What Does the Grace of God Do For Us? | Grace of God Series #4
by Fred R. Coulter—February 16, 1985
- PDF | Audio | [Up]
We go on with this tape in the series of Grace. I would like to review just a little bit and to go over the meanings again. The Greek word for grace is charis, or charitoos, or charite. And it has the following meanings:
- Graciousness, attractiveness
- Thanks or gratitude
- Favor, grace, gracious care, or help or good will, the gracious intention of God.
- On the part of God the Father and Jesus Christ toward us or to us, the possession of divine grace as a source of blessings for the believer.
- A store of grace that is to be dispensed, a state of grace, or that is standing in God’s grace, a deed of grace worked by God in Christ. A work of grace that grows more to more.
Now in discussing this the last time, it was also brought up that grace is the forgiveness of sin. Now that is not a quite correct definition of grace. Your sins are forgiven because of God’s grace. So the act of forgiveness is the result of grace. Grace itself does not mean just the forgiveness of sin. Otherwise when you get to the openings of Paul where he said, “Grace be to you…”, is he saying “Your sins be forgiven to you…”, or is he talking about something of a broader meaning and a broader sense. So we’ll see that it’s a broader meaning and broader sense. And 1 Peter 5:10 shows that God is the God of all grace. Then Jesus Christ is the only means by which the grace of God is mediated to men, through His birth, death, and resurrection and function as our High Priest in heaven. What God has done and is still doing for man in Jesus Christ, His Son is God’s outstanding act of grace.
Now, this ties in with the scripture in John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Now that narrows it down very, very specifically. Why is that so? Why do you think that that is so? The reason that is so, and the reason that God has it narrowed down into the being of Jesus Christ is because no other being in all of the universe could qualify for that intermediary and for that sin sacrifice. Only Jesus Christ. That’s why it is not going to be through Mohammed, or Buddha, or Confucius. It’s not going to be through any man or any movement. It’s going to be through Jesus Christ and no other way. And God is determined that that is the only way that it’s going to be.
Now continuing. God the Father is the source from which grace comes to man. Jesus Christ is the God ordained means by which the grace most effectively reaches man in his need. Now we’re talking about grace before salvation. Could God be merciful to someone who is not called for salvation? Sure He could. Could God answer prayers of people who prayed in sincerity to God? Yes, He will, especially if they believe that there would be an answer. And why is it, what would be one of the most important things that a person could do in time of crisis if they have neglected God or they have not really firmly believed in God but they somehow find themselves in a terrible straight and trouble? What would be the most pleasing thing they could do? Would it not be to call out to God? Sure it would. Do we not know of many cases of people who’ve been in circumstances like that? And they’re not praying for salvation or eternal life. They were just trying to live a little longer. Maybe they’re just trying to prevent some catastrophe from coming on them, and they pray to God in belief and ask God to help them in those circumstances. Well, God’s graciousness and mercy is so great that even though He is not calling them for salvation He’ll hear their prayer. And when people get like that what is one of the first things they admit. “Oh, I’ve been a miserable person.” Is that not a type of repentance? Sure it is.
Now it is not a call to salvation necessarily, but that’s why that God, being no respecter of persons, will help people like that. Now, what they do from then on becomes another situation. Obviously there comes a time that if, after God has helped them and rescued them and has done certain things for them, they turn their backs on God and just walk out and slam the door and do whatever they want, maybe the next time they get in those circumstances they’re not going to get the help.
Grace is quite the reverse of a reward for good conduct. This is why it talks about in Galatians, that until Christ came we were kept under law. And the law was a schoolmaster or tutor to lead us to Christ. It’s the same thing with our children. They need the kind of discipline that is by law. You do this and you’ll get a reward. You do the other and you’ll get a punishment. This brings them to a maturity of mind, if it’s consistent through their lifetime, when they get old enough they will be able to make the proper choices. But without the rudimentary black and white righteousness and sin, good and evil to really formulate what they need, when they get older they will have no discernment between right and wrong if you don’t. Little children cannot be treated as adults. You cannot sit down and reason with children as you do with adults. Their minds have not developed enough. We’re beginning to see some of the results with our older children now, the results of that. There are times when the best thing to say to children is “No” flat out, “Don’t. Stop.” And that is necessary. You wouldn’t talk to an adult like that. You would not talk to an adult like that. You would say, “Would you please…” Why, because they are old enough, they have comprehension enough. The whole relationship is different.
So it is, before God calls us, and in the process of calling us too, that we get this concerning the law and the commandments, and those are absolutely necessary, but the whole process is to put them in our minds and in our hearts and our inward parts so that we, as led by the Holy Spirit, can live the right way of life. Exact same parallel with children. The reason that we teach children that way when they are small, is so that when they grow up and they leave home they’re going to have some kind of responsibility about themselves knowing what is right and what is wrong. So too, it’s to lead us to Christ. That’s why when we are led to Christ and we come under God’s grace, we do not have the liberty to go and live in sin. Being under God’s grace and blessing and mercy we have the liberty to have annulled the law of sin and death within us in our standing before God. As long as we’re in the flesh the law of sin and death is going to be there. And the true day of redemption, if we will understand it correctly, which I’ll go through and bring in a subsequent study here, when you have repented and been baptized you have been saved from your past sins. While you’re going God’s way you are being saved. And when Christ returns you shall be saved from flesh because you’ll be changed to spirit.
The same way concerning the day of redemption. When you have repented and are baptized you have been redeemed, correct? While you are following Christ and walking in His way you are continually in a state of being redeemed. The New Testament refers to the day of redemption, which has to do with the resurrection. So redemption is not just a one-time act when you are baptized and repented of your sins. It is the same as salvation. It is ongoing. Does not the sacrifice of Christ through the grace of God have to redeem us or buy us back when we sin? Yes. So it’s an ongoing efficacious thing that God is doing.
One’s acceptance with God is not something he can achieve by his own merit. So that is by works. But is chosen, called, and made accepted, forgiven and blessed with the Holy Spirit of God, made an error of eternal life, made the son of God as a gracious undeserved gift from God the Father through Jesus Christ. So that really has a lot of meaning and I want to emphasize that again so that we can really bear down on that and it helps an awful lot.
Now I don’t know how you have been since we have started through this mini-series in Grace, but I know that the more I study on it the more it helps me. And it helps me an awful lot because then I look to God to give me the strength to overcome. I’m going to do the best I can, but I don’t have to go around and just literally beat my head against a stone wall and to do it by my works. It must be the working of Christ within me to overcome it. And when we lay it at that doorstep, and when we bring it to Christ, and when we ask God’s grace to be with us, to be upon us, it is something that happens in that state of grace that we are standing in, and it comes to us. That’s why when we get into the blessings that are given, Paul opens the epistles and he said, “Blessing from God the Father and grace and peace from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.”
When you ask for a blessing do you not expect a blessing? Sure you do. When you ask for grace, should we not also expect grace? Yes. And should we not have that help, which is a gift, it’s an undeserved thing. We can’t find it within us. I think this has been the whole problem in overcoming. We’ve been looking to our resources within us for our own discipline that we work it up that we overcome a problem, and we go to God and say, “God, I’ve overcome this problem”, when it’s the other way around. We go to God and say, “God, grant me your grace, grant me your help, grant me the strength and lead me out of this overcoming.”
How do you overcome? Let’s go to 1 John 5:4. Let’s see how we overcome. Overcoming is not a work. Overcoming is not a work that is human originated. That’s why in overcoming sin we can have God lift from us, and why should we carry it around, we can have God lift from us that frustration and burden and vexation, which you’ve all experienced in trying to overcome something by yourself. And there have been lust and temptations that you’ve had to fight, and you’ve fought them, and you’ve fought them, and you’ve gritted your teeth and you’ve asked God, “Well, why does this continue?” Very simple, you haven’t put it under the grace of God and asked for God’s grace through faith to lead you out of it.
I hope that we understand that because I know for myself, I understand it more and I can be more relaxed, and I can be more relaxed around people. Why? Because when you have it in God’s grace and you know that God is going to do it then you don’t have to be looking at other people with a view of judging them for something that they are doing, which you may or may not like, or what you may or may not agree with, or what you may or may not think is sin. Just lifts that whole burden from you.
And this is the atmosphere that has been lived under too long in the Churches of God, that you go into a congregation and once you come past the niceties and the introductions and the friendships and you start getting down into the human nature element of it, what do you find? You find just exactly what I said. You find pickiness, the looking, the judging, the criticizing. Why does that exist? Because people are not pointed to the grace of God through faith and they too much want to overcome themselves without God. And when you strive to overcome so much on your own, what do you do? You transfer that to other people in a sense that you’re going to be critical of them for two reasons.
- Because you’re looking for faults.
- So you will feel better and can live with your own problem.
Where as we need to just wipe the slate of all that and overcome with God’s Spirit through grace.
1 John 5, let’s just begin in verse 1. “Every one who is believing that Jesus is the Christ [and that’s an ongoing sense, as we know] has been begotten from God [or out from God the begettal has come]: and every one that loves Him that begat [that is loves God the Father] loves him also that has been begotten of Him” (1 John 5:4, paraphrased). So then how do we then maintain the love? I think we’ve had some experience of that here. We maintain the love for each other because we are not doing the things that I just mentioned that causes the problems. We are not trying to live someone else’s life. What we’re trying to do is love God and live within His grace and love each other. And that’s the most encouraging thing that we can do. That’s why in the time we’ve been here we haven’t had any internal strife. We haven’t had any of those problems. And if we continue in God’s grace and in this kind of thing he’s saying we won’t have it. Not because we’re better, but because Christ is greater than all.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.” So there is commandment keeping right in it. Has to be. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not [burdensome] grievous. For [all that have been begotten] whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world…” Notice it says “all”, and we overcome the world. How do we overcome the world? “…And this is the victory [which overcame] that overcometh the world, even our faith” (vs. 2-4). How are we saved? By grace have you been saved through faith. And that’s how you overcome. And that’s why if you really go to God with this attitude in sincerity and repentance and love and understanding, God is going to begin to let this grace come to you in a more abundant way and you are going to see a lot of the problems, and mental things, and temptations begin fall away. They won’t be rooted in there like the core of a carbuncle. If you’ve ever seen a carbuncle and the core, it’s about as long as my little finger and goes about that deep and it is so sore, and there’s nothing you can do.
Same way with human nature. Human nature can not overcome human nature. It has to be God’s Spirit, and it has to be by faith. Why not just place it before God, ask for His grace and mercy, and His Spirit to lead you in it and be happy and thankful in the grace of God, and I guarantee you that if you have faith and believe in God, then those things will begin to melt away. Just like a carbuncle, if you lance it and you get out the core there’s going to be a little scar there. So the problem or temptation, or thought pattern may come back from time to time, which then you can easily identify it and again go to God and ask for repentance and forgiveness, but it’s not going to be that just hanging in there in every thought and every moment. It’s going to be like taking that core of that carbuncle out. And that’s how you can overcome with faith. And it makes the job a whole lot easier.
For example, if a person has a hard time with swearing and cursing. Or maybe they used to swear and curse a lot before they were converted, and you can’t isolate yourself from the world. You cannot go in orbit. So you go out and work and what happens? You find yourself around people who swear and curse. And what’s the next thing that happens? Mentally you start doing the same thing. Correct? You don’t want to but you do. Now, if you set about to say, “Boy, I’m not going to do that again”, and you force yourself to not do it, I guarantee you’re going to continue doing it. Why? Because you haven’t laid it before God to let Him do it for you.
Now if you have not experienced that kind of overcoming through God’s grace then try it. You’ll like it. God will like it. And it makes life a whole lot easier and happy and contented because you can give all the credit to God. That’s why it says, “By grace are you saved through faith, not of works lest any man should boast.” And that’s how we are saved. So that’s very important for us to understand as we continue in this mini-series in Grace. And I know for sure, after going through this time that I’m going to be giving more sermons based upon that.
More sermons on…have you ever wondered what it means to be spiritually minded, or to be spiritually minded is to be life and peace but to be carnally minded is death? You can see the difference in overcoming? A carnal mind cannot overcome a carnal mind. Therefore any works that we do as a human being cannot be sufficient. What is our spiritual battle. We war not against what? Flesh and blood? But against principalities and authorities and wicked spirits in high places. That’s where all the sin comes from. That’s why when you’re driving down the road and every thing’s nice, Bam, you get an evil thought come through your head. Where do you think it comes from? Prince of the power of the air. You’re not going to overcome that with just your own mental efforts. You need the power of God, it’s a spiritual battle. So if we put all these things in that perspective and realize that it is the spiritual power of God, why life is going to be a whole lot better. Not that we’ll be richer. Not that we’ll have better things physically and materially, because that’s not what we need. We may want it but that’s not what we need. We need to overcome and be led by God’s Spirit.
Now, the grace of God is like an all encompassing umbrella, which includes faith, and salvation, and mercy, and redemption, and justification, repentance, love, the laws, the commandments of God, forgiveness and blessings, etc. It’s an all-encompassing thing. Let’s keep that in mind.
Let’s pick up where we left off last time. What does the Grace of God do for us? Now I’m going to list nine things that the Grace of God does for us in a fantastic way, and gives us privileges, and blessings. Now privilege is something that is given. It is a gift. You don’t earn a privilege. You earn a wage. Privilege is something that is given so it is a gift.
Let’s go to Hebrews 2, and here is the act of grace by God. And when we know and realize that it was God Himself Who came as a human being for one specific purpose. Hebrews 2, and it reveals a little bit about the overall plan of God. Let’s pick it up here in verse 5. “For not to the angels did He subject the habitable world which is to come [that is the Kingdom of God as it comes on the earth], of which we speak; but one fully testified somewhere saying, What is man, that You art mindful of him, or the son of man, that you visitest him? You made him a little lower than some of the angels [or, for sometime a little lower that the angels, as it should read], and You did crown him with glory and honour …” (Heb. 2:5-7, Berry’s Greek Interlinear, paraphrased). Let me tell you, is it not an honor and glory to be made in the image of God, where God said, “Let us make man in our image, male and female. Let us make him after our likeness.” And then the whole thing of salvation is that we become like after the God kind. And God gave us what? Dominion over the earth. Dominion over everything that is here. And it is true, what one thing can we say that man has not been able to have dominion over, except his own sins? Mankind, sooner or later, because of being made in the similitude of God, given a creative mind, is able to do such fantastic things. So we have been crowned with honor and glory.
“…And did set him over the works of Your hands; and you did subject all things under his feet” (vs. 7-8, BGI, paraphrased). Now that is a prophetic as well as current statement. A lot of the things that God says are current and prophetic. It is current because everything that is on the earth is under the hand of man, whether for good or whether for evil. Whether we take care of ourselves. Whether we destroy the environment. It’s under our hand. But also the word panta means “all things including the universe”. And now man even in his fleshly form is on the brink of getting into the universe. And if he were not limited by flesh, guess what would happen? Yes, we would conquer other galaxies and go into the universe this very day. So it is prophetic that that’s what it will be.
“For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that was unsubject to him. But now we do not see yet all things subjected to him. But we see Jesus, Who for a little while was made lower than the angels on account of the suffering of the death” (vs. 8-9, BGI, paraphrased). Now if you have your Greek Interlinear you can take a look at that statement and you will notice that it is not just death. It is the death. And when it talks about death in relationship to a Christian and a relationship to salvation it is talking about the death. Now what is the ultimate death? The second death in the lake of fire. And from that there is no resurrection.
Now, since Jesus Christ was God Who took on human form and He was the Son of God, and He’s called in some places in the New Testament the Son of Man and that actually refers back to Daniel 3, and Daniel 7, which is saying God Himself. God Himself. We find in Titus 2 and 3 that Jesus Christ is called The Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. When He died that was the death. You can’t have any greater death than the death of God. That’s greater than just a human death because of the significance of Jesus Christ, which we’ll get into a little more before the Passover.
So, “…on account of the suffering of the death He is crowned with glory and honor so that by [the] grace of God…” There it is, charity, “…by [the] grace of God…” That is the act of grace in having Christ come and live and die and be resurrected. “…So that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (vs. 9, BGI, paraphrased). Now notice that the definite article in the Greek “the” is not there. You go back to the place that we just referred to before and it is called TOU QANATOU, which is “the death”. You come down here and it says that “for everyone He might taste death”. So therefore, as it is applied to each of us it is applied to our own death. Now that is a fantastic thing.
Let’s go back to Romans 5 and go through the book of Romans in a little more detail, and let’s see the sequence of things as they come along. And I hope that we are all experiencing… I know I am as I study, and I try and study New Testament Greek every day, and that’s helping me be able to understand more and put it together. But here in Romans 5 we see the whole sequence of events and how great that it is. And when we come to take the Passover this year let’s hope that we can have a greater insight into the death of Jesus Christ and what He has done.
Let’s begin in Romans 5:1. “Having been justified therefore by faith, peace we have toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” So we’re standing in this grace. It is a condition. It is the very basis of the relationship that we have with God. It is with grace. Now it’s very interesting that you get into some of these other scriptures and when it says that we can come before the Father with boldness, that actually means that we have access into the presence of God the Father. And that can only be done through Christ and through grace because why? No man can come before God and live. But we have, spiritually, access to God the Father through this grace in which we are standing. “…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2, BGI, paraphrased). See, not what we can do. Not in how great we are, but in the hope of the glory of God.
“And not only [so], but also we boast in tribulations…” I’ve often wondered, and through the years I think I’m beginning to understand a little more now how you can be happy in a trial. I have yet to meet someone who’s in a terrible trial that is happy, saying, “Great, I’ve got another trail. That’s marvelous. Hurray, thank you God.” No, because we’re to pray, “Deliver us from temptation.” But why can we boast in trials or tribulations? Because God will deliver us from them, #1. And #2, He will teach us something with it of lasting, eternal, spiritual value. That’s why. So that’s why it says we boast in tribulations. And I think Paul wrote this after he was an apostle for some 20 years so he didn’t come by it right away. When he was struck down off the horse on his way to Damascus he wasn’t very happy. He was not boasting in that trial. “…Knowing that the tribulation works out [or brings on] endurance…” (vs. 3, BGI, paraphrased). In other words that trial coming through its full circuit is working out endurance. Now the King James says patience, but it’s endurance. And patience and endurance are very synonymous.
“…And the endurance proof…” God is testing us with these things. That’s why we can boast in a trial. Why? Because God is testing us. Many times people will think of a trial that will come, “Well God, if you send this trial, I am ready.” That’s boasting and God isn’t going to send that trial. Another one is going to come that you don’t think of. And the major trials that occur other than your knowledge of your own stupidity ahead of time, they come as a total surprise. Isn’t that true? Yes. But we can be thankful for it because God is testing us and proving us. It works proof. “…And the proof hope…” And once we rely on God we can have more hope. “…And the hope does not make ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us: for when we were still without strength Christ in due time died for [the] ungodly” (vs. 4-6, BGI, paraphrased). Now that’s a tremendous thing to do, and I think that we’re going to grasp a more full significance of this as we get down toward the Passover time.
“For hardly for a just [man] is one willing to die; for on the behalf of the good [man] perhaps some one even might dare to die; but God commends His own love to us that while we were still being sinners Christ died for us” (vs. 7, BGI, paraphrased). Now Christ also had to do that in faith. Did Christ have faith? Yes, He had faith. And He had to die in faith knowing, as He told His apostles there on the Passover night, He said, “Blessed are those who believe on the things that you say about Me.” And remember Jesus said, “I pray for not only these, but those that shall believe on Me through their word.” So Christ had to die in faith knowing that His sacrifice would be in perpetuity for all time, for all ages, of all mankind.
I don’t know how many have been watching the series, “Shogun” on TV. If you’ve watched part of it, whatever, it’s a pretty bloody movie showing Japan. They were lopping off heads, and stabbing, and committing suicide, and the only penalty for breaking a law was death or crucifixion. You know, that is the letter of the law - swoosh. I don’t know if that’s the impression you got from it, but boy I sure did. And I thought man, I wouldn’t want to live there. And a woman. You talk about women’s liberation. A woman in Japan was nothing. Just worth no more than a piece of paper that a man could chattel her with. And if he didn’t like his wife he had the right to kill her. The sacrifice of Christ is going to have to apply to those lives too. Yes, it is. Christ died for the ungodly. If we were without sin we would not need Christ. That’s why it says in 1 John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” That’s why we need a Savior. So that’s tremendous what He did.
“Much more then, having been justified now by His blood, we shall be saved by Him from wrath” (vs. 9). And how is that? That is by grace. And he gets into all the rest of it. Chapter 6 and 7 he’s talking about grace.
#1. Christ died for all by the grace of God. All - not just some, not just for the Jews, but all. And there are some wretched societies that are going to need an awful lot of salvation. And they need an awful lot of help.
I don’t know if you read in the paper about the native society in New Caledonia? Sometimes it’s good to get your paper and read sections E, and F, and G, just before you get to the classified ads. The San Jose Mercury has E section, and they give little reports and some of them are very revealing. They wouldn’t dare put it on the front page. But how many saw the movie, “Sky Above and Mud Beneath”? They showed the natives in New Guinea. And when I first saw that, I remember, let’s see, it was when we were down in Pasadena and it must have been about 1971. And I thought, “Boy, this is kind of a bad movie, to show all these naked natives going around.” And then it told a little bit about the country they live in. They live in this jungle area. They don’t have hardly any flat land. The mountains go straight up. It rains almost 300 inches a year. With that heat and that humidity I know why they go around naked. They couldn’t possibly keep a stitch of clothing on because it would just rot. So all the do-gooder missionaries came storming down there, “Let’s dress these natives.” So they put them on. Next thing you know the clothes all mildew right off their back. Too much rain.
When I saw that I thought, “Why did God put some people in an area like that?” There’s no clean food, there’s no clean fish around. And if they go in the ocean there are these sea snakes that will bite you. And their greatest delight for a dinner is a nice fat, big grubby termite about the size of that thermos bottle right there, which they relish. They can’t grow any food because there’s no flat land. And when I first saw that I thought, “You know, God is kind of unfair to these people.” I said, “Look at us. We’re sitting here. We have all of this and hey, we don’t have to worry about that.” And so I just sort of watch that in the back of my mind.
Oh, one other thing that they had. The only meat that they could have, they would shoot a monkey or a baboon, or eat a slug or a snail, or a lizard. And the only domestic animal they had were pigs. And the women would suckle the pigs on their own breasts. And that was a great possession. That’s why they did it. What can you tame in the jungle, you know? So they tamed pigs. And I thought, “How gross.” It showed this right on the film. I though, “Sky above, mud beneath, that is true. You have the sky above, it’s raining, and all you have is mud underneath.” Now I know why that they have that kind of society.
In this article I read about New Guinea and New Caledonia. Do you know what they do to the young boys? At seven years old they separate them from their mothers. They can no longer talk to a woman after that time and they put them through an enforced sodomy regime until 18 years old. Of all the despicable, horrible things that you can do. Therefore I would have to conclude God is just in giving them that kind of environment and society to live in. And of course they used to be cannibals and brain eaters, and warriors and fighters, and things like this. Just horrible, wicked, despicable people. Now those people are also going to be covered under the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the second resurrection, because God is not calling, nor can He call them today in that condition. They worship demons. They worship Satan.
Perhaps someone would die for a good person, but Christ died for what? The ungodly. So you know, that time of the second resurrection is going to be so absolutely fantastic. Can you imagine what a fantastic thing that it’s going to be for people who’ve been in circumstances like that? To be reared in a society like those in New Guinea and New Caledonia? To be reared in a society as was shown on this thing “Shogun”? Can you imagine what it’s going to be like? The last thing that you remember dying was a big sword coming down on the back of your neck. You wake up and…. Satan is going to be removed, and I think God is gracious and generous in doing that for them. That is so fantastic it is just marvelous. And not only what God is going to do for us.
#2. We are put into a special category with Jesus Christ. We are called friends. John 15, let’s turn there. Now to be in a special category where you are called the friend of Jesus Christ. I’m sure that all of us have acquaintances. I’m sure that all of us have relatives. Are all your relatives your friends? No. They may be relatives but they sure may not be friends. And a friend is a special relationship that brings you in closeness. And Christ, being our friend then has a vested interest in seeing us into the Kingdom of God. That’s why the whole psychology of beating people into overcoming, and beating them into the Kingdom of God defeats the whole purpose. Christ is our friend. And how many times have we viewed Christ as what? Almost our enemy. Now that is not right.
Here’s what he says in John 15:12. “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Now that means that we have to give a whole lot more latitude and leeway then, doesn’t it? It means that we have to understand and love each other even more because of what Christ has done for us and is doing for them.
You know why there is a lack of love when there should be love? It just occurred to me just now. Because they don’t understand that Christ is our friend and it is put in such a way that “I want to be in the Kingdom of God, but I don’t know about you. And since I want to be there I’m going to make sure I get there, and I hope you get there.” It doesn’t work. Whereas if we consider ourselves with this commandment to love each other as Christ loves us, “Greater love than this, no one has, that one should lay his life down for his friends” (John 15:13, BGI paraphrased). Now people may lay their lives down to be burned (Romans 13, “For if we burn our bodies and don’t have love it hasn’t profited anything”). They may do it for the publicity, they may do it for whatever, but they’re not doing it for love.
But if you lay your life down for your friend, and a friend is not going to cheat you, is he? A friend is not going to stab you in the back when you’re not looking, is he? A friend is going to defend you, isn’t that right? A friend is going to help you. Jesus said, “You are My friends…” That’s quite a statement, isn’t it. But also notice that it’s conditional. “…If you practice whatsoever I command you” (vs. 14) Like anything else, a friendship has a close, intimate, understood set of rules. Now there are rules for conduct that are not close and intimate. One of them is that when you go to the airport you have to go through this machine to see if you have any metal. Bam - you must do it - that’s it. What are the rules of friendship? Trust, loyalty, love, protection, dedication. All of those things. Does Christ love us? Yes. Does He protect us? Yes. Does He defend us? Yes. Does He watch out for us? Yes. We don’t want to lower the relationship with Jesus Christ to then on the human plane become sloppy in the relationship by saying, “Oh well, Jesus is my friend.” But we need to uphold it in honor and love and esteem. And as Jesus said, “If you continue practicing what I command you…”, so there are conditions. If you have a friend who deliberately lies to you, what happens? He is no longer your friend. If you’ve ever had that happen you drop that friend, bam. Why? Because he couldn’t be trusted. Christ won’t lie to us, and we are under this grace of God. Now that’s a tremendous thing for Christ to say, “You are My friends.”
#3. Not only are we friends, but we are also relatives. We are brothers. So that’s bringing everything real close together. Let’s go to Hebrews 2:10, “For it was becoming to Him, for Whom [are] all things and by Whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons to glory, that the leader of their salvation should be made perfect through suffering” (BGI, paraphrased). So Jesus, although He was perfect, was perfected. Jesus was not offered as a sacrifice when He was twelve. But He was offered as a sacrifice after He finished His ministry and He was some 33 ½ years old. He was perfected. And I’m sure God’s understanding was perfected in the human experience.
“For both He who sanctifies and those that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren…” So we are the brothers of Christ. And brethren includes more than just the male gender. That means those who are of the family of God, brethren. “…Saying, I will declare Thy name to My brethren…” That is Jesus will declare the name of God the Father to “My brethren”, those that are in the Church, “…in [the] midst of [the] assembly I will sing praise to Thee.” Then it goes one step further showing we are also the children, verse 13. “And again, I will be trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God gave Me” (vs. 11-13, BGI, paraphrased).
Let’s come to Romans 8. We’ll get into the children of God, here in just a minute. We touched on it right there. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are let by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. But you have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but have received the Spirit of sonship whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:14-15, BGI, paraphrased). And that’s all a part of the family of God, and we’re getting into the thing of the children of God, the sons of God. #4 then is the children of God. We’re right there with it. Sons of God, the children of God where we can call Abba, Father.
Now in the societies that we are talking about here, it is completely indiscrete to call someone not of your family by an endearing term like Daddy, or Mommy, so forth. Even the German language to this day carries that through. When you meet someone on a formal basis, you do not use terms of endearment to them. It is very formal. It is very straightforward. Here, not only are we then the friends of Jesus Christ, not only then are we the brothers of Christ, we are also of the family of God and we can call God our Father in an intimate way, Abba, which means Daddy. And that means that the formal barriers have been broken down for the family of God. We still honor God, love God, respect God, but we can have that close intimate relationship with Him. That’s what the grace of God does for us.
Now it says here, I want you to notice the word for sons of God, verse 14. It is pronounced huio, which in the singular is pronounced huios. That ui is pronounced we. And “the sons of God”, it can refer…”son” can refer to the male gender distinctly. It can also refer in the term “sons” to male and female. Now the word for children is… There are two words for “children” but the main one I want to cover is called tekna, and tekna means either gender, male or female. Called the children of God.
Let’s go to 1 John 3 and we’ll see this. Let’s just begin right here in verse 1. Now the King James says “Behold”, or it means see. “See what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God…” Now notice the word children, it is tekna. “On account of this the world does not know us because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God…” (1 John 3:1-2, BGI, paraphrased). Now, I don’t want to get into a lot of theological discussions and things like that. We are the children of God. When a mother is carrying a child it is a called a child, yet it is not yet born. So likewise we are called the children of God because we have the begettal of God’s Holy Spirit, but we have not yet entered into the Kingdom of God because the resurrection has not taken place. But God calls the things that are not as though they were (Romans 4), because He told Abraham, “Your seed shall be as the stars.” They weren’t yet, but He said they would be. And God calls the things that are not as though they are. That’s why we are the children of God, but it will be a concrete fact at the resurrection in a spiritual sense.
“Beloved, now are we the children of God and it is not yet manifest what we shall be…” And the implication is “as the children of God” to the fullest extent. “…But we know that if He be manifest, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is” (vs. 2). So we are the children of God. We can put down here #5 then is the sons of God, huio, or you could probably put those pretty much synonymous together.
Now let’s go to 2 Corinthians 6, and let’s look at something here. Ok, I missed one in sequence so I have to renumber this now. #4, is the children of God. #5, is the sons of God. And of course we enter into this sonship. It is not an adoption in the sense of the way that people think of adoption. Adoption is taking someone that is not your offspring without your seed. However, until we receive the Spirit of God as the seed of God, we are not truly His children. Once we have received that then we are His children because we have the seed of God in us. So the son’s of God.
#6. The daughters of God. 2 Corinthians 6:16, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” You are the temple of God. “You are the temple of the living God, according as God has said, I will dwell among them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be to Me a people.” Now it’s interesting, the way you pronounce that word for people is laos. And we have a word today of a nation that is called Laos. Be interesting to try and trace that derivation back. “Wherefore come out of the midst of them and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you; and I will be to you for a Father, and you shall be to Me for sons and daughters…” Here the word huios, in this case plural it is huiois, it refers to the male gender exclusively. And then we have the daughters, thugaters, I think where we get the name Agatha. And Agatha also comes from the Greek word “good”. So it’s not too good of a sounding name in English. You think of someone called Agatha. It’s not the best sounding name, but in the Greek it means “good” - Agatha. Horaios means “beautiful”. “…They shall be to Me for sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Therefore having these promises, beloved, we should cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 6:16-18, BGI, paraphrased). And we went through how to do that. That is through the grace of God.
#7. Joint heirs with Christ. Not only did Christ die for us. Not only are we called the friends of Jesus Christ, and the brothers of Jesus Christ, the sons of God, the children of God, the daughters of God, but we are also joint heirs.
Now let me ask you a question. When you start into heirs and inheritance it starts getting a little legal sounding, doesn’t it? Now the Bible says, there is what? There is one lawgiver. Therefore God is legal, because law He’s got to be legal. Now don’t think in terms of laws of the land or attorneys, or judges in that sense because that will cloud your thinking in this particular case. When we are joint-heirs… and why don’t you study this through because I don’t believe that anyone outside of the first resurrection are joint-heirs.
Let’s go to Romans 8 and then we’ll talk a little bit about being joint-heirs. Ok, let’s pick it up here in verse 16. “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” There it is, children teknon theou. “And if children, also heirs…” Now what is one of the main things that the whole prophecy of Israel hinges on? Not only just on Christ. That is one main promise, or the promise of grace. There is the promise of the birthright. And the birthright is by inheritance. It is a legal thing. When someone dies they leave a will and they say, “I give so and so such and such”, and so forth. Christ died and the part of the will was that we become heirs. If you’re someone’s offspring and they die, you are entitled to part of what they own, legally. Now legally, because God has brought us into this relationship, God has entitled us, if we continue in the things that He has said, if we continue in the grace of God, we will be, as it says, let’s read it on here, we are heirs. “And if children, also heirs: heirs indeed of God, and joint-heirs of Christ; if indeed we suffer together, that also we may be glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17, BGI).
What did Jesus Christ inherit? He inherited the universe. Who owns the universe? God does. Didn’t God say, “The earth is Mine and the fullness thereof.” Didn’t God say, “All gold is Mine, and all silver is Mine.” Yes, He did. He let’s us use it, but who owns it? God does. Now if we are to inherit it, it’s not just some will-of-the-wisp thing. It is an inheritance. We are going to co-own with Christ everything that He owns. Now just let that sink in for just a minute. Think on that.
Let’s look at it another way. Why is it, and it’s motivated out of greed in many cases, that a woman will want to marry a rich man, or a man will want to marry a rich woman? And in the case of tremendous avarice and greed, there’s even murder that has been known to take place to do in either the husband or the wife, for what? To inherit what they have. So when we’re talking about joint-heirs with Christ… Let’s go back to Hebrews 1 and we’ve almost gone full circle to the first place we began in Hebrews 2 of God has put all things in subjection under Him, and it was Jesus. Hebrews 1 is the lead-in to it, and the very first part of it says, “In many parts and in many ways of old God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets [that is through the prophets], in these last days has spoken to us [by or through] in His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things…” (Heb. 1:1-2, BGI, paraphrased). Now if Christ is an heir of all things…now it didn’t say the heir of air. It’s not just something out here in space that is nothing. It is the heir of all things.
Now it really shows the ridiculousness of being materialistic. It shows the ridiculousness of just striving after the fleshly things to have them for the sake of having them because Christians are going to have the best of everything through Christ. Appointed heir of all things. That’s everything that there is in the universe we will co-own. But there are going to be rules for using it. And the rules are that the Church is to be subject to Christ as the wife is to her husband. So that’s how we inherit it through then that marriage of the Church in Christ. We become joint-heirs. Let that sink in for a minute. How rich are you? Don’t try and calculate it in dollars because I don’t know what unit of value that God uses for what He’s created. But it talks about, which we will come to in Ephesians 3 in closing in just a minute, but it talks about the riches of the grace and glory of God.
Now, I’ll tell you one thing. When we are clothed upon with our spiritual tabernacle, as it says there in 2 Corinthians 5, it’s not going to be an ill-fitted warehouse suit. I will guarantee that. And when God says that we have the right, and it’s not only going to be a property right in New Jerusalem and in the universe, we will own part of that. Not to use as any way we want. Not to destroy. Not to sin. But to use it for the glory of God and what God has planned. And I’ll tell you this much, if God has planned what He has for human beings on the earth at this point, we’re going to have to have a spiritual mind to comprehend what God’s plan is going to be when we are the sons of God. We can only, like Paul said, looking through the glass darkly. We can get a glimpse of it but when the fullness of that comes in that’s going to be something.
Anyway, I’ve often wondered what kind of vehicle God is going to say, “This is yours.” And you just take off wherever you want to go. Won’t have to be stuck in some car behind the traffic. I got stuck last night in a traffic jam… I was all through at 5 o’clock, but I was in Redwood City, so I was on my way home and I got stuck in a traffic jam that began all the way from Mountain Home clear down south of San Jose. And it was just a creepy crawly all the way. You know, that’s a good time to think, well what kind of a vehicle is God going to give us in the Kingdom of God. And angels will be our servants. That’s going to be absolutely amazing. We’re going to have to get used to it. Not in this life. Ok, let’s go on, where was I?
#8. We’ve already covered part of that. God is our Father. That’s what the grace of God does for us. God is our Father.
#9. Christ is going to marry the Church. Ephesians 5. I’ll just summarize it with this verse. “This mystery is great, but I speak as to Christ and to the Church.” Ok now, it’s talking about the Church. Let’s go back. I’m going to have to go back. I can’t just summarize it with that. Let’s begin here in verse 22. “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, as also the Christ [is] head of the assembly of the church, and He is Saviour of the body. But even as the church is subjected to Christ, so also should their wives be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your own wives, even also Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for it, that He might sanctify, having cleansed [it] by the washing of the water by [the] word that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, that it might be holy and blameless.” And the only way that can be done is through the grace of God. “So men ought to love their own wives as their own body, and he that loves his own wife loves himself. For no one at any time has hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh [that is through the crucifixion], and of His bones.” That is, just like Eve was created out of one of the ribs of Adam, so the Church has been created out of the innermost being of Christ. That’s what the analogy is then. “Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife and they two shall become [be] one flesh” (Eph. 5:22-BGI, paraphrased). And so it’s going to be that we are what? We are joined in one Spirit with the Lord. And it’s going to be a spiritual and practical relationship for all eternity. So #9, Christ is going to marry the Church.
Now let’s go back to Ephesians 3 and let’s talk about some of the things concerning the grace of God and the riches of His grace, and the tremendous thing that God is doing. And I’ll just have to admit to you today that from verse 14 on to the end of the chapter is my favorite the part in all of the Bible. And I perhaps have given more sermons ending up here and coming to this than any other. And yet, through all the times that I have, I never cease to gain more from it, to have more feeling and more understanding of it every time I do.
Now, verse 14, “For this cause [the cause of God’s plan] I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom every family in heaven and in the earth is named…” And of course that is the family of angels and the family of men on the earth who are going to be in the family of God. “…That He may give you according to the riches of His glory…” That’s quite a statement. How much can God give us when He’s already said we’re going to inherit the universe with Christ. “…The riches of His glory…” Now that’s not just some poetic statement. That means the riches the riches of His glory. “…And that you be strengthened with power…” That is dunamis. Here it is pronounced exactly in this place dunamei. “By His Spirit in the inner man…”(Eph. 3:14-16,BGI, paraphrased), or person. And how can you best be strengthened with the Spirit of God internally? You can, by living in that state of grace, because God is more willing abundantly to give us of His Spirit and to pour out His grace to us.
Ok, let’s continue on here verse 17. “…And for Christ to dwell in your hearts in faith…” In other words, that we come so close to God, and the Spirit of God that it’s actually like Christ living in us, living in our hearts. Because our heart…what does it say? Out of the abundance the heart the mouth speaks. And if Christ is established in our hearts and in our very being then it’s not going to have to be that we live by the letter of the law. We live by the grace of God. That’s what he’s talking about here. “…For Christ to dwell in your hearts in faith and that you being rooted and grounded in love, that you may be fully able to comprehend with all of the saints what is the breadth and length, and depth, and height; and to know the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ…” Now if we really come to that point through God’s grace, to understand how much Christ loved us, does love us, and is loving us, that makes the whole relationship with God a much more tremendous thing. And God is more willing and able to give those things to us.
“…Being rooted and grounded in love, that you may be fully able to comprehend with all of the saints what is the breadth and length, and depth, and height…” You see, that’s why it says there, and when I first read it, back in Hebrews 6…it says, “Leaving aside the principles of Christ let’s go on to perfection…” And the first time I read that I thought, “What on earth is he talking about?” I think I can understand a little more now. We’re not putting Christ aside. We’re going beyond baptism and laying on of hands, and those rudimentary things that begins us walking on this path of grace so that we can come to this point to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the plan of God. Now that’s a four dimensional thing. And that can only be with the Spirit of God. And we can only comprehend it through His grace.
“…And for you to know the unsurpassing knowledge of the love of Christ, that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.” Now that’s quite a statement, to be filled with all the fullness of God. And if you will look at the words, it is very redundant the way it is said there, but to be filled with all the fulness of God has got to then refer to the resurrection when this will be accomplished. “But to Him Who is able…” That is has the power. Christ and God the Father have the power. “…To do exceedingly above all that we ask or think…” Now that’s really something, isn’t it? All that we ask or think. The very greatest and magnanimous, wonderful, greatest thought we can possibly comprehend, God is able to do exceedingly above that. And this tells me that to enter into the Kingdom of God as a son of God, to be a Spirit being, is going to be so utterly fantastic that the human mind cannot comprehend it. I think it would be like taking a hundred watt bulb and screwing it into a socket, that when you threw the switch, would have 10 million volts of power. You threw the switch and it would go blewie - nothing left. I think that’s good comparison to what our minds are able to comprehend with what God would give us. But we’re to grow in that. “…You might be filled all the fulness of God, but to Him Who is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think according to the power which works in us, to Him be glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all the generations of the ages…” (vs. 17-21, BGI, paraphrased), or it says here in the King James, “…throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
So that’s an appropriate place to go ahead and end this one, and I hope that we can really begin to grasp and comprehend and understand the grace of God to it’s fullest extent. Now I think we can comprehend more fully what Paul said. “What, shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.”