Sunday, 3 July 2016

Coming to the Throne of Grace. ~ Ganeida

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious
God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

This morning I want to talk about coming boldly to the Throne of Grace where we will find mercy & grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

Grace is Charis. We understand that to mean the unmerited favour of God towards man. That is the usual definition & the way we usually understand the word grace as it is used in the New Testament. It is a good working definition & a good place to start, however if we study how the word is actually used by the Holy Spirit in Scripture we find that there is more to grace than just God’s unmerited favour towards us & this is what I want to look at this morning.
Let us begin by looking at 2 different passages of scripture that talk about grace.

2 Cor 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Peter 1:2~3 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence.

In both verses grace is tied to God’s power. Power is dynamis & we know this is where we get our English word dynamite.  Power is the grace gifts; charis is the root of charismatic.

Why is this important? Because so many Christians live small, defeated lives.  I do not want that for you, my friends ~ & neither does Christ!  He has promised us the abundant life & while the hard work of implanting a new spirit within us has already been done we actually have to access that through faith. John 1:16

 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. In other words, as is clear from the Greek, Jesus has given us an overabundance of grace.  As the psalmist says: My cup runneth over… That is what is available to us but we have to put on Christ.  This is why Romans 13:14 instructs us: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

There are 2 parts to this instruction: put on Christ; make no provision for the flesh. Now the proud will go about controlling their flesh by their own ability.  Those who are particularly strong~willed may have some success but those who humble themselves before the Lord & access His Grace will have great success. Why? Because He gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Again & again the epistles give instructions on how we should now live. They are very clear that the regenerated person is not the same & does not act in the way the world does. Nor are we to be consumed by the world’s pleasures.

 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God… Titus2:11~12

Ephesians 5:6 warns us not to be fooled by those who try to excuse sin but there is an even stronger warning in 2nd Peter.   V21  It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy lifeGod loves us yes, but how we live matters to Him.  Or you could try reading through what Jesus has to say to the 7 churches in Revelation.  Again & again it is their actions He condemns.

Now I want to look at John 14:15.  Most of us know the short version: If you love me, keep my commandments. However, if we go to Mounce’s we see something very interesting. Rather than a command, we have a statement ~ & what an interesting statement it is!

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Love is agapaō, not philo, keep is tēreō, protectively watch over, commandment is entolē, but it can also mean commission. It is not our keeping God’s commands that proves whether we love Him or not.  He already knows whether we do or not, just as we know the truth about ourselves.  Rather John is saying that when we love God above all else we are motivated to keep His commandments because love desires to please. Love desires to do what’s right.

James tells us: Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
As a generation we have a problem.  We want the love of God & the grace of God but we do not want the discipline of God even though scripture plainly says: For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." Hebrews12:6

No discipline? Then you are an illegitimate child. Hebrews 12:8 Now discipline actually means to educate [paideuō]. We are to allow God to educate us in holy living because the very first command God ever gave mankind was to be fruitful & multiply.  We are designed to bear fruit ~ & we will.  Either we will bear fruit unto righteousness ~ or we will bear the fruit of wickedness but we will bear fruit!

Love will compel us to want to please God by bearing the fruit of righteousness but we have a problem if we are not living right.  Our temple becomes unclean. The clear voice of the Holy Spirit will become muted or silenced because we have not paid attention to His clear directives to holy living. Remember we are to live *above the graft*, removing that which is displeasing to God.

Praise God He has given us a way out of this conundrum! Psalm 37:5 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. People often selfishly imagine that this means that God gives us what we want but the first instruction is to delight in the Lord.  Thus, logically, we are not going to delight in that which displeases God so the desires must be the desires God wishes us to have.

There is a terrible logic to scripture.  To delight in God we must first humble ourselves ~ because He resists the proud. Being humble means we cast ourselves wholly on the Lord’s mercy & ask for His Grace to enable us to live as He wishes. It is God’s grace that empowers us. We can ask for more & more of His grace.  God is not stingy about how much grace or to whom it is given but we must meet His requirements.  The beautiful thing is the more we humble ourselves the more God is able to pour His grace into us & His grace empowers us to love Him more & love motivates us to please Him.  Because we desire to please Him we humble ourselves… & so it goes.
Because He first loved us & knew how much we would need His grace to help us live His life He made provision for us at the Passover. When we are His we can come boldly, with reverent fear, to the Lord’s Table knowing that whatever we need there is grace for it.  Repentance of sins? His blood washes us clean.  Healing?  By His stripes we were healed. More of His power in our lives? Grace covers it. A greater ability to love Him?  We have only to ask in Jesus name.
At the Lord’s table we remember the blood that was shed for the remission of our sins, His body broken for us,& we rejoice that we can access His grace through our Lord & saviour Jesus Christ.

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