Grace Rules!

diamond.jpegMaybe I should say it rocks. Anyhoo, it should be the centerpiece of theology–next to Christology, of course (the person and work of Christ). The founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, wrote:

The exact and discriminate meaning of the word grace should be crystal clear to every child of God.

There’s my guiding light.

Here are a couple of my favorite grace verses and a little bit of commentary.

““So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32, NKJV.

Observations:

  1. This is Paul’s final farewell to his most beloved church (the Ephesians). You would think he would reserve his finest sentiments for these believers.
  2. He commends them to “the word of his grace.” That is, to the in-depth teaching of the Word of God, which, rightly taught, expresses the grace-policy of God toward mankind… and when rightly received, builds internal structures of grace-based power in the hearts and minds of disciples.
  3. explosion.jpegThat word has a certain power (dunamis, “which is able).
  4. It has the power to build you up. That means to make you strong, stable, mature, and happy in your life with God.
  5. It also has the power to give you an inheritance. That means to create in you the maximum possible capacity to enjoy and experience all the grace that God had in mind for you when he saved you.

“that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7, NKJV.

Observations:

  1. This verse is a purpose clause; it explains God’s purpose in saving our sorry rear ends. That’s why it begins with “that.”
  2. This verse also tells us that God is a show-off. He wants to show off something for all the cosmos to see and celebrate. What’s that?
  3. gold.jpegThe exceeding riches… let’s translate that the infinite or immeasurable riches… Human language cannot describe the treasure that God has in store for his saints.
  4. Of his grace. The riches belong to and come from the source of his grace. If you ever doubt that grace is a divine supply, come to this verse. But we have to ask, “In what way exactly will God show off his immeasurably wealthy grace?”
  5. The last clause is describes the means of God’s show-off-i-ness. “By means of his kindness toward us.” Hard to imagine a God that good, isn’t it? That’s because we’re such numb-skulls when it comes to grace.
  6. IN Christ Jesus. By virtue of our union with Christ. Not by virtue of our virtue.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16, NKJV.

Observations:

  1. Jesus is Lord. God is king. But what kind of Lord/King is he? His throne is a throne of grace. You figure it out. For all those who want to cram lordship down our throats, I say Amen! He is Lord. He is my Lord of Grace. And his kingdom is a kingdom of Grace. And to submit to him is to submit to grace. I’ll take that deal any day.
  2. We appreciate both the gift and the Giver. Both/And. I don’t like the facile (legalistic) zingers that tell us to forget the gift and love the Giver. I can’t forget the gift. I love gifts. How about both: we are invited to “obtain” and to “find.” So, I say, obtain and find boldly. What?
  3. Mercy–God’s kindness toward the pathetic, wretched, and miserable. Grace–God’s kindness toward the undeserving. To help in time of need. God digs our neediness and promises to fill it.

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.” Psalms 115:1, NKJV.

Observations:

  1. The purpose of all creation is to glorify God. Your purpose and mine is to glorify God. Ask a hundred blog-readers how to glorify God. What will they say? Works. Effort. Being nice. Showing love. Doing good. The Sermon on the Mount (sorry, I had to get that dig in). What does God’s Word say?
  2. The most overlooked truth in biblical Christianity today: God is glorified not by what we do for him (works) but by what he does for us (grace/mercy).
  3. Therefore, if we want to bring maximum glory to God, our task is to so position our souls that we experience maximum grace from God. How?
  4. Because of his truth. Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth. I commend you to the Word of his Grace which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance… and that results in maximum glory for God.

Go Grace! Go Grace! Go Grace!

Or in the resounding words of an ancient prophet, cheering on God’s people as they rebuilt a temple:

“‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”” Zechariah 4:7, NKJV.

If we ain’t got grace, we ain’t got nothing. As Spurgeon preached:

. . .If you take away the grace of God from the gospel you have extracted from it its very life-blood, and there is nothing left worth preaching, worth believing, or worth contending for. Grace is the soul of the gospel: without it the gospel is dead.

spurgeon.gif

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12 thoughts on “Grace Rules!

  1. I’ve been exploring MAXGRACE for sometime now and am enjoying it tremendously. I have been looking for the proper place to discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon and have found everything but such a place. So I hope it is all right to ask a question here about last Sunday’s sermon.
    I thought it was an excellent idea to trace the Messianic promise all through scripture the way you did. As a matter of fact I decided to go home and highlight those verses with a HI-LITER in my Bible. One question arose:
    Gen. 3 Seed of the woman. I get it. No problem!
    However, In Genesis 9 in the story of Noah I believe you said that GOD was the one who was referenced when it said:
    “And may he dwell in the tents of Shem” (NKJ)
    As I read that verse, I took it to mean that Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem.
    So I checked my NIV where it says:
    “May God extend the territory of Japheth;
    may Japheth live in the tents of Shem”

    So I decide to contact one of my (smart) friends who has access to something like 26 different translations, figuring that he would reinforce the idea that God was the “he”. For what it’s worth he said he couldn’t find one translation (or commentator) that credited God with being the “he” of Genisis 9:27

    Did I misunderstand the message or am I misunderstanding the Word?
    Personally, I want God to be the “he”, but I’m not sure that He is.

    Again, if there is a better place to post such a question, please let me know.

  2. One of my all-time favorite sermons is one where you preached on
    Zech. 4. My favorite life verse is packed in that chapter ever since.

    I’m humbled and extremely thankful!!!!

  3. Hi Alan,

    Insightful question based on heartwarming research. Kudo’s. I actually studied that verse (and the question of the pronoun’s antecedent) as I prepared for my sermon.

    The most compelling argument that I have found on this verse comes from one of my favorite OT scholars, Walter Kaiser. Kaiser taught OT at Trinity when I was there. He is now the president of Gordon Conwell Theol Seminary.

    You will find his treatment of Gen 9 in “The Messiah in the Old Testament.” He argues grammatically and theologically that God is our best option to be the antecedent of the pronoun “he.”

    John Gill’s commentary notes:

    “the Targums understand this in a mystical sense. Onkelos thus:

    “God shall cause his Shechinah or glorious Majesty to dwell in
    the tents of Shem;”

    which was remarkably true, when Christ, the brightness of his Father’s glory, the Word, was made flesh, and tabernacled in Judea”

    If you don’t have Kaiser’s book you can try your local Christian university library.

    Thanks for asking.
    Bill

  4. Thanks, Alan, for your question too. It made me grab my Bible and look up Genesis 9:27 for which I thank you for causing me to check it out too. I have a NAS (New American Standard) version, with commentary by John MacArthur. His explanation agrees with Dr. G’s: “dwell in the tents” – This means that spiritual blessings would come to the Japhethites through the God of Shem (v 26) and the line of Shem from which Messiah would come.

    I loved this sermon, Dr. G! How great to see the ONE story throughout forever! Thanks.

  5. What this is teaching me is to NOT assume that my translation is necessarily correct. Twice now (actually three times) I have purchased a Bible translation based on the recommendation of someone I truly respected. I own a NAS, a NIV and a NKJ and I find myself cross checking between them more and more as I study God’s Word.

    Thanks for your answers

    Alan

  6. Alan,
    I beg to differ–respectfully.
    It’s great that you have several different Bibles. That’s the secret. You can trust your Bible–any standard version.
    But when you do word by word study, or in-depth study, then compare them. Wherever there are discrepancies (meaningful ones), then you know that something tough is happening in the underlying Greek or Hebrew, forcing the translators to make some tough choices. I prefer translations (NASB or NKJV) that leave the ambiguity unresolved (“may he dwell in the tents of Shem”), forcing me into some serious study.

    Bill

  7. And I beg to differ – respectfully, Dr. G. With all the analness going on over which translation is the “inspired” Word of God, I think Alan should have some skepticism with the translations, because they are just that, translations. Do I believe God uses these “translations” to His glory and honor? You bet I do! However, if they are done with the most accuracy and honor to the original, and still have some “tough choices,” then I agree most heartedly to the forced serious study. Whatever the choice, it’s still much better to be studying the Word of God than something else that’s just someone’s opinion. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and can use whatever the translation to bring about knowledge and growth!

  8. Perhaps I should have worded it differently;

    “Not to assume that any ONE translation is correct” without first cross referencing and studying. This is the second time recently that different translations have given me very different apparent meanings. I will no longer be satisfied with just one translation, no matter which one it is. Maybe I’ll learn Hebrew.
    The friend I mentioned earlier reads a different translation every year. When I grow up I wannna be like him.

  9. Great exposition. Please never apply your brevity lessons to your writing, et al, on grace. I have been listening to a series of sermons on Jonah by a pastor here in LV. One of his key statements is that God’s commitment to Jonah was greater than Jonah’s commitment to God. This brought to mind your preaching on contentment being based on unwavering loyalty…on God’s part to us. Sorry for that spoiler if you haven’t listened to that yet.
    One question I do have about this entry: Why do you have a picture of Chewbacca at the end of it (or is it the Cowardly Lion)?

  10. Dear Matt,
    It’s actually neither Chewie nor the Cowardly Lion.
    It’s Brian McLaren after he’s seen the light.
    Bill

    (Aw, c’mon. Can’t a guy joke around a little…)

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