesus can.
John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 5:39 – “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.”
Luke 24:27 – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Acts 18:28 – “For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”
2 Timothy 3:15 – “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Mark 14:49 – “Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
1.4 Two Ways of Righteousness
Rom 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
A foundational theme of all Scripture is that there are basically two systems of “getting right” with God. One works and the other fails! (More on this in part 5).
1. Self righteousness through the knowledge of good and bad: Good works and religious Law keeping by self effort.
2. God’s gift of righteousness through revelation and faith in his Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2. Scripture in the Context of Grace
John 1:17 – “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
This Scripture clarifies the context in which born again believers seek to understand the Scriptures. Scriptures are often quoted out of context. When this happens, a scripture can take on a totally different meaning to its original intended use. As the saying goes, “A scripture taken out of context is a con.” A very important principle is that the context of a scripture is essential to correctly understanding that scripture. For instance; Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away… and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” We all know that there is no way Jesus expected us to literally apply this, otherwise we would be a church of blind, one handed people. However taken out of context some may justify doing exactly as he said – as in Saudi Arabia today. However, taken in the context of the whole teaching which starts in Matthew 5:1 and ends in Matthew 7:28, we see that the actual issue was the self righteousness and hypocrisy of the religious Jews and that the keeping of the Mosaic Law could not make one righteous enough in God’s eyes.
2.1 The Context of Division in the Early Church
To correctly understand some of the most important parts of the New Testament and to root ourselves in the New Covenant and the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24), we need to understand one of the major issues that Jesus was addressing through Paul – what was the context of Paul’s letters?
One of the major issues of Paul’s day was the division and conflict within the churches between Christians from a Jewish background and Christians from a gentile (pagan) background. Even Peter and James fell into the trap of promoting divisions over the Law of Moses, and Paul rebuked them for it (Gal.2:11). “So what?” you may say, “I don’t have any religious Jews in my church.” That may be true, but this basic issue of Law or grace is still evident today among all Christians and it affects the way we read the Scriptures, the personal way we understand the gospel and how we live out “The Gospel of Grace” in love and faith.
2.2 Law Keepers and Grace Believers
The conflict between these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, arose because:
1. The Christians from a Jewish background believed that they were more godly and holy because they and their families had kept God’s Law for generations (Ro.2:17). They believed that their Jewish culture had refined them and made them a holy people. They believed that they came into the church with a holy advantage, a holy credit, earned by their family’s generational good works in keeping the Law of Moses.
2. Sadly these Jewish Christians looked down on, and judged Christians with a Greek/Roman culture because their culture was idolatrous and prone to be sexually immoral. Admittedly many of the Greek believers had not fully come free from the “free love” that their culture permitted, in Jewish eyes this made them second class Christians. However the irony was that the Jewish believers secretly did the same things! (Ro.2:23-24).
3. The Jewish Christians believed the gentile Christians needed a good dose of The Law of Moses to get their lives right. After all they claimed “It worked for us Jews”.
4. Intrinsically these judgmental Jewish Christians did not believe that God’s grace and the Holy Spirit in the gentile Christians was enough for their sanctification.
5. They proclaimed to the gentiles that the Law was needed in addition to being saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.
6. They judged the gentile Christians harshly and told them that only The Law of Moses could control their immoral lives.
This self righteous and judgmental attitude of the Jewish Christians and their call to implement the Mosaic Law to curb gentile sin was found throughout the church, in Rome (Ro.4:13-15), Galatia (Gal.3:1-5),Corinth and Ephesus. This judgmental attitude obviously caused great hurt, anger and division in the churches.
It was these compounded errors that Paul’s letters address:
i) Holiness and righteousness is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone (1Co.1:30).
ii) The keeping of laws imposed on us by others no longer has a place in the Christian life (Ro.6:14).
iii) We are now led by God’s Spirit and God’s Word which lives in us. Not by rules, church canons, regulations and laws (Gal.2:20)
The interesting thing that has been missed by many is that Paul points out to both the Jews and the Jewish Christians that their godly inheritance and history was actually far from holy. Even though their ancestors knew and heard God (unlike the pagan nations) they still chose to worship idols and engage in sexual immorality right under God’s nose, even on the day the Law of Moses was given at Mount Sinai (Reading the books of Judges and Kings confirms their ongoing sin). If you wish to look deeper into the depth of depravity and godlessness of Israel and what God was feeling, also read Ezek.23:14-21, but be warned its X rated stuff.
Paul rebukes the Jewish Christians in Romans 1:21-25, because of their sins listed in Jeremiah 32:34, Ezekiel 8:10, Judges 19:22, Exodus 32:1-6. Basically Paul says, ”How dare you judge the gentiles who didn’t know God, when you and your forefathers, who did know God, chose to do the very same things. So much for Israel’s Law-keeping, you unholy, self-righteous hypocrites!” (Jesus had similar strong words for the Jewish religious teachers of the day).
The same applies today, we need to beware of religious hypocrisy and judgmentalism. We are called to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. He alone can enable us to live holy lives by the Holy Spirit, not external laws and rules imposed on us by others. We are righteous by the blood of Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Word.
When we read the Bible let us read and seek revelation through the lenses of grace, not with the lenses of the Law.
2.3. A Scriptural Exercise
Before the first group meeting, read through and meditate on the following scriptures. Consider them in the context of the above teaching and answer the questions.
Act 15:11. We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 4:16, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be
guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
The issue of Jewish superiority and hypocrisy: What was it?: How do you think it affected church life, their ability to rest in God’s grace and advance the God’s kingdom? In today’s church context are there similar issues and attitudes? What do these Scriptures teach us in relation to grace, fellowship and the preaching of the gospel today?___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Amazing Grace.
3.1 What is Grace?
John 1:14 The Word (Greek: logos) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Firstly, as hard as it may be to grasp, in Christian terms, grace is not a doctrine or a concept, grace is a person, Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there is no true grace. Jesus is grace personified. There are of course doctrines of grace found in other spiritual disciplines such as the New Age Movement, however true Godly grace and Jesus Christ cannot be separated. As Christians we are not called to reveal and promote grace, but Jesus Christ. Emphasising a doctrine of grace can divide and confuse, but revealing the person of grace, Jesus Christ brings us together as the Body of Christ, his Church.
The first mention of grace in the New Testament is found in John 1:14. The New Testament Greek word for grace is “χάρις” pronounced “charis”. Thayer’s defines this as that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness and a grace of speech, goodwill, loving-kindness and favour, of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. The Greek word “charis” is closely related to the foundational word “χαίρω” (chairō), meaning to rejoice, be glad, to rejoice exceedingly, to be well and to thrive.
The first mention of grace in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The Old Testament Hebrew word for grace is “חן“ (chen) pronounced “khane” which Strong defines as subjectively meaning; kindness and favour and objectively meaning; beauty, favour, grace, pleasant, precious and well favoured. In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, the Hebrew word “khane” is translated as the Greek word “charis”.
A closer study of Scripture and the practices of Jesus will show that grace is:
1. Our unearned, unconditional blessing from God.
2. The free gift of eternal life.
3. God’s goodness to us.
4. His unconditional, freely given, love for us.
5. God’s empowerment of us by His Spirit.
6. The fulfilment of God’s promises in Christ.
7. God’s riches at Christ expense.
8. Jesus’ fulfilment of Scripture and Law on our behalf.
9. God’s empowering to overcome sin.
10. Our qualification before God.
11. Blessing upon blessing.
12. The expression of God’s love.
13. God’s mercy plus God’s adoption as his children.
Simply put, grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved and unearned favour in Jesus Christ.
3.2 Saved by Grace Alone (Sola Gratia)
Ephesians 2:4-10 “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
This is the great revelation of Jesus Christ, the unique truth of Christianity, the dividing line between Christianity and all other religions, salvation is by grace alone. There is no other religion or system of faith that offers such a good deal. Religion per se, is always about works and performance, grace is about relationship with Jesus Christ. The characteristics of salvation by grace are that it flows from God’s great love and mercy. It is based on the kindness of God. It is centred on Jesus Christ and His life imputed to us. It is activated and appropriated by faith; a trust in God’s goodness. It is a free gift from a loving heavenly Father. Nothing on our part has, or can earn this gift. Our good or bad works have no bearing on our salvation and therefore we have nothing we can boast about as nothing we did or did not do qualified us in any way to be saved. We were created for the purpose of being saved by God’s grace to be intimate children with our “Abba” Father (Ro.8:15) and be his ambassadors and agents in this world. We lovingly and joyfully carry out his will and do his works. These works do not earn or maintain our salvation but are simply preordained for us as God’s children and ambassadors in Christ (2Co.5:20).
3.3 It’s Not Maintenance by Works
Romans 11:5, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
The big battle in the minds of many believers is that good works still have some part in maintaining our justified, forgiven and saved state. Scripture makes it very clear that this is not so. To add any condition, work or law to grace is to deny the sufficiency of God’s grace and the finished work of the cross. Grace living is about a total dependence on God’s goodness and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. It is not based on our ability or will to do what is right. The good works we now do flows out of the grace we have received, not the other way around. The root of true and godly works is the grace of Jesus Christ and our intimacy with “Abba”. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
3.4 Jesus’ Grace is our Right Standing with God
Our right standing or righteousness with God is his love gift to us through Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to all who choose to believe in him as Lord and Saviour. This is the great exchange that took place on the cross. His righteousness for our sin. We are no longer slaves to sin but we are now slaves to righteousness (Rom.6:18). This will be discussed in more detail in part 5.
3.5 Grace Preaching Has Great Historical Roots
The present emphasis on grace is not new. The centrality of Jesus’ grace is both scriptural and historical. Many great historic preachers and teachers understood the significance and uniqueness of Jesus’ grace.
a) Martin Luther (1483-1546), the great German Reformer.
“This grace of God is a very great, strong, mighty and active thing. It does not lie asleep in the soul. Grace hears, leads, drives, draws, changes, works all in man, and let’s itself be distinctly felt and experienced. It is hidden, but its works are evident.”
“So Paul in Titus 3:5-7 discards all boasted free will, all human virtue, righteousness, and good works. He concludes that they are all nothing and are wholly perverted, however brilliant and worthy they may appear, and teaches that we must be saved solely by the grace of God, which is effective for all believers who desire it from a correct conception of their own ruin and nothingness. Yes, dear friend, you must first possess heaven and salvation before you can do good works. Works never merit heaven; heaven is conferred purely of grace. The delusive doctrine of works blinds the Christian’s eyes, perverts a right understanding of faith, and forces him from the way of truth and salvation. He who does not receive salvation purely through grace, independently of all good works, certainly will never secure it. Truly, then, we are saved by grace alone, without works or other merit. Notice John 3:16, all who believe have eternal life. That being true, believers certainly are just and holy without works. Works contribute nothing to justification. It is effected by pure grace richly poured out upon us. We receive forgiveness and grace at no cost or labour on our part, but not without cost and labour on the part of Christ. Our salvation must exist, not in our righteousness, but in Christ’s righteousness. Let his righteousness and grace, not yours, be your refuge.”
(b) Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), famous Reformed Welsh preacher.
“It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our death beds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the Grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace wondrous grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. Yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me.
“We are Christians entirely and solely as the result of the grace of God. Let us remind ourselves once more that ‘grace’ means unmerited, undeserved favour. It is an action which arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is that it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves—‘unmerited’ favour. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is—that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word ‘grace’ excludes that. It is in spite of us. Salvation is not in any sense God’s response to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching at this point, and everywhere in all the New Testament, is that we have no sort or kind of right whatsoever to salvation, that the whole glory of salvation is, that though we deserved nothing but punishment and hell and banishment out of the sight of God to all eternity, yet God, of His own love and grace and wondrous mercy, has granted us this salvation. Now that is the entire meaning of this term ‘grace’. Creatures who were spiritually dead are now alive—how has it happened? Can a dead man raise himself? It is impossible. There is only one answer, ‘By grace ye are saved’.”
c) Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), influential English preacher and evangelist.
“If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, ‘I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.’ But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.”
d) Watchman Nee (1903-1972), Chinese evangelist, author and church planter
“Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which he places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfilment, then deliverance from law means he no longer requires that from me, but himself provides it.”
e) D.L. Moody (1837-1899), prolific American evangelist
“Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favour…. Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The Law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along to straighten me out.”
3.6 Salvation by Grace is the Full Package of Life Now
“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows” (John 10:10).
One of the great misconceptions concerning salvation is that it simply means to be saved from sin and death – to receive eternal life. Jesus grace earned so much more than that for us. Salvation is much more than just a future heavenly life to come, it is full and abundant life now. Grace is a continuing way of life. The Greek word “to be saved or salvation” is “σώζω”, sozo. Thayer defines it as, “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, from injury or peril. To save a suffering one from perishing, i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. To preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue. To deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment and to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.” “Sozo” is a package of both future eternal life and the gift of abundant life right now. Grace not only brings us eternal life but health, wholeness, safety, forgiveness, blessing and victory over evil – today. This is kingdom living – accepting his gifts and learning to live and reign in Christ right here and right now. Grace qualifies us and empowers us in every way for this victorious kingdom life that is a witness to those around us.
3.7 Grace Qualifies
Col 1:12 “Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Many believers constantly feel unworthy and undeserving. This results in spiritual paralysis and passivity. This is one of the biggest indicators of a Law based belief system or the mixing of Law and grace. Unworthiness stems from the belief that it is our own performance or righteousness that qualifies us to be used by God. Deep down they know that this is a shaky foundation which will always fail. Many live with a deep unspoken fear that God will at some stage “take away” or bring about terrible hardship to teach them a lesson or punish them because they have fallen short. When they are blessed they either feel guilty or undeserving and suspect that it’s too good to be true. This mentality is founded in Law. The Law always disqualifies us because it always points out our faults. Grace on the other hand qualifies us and points to Jesus as our only qualification. Jesus’ grace and kingdom is unshakable (Heb.12:28) and therefore empowers us, gives us assurance and confidence to be blessed and minister effectively and with spiritual power. Under grace we have confidence as we know that God is there to help us at all times (Heb.4:16).
3.8 Grace Blesses
John 1:16 (Amp.) “For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favour upon favour and gift [heaped] upon gift”.
The Law of Moses blesses and curses based on our performance. In contrast the abundant overflowing grace of Jesus bring us blessing and blessing because it is based on Jesus’ performance and righteousness. Under grace our sin and curse has been transferred to Jesus on the cross and his righteousness and blessings has been transferred to us. It is the great exchanged of the cross – so we are now able to live with the expectation of God’s continual blessing. Even when times are hard and suffering is intense, we live in hope and anticipation of the better to soon come through grace.
3.9 Grace Offends
Galatians 5:11 “Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision (i.e. the Law), why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.”
The cross heralded in the new system in which we are called to live – that of God’s grace. Grace is scandalous. It is hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers as it defies our judgement based on logic. It is truly not of this world, it frightens us with what it does for sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them. We would save the “not-so-bad”, but God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the giver; Jesus, and nothing to the receiver; the sinner. It is given to those who do not deserve it, barely recognise it, and hardly appreciate it. That is why God alone gets the glory for our salvation that is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn.19:30). Grace focuses on Jesus work and performance, not ours.
4. One Gospel
4.1 One Message of Good News
Luke 4:18 Jesus read “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor”.
The Greek word for gospel is “εὐαγγέλιον,” euaggelion, meaning a good message or good news. We are called to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom which is founded on God’s grace. The gospel is described in a number of ways in the Scriptures:
The gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24)
The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1)
The gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:3)
The gospel of God (Romans 1:1)
The gospel of peace (Romans 10:15)
Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16)
The gospel of Christ (Romans 15:19)
These designations are merely contextual and definitive. They are all one in the same single gospel which has been progressively revealed since the fall of mankind and was finally given to the Apostle Paul in its fullness by the glorified Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). A combined description of the gospel would be: “The good news of the grace and peace of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and His kingdom”.
4.2 The Gospel of Grace and the Kingdom
Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”
The unique revelation that the glorified Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul was the link between the kingdom and grace. Paul makes it clear in the above scripture that he was preaching the kingdom of God, but that his unique calling from Jesus calling was to testify to the Gospel of Grace. The revelation and manifestation of the kingdom reign and rule of Jesus Christ, first in the hearts of believers and then in the world, can only fully come about under the system of grace founded in Christ and His finished work on the cross. In a sense grace is the system by which the kingdom is administered, just as democracy for instance is the system of administration in the United Kingdom. Jesus declared in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus preached this knowing that His gift of righteousness is the foundation of the gospel of grace (see the part 5 on righteousness) which brings about entrance and citizenship in the kingdom of God. This is the link that in times past has been missed. Many have preached the kingdom but have failed to see the link between the kingdom and grace.
Colossians 4:6 states, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Our response to the enquiries of the world is Jesus’ grace and that the kingdom of God and grace are inextricably linked.
4.3 Stick to the Gospel of Grace
Galatians 1:6-7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Finally it is clear that undermining the gospel of grace is one of the keys schemes of Satan (Eph.6:11) and his false prophets and teachers. Adding law to grace nullifies grace and denies the effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul was well aware of this battle and issue. The reading of Galatians, especially Galatians chapter 1, reveals the intensity of the battle to maintain the purity of the gospel.
Read through the following Scriptures: Galatians 1:1-24, 3:1-14 and reflect on the passion of Paul’s defense of the gospel and grace.
5. GROUP EXCERISE
5.1 The Prodigal Son
The famous parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 shows the Father’s grace towards someone that should have been stoned according to the Law of Moses. But there is also
another son in the story. This parable contains some of the most pertinent lessons on grace found in the Scriptures. Carefully read this parable and comment on what you believe Jesus was trying to teach about the Father’s love, acceptance and how to live in grace.
Now that we have established a Biblical understanding of the grace, in part 2 we will look at the New Covenant agreement that our loving, “Abba” Father has made that guarantees us his blessing and grace through Jesus Christ.
6. FOR EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS
6.1 Group exercise and questions
If you are doing this course by Email it should ideally be done in a networked group setting with a minimum of five people so that an active discussion can take place and different viewpoints explored. Those doing the course at a distance by Face Book or Email should discuss the questions below in a study group either on line or at an actual group meeting. Individual should then answer the questions and email a copy to us at email@example.com for evaluation. This will also help us to see the effectiveness of the teachings and how to improve them. We will endeavour to answer any questions that are unresolved by the end of the course. This course is free but we do ask that you help promote its use by telling your friends and churches about it. Also please send us the names and emails of all participants so we can keep in contact with further course updates. All Email information will be kept private and confidential.
Answer the following questions.
Comment on legalistic religion.
What are some of the principles that can be applied when reading scripture?
What claims did Jesus make about the scriptures?
Explain some of the divisions in the early church and their causes.
What did Jesus say about hypocrisy?
What are dead works?
What is grace?
How do we received grace?
Explain the Greek word, “sozo”.
When and how did Paul get the gospel?
What is the main theme of Galatians 1 &2?
What is the good news?
How did part 1 help you, how can it be improved?
The copyright for this course belongs to G.R.Hare. However, it is published with the intention of being freely and fully available to the worldwide Church. We do ask that if you use the course you acknowledge www.gracelovetruth.com and you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm use. Please pass it onto others.