The Grace of GOD in the Old Testament
By Fred R. Coulter
God has revealed His love and grace to mankind from the beginning. Contrary to both orthodox and modern views of theology, God is manifested throughout the Old Testament as a God of LOVE AND MERCY!
Let’s understand the most basic characteristic of the nature of God. First of all, GOD IS LOVE. Everything God does flows from His love. When God grants His GRACE, it likewise is rooted in and flows from His love. Whenever He extends mercy and forgiveness, favor and blessing, kindness and forbearance, it is by HIS GRACE!
In the Old Testament there is one basic Hebrew word which has been translated “grace.” That word is chen, which is pronounced khane. This word is derived from the root word chanan (pronounced khawnan), which means “grace, favor, goodwill, kindness, gracious and pleasant.” The adjectival form of c/zen is channuwn (pronounced khannoon), which means “gracious.” The Hebrew root word chanan means “gracious, to favor, to be favorably inclined, to pity, to be compassionate, to make acceptable.” It can also mean “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to be moved to favor by a petition or request, to show favor, to grant or give favor or to graciously show mercy and pity” (Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon)
Let us examine the description of the Creation in the first chapter of Genesis to understand how God’s grace was revealed from the beginning.
God’s Grace Revealed From Creation
After God had created the heavens and the earth, He “saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was VERY GOOD” (Gen. 1:31). The word good is translated from the Hebrew tolby, which means “beautiful, bountiful, cheerful, fine, good, GRACIOUS”; its secondary meaning is “joyful, loving, mercy, pleasant, pleasure, prosperity, wealth, well or well-favored” (Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). When God looked upon everything He had made, He saw that everything was very good. It was a BLESSING! As viewed through God’s eyes, His very Creation was a manifestation of HIS LOVE and HIS GRACE.
In order for us to fully understand that the entire Creation was an expression of God’s love and grace, we need to examine the Scriptural account of the creation of Adam and Eve. The very words of God reveal His love and grace: “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).
Of all the creations of God, only mankind was made in the image and likeness of God. This blessing, which was bounteously bestowed upon mankind, is a profound expression of God’s supreme love and grace. To further demonstrate His love, when the Lord God made Adam and Eve, He personally formed them with His very own hands. This act reveals that the Lord God intended from the very beginning to have a personal, intimate relationship with them.
No other creature was formed by the hands of God. All other created things and beings were brought into existence by the word of His command, through the power of His Holy Spirit. “You send forth Your Spirit, and they are created” (Psa. 104:30). Of the creation of the heavens, the Scriptures reveal: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psa 33:6). Again the Scriptures confirm, “Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights. Praise ye Him, all His angels; praise ye Him, all His hosts. Praise ye Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars of light. Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for He commanded, and they were created” (Psa. 148:1-5).
However, in the account of the creation of man, notice what the Scriptures record for us: “And the Lord God [Elohim’s Jehovah--a literal translation from the Hebrew] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
The very act of the Lord God Himself breathing the breath of life into the man reveals the intimate relationship that God desired to have with mankind. When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, God also imparted to him a special spiritual essence, called the “spirit in man” (Job 32:8; 33:4; Zech 12:1; I Cor. 2:9-11), giving him the unique ability to think and reason, hence to acquire knowledge and to make decisions based on that knowledge. At the same time, God also implanted into Adam’s mind a fully functioning language in order that he might communicate with his Creator.
Furthermore, in order to show the close, personal relationship of love that God intended man and woman to have as husband and wife, He personally formed Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet [a counterpart, fully compatible and complementary in every way] for him’….And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:18, 21-23). In the same way that the Lord God had breathed into Adam the breath of life, He also breathed the breath of life into Eve and imparted to her the spirit of man and a fully functioning language.
Of all the living creatures that the Lord God had made, only man and woman were created to give and receive love in a most intimate and personal way. None of the other created beings were made to give and receive sexual love face to face. That blessing was reserved for mankind alone. Through the process of procreation, all human beings are blessed with the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ability to give and receive love. Greater still, only mankind was created to have a personal, spiritual, loving relationship with the Creator God. This special blessing of love and grace was not extended to any other fleshly being which the Lord God had made. Man alone was created in the image of God for the ultimate purpose of sharing the power and immortality and glory of God!
Thousands of years later, the Scriptural truth of man’s divinely ordained potential was proclaimed by David, king of Israel, who was a man after God’s own heart. He praised God for His magnificent Creation, and particularly for the creation of mankind. He wrote in one of his many Psalms, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! Who has set Your glory above the heavens….When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than God [Hebrew Elohim, meaning God, incorrectly translated angels in the KJV and other versions; the Hebrew word for angels is malak], and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psa. 8:1-6).
THINK ABOUT IT! Adam and Eve, the progenitors of all mankind, were created in the image and likeness of Almighty God, with the potential to become like Him in every way. This awesome potential is the HIGHEST BLESSING and expression of His LOVE and GRACE that God can bestow upon the work of His hands! When we truly understand and grasp this fact, our love of God and appreciation for His grace grows deeper.
In addition to God’s loving and gracious act in creating them in His image, God further expressed His love and goodness by blessing Adam and Eve. “And God BLESSED them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’” (Gen. 1:28).
What a blessing of love and grace that God bestowed upon Adam and Eve! They could create and produce children made in their own image through the wonderful, intimate act of love. Moreover, God gave to all mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve, dominion over all the earth. God in His gracious goodness created the entire world, and all that is in it, as a gift to mankind. A gift can also be called a grace, because it is freely given.
Adam and Eve
Began Under Grace
The Scriptural account of the Creation makes it clear that mankind was created in a state of grace. From the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve in a physical and spiritual condition of grace and blessing by the act of creation and by His personal presence with them. To help them maintain this personal state of grace and to ensure that they would always know their Creator and be able to commune with the Lord God Himself, in His personal presence, He specifically created and sanctified the seventh day as a perpetual day for rest and fellowship with Him.
The weekly seventh-day Sabbath is more than a memorial of God’s creation. From the beginning, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day as the Sabbath day, as an act of kindness and goodness for all mankind, so that mankind could fellowship with Him as Creator. “And on the sixth day [correct reading the Hebrew] God had ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:2-3).
God created and sanctified the seventh-day Sabbath specifically for mankind. Jesus Christ, Who was the Lord God of Creation, made this fact absolutely clear when He declared that He and He alone was Lord of the Sabbath day. He declared, “The Sabbath was made for man [mankind], and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of Man is LORD ALSO OF THE SABBATH (Mark2:27-28).
When we understand the observance of the first Sabbath in the light of other Scriptures, we can learn a great deal about the grace of God. The Scriptural record in Genesis 3 reveals that Adam and Eve were personally taught by God. They saw God face to face, they talked with God and walked with God--before they had ever sinned. Most certainly God had personally rested and kept the very first Sabbath with Adam and Eve. They kept this first Sabbath with God in a perfect state of grace in His presence. There can be no doubt that God had instructed them on that first Sabbath. What a marvelous day that very first Sabbath must have been! There could be no greater grace than being in the presence of and being taught by the Lord God Himself—their very Creator!
The Scriptures do not tell us how long it was after their creation before Adam and Eve sinned. But until they sinned, they undoubtedly kept the seventh day Sabbath in the presence of the Lord God, their Creator.
The Scriptures make it clear that the creation of the seventh-day Sabbath was an everlasting expression of God’s loving grace to mankind. Because God desires to bestow His love and grace upon us, God has commanded that we keep His Sabbath by resting every seventh day in order that we may be instructed in His Word and may have fellowship with Him. Those who fully understand the purpose of the seventh-day Sabbath know that Sabbath keeping is an acknowledgment of the love and grace of God, not merely the fulfilling of commandment or law.
God Has Given Free Choice—Free Moral Agency
God further revealed His love and grace to Adam and Eve by creating paradise for them to live in. It was called the Garden of Eden. God provided everything for them. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:8-9).
After placing Adam in the garden, God instructed him and set before him choices. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die [literal meaning of the Hebrew, “in dying, you shall surely die”]’” (Gen. 2:15-17).
By creating the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, God revealed that even greater grace was available to Adam and Eve. The Scriptural truth is that eternal life, symbolized by the Tree of Life, is the ultimate destiny of mankind. It is for this purpose that God created Adam and Eve in the beginning. When God placed them in the Garden of Eden, He gave them free access to the Tree of Life. If they had eaten of this tree, God would have revealed to them the way to spiritual salvation and eternal life. The Word of God reveals that spiritual salvation and eternal life are God’s supreme acts of love and grace toward mankind.
However, God does not force His salvation upon mankind. The Lord God created Adam and Eve as free moral agents and gave them the power of independent choice. Every human being has been given this capacity to choose. God has ordained that we must CHOOSE to love, serve and obey our Creator. In the beginning, God desired that Adam and Eve choose His way, which would lead to eternal life, as symbolized by the Tree of Life. But God did not force them to choose to serve and obey Him, nor did He restrict their choice, otherwise free moral agency would not exist.
In order that Adam and Eve might exercise their free moral agency by making independent choices, God also placed in the garden of Eden the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree symbolized the way of man apart from God, under the sway of Satan the devil, which leads to eternal death. But God commanded Adam and Eve NOT to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
These were the two choices God placed before Adam and Eve. THEY HAD TO CHOOSE between: 1) God’s way of life, as symbolized by the Tree of Life, resulting in eternal life; and 2) their own way of life, as symbolized by the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil--cut off from God, removed from His grace, under the sway of Satan the devil--resulting in eternal death.
Although God had specifically commanded them not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve willfully chose to eat of it. When they ate of that tree, following Satan and rejecting God’s way of life, they cut themselves off from God and His blessings, and lost their original state of grace. As a result, they forfeited their right to the Tree of Life. Through their disobedience, Adam and Eve brought sin, misery and death into this world! Curses came instead of blessings, hatred instead of love, judgment instead of grace, sorrow instead of joy, war instead of peace, and death instead of eternal life.
In addition to the sentence of eternal death being passed on to all human beings, a sinful, hostile nature also was passed on to all mankind. The apostle Paul describes the rebelliousness of human nature against God and His law: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God--neither indeed can it be!” (Rom. 8:7, AT.) Paul calls this carnal nature which is inherent within our very beings “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 7:21-8:2).
Jesus Christ also revealed that human nature is inherently evil: “For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil reasonings, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetous desires, wickedness, guile, licentiousness, a wicked eye, blasphemy, haughtiness and foolishness. ALL THESE EVILS COME FROM WITHIN, AND DEFILE THE MAN” (Mark 7:21-23, Al).
All mankind since the time of Adam and Eve—In every age, civilization and society—has rejected the way of God! The only exceptions are the few whom God personally called and who responded by choosing to love and obey God.
Every one who is personally and individually called by God must CHOOSE to serve Him and walk in His way. God will never FORCE anyone to love and obey Him. We must FREELY CHOOSE to love and obey God with our whole hearts and minds.
Because Adam and Eve chose to DISOBEY God, and did NOT obey His command, they lost God’s blessings and grace, and incurred God’s judgment. But the fact that God withdrew His grace from Adam and Eve, and brought judgment upon all humanity, does not mean that God’s character and nature had changed! Not at all! God was and is always the same! God was still a God of LOVE. God was still a God of GRACE. Even while He was pronouncing sentence upon Adam and Eve for their sins, God prophesied of the coming Savior and the grace that would come to all mankind through Jesus Christ (Gen.3:15).
After Adam and Eve lost their state of grace, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. By removing them from Eden, God cut them off from access to the Tree of Life. In spite of the fact that Adam and Eve had sinned, and that mankind in general was cut off from the way to eternal life, God still granted His blessings and grace to those few who truly sought Him and loved Him! Abel, Enoch and Noah were all blessed by God and accepted by Him, obtaining GRACE in His sight. The Scriptures record that Abel was righteous in God’s eyes (Gen. 4:4, Heb. 11:4). Enoch walked with God and pleased God (Gen. 5:22, 24; Heb.11:5). The New Testament confirms that these two righteous men will be resurrected to eternal life, along with Noah and other faithful men and women of the Old Testament whose righteous acts are described in Hebrews 11.
In Old Testament times, only a faithful few received the grace of God unto salvation. The sin and rebellion of Adam and Eve cut off mankind from salvation and eternal life “until the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). The vast majority of Adam and Eve’s descendants had no hope of eternal life until the coming of the prophesied Savior, when the fullness of God’s grace unto salvation became available to all who were called by God (Acts 2:38-39). As the apostle Paul wrote, “For God has shut them up all together in disobedience, so that He might [later, according to His plan and purpose] show mercy to all” (Rom. 11:32, AT).
As a result of being cut off from God by choosing the way of sin and death under the sway of Satan the devil, mankind before the Flood became satiated with evil, violence and wickedness. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts [and intents] of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart....The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, ‘The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth’” (Gen. 6:5-6, 11-13).
Noah Found Grace
In the midst of this sinful and corrupt society, only one man remained faithful to God and found grace in His sight. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord....Noah was a JUST man [he was righteous] and perfect [that is, spiritually sincere and mature] in his generations, and Noah WALKED WITH GOD” (Gen 6:8-9). By recording that Noah walked with God, the Scriptures make it clear that he was humbly and meekly obeying God. He was walking in “the way of the Lord.”
Here is a profound Scriptural truth: GRACE CAN NEVER BE IMPUTED WITHOUT OBEDIENCE AND REPENTANCE! Noah found grace because he willingly loved God, walked with God, served and obeyed God. Noah also taught others about God’s way. The New Testament records that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5).
God extended His grace to Noah because Noah loved righteousness and willingly obeyed God’s commandments. Noah was able to remain in God’s grace and favor because he diligently obeyed God in everything. After God gave him the instructions for building the Ark, it is recorded, “Thus did Noah; according to ALL that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). When the Ark was completed, God gave further instructions about the animals. Again it is recorded, “And NOAH DID according to ALL that the Lord commanded him” (Gen. 7:5).
Think for a minute! If God was about to destroy all life because of the sin and wickedness of human beings, do you think that Noah would have continued to receive God’s merciful, saving grace, if he also had sinned with the rest of mankind (sin is the transgression of the law--I John 3:4), or if he had taken part in the corruption and violence which filled the world?
The answer is a resounding NO! From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible shows that to receive and continue in God’s grace and favor, loving obedience to God is required.
From the terrible destruction of the Flood, God reached down and saved Noah and his household alone. That was a tremendous act of GRACE! It was a blessing for all humanity! Had it not been for the GRACE OF GOD given to Noah, none of us would be alive today! And had it not been for the GRACE that God later extended to Abraham, none of us would have an opportunity for salvation!
Abraham Found Grace
Abraham was called by God, which was an act of grace, and was commanded, “Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [an act of GRACE from God], and make your name great; and YOU SHALL BE A BLESSING; and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED [a prophecy of the coming grace and salvation through Jesus Christ]” (Gen. 12:1-3).
Again, God was graciously reaching down to give a blessing to a human being who was willing to love and obey Him. Throughout the Scriptural account of his life, it is recorded that Abraham believed God and obeyed God. Because he loved God and walked with God, Abraham was called the friend of God. “And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness [by God’s grace]: and he was called TFIE FRIEND OF GOD” (Jas. 2:23).
The apostle Paul makes it clear that Abraham received God’s grace through his faith (Rom 4:3-5). Paul describes Abraham’s justification by grace as “the righteousness of faith” (verses 5-8, 13, 16). Did the state of grace under which Abraham lived mean that he was not required to keep the commandments of God? Of course not! Grace never gives anyone license or permission to ignore or reject the commandments and laws of God and to commit sin--which is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). The apostle Paul was inspired to write, “What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound? MAY IT NEVER BE! We who died to sin, how shall we live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2, AT.)
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach us that we cannot live under the grace of God if we continue to live in sin! It was as true for Abraham as it is for us!
In the book of Genesis, God said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment: that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19).
Because of this intimate relationship based on love, grace and faith, God had confidence in Abraham. God knew Abraham, and Abraham knew God! That is what grace is all about! We must come to know God—His love, His grace, His goodness, and His mercy.
God’s act of grace toward Abraham is a model for Christians today. Paul was inspired to write, “If you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Like Abraham, we can come to know God by walking in faithful, loving obedience to Him.
Abraham’s Ultimate Test
What was the ultimate test required of Abraham so that the blessing of God’s grace would be passed on to all generations? The Scriptures record that God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, whom he had received as a miraculous act of grace by the personal promise of God. Having faith that God was able to restore Isaac to life, Abraham proceeded to follow God’s instructions. By his faithful and willing obedience, Abraham proved that he loved God more than any person or thing in this world. “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham’: and he said, ‘Here am I.’ And he said, ‘Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither shall you do any thing unto him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, YOUR ONLY SON from Me’ “ (Gen. 22:9-12).
As a result of Abraham’s obedience, God gave this blessing and promise of the grace to come: “By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: that in blessing I WILL BLESS YOU, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE” (Gen. 22:16-18).
Abraham continued in loving, steadfast obedience to God, and he died in the faith. After Abraham’s death, God passed His blessing of grace on to Isaac, “Because that Abraham OBEYED My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5). Again, the Scriptures teach us that there can be no grace without obedience.
The New Testament reveals that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, is the promised seed of Abraham. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many; but as of one, ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ…..And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:16,29).
The blessing of grace through faith in Jesus Christ is now being extended to all those whom God calls. Later in God’s plan, after Christ’s return, the blessing of grace will be extended to the entire world!
Lot Found Grace
After God had manifested His grace to Abraham, He also showed His loving mercy to Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot and his two unmarried daughters were saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah through grace. Lot knew that it was through the mercy of God that they were allowed to escape. After the angels had brought them out of the city, the Lord told them, “‘Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.’ And Lot said unto them, ‘Oh, not so, my Lord: behold now, Your servant has found GRACE in Your sight, and You have MAGNIFIED YOUR MERCY, which You have showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape there...’ ”(Gen. 19:17-20).
Lot FOUND GRACE in the sight of the Lord, Who granted his request and delayed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot and his daughters had safely entered the city of Zoar. Through His graciousness, God spared Lot and his two daughters! Moreover, God would have delivered Lot’s entire family from destruction if they had not rejected His grace.
We can learn a vital lesson from the example of Lot’s family. God’s grace MUST NOT BE TREATED LIGHTLY or in a disbelieving manner, because that is, in fact, REJECTING the grace of God! Lot’s sons-in-law perished because they refused to believe Lot and treated the warning from God lightly: “And Lot went out, and spoke unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.’ But he seemed as one that mocked [was only joking] unto his sons-in-law” (Gen. 19:14). As a result of their disbelief, God could not extend His grace to Lot’s sons-in-law or his married daughters, who remained in Sodom with their husbands.
Lot’s wife also rejected the grace of God through disbelief and disobedience. When she was leaving Sodom, she looked back, thereby disobeying God’s instructions through His angels. Because she had rejected the mercy of God through disobedience, she was turned into a pillar of salt. “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26).
No one can tempt God, rejecting His goodness and mercy by disbelief, without reaping His just wrath! Christians today who are anticipating God’s gracious act of saving them from the coming worldwide calamities should take heed to Jesus’ admonition, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Through her disobedience, she lost the grace of God and died.
Moses Found Grace
After the days of Abraham and his son Isaac, God’s blessings were passed on to Jacob, whose descendants grew to become the twelve tribes of Israel. In His great mercy, God delivered the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. God raised up Moses to lead them to the promised land, and He gave them His commandments and laws so that they might continue to receive His blessings and grace.
Moses himself found grace in the eyes of God, when he pleaded with God on behalf of the children of Israel after their grievous sins of debauchery and idolatry, which they had committed while Moses was receiving the law on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights.
“And Moses said unto the Lord, ‘See, You say unto me, “Bring up this people”….Yet You have said, “I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You, that I may find grace in Your sight: and consider that this nation is Your people....For wherein shall it be known here that I and Your people have found grace in Your sight?’ ” (Ex.33:12-16.)
Moses was pleading with God for grace and for His presence to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. “And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘I will do this thing also that you have spoken: for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name’ ”(verse 17).
After promising Moses that he would see a glimpse of God’s glory, viewing only His backside, God commanded Moses to hew two more tables of stone, like the first, and come to meet God again on Mount Sinai. “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘THE LORD, THE LORD GOD, MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND ABUNDANT IN GOODNESS AND TRUTH, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...’ ” (Ex. 34:5-7).
The Lord God of the Old Testament revealed Himself to Moses as a God of MERCY and GRACE—not at all like the stern, wrathful God that theologians through the ages have depicted in their distorted view of the Old Testament. These verses in the Old Testament describe the very nature and character of God, which is eternally the same. “For I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6).
God the Father and God the Son, Who were both known as “the LORD” in Old Testament times, have always shared the same loving, merciful divine nature. “Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, nor shadow of turning” (James 1:17, AT). “Jesus Christ isthe same yesterday, today and into the ages of eternity” (Heb. 13:8, AT). The Lord of the Old Testament Who revealed Himself to Moses is the same merciful God Who became the Lord of the New Testament!
God’s Love Toward
Israel of Old
In spite of countless passages in the Old Testament which reveal the profound love and magnificent grace of God, most people envision the God of Israel as a hateful, vengeful God of wrath and destruction! For centuries, ministers and teachers have led the Christian-professing world to believe that a stern, implacable God gave Israel harsh, restrictive laws that were a burden and a curse. Your Bible reveals the opposite!
Moses told the children of Israel just before they came into the promised land, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, FOR OUR GOOD ALWAYS, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our. righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deut. 6:24-25).
God revealed Himself as a God of love and mercy in the covenant that He established with Israel and the blessings that He promised for obedience. “The Lord did not set His LOVE upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people: for you were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord LOVED YOU, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers....Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the FAITHFUL GOD, which KEEPS COVENANT and MERCY [which comes from His grace] with them that LOVE Him and keep His COMMANDMENTS TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS....Wherefore it shall come to pass, if you hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord your God shall keep unto you the COVENANT and the MERCY which He swore unto your fathers; and HE WILL LOVE YOU, AND BLESS YOU, AND MULTIPLY YOU: He will also bless the fruit of your womb, and the fruit of your land, your corn, and your wine, and your oil, the increase of your cattle, and the flocks of your sheep, in the land which He swore unto your fathers to give you. YOU SHALL BE BLESSED ABOVE ALL PEOPLE...” (Deut. 7:7-9, 12-14). These are indeed wonderful promises of God’s blessings! If Israel had kept God’s covenant and obeyed Him, God would have blessed them above all nations.
God Himself loved the children of Israel and commanded them to love Him. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5).
Jesus Christ, Who was the Lord God of Israel before coming in the flesh as the Son of God, taught that all the commandments and laws of God are based upon love. In response to the question as to which was the greatest of the commandments, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Mat. 22:37-40, AT).
God has always desired loving obedience from the heart. In Old Testament times, God commanded the children of Israel to demonstrate their love for Him by continually walking in His way of life. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear [in reverent awe] the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command you this day for your good?
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s your God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in your fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regards not persons….You shall fear the Lord your God; Him shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave, and swear by His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, that has done for you these great and terrible things, which your eyes have seen” (Deut. 10:12-21).
Throughout the Old Testament, as recorded in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, God manifested His love and mercy toward the children of Israel. They were in turn to love Him, to keep His commandments and to walk in His ways.
The Two Choices Given to Israel:
Obedience and Life, or Disobedience and Death
Just as with Adam and Eve, God set before the children of Israel two ways of life—and they were required to make a choice. On the one hand, He set before them His way of life and good; and on the other hand, their own ways of death and evil. “See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land whither you go to possess it” (Deut. 30:15-16).
It is abundantly clear that God loved the children of Israel and desired to bless them, just as He desired that they in turn love, serve and obey Him. But God also made it clear that they had to respond to God by loving Him and choosing to keep His commandments of their own free will.
God warned the children of Israel that if they did not choose to love and obey Him, and instead chose their own ways and served other gods, the result would be death and evil. “But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither you pass over Jordan to go to possess it.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live; that you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave unto Him: for He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut. 30:17-20).
God’s Love And Mercy
Does Not Abrogate His Judgment
Because God is love, He is gracious and merciful. But the Bible reveals that God can and does execute judgment and vengeance. As God, Creator and Lawgiver, He alone has the power and prerogative to do so. Therefore when people sin, God must judge!
God specifically warned Israel that He would execute judgment for their sins. This is clearly revealed in the second commandment: “You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy [through His grace] unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments” (Deut. 5:8-10).
Foreseeing a time when the sins of the children of Israel would become great, God prophesied, “To Me belongs vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste” (Deut. 32:35).
God executes His judgment as a last resort to bring sinners to repentance so that He may forgive them. When properly understood, even the punishment and correction that God administers is, in fact, an ACT OF LOVE AND GRACE. Throughout the course of history, the only ones ever to experience the full fury of God’s wrath have been unrepentant sinners and haters of God!
God has always been desirous to bless human beings because He loves them. Although God is not calling many to salvation at this time, He wants life to go well for people in this present age. In fact, God does not delight in the death of the wicked, although He shows they have earned death as the wages of their sins. “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [through heartfelt repentance], and live” (Ezk. 18:32).
The Example of King Ahab’s Sin and Repentance
In spite of all the blessings that God had bestowed upon Israel, the hearts of the people soon turned to the worship of other gods. As part of God’s judgment upon Israel, the nation was later split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Many of the kings who ruled these kingdoms led the people even further into sin and idolatry. The most notorious of these evil kings was Ahab, who ruled the kingdom of Israel in the days of Elijah.
The prophet Elijah was sent on a special mission to pronounce God’s judgment of imminent death and destruction against King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, daughter of the priest of Baal, for their grievous sins. “And you shall speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, Have you killed, and also taken possession?’ And you shall speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood, even yours’ ” (I Kings 21:19).
When Elijah went to Ahab and pronounced God’s judgment against him, Ahab said to Elijah, “‘Have you found me, 0 my enemy?’ And he answered, ‘I have found you: because you have sold yourself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisses against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith you have provoked Me to anger, and made Israel to sin.’
“And of Jezebel also spoke the Lord, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dies of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dies in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.’
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (verses 20-26).
While it is true that God’s judgment is always sure and never fails, it is also true that God desires and watches for repentance, that He may bestow mercy rather than judgment and destruction.
Although Ahab was one of the most vile, wicked sinners in all the history of the kings of Israel, he did not take God’s warning lightly. Notice Ahab’s reaction to God’s powerful sentence of condemnation and death by the mouth of Elijah the prophet! “And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent [ripped off his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly” (verse 27).
What a repentance! What a change of heart, accompanied by fasting and weeping! Because Ahab humbled himself and repented, God delayed the execution of His judgment. “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘Do you see how Ahab is humbling himself before Me? Because he is humbling himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house’ ” (verses 28-29).
This scriptural passage is most instructive because it shows that when a person chooses to repent, even one as wicked as Ahab, God will honor that repentance. After the days of Ahab, God also honored the repentance of Manasseh, one of the most wicked kings of Judah, and restored him to his throne (II Chron. 33:1-13). The Old Testament shows that God always honors true repentance from the heart.
The Example of Nineveh
While God dealt particularly with Israel and Judah as His chosen people, the Old Testament shows that God also honored the repentance of Gentiles who humbled themselves before Him. The book of Jonah gives an account of God’s judgment against the Assyrians and of their repentance upon hearing God’s warning through Jonah. Seeing their repentance, God deferred the execution of His judgment. “So the people of Nineveh [the capital of Assyria] believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
“And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through [out] Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
“ ‘Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?’ And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them, and He did it not” (Jonah 3:5-10).
Yes, the Lord God of the Old Testament, Who later became Jesus Christ of the New Testament, was a God of mercy and lovingkindness. He extended grace and forgiveness to all those who repented, whether Israelite, Jew or Gentile. This account in the book of Jonah is most significant because it shows that God has always required all nations—not only Israel and Judah—to keep His commandments. The character of God NEVER changes!
The Meaning of Grace
in the Old Testament
As we have seen, God extended His grace freely to individuals and nations who humbly sought His favor in Old Testament times. God granted His grace to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the children of Israel, the Ninevites, David, and even kings Ahab and Manasseh when they repented of their wickedness. The Scriptures also record God’s grace and blessings to those women who sought His favor, including Abraham’s wife Sarah, (Gen. 21:6-7, Heb. 11:11, Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 1:16; 2:12), and Hannah, the mother of Samuel (I Sam. 1:10-19).
The entire Old Testament is a demonstration of God’s gracious kindness and mercy. However, the grace and mercy which God granted during Old Testament times was in most cases limited to physical deliverance and material blessings. The Scriptures reveal that only a few in Old Testament times received God’s Holy Spirit and were granted the grace of God unto eternal salvation. Nevertheless, God’s blessing and grace was extended bountifully in the physical realm for those who loved God and kept His commandments. And mercy and forgiveness was extended to all who repented from the heart.
The Old Testament is a history of those who sought God with all their hearts, and received God’s grace and blessing, as opposed to those who rejected God’s grace and blessing, and heaped to themselves punishment and wrath for their grievous sins.
in the Book of Proverbs
What does the book of Proverbs reveal about the grace of God? The book of Proverbs is designed to show us how to receive the blessings and grace of God in our daily lives. When we learn to live God’s way, we receive His grace and favor in all that we set our hands to do.
The book of Proverbs gives us understanding of God’s grace under the Old Covenant as well as insight into the grace that He offers under the New Covenant:
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding....A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels....The fear [loving, reverent awe] of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools [who reject the love and blessings of God] despise wisdom and instruction. ‘My son, hear the instruction of your father [for Christians, God the Father], and forsake not the law of your mother [Jerusalem in heaven above is the mother of all true Christians]: FOR THEY [all of God’s instructions, commandments, statutes and laws] SHALL BE AN ORNAMENT OF GRACE unto your head, and chains [of God’s blessings] about your neck” (Pro. 1:1-9).
Contrary to the teaching of pseudo-Christian theologians, the laws and commandments of God are not contrary to grace! Rather, they are essential to receiving God’s grace and favor, just as the book of Proverbs reveals.
The book of Proverbs make it clear that God extends His grace to those who demonstrate their faith and love toward Him by wholeheartedly keeping His commandments. “My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck: write them upon the table of your heart: so shall you find favor [grace] and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart: and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Pro. 3:1-6).
These verses in the book of Proverbs show that God wants us to respond to Him with loving obedience that is based on faith and complete trust in His grace. Here in the Old Testament is a foreshadow of the New Testament teachings of the grace of God unto eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Proverbs confirm that faith and obedience work together in each believer’s life to keep him or her in continual grace and favor with God. This truth is revealed in the writings of the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament.
The Psalms Illustrate the Repentance
Required to Receive God’s Grace
Throughout the Scriptures, it is clear that God extends His grace only to those who manifest a humble and contrite ATTITUDE OF HEART AND MIND toward Him. God inspired the prophet Isaiah to reveal the repentant and yielded spirit that He always requires of a person before He extends His grace and lovingkindness: “...To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2).
This principle is amplified throughout the book of Psalms. The Psalms are filled with wonderful descriptions of God’s love, mercy and grace, and God’s acceptance of those who truly repent and humble themselves before Him.
One of the most heartfelt expressions of repentance is found in Psalm 51,where David confesses his sins to God and pleads for His forgiveness. When King David repented of killing Uriah the Hittite, and of his adulterous affair with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, David repented with his whole heart. He prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight; that You might be justified when You speak, and be clear when You judge....Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow....Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.”
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:1-11). Because of David’s repentance, God in His merciful grace heard and answered David’s prayer, and David’s sins were forgiven.
Psalm 86 is another prayer of David which illustrates God’s bountiful grace and forgiveness toward those who repent of their sins: “Bow down Your ear [bowing down to listen, to forgive and bless, is an act of grace], O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy [sanctified by God]: O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You [saving grace]. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto You daily. Rejoice the soul of Your servant: for unto You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and READY TO FORGIVE; AND PLENTEOUS IN MERCY UNTO ALL THEM THAT CALL UPON YOU. Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You: for You will answer me. ..For You are great, and do wondrous things: You are God alone. Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your mercy toward me....But You, O Lord, are a God FULL OF COMPASSION, AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND PLENTEOUS IN MERCY AND TRUTH. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me...” (Psa. 86:1-7,10-13,15-16).
The same attitude of love and repentance toward God is expressed in David’s words in Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and ALL that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who FORGIVES all your INIQUITIES; Who heals all your diseases: Who redeems your life from destruction: Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies... The Lord is MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy... .He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him [in reverent awe]. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust....But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children: to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them” (Psa. 103:1-4, 8, 10-14, 17-18).
Many of the Psalms recount the abundant blessings, lovingkindness and mercies that God bestowed upon the children of Israel, as well as His just punishment when they forsook their covenant with Him and broke His commandments. Some of these Psalms offer prayers of repentance and pleas for renewed mercy toward Israel. Other Psalms are filled entirely with words of praise and gratitude--extolling God for His bountiful mercy and His gracious lovingkindness not only toward the children of Israel but toward every individual who humbly sought His forgiveness, mercy, lovingkindness and favor.
The Prophets Describe God’s
Grace Toward Repentant Sinners
Although only a few were called to receive eternal salvation in Old Testament times, the truth of Scripture is that God did deal graciously with all those who sought Him with their whole hearts and beings! As for those who rejected Him and refused to keep His commandments, upon them came God’s wrath and just judgment! But even then, God’s hand was always held out in mercy, whenever sinners would repent and turn to Him.
The prophet Ezekiel recorded God’s plea to Israel: “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves [to God in heartfelt repentance], and live” (Ezk. 18:31-32).
God again spoke His plea to Israel, this time affirming His words by His own life: “...As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live! TURN YOU, TURN YOU FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS: for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezk. 33:11.)
God declares through the prophet Joel that even in the coming day of the Lord, God will plead with the wicked to repent: “...For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Therefore also now, says the Lord, ‘Turn you even unto Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents Him of the evil’ ”(Joel 2:11-13).
Throughout the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, God reveals that what He really desires from mankind is repentance and loving obedience! “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near; LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him RETURN UNTO THE LORD [through repentance], and He will have MERCY upon him; and to our God, for HE WILL ABUNDANTLY PARDON” (Isa. 55:6-7). This prophecy in the book of Isaiah was undoubtedly used in New Testament times when the apostles preached repentance, grace and eternal salvation.
Although God extended the opportunity for eternal salvation to only a few before the coming of Jesus Christ, God has always desired love, mercy and grace, as the Old Testament prophets proclaimed. Their records of the very words of God clearly show that all accusations that the Lord of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and vengeance are utterly false!
The New Testament reveals that although the prophets of old prophesied of the coming grace, they did not fully understand it. The apostle Peter wrote, “...Concerning which salvation [through grace], the prophets who have prophesied of THE GRACE which should come to you, have diligently searched out and intently inquired, searching into what way, and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them was indicating, and testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and those glories which would follow; to whom it was revealed, that not for themselves, but to us, they were ministering these things, which now have been announced to you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, into which things the angels are desiring to look” (I Pet. 1:10-12, AT).
From Genesis to the book of Revelation, the message of Scripture to sinners is to SEEK GOD and to REPENT OF SIN, and the gracious mercy of God will be poured out upon each one! God will reach out with His goodness, blessing and mercy to each repentant man and woman.
This message was preached with power when the New Testament church began. When those who were assembled for the Feast of Pentecost at Jerusalem realized that their own personal sins had killed Jesus Christ, they were deeply moved in heart and mind and asked the apostles what they should do. “Then Peter said unto them, ‘REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED every one of you IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins, AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ’” (Acts 2:38).
This scripture and many other verses in the New Testament make it clear that under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit as a begettal from God the Father has been made available to all who truly believe on Jesus Christ. Everyone whom God the Father calls, and who believes, repents and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and is then baptized by full immersion in water—into the death of Jesus Christ—is granted the begettal of the Holy Spirit as the earnest of God’s promise of eternal life. Under the New Covenant, the grace of God is truly poured out upon the believer in a most profound way! Through this spiritual begettal with the Holy Spirit of God, the true believer enters into a personal relationship with God the Father and his or her personal Savior Jesus Christ.
In part two, The Grace of God in the New Testament, we will discuss in much greater detail the gracious gift of God the Father and Jesus Christ through the New Covenant—the all encompassing, awe-inspiring grace of God unto eternal life!
© Fred R. Coulter
Christian Biblical Church of God
P.O. Box 1442
Hollister, California 95024-1442 USA