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Posts Tagged ‘Superabounding Grace’

The Wednesday Word: Abounding, Astounding Grace!

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24

When we are said to be justified, it doesn’t mean we have been made righteous, it means we have been declared righteous. Even though we are sinners, the all-holy and righteous God has given us righteous standing before Him. This is astonishing! The very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is reckoned to us, and it is in this imputed righteousness alone that we are safe to approach the all-holy One.

We are justified and according to our text, FREELY so. To be freely justified means not only are we acquitted, but also this verdict of acquittal is not because of any reason in us. It is free. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, calls this aspect of salvation pure, abounding, astounding grace.

The legally binding verdict of the all-knowing Judge is that we are not guilty. It is worth pausing and thinking about that. What a profound truth… May it liberate our hearts and free us from condemnation!

Zinzendorf said it well;

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

When from the dust of death I rise

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus has lived, and died, for me.”

We are justified freely by grace. It has often been said that justification can be summed up with the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” It does indeed mean that, but it means much more. It means, “Just as if I had lived the same life as Jesus lived!” When we are justified, we have the very life of Christ imputed to us. When justified, we are much more than pardoned. When a person is pardoned, their punishment is remitted, but the grounds for their condemnation are not removed. This is far from Justification.

Sometimes, I am accused of making too much of the distinction of the basis of Justification being righteousness imputed to us and not infused into us. “It’s all semantics,” my critics say, “You are too technical.” This kind of comment, however, puts me in memory of the story of the man who sought some advice from a governmental agency about using a particular chemical in his business. The agency wrote back, but the letter was couched in such technical language that he couldn’t understand it. So he assumed it was alright to use the chemical and he wrote back thanking the agency for informing him and that he would go ahead and use it. When the department saw his letter, they, realizing what had happened, wrote back immediately and said just these simple words, “Don’t use that chemical, it will rust the heck out of your pipes.”

The man got the message!

Likewise, we need to be clear on the message that Gospel Justification has nothing to do with righteousness being infused into us. Great spiritual harm has come when people are not clear that we have been acquitted, not because of any reason in us but because salvation has been accomplished outside of us, in history, by Grace Alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

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Abounding Grace Part 3

Grace is threefold: It is for the past, present and future. We see this threefold grace demonstrating itself in the Incarnation … one of the supremely important truths of the gospel. At the Incarnation, God became a man and was thus able, as a man, to die. The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way,

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (Hebrews 2:14).

In other words, the death of the cross could not have happened if Jesus Christ had not assumed human nature. That’s grace for the past! But in the Incarnation, we are also instructed about grace for the present. At this very moment, we have a great, merciful and faithful high priest in Heaven. He is one of us. He is appearing even now for us before the presence of God. As He appears, He continually supplies His perfection to our constant imperfection. That’s grace for the present!

Listen to these grace-filled words,

“We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (our weaknesses) but (one who) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

The man who is God, is the God who became man. His incarnation not only gives us grace for the past and present but also pledges us grace for the future. He is coming back for us as the reigning rightful King of the Earth and the cosmos.

In 1 Timothy 1:1, we discover that Christ Himself is our future hope. We read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Grace is abounding towards us. Consider this scripture; “Of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace” John 1:16.

In Christ, grace is replaced by even more grace. That’s the heritage of every believer. But, what do we do when the grace runs out? The answer is nothing. Why? Because grace never runs out! In this New Covenant, we have grace following grace, following grace, following grace. It’s like standing on the seashore and watching wave after wave coming in one after the other. When one wave crashes, another is on the way. We don’t make this happen, we are not called upon to contribute anything to the scene. So it is with grace. It is never ending in its supply to us.

Colossians 2:9 says, “In him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Fullness is the Greek word ‘Pleroma’ which means, among other things, ‘complete totality.’ It is stunning to grasp that the complete totality of the Godhead dwells bodily in the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare this with what is taught in John 1:16; “For of his fullness (Pleroma) have all we received.” This means that we, therefore, have limitless resources in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, grace is abounding to us.

Celsus, a Greek philosopher of the 2nd century, used to jeer at Christ. He didn’t deny Christ’s historical existence but, rather, said that Jesus was both illegitimate and a sorcerer. According to Celsus, every reputable teacher typically attracted the noble and wise people of his day, but Jesus attracted the down and outs and the scum of society.

Yes, that part is correct. Thank God it’s true. Christ Jesus demonstrates His grace by the kind of people he chooses. But, although we are morally down and out, He does not leave us like that. He clothes us with His righteousness. He saves us by grace and makes us Heavenly royalty. When He returns, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. That’s grace! Salvation is all of grace! Abounding Grace,

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

Abounding Grace Part 2

Believers have received past grace. We live in present grace and will receive future grace. Grace truly is abounding. However, there’s a bad teaching going around that says; “Because of grace, I must do everything I can to pay God back.” Girrrh! That’s so wrong! When we receive a gift, we do not expect to be charged for it. It is a gift. Do we now believe that God gives us His grace, but now He must be repaid? This kind of thinking militates against the gospel. Grace does not plunge us into debt. It liberates us!

The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Just as there’s nothing we can do to earn the gift, there’s nothing we can do to repay it. A gift is a gift is a gift!

There’s a designated word for trying to pay back God for His gift; it’s called legalism.

Where did we get this faulty idea that we must repay God? Perhaps, it sometimes comes from faulty choruses and hymns. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love the old hymns. But when we talk about the “great old hymns” some of them were not so great. Consider, for example, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I love that Hymn, but we don’t sing it in our meetings for two reasons. First of all it talks about ‘raising our Ebenezer’….I got tired of having to explain what that meant. The second and more serious reason is that one of the verses says “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.”

But wait a minute! A debtor is someone who owes someone and is obligated to pay them back. Do you ever feel constrained to pay God back for His grace? If you do, you have been plundered by anothergrace robber! We are not debtors to grace.

Why does God give us grace? The simple answer is, He gives it because He wants to give it (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9).

Dr David Dykes of Tyler, Texas, in his series on Colossians, tells a famous story which comes from the book, ‘To End all Wars,’ by Ernest Gordon. He tells about a group of Allied POWs in World War II who were being forced by the Japanese to build the Burma Railway. The day’s work had ended; the tools were being counted, as usual. As the party was about to be dismissed, the Japanese guard shouted that a shovel was missing. He insisted that someone had stolen it to sell to the Thais. Striding up and down before the men, he ranted and denounced them for their wickedness, and most unforgivable of all their ingratitude to the Emperor. As he raved, he worked himself up into a paranoid fury. Screaming in broken English, he demanded that the guilty one step forward to take his punishment. No one moved; the guard’s rage reached new heights of violence. “All die! All die!” he shrieked. To show that he meant what he said, he cocked his rifle, put it to his shoulder and looked down the sights, ready to fire at the first man in the line. At that moment the Argyll (Highlander) stepped forward, stood stiffly to attention, and said calmly, “I did it.” The guard unleashed all this whipped-up hate; he kicked the helpless prisoner and beat him with his fists. Still the Argyll stood rigidly at attention, with the blood streaming down his face. His silence goaded the guard to an excessive rage. Seizing his rifle by the barrel, he lifted it high over his head and with a final howl, brought it down on the skull of the Argyll, who sank limply to the ground and did not move. Although it was perfectly clear he was dead, the guard continued to beat him and stopped only when exhausted. The men of the detail picked up their comrade’s body, shouldered their tools and marched back to camp. When the tools were counted again at the guard house, no shovel was missing. This brave soldier had obviously given his life for his friends. He took a punishment he didn’t deserve so that his fellow soldiers could live.

Let’s never forget that Jesus went to the cross and was punished so that we wouldn’t be. That’s grace! However, He doesn’t ask us to do anything to repay His grace…that’s grace abounding.

So I’ll say it again, God doesn’t say to us, I’ll give you my grace, but in return you have to do something for me.” God gives us His grace because He freely wants to. It is unearned on our part. Otherwise, it would not be grace. Do we now do something back for God? Yes indeed, we will be His thankful followers, friends and fellow workers….not because we are in debt to Him but because he has removed our debt by His Abounding Grace.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

To the Praise of the Glory of his Grace

God is pleased to call many of us by the word of the gospel, and every gospel call is a gracious thing, for we do not deserve to be called away from our sins. If we reject those calls, and resist them, and yet after all the effectual grace of God comes in a more powerful way and makes the unwilling willing, and corrects the obstinacy of our hearts, why, this must be grace emphatically. To give the common call of the gospel to every sinner to come to Christ, and to believe in him and live, which call is given in the gospel every day, is grace; but to continue that call, and to make it effectual, even to those who have hitherto resisted it, why, this is grace upon grace, superabounding grace. If you spread a table for the hungry, there is favor to them; if you invite them to come, and invite again and again, it is great favor; but if you “compel them to come in,” as the parable has it, and bid them sit there, and lay yourself out until you have won their hearts and persuaded them to accept your bounty, this is mercy upon mercy. Yet such is effectual calling. That ever the love of God should have constrained you and me to come and be saved when we so long stood out against it — oh! this is “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

Charles H. Spurgeon–Sermon No. 958 “Dei Gratia”