Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’
© February 15, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on January 16, 2011
BLCF Bulletin February 15, 2015
Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride; Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Scripture Verses: Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13
Let us pray…
Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson for today explores; ‘Sharing the Glory of God’s Grace’. It would be presumptuous of me, or anyone else, to claim to fully understand God. But by His grace we are able to perceive His plan that He provides for our forgiveness, reconciliation, sanctification, and edification, from our sins to His grace.
In bulletin today, is a list of characteristics of God, as revealed through the Scriptures:
God is self-existent Exodus. 3:13–14
God is self-sufficient Psalm 50:10–12
God is eternal Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2
God is Infinite 1 Kings 8:22–27; Jeremiah 23:24
God is omnipresent Psalm 139:7–12
God is omnipotent Genesis 18:14; Revelations 19:6
God is omniscient Psalm 139:2–6; Isaiah 40:13–14
God is wise Proverbs 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17
God is immutable Hebrews 1:10–12; 13:8
God is sovereign Isaiah 46:9–11
God is incomprehensible Job 11:7–19; Roman 11:33
God is holy Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15
God is righteous and just Psalm 119:137
God is true John 17:3; Titus 1:1–2
God is faithful Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:1–2
God is light James 1:17; 1 John 1:5
God is good Psalm 107:8
God is merciful Psalm 103:8–17
God is gracious Psalm 111:4; 1 Peter 5:10
God is love John 3:16; Romans 5:8
God is spirit John 4:24
God is one Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Isaiah 44:6–8
God is a Trinity Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14
(Chart by John Neely)
The attribute that I would like to focus upon is God’s grace or graciousness, mentioned in Psalm 111:4 and 1 Peter 5:10, among other in the Bible. Psalm 111:4 (ESV) reads, as follows:
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
And the second Scripture, from 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV), is:
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
While we may understand that when we talk about grace, we are not talking about a prayer, thanking the Lord for the bounty and asking for His blessing for a meal before we eat, (For the prayer before meals, see Grace (prayer)).
The grace we are talking about is that which God has gifted to those who have confessed their sins and have faith in Christ. Most Biblical scholars and theologians do agree on the definition of the nature of grace as:
Grace ɡrās/ noun (in Christian belief) – the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
But there is much debate and controversy among various Christian churches as to manner by which Christian believers are able to obtain God’s grace manifest in their lives:
Grace (Christianity) – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In Western Christian theology, grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”, “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to mankind — “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” — that take the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.
It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.
Christian orthodoxy holds that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God.
In Eastern Christianity too, grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity.
The question of the means of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern [theological] liberalism from [theological] conservatism.”
The Catholic Church holds that it is because of the action of Christ and the Holy Spirit in transforming into the divine life what is subjected to his power that “the sacraments confer the grace they signify”: “the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through [each sacrament], independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.” the Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) are seen as a means of partaking of divine grace because God works through his Church.
Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants agree that faith is a gift from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.
Protestants almost universally believe that grace is given by God based on the faith of the believer.
Lutherans hold that the means of grace are “the gospel in Word and sacraments”. That the sacraments are means of grace is also the teaching of John Wesley, who described the Eucharist as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God”.
Calvinists emphasize “the utter helplessness of man apart from grace.” But God reaches out with “first grace” or “prevenient grace” that each person may accept or reject. The Calvinist doctrine known as irresistible grace states that, since all persons are by nature spiritually dead, no one desires to accept this grace until God spiritually enlivens them by means of regeneration. God regenerates only individuals whom he has predestined to salvation.
Armenians understand the grace of God as cooperating with one’s free will in order to bring an individual to salvation. According to Evangelical theologian Charles C. Ryrie, modern liberal theology “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to initiate his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace.” He writes that theological conservatives maintain God’s grace is necessary for salvation.
But in the two Scripture verses featured in today’s Bulletin, Exodus 34: 1-11 and Romans 10:1-13, we see that in the 1500 or so years between the time that the prophet Moses described in Exodus 34 and the Apostle Paul described in Romans 10, a significant change had taken place in the relationship between God and mankind.
BOOK DATE AUTHOR
Exodus 1445-1405 B.C. Moses
Romans 56 A.D. Paul
The first passage describes how God instructs Moses to construct a new set of God’s Commandments to replace the first set that Moses broke in anger upon seeing the behavior or should I say misbehaviour of the people of Israel in his absence on the top of Mount Sinai.
Exodus 34:1-11 (ESV) Moses Makes New Tablets
1The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
The Covenant Renewed
10And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
Our second Scripture verse, Romans 10:1-13, describes a New Covenant and relationship with God. Not just forgiving sin without judgment, but providing both forgiveness and removing judgment from us, (as Jesus has taken our judgment upon himself), making salvation freely available to those who have faith:
Romans 10:1-13 (ESV)
10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]
The Message of Salvation to All
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Footnotes: a. Romans 10:4 Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified
By God’s grace, we find a description of some of the key characteristics of the Lord, (Exodus 34:6-7):
6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
In Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV), we see that Paul urges us, as a body of believers, who are united through Jesus, to follow the Lord’s example in our behavior:
Unity in the Body of Christ
1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
God provides, by way of Jesus, a path to grace before the Lord for all, Jew and Gentile alike, through faith. Under a New Covenant, we are promised a place in heaven, where Jesus is mediator of a purchased by his precious blood, Hebrews 12:18-24 (ESV):
A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord
Benediction – Ephesians 6:2: Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.