Amazing Grace: The Gift that Keeps on Giving !
Today we want to look at some summarizing verses as Paul ends this first section of his letter to the Romans in chapter 3: 19-26. Combining phrases and words from both the KJV and NIV my goal is for you to understand the terminology of salvation for it is the language of grace.
Verse 19 draws the logical conclusion we are all guilty, no one is righteous, no one does good and Paul says: every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty, Let me reference to what John the Baptist said to describe the Lord Jesus in John 1: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the SIN of the world. Did you get that? He did not say sins but SIN. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest took two goats, one was slain and the blood taken and sprinkled on the mercy seat, the other, the High Priest placed his hands on the head of the other goat, which symbolized the confessed sins of the people, and set this goat free.This goat was taken into the desert and let go to never be seen again, the scape goat. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Sins are what we commit and have done and do, SIN is what we have become. Jesus blood , the blood of the Lamb was sprinkled on the mercy seat for our sins, but the Lamb of God took away our SIN. He took our old sin nature, the factory that manufactured sins, and nailed it to the cross. We were crucified with Him, and buried with Him that our old nature might be put to death so that we could be freed from sin. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ( Galatians 2:20) My chains are gone, Ive been set free! My God and Savior has ransomed me! Notice the scripture, He, the Son of God gave Himself for me. The exchanged life. We exchange gifts at Christmas, but it seems to have lost its significance that we give and exchange in memory of the greatest gift we ever received.
What had we become? SIN. So here is the exchange: For He has made Him, who knew no SIN to be made, (become) SIN for us, that we might become be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 2 Cor. 5:21)
What is that gift? Let us unwrap the gift as Paul continues to explain the doctrine and language of salvation. For this is a gift that if you open it quickly and discover this robe of righteousness, you might not fully comprehend just what all this gift entails. Many gifts we are given at Christmas do not last long, some toys will not last the day only to be broken. Other gifts we never used sometimes even giving them away to someone else, but this is a gift that keeps on giving.
Paul explains in verse 20 of Romans 3- no flesh is justified by the works of the law. For by the law, we are made aware of sin.
Instead Paul tells us a righteousness of God and from God is being revealed to us that is apart from the law. This righteousness was described by the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount as a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees. In fact, Jesus taught we must be perfect as God is perfect. Perfect- zero defects. Moral perfection. Never commit a sin. But that is impossible, one would say, and you would be correct. But what God demands, God provides
Abraham had it right when he answered Isaacs query- where is the Lamb? God Himself will provide a lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham told Isaac. Jehovah Jireh, Our Provider. He not only gives us the desire to do His good will, He provides the power to do it. Paul realized the Laws and Prophets had testified to this righteousness that comes from God, a righteousness that does not come by keeping the law, for no man can keep the law. Jesus on the first day of his resurrection appeared to Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus and taught them how Moses and the prophets spoke of Him. He also that same day appeared to the disciples and opened the Scriptures, the Law and Prophets spoke of Him and how he must suffer and rise from the dead. (Luke 24) This righteousness from God and of God had always been there in plain sight in His Word. Men were blinded by the god of this world, their minds veiled by the deceiver to the truth. Paul said even to this day, when Moses is read a veil covers their heart. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. ( 2 Cor. 3)
Paul then explains this righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all of them who believe. (Vs. 22) He has shown us- we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.(Vs 23) Now watch what God does:
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Justified- declared just, innocent, righteous. This is the sovereign act of Almighty God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while the sinner is still in the state of sinning. God does not say- now if you stop sinning, I will declare you just. No- He is like the father of the Prodgial, He runs to meet you, there is rejoicing in heaven for you were lost and now found, dead but now alive. We are declared righteous when we first believed. We are the recipients of His mercy and grace. Mercy is not giving me what I deserve and grace is giving me what I do not deserve. It is given freely- it costs nothing, it is a gift of God; made available through his grace- unmerited favor, through redemption- being redeemed, that is paid for, bought with a price paid for by Christ Jesus and His Father.
Do you see what the Lord Jesus and Our Heavenly Father have bought for our Christmas Gift? A gift that keeps on giving. Do you see how costly this gift was? More precious than silver and gold, it costs God His Only Son and the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world, every filthy depraved act committed on this planet- he drank the bitter cup and endured the wrath of God, being forsaken by God so we could be forgiven.
We are now forgiven of our sins, accepted in the beloved, adopted into His family, joint heirs with Jesus, indwelt by His Spirit , signed,sealed and delivered. Blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven. A new creature with old things passed away and passing away and all things have become new.
Verse 25 tells us : Whom (the Lord Jesus) God presented (set forth) to be a propitiation ( atoning sacrifice) though faith in His blood. Now you begin to understand how from the first sin of Adam and Eve an innocent sacrifice had to be made to cover their sins. For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
Paul continues to tell us: God did this to demonstrate his justice, because of his forbearance he had left sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus Christ.
To understand this statement, lets look at Pauls statement in Acts 17: 30- In the past God overlooked (winked at, KJV) such ignorance, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent. What did God say He would do on the night of the Passover in Egypt, he said when he saw the blood he would pass over. God set aside those sins, they were in accounting language put on a persons account, charged to their account,but yet not paid for, until Jesus came and paid that persons bill in full who God presented to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.
God set aside my sins, and your sins until we came to our senses, and realized in us dwelt no good thing. He gave His son for us, demonstrating his love for us, that while we were still yet sinners Christ died for us.
Now God had been doing this since the first sin in the Garden. Adam and Eve understood this principle for they taught Cain and Able the necessity of a blood offering. Although Cain decided he would achieve remission of sins with the work of his hands. Something man has been doing every since.
John told us in the first chapter of John these facts about the Lord Jesus : He was the Word in the beginning, He was with God and he was God. God became flesh and dwelt among us. And John said we beheld his glory, the one and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. I am the way, the truth and the life, Jesus said of himself. No man comes to the Father except by me. (John 14) If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth will set free. And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. (John 8)
Did you notice what the Lord Jesus- God in the flesh, was full of grace and truth.
Here is what we need to understand and I believe we will not fully understand until we see Him face to face in all His Glory, we need to understand why we exist and what life is about. Or else we will spend our whole lives running from one thing to the next trying to figure out what life is?
In the book of Exodus, we all know the story of manna. But do you know what the word manna means in Hebrew? The word manna in Hebrew was a phrase that basically meant what is this?
What is this stuff that has come down from heaven? The Israelites soon realized it was bread. And bread and water are necessary to sustain physical life. The Israelites had just been freed from the slavery of Egypt. As we studied Exodus we saw the typology of this historical event in spiritual terms for the Bible tells us- Moses was a type of redeemer sent to free Gods people from captivity. The Pharaoh was a type of devil who did not want to let the people go. The Egyptian slavemasters were a picture of our old nature, the flesh which held us captivity in sin.
So after they are set free, God leads them into the wilderness-desert in order to do one thing: teach them and train them to trust Him. Trust Him to guide them, trust Him to provide for them. And learn the lesson of life that man does not exist by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. ( Deut. 8;3; Matthew 4). You see, trust is a learned response, and God was teaching them they could trust Him each and every day to provide them with all their needs. Have you learned to trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding? In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.( Prov.3)
Have you discovered what life is about? Or are you still asking- what is this? Have you discovered what the purpose of life is? Have you come to realize that you exist, and you are alive because God willed for you to live in the time and place that you now live? And the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength for this is the first and greatest commandment. And love your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment and on these two laws all the other laws exist
Have your received the manna from heaven? Have you received the One who said I am the true bread of heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. This the bread that must be gathered and the bread that must be eaten. This is His body broken for us, take and eat. (John 6) It is interesting that Jesus when he fed the crowd of thousands with the five small barley loaves- told the disciples to gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted. Have you gathered all the pieces?
Are you wasting this gift of grace? This amazing gift that makes everything possible That provides for life, not just a getting by, eking out life, but an abundant life.
But because of this great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4,5)
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a GIFT OF GOD, not of works lest any many should boast. ( Ephesians 2:8,9)
I love the song Amazing Grace written by John Newton. You know his story, he was the captain of a slave ship. Taking captives from Africa and selling them into slavery. An alcoholic, a vile and depraved man who got saved and wrote the hymn Amazing Grace- how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Wretch is a word Paul will use to describe himself. Wretch is an old English word which means an unfortunate person, a miserable person without hope. Newton goes on in the language of the Prodigal sons story of one who was lost and found, was blind but now sees. It is the story of my life until age 31. I was a person who had not discovered the reason for life and left home in search of the meaning of life to discover- what it is.
You know what happened, I became a wretch, which is about as good a description of an alcoholic as one can come up with.
But listen to this next truth John Newton shares with us in this hymn about this Gift that keeps on Giving, this Amazing Grace: Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace,my fears relieved. During the summer of 1977 prior to my getting saved on September 16th of that year, I awoke each morning with a sense of self-loathing, dread and fear. I was afraid. It was grace that taught my heart to fear and it was grace, that relieved my fears. Amazing Grace!! How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed. I was stunned like a child beholding a Christmas gift of unbelievable greatness- a gift more precious than anything in this world.
Notice also the Christian life , although an abundant life is not a life without trouble, trials and adversity. Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home. The Gift that keeps on coming, it keeps on giving – this always sufficient , manifold Grace!
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. Yea when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace.
When weve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, weve no less days to sing Gods praise, than when we first begun.!
Amazing Grace- The Gift that Keeps on Giving!! Have you unwrapped your gift? Make sure you get all the pieces- let nothing be wasted!