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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Foundation of Grace: Grace in the New Testament Scriptures

There are 157 occurrences for the Greek word "charis" in the New Testament. This word is most often translated "grace," but when looking at scriptures, I also found that it is translated as "favor, credit, thanks, gift" and a few other words. To read more about the definition of the Greek word "charis," please read an earlier post in the series here.

I thought I would share some scriptures with you about grace today, so you could see them side by side. Sometimes when we see scriptures together, it is like a puzzle with many pieces starting to click and form a picture.

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.-Luke 2:40

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.-John 1:16

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.-Acts 4:33

Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.-Acts 14:33

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.-Acts 14:3

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.-Acts 15:11
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.-Acts 20:24

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.-John 1:17

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.-Romans 1:17

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,-Romans 3:24

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)-Romans 5:17

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,-Romans 5:20

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.-Romans 6:14

But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.-2 Corinthians 8:7

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.-2 Corinthians 8:9

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.-2 Corinthians 13:14

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,-Galatians 1:6

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.-Galatians 2:21

There are so many other scriptures about grace in the New Testament, as well as the Old.  But I think we can see from these how important grace was to the Early Church and how it should be to us as well.

Grace and peace to you...

To read more in the series, please join me here, at A Foundation of Grace.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Grace From the Touch of Jesus

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean." Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."-Matthew 8:1-4

Everyday I pray and ask the Lord what I should write about.  And everyday I feel like He gives me something.  Today is Matthew 8.

In Matthew 8, we have a story about a leper. We can learn a lot about Jesus through this man's story. 

In verse 1, it says great multitudes followed Him.  And then a leper came and worshiped Him.  The leper probably wasn't a part of the multitudes that day, because under the law, lepers were isolated from the rest of society.  When they were out in public, they were required to shout, "Unclean!" as they passed by so that others would know they had leprosy.

The man didn't shout, "Unclean!" that day, even though he may have been hiding from everyone else.  He came to Jesus, much like the woman with the issue of blood.  He had enough faith in Jesus, but still didn't make his presence known to everyone else, just like she did.

And he calls Jesus "Lord."  I love that.  You only see people who believed in Jesus doing that.  

Still uncertain of whether or not Jesus wanted to heal him, even though He knew He could, he says, 

Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.  

How many of us had said that to God in prayer?  I believe His will is that He is always willing.  Nowhere, not one place during the earthly ministry of Jesus do you see Him tell someone "no" or "wait" or "you are not ready" or "your sin keeps you from receiving my healing."  Nowhere.  He just heals people all the time, everywhere.  Because that is who He is.  He is the healer.

And immediately he is cleansed.  Immediately is one of my favorite words.

In this passage, neither Jesus nor the leper use the word sickness or healing though.  They used the word "clean" and "cleansed."  Those are lawful terms relating to sin.  That word "cleanse" is the same word found in 1 John 1:9.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There is so much controversy around that scripture.  I believe that this is a salvation scripture.  I believe this is the scripture that demonstrates what happens to a person when they are born again. This is how a person becomes a Believer. If you look at the rest of 1 John 1, there is lots of discussion about darkness and light, and being in Him.  If you are in Jesus, the blood continuously cleanses you.  You don't need a repeat like the Israelites did yearly. That would put the burden of salvation back on you, and it's on Jesus now.

Back to Matthew 8.  Under the law, if you touched a person with leprosy, among other things, you would be considered unclean.  But with Jesus came grace, as we learned in John 1:17.  Jesus was a fulfillment of the law for every man and woman. So, when Jesus touched the man, grace was delivering healing and wholeness back to him.  

Then Jesus said something strange that I have always wrestled with.  He tells the man to tell no one, but the priest.  At first I just thought Jesus meant nobody, but after reading it again today and seeing that He could tell the priest, it made a little more sense. The man gets to tell the priest as a testimony.  As a testimony about Jesus.  As a testimony about the grace of God.  And the priest will examine the man and see for sure if he is clean.

Today, Jesus is our high priest, and we don't have to bring an offering or gift.  Jesus has already done it for us.  Because later on in that passage of scripture in Matthew 8:16-17,  Matthew echoes what Isaiah the prophet said in Isaiah 53:4,

...And He cast out the spirits with a word and healed ALL who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying " He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."

Everything that happened for those in the Gospels is what happened for the Church with Jesus' death on the cross.  His earthly ministry was a picture of what is available to us, grace, forgiveness, and healing.

To read more in the series, please join me here, at A Foundation of Grace.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Foundation of Grace: Rest

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.-Psalm 23:1-6 (NASB)

A few days ago, my attention started being drawn to this Psalm.  I felt like maybe the Lord wanted me to share this as a part of this series on grace.  

At first when I started looking at it, I couldn't really see how it applied.  But now, after reading it a few times, and looking up some words in their original language, it makes more sense.

The psalm in its entirety speaks of the Lord as a shepherd, caring for us completely.  In it, we do nothing.  He does it all.  We have no need with Him caring for us.

He leads, restores, guides, protects, comforts, prepares.  He showers us with His goodness and loving kindness. He is perfect.

The psalm as a whole speaks of rest.  Grace is a place of rest.  It comes from the favor and kindness of God, and is not something we produce ourselves by our own efforts or our own works.

Verse 2 especially speaks of rest.  More than one word in this verse mean "rest".

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

Lie down obviously means rest. But the word for lead, "nahal," also means "to give rest." The word for quiet, "menuchah," means "a place of rest."

This psalm as often read at funerals, but it is a Psalm for today, for us in the now. It is a picture of our life in Christ.

To read more in the series, please join me here, at A Foundation of Grace.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Foundation of Grace: Grace in the Greek

You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.-2 Timothy 2:1 (World English Bible)

For the last few days in this series, I have been sharing stories about Jesus, and how there are pictures of the difference between law and grace in these stories. But, what is grace? I think we need to let the Bible define grace for us by looking at it in its original language.

There are words for grace in the Old Testament in the Hebrew Language. We might look at them later. But since the New Testament is what we have been primarily been studying in this series, I thought we would look there first. As Believers, we are part of the New Covenant. Jesus came to fulfill the Old and usher in the New.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek. So, we can also look at the definition in the Greek.

The Greek word for grace is "charis."

Looking up Greek words in the Bible is fun because we get a much broader picture of what the word is supposed to mean. And sometimes it redefines it for us, because we might have a smaller picture in our minds that what the word really means.

The Greek word for grace is "charis." There are 157 occurrences of this word in the New Testament Scriptures.

There are several different Bible study tools that can help define this word for us.

Strong's Concordance defines it as "grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.

Helps Word Studies defines it as "favor, disposed to, inclined, favorable towards, leaning towards to share benefit.

New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance defines it as "grace, kindness" and translates it as "blessing, concession, credit, favor, gift, grace, graciousness, gracious work, gratitude, thank, thankfulness, thanks."

Thayer's Greek Lexicon contains some more lengthy, descriptive definitions, but in brief, it defines grace as:

1. sweetness, charm, loveliness

2. good-will, loving-kindness, favor; kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved

So, we can see that grace is something that is a free gift given to us, one we did not earn, or deserve, but based upon God's favor and goodness in our lives. And when Jesus came it brought it forever, eternally with Him.

To read more in the series, please join me here, at A Foundation of Grace.