Grace for Everyone

st-_peter_preaching_at_pentecost
Peter Preaching at Pentecost by Benjamin West 1738-1820

Romans 4:16 Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s offspring, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, he is the father of us all.

Read 1Timothy 1:13-15, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 5:14-21, Titus 2:11  God’s grace is extended to all of humanity not just the Jews. You gain access to God’s grace through your faith in Jesus.  All of mankind were condemned through the sin of Adam, who was one man, and all mankind can be saved through the righteousness and obedience of one man (God in the flesh) Jesus Christ.  Where there is no sin, there is no need for grace.  Where there is no law, there is no sin.  The law was given to show us that we are sinful, if we didn’t know of our sin, then we wouldn’t ever feel the need for grace. Grace came about through the righteousness of Jesus.  In the old testament, God’s grace was demonstrated through sacrifice and cleansing from sin was by sacrifice. 

It’s not that anyone could actually be cleansed by the blood of an animal…(Hebrews 10:2-23) it was that God loved his people so much that he gave them a method by which they could obediently do an atonement so that they wouldn’t live feeling guilty.  After all, once a person feels their guilt, the first thing they want to do is do something to get rid of that feeling of guilt.  Until the Messiah came, God gave them a method that would allow to regularly face their guilt and acknowledge that sin had a penalty, and that penalty was death.

Think about it, each time that person had to go and do a sin offering at the temple they were required to think about their guilt during the time of picking out the “perfect” animal, then when they went to the priest to have the offering made they would naturally see the horror of death that their sin guilt brought about.  (Hebrews 9:22, Leviticus 17:11)All of those temple sacrifices in the Bible were precursors to the perfect last sacrifice which would actually atone for the sins of man.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, so any other sacrifices we make now in the belief that they are going to do anything to earn us salvation are insulting to God, because they belittle Jesus’ sacrifice. After all, God gave his son, how can anything that we sacrifice be compared to that sacrifice.  If you have experienced being a parent you know that there is nothing that you wouldn’t do for your children.  You would rather die yourself than to have them suffer.  Yet God allowed his son to die for us because he loved us so much that he wanted us to be cleansed from sin and drawn close to him.

Note: To use the time period before Easter known as Lent as an example; Many times we chose to give up something that is important to us, or that we spend a lot of time doing.  We are doing this not to make an atonement to God, but in honor and remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  It is also to give us a feeling of what sacrifice is all about, and how hard it can be.  Therefore if you choose to give something up for Lent, it should be something which is challenging to give up, otherwise giving it up is not much of a sacrifice. You can chose to give something up in honor of God at any time of the year and for any period.  That is just a traditional time period.  The thing about doing this is that if the thing that you give up is something that you really enjoy, each time you are faced with the temptation of it you are also faced with the thoughts of God.  For my part, I have thoughts like, “oh, no, I can’t eat this right now”…then it goes through my head, “Why not?”  Then, “Oh, yeah, because I promised God that I will give up eating this item that I really crave for this particular time period, and I need to honor my promise to God!”  So you see how it is that each time you are confronted with temptation you are also confronted with thoughts of God.  It becomes a way to also put your focus more on God during that time period, all the while understanding more clearly how hard it is to give something up, and how hard it is to resist temptation.  And we are only tempted a little bit.  Jesus was tempted completely and thoroughly day in and day out for 40 days in the desert, and he was by himself. There was no one there to help him by talking to him and advising him how to overcome the temptation.  Ultimately, when we are being tempted we are alone, as we are the only ones who can decide whether to give in to a temptation or not.  What did Jesus use to overcome the tempter?  He used the word of God.  He battle the Devil with scripture.  An important reason to have God’s word written on our hearts and minds.

Read Genesis 17:1-18:15, Genesis 21:1-7  The story of God’s Covenant with Abraham.  This could alternately be called the first covenant, or the covenant of the Old Testament.  It is the covenant of Circumcision.  The Gospel is under the new Covenant which is a Covenant of grace, whereas the Covenant with Abraham was one of the flesh.  The continuation of that covenant of the flesh was passed down with the 10 commandments in the Old Testament after the Exodus from Egypt that became the covenant of the Law.

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