Enjoy the Grace From Salvation

Enjoy The Grace From Salvation

Chapter Four

Enjoy The Grace From Salvation
The Law And Grace (Part I) 80 Unthrown Stones 90
The Law And Grace (Part II) 82 Spilled Spices 92
Items For The Attic 84 Discussion Questoins 94
A Cane And a Cloak 86 Discussion Questions (Continued) 95
The Unfinished Meal 88    

Ephesians 2:14-15

The Law And Grace (Part I)

The chief difficulty in Christian Biblical interpretation is in reconciling the Old and New Testament. The God of the Old Testament seems to be a harsh God of justice. The God of the New Testament seems to be a God of love, grace, and forgiveness.

Some would throw out the Old Testament completely. Others would accept only those scriptures which agree with their present views. This method of interpretation reasons like this: "If a section of the Bible contradicts my view of the way things are, then that section must be for an ancient culture and does not apply to me." One's own philosophical system becomes the standard by which the Bible is judged.

This method of biblical interpretation lends itself to misuse. The Bible loses authority and power to critique one's world view. The Bible is treated like clip art – cutting and pasting it together as it suits oneself. The God of this "selfish" theology is merely an imaginary friend we have invented. We can make him into whatever we want. He becomes a reflection of our society or our own individual spirituality. This kind of theology can lead to the abandonment of one's faith or the formation of a cult.

If, however, God really did create this universe with its physical and moral laws, then he is the God of history, the God of the Old and the New Testament, and we had better listen to what he has to say.

There are two beliefs that help Christians hear the God of the Bible. The first belief is that Jesus is God in the flesh. The historic event of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection means that God is personally involved with this creation. He showed his love by leaving his position of glory, living among us, and dying on the cross for us.

Jesus has been raised from the dead. God has exalted him above all others and given him all authority in heaven and in earth. Therefore, Jesus is the authority. If he says that an Old Testament law is not morally binding, then we must accept his interpretation as truth.

The second belief is that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament. The Old Testament was incomplete, looking forward to completion in Jesus, the Messiah. The animal sacrifices and accompanying ceremonial laws looked forward to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus. Jesus

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fulfilled the sacrifice for sin for all of time when he died on the cross. Once that sacrifice was made, the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were no longer necessary. These are the laws the Apostle Paul talked about in Ephesians 2:14-15 when he said, "For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, … by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations."

"Father, I thank you for the release from guilt and the relief from condemnation which I experience because of Jesus' gift of forgiveness, made possible by the cross and the resurrection".

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because Jesus died "once and for all" for my sins, I can forever be free from the bondage of legalism imposed on those who lived before the "age of Christ's grace"!

– Brock Hoyer –

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Matthew 5:17-18

The Law And Grace (Part II)

The ceremonial law of the Old Testament is no longer valid for Christians; however, the moral laws are still in place. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished." Jesus is speaking here not about ceremonial law, but about the moral law contained in the Old Testament.

The moral law cannot be ignored because it still has a purpose in God's plan for the world It serves the purpose of protection and reflection. For instance, the moral laws for sexual behavior were instituted for our protection. Even with all our modern medicine, it is more dangerous today to violate the Bible's laws against sexual immorality than it was in Jesus' day. Basic morality is carved into the sculpture of created order. It cannot be chipped away without destroying God's creation.

Moral law was given not just for our physical and psychological protection, but also for our spiritual protection. The Old Testament contains severe penalties for sin. The penalties are equal to the spiritual destruction sin causes when left unchecked.

The moral laws were also given for our reflection. The Old Testament law is God's mirror which shows us who we are. The Apostle Paul says in Romans that the law enables us to see our sinfulness and our need for God's grace and forgiveness.

A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought by the experts on Mosaic law to Jesus. The Mosaic law said she should be stoned. Jesus said, "Whichever one of you who has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her." All her accusers left. Then Jesus said to her, "I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again." Her adultery was still sin, still worthy of God's judgment, but Jesus gave his grace. Jesus had the right to throw the first stone, because he was without sin. Instead, he chose to forgive her and tell her to go and sin no more. This is grace. It does not overlook sin, it forgives it.

Our response to this grace is to honestly see our self as God sees us. We freely admit our sin and admit that we need His grace in Jesus Christ. We respond in faith and love to the God of grace and love. We accept by faith, Jesus Christ, and his forgiveness for our

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sin. We go away forgiven and endeavor with God's power to sin no more.

"Father, thank you for your 'grace' which never condones my sins, always forgives my sins, and wonderfully heals my spiritual brokenness. I stand constantly in need of your tender mercies, not your strict justice, as I honestly evaluate my ruined moral condition!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The blood, the blood of Jesus is all my plea! O hallelujah, it cleanses me from all my sins!

– Brock Hoyer-

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Philippians 3:13-14

Items For The Attic

Nearly every house has one – an attic. It is not where the house occupants live. Attics are places for collecting things from the past, to hold though never used or seldom lifted in the hand for review. Attics are places of memories. Attics are places of imagination where little girls lift the trunk lid, and from the interior takes out a hat and shoes previously worn by mothers or someone from the past.

Some items in attics should be discarded; others should never have found their way into that room. So, in the Scripture we view several articles, no longer needed, but just lying on the shelf. An occasional glance brings memories of a past event, or place, or person. The association often brings joy, or again, sadness.

  • There is the water jar left by the Samaritan woman who had met Christ the Messiah, the Living Water. She had gone to town to tell others of this glorious news. (John 4:28)

  • There are the stones left at one time in the temple court yard, meant to hurt and kill, but unthrown. Somehow they had found their way to a shelf in the attic. They are reminders of a past sinful life brought to judgment, but redeemed by Jesus. (John 8:1-7)

  • There is the gnarled cane and dirty cloak of a previous blind beggar (once used for guidance and comfort), now tossed aside, for Bartimaeus had experienced eye-healing by the Master of every disease. (Mark 10:46-52)

  • There are the spices, scattered upon the ground, spilled in haste as the women hurriedly left the tomb after being told that the one they came to further prepare for burial was alive. (Mark 16:1-8)

  • There is an unfinished meal on the table in a humble home in Emmaus, no diners present, for they had quickly returned to Jerusalem with the good news that Christ is alive. (Luke 24:13-25)

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  • There are, of course, heaven's absences – no more personal tragedies in the Christian life: no tears, no death, no mourning and grieving, no crying, no pain; no more evil outside influences; no more things such as a temple, the sun, the night, and lamps.

All of these things are in the attic, reminders of a place, an event, a Person. Are there things in attic's memory which bring a sense of joy? Are there items clutched in your fingers which should be discarded, released, and forever removed? Grudges? Unforgivenesses? Hurts? Paul said:" …forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what" lies ahead." (Philippians 3:13-14)

"Dear God, I give you the key to the attic in my life. You know what should be tossed, what should be retained. I trust you. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will, by God's grace, put into my attic only those items which will enable me to be a better person. The rest I commit to God.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Mark 10:46-52

A Cane And a Cloak

His name was Bartimaeus, blind Bartimaeus. Jesus had come to Jericho where he lived. Now the crowd tried to quiet their fellow townsman as he persistently cried out to Jesus. Their efforts failed. Then Jesus spoke healing words to the blind man: healed, he followed Jesus.

This personal healing story presents lessons for today.

BARTIMAEUS WAS NOT A MERE STATISTIC AMONG JERICHO'S MULTITUDE. Bartimaeus was his name; Bartimaeus was blind; Bartimaeus begged; Bartimaeus' father was Timaeus. Ask people in Jericho who that man is sitting by the roadside begging. Some may not have liked him but they knew who he was. You are one in a million but you are one – an individual, created in the image of God, unique.

SUCH UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS HAVE NEEDS – LIKE OTHERS AND YET PERSONAL. Bartimaeus was blind and in order to exist he begged upon the streets of Jericho. Often the dust swirled around him from people walking and carts passing. He had become adept at existing, for his methods of begging were diverse. Though each of us is akin to our fellow men, though the skin color may vary, though cultures are different, yet each person has specific needs, and yet all have similar needs.

AMIDST THE DISPARITIES OF LIFE, HOPE STEPS FORTH. The months and years seemed so long and hopeless for Bartimaeus. The "not seeing" caused the severity of his present state to play upon the imagination of his mind. Bartimaeus had possibly heard of Jesus and His healing ministry. But since Jericho was an out-of-the-way-place, and since Jericho didn't have a good reputation, it was very unlikely that Jesus would ever come here. Then he heard that Jesus was actually in Jericho, on the very road where he was sitting. "Son of David, have mercy on me!" The crowd tried to quiet him. Then Jesus stopped, and they called the blind man, saying, "Take heart, arise, He is calling you." Hope?

BY FAITH, HOPE SOON CAME TO FRUITION. Jesus said to the crowd: "Call him." Did Bartimaeus hear those words? No doubt. He threw aside his

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cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. In so doing, hope is enlivened in the soul. Asked by Jesus what he wanted, Bartimaeus replied: "Master, let me receive my sight." That's all – my sight. Without a touch, without words to conjure emotion, Jesus simply spoke: "Go your way, your faith has made you well." Faith, hope, and now healing. He followed Jesus, leaving the gnarled cane and the ragged, dirty cloak at the roadside.

"Dear Jesus, our hearts rejoice at the healing of Bartimaeus. Come to us, and touch us in our needs today. Thank you. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I face unsolveable questions today, I will have hope in Jesus Christ, knowing He has an answer.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Luke 24:13-25

The Unfinished Meal

Seven miles is not a long distance, but again it may be. That is the distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus. About three hours of walking for Cleopas and his friend. No hurry, for they were thoughtfully and carefully discussing the events of recent days. They were sad.

A stranger drew near, walked, and talked with them, sat at their table. When they recognized that their guest was Jesus Christ, now risen, "they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem" – seven miles.

There on the table in that humble home in Emmaus sat the unfinished meal. The cover from the cheese had been removed and lay beside the untouched dish; the glasses of water had not been to the lips; dried berries and fruits remained in the dishes ready for eating. And yes, there was the bread, the small loaf of coarse bread laying in the oblong wooden platter. The meal was simple but neatly arranged on the wooden table covered with an earth color cloth. The candle had burnt very little, but had been extinguished by the householders before leaving.

As we view the scene we sense that something very important had taken place for the home's occupants and guest to just leave the meal sitting there – unfinished.

  • THE UNFINISHED MEAL IS INDICATIVE THAT A GUEST HAD BEEN PRESENT: THERE HAD BEEN A TIME OF FELLOWSHIP. Little is known of Cleopas. But he had been to Jerusalem, had seen and heard all that had taken place. In the course of their trek home, Jesus revealed Himself amidst their frustration, and at the table, after the blessing, had vanished. Fellowship in a home with friends .is always memorable. And where Christ enters what a difference He makes.

  • THE UNFINISHED MEAL IS INDICATIVE THAT THERE IS GOOD NEWS TO TELL. On the road the stranger had asked: "What is this conversation you are holding…?" Their lengthy answer included, "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel: Yes, and beside all this, today is the third day since this happened." Then the stranger chided and taught them. After recognition and disappearance "they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem and told the eleven – "The Lord has risen

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  • indeed." That is our story today.

  • THE UNFINISHED MEAL IS INDICATIVE OF A NEW LIFT IN THE LIVES OF CLEOP AS AND IDS COMPANION. There was new hope. " …our hearts burned within us as he talked to us on the road … " Cleopas and companion often sat around the table in the evenings, after work, recounting that moment. Joy filled their hearts.

  • THE UNFINISHED MEAL IS INDICATIVE THAT WHEN WE ARE HOSPITABLE, WE MAY BE SERVING CHRIST HIMSELF. Cleopas called Jesus a "visitor, " not knowing at that point who he was. Later the visitor was a guest, then the risen Christ! Oh, what they would have missed had they allowed their grief to override their sense of hospitality.

"Dear Jesus, our hearts, too, are warmed by your living presence in our lives. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today, I will look for opportunities to practice hospitality to someone who may come to me.

– Floyd Cooper –

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John 8:7

Unthrown Stones

Amidst the dust of the temple courtyard there lay the unthrown stones – stones meant for the destruction of a human being when held in uncaring, legalistic hands. The stones were unthrown because of the intervention of the compassionate Christ.

The time is early morning. The place: an outer courtyard of the temple. Jesus sits surrounded by perhaps a score of people. They are the curious, the confused, the hopeful. He looks deep into their eyes as He tells them of the Truth that will make them free.

Suddenly there is a commotion. A woman is rudely shoved before Him. She holds back, shielding her face with an arm. Her hair and clothes are in sad disarray, she is trembling, frightened. "Teacher," speaks the Pharisees and scribes who had brought her, "This woman has been caught in adultery. The law says that she be stoned. What do you say?" He stoops and writes in the dust: they ask more questions; Jesus speaks. One by one the men leave; Jesus is alone with the woman.

What does this moving story say to us?

  • HYPOCRISY OFTEN WEARS HOLY ROBES. These "holiest" of people who knew the law and its regulations, paraded their tithes and giving; tithed cumin and spice; wore the holy robes – brought a sinful woman to Jesus, not for redemption but primarily to set a trap for Jesus. Holiness is not akin to hypocrisy.

  • EVERYONE HAS SINNED AND COME SHORT OF GOD'S GLORY. The fearful woman lying in the dust of the courtyard was certainly a sinner. Jesus wrote on the ground and spoke: "Let the one among you which has never sinned throw the first stone at her" (JBP). There is an embarrassed silence. Then one by one there is the plunk of the stones as they drop from the accusers' hands. Their own secret sins come to mind. Then they leave.

  • CONSCIENCES ARE CONVICTED IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST. Refusing to yield to religious hypocrites, Jesus writes in the dust. We wonder what He wrote. The wind would soon erase the words.

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  • Whatever it was, these self-righteous men's consciences are pricked, exposing their sins to each one. The stones drop.

  • THE HEART OF JESUS IS COMPASSIONATE FOR THE SINNER. Augustine wrote: "Two persons were left, the unhappy woman and the compassionate Incarnate." Jesus did not condemn, nor did He condone her act. Jesus tells her that she can become the kind of person she should be. He shows her mercy, He forgives her, and now she has a new beginning.

The stones. There they lay in the dust of the temple courtyard. They are silent witnesses to unconfessed sin, and a compassionate, caring Christ.

"Dear Jesus, thank You for your great mercy. You came not to condemn but to save people from their sins. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today, I will try to see people, whoever they may be, through the eyes of Jesus.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Mark 16:1-8

Spilled Spices

Three days earlier – it was Friday – these women, Mary Magdalene, another Mary, and Salome, were looking at the terrible event at Calvary. The disciples had fled, all except John. The minutes and hours of that Friday afternoon and evening seemed to be so long. The images of the crucifixion held the mind in their grip, and in the replay mode.

The Sabbath was filled with preparation for the final part in Jesus' burial. Spices and white cloths were gathered. Early Sunday morning the women, with heavy spirits, started to the tomb. Then there was the question of who would remove the stone from the tomb. They looked – the tomb was opened! They entered. They listened to a young man sitting in the tomb. They fled with trembling and astonishment.

The spices! Were they carelessly dropped to the ground in the women's haste to leave the tomb? Did they think of saving them? Nevertheless, there lay the spilled-out spices, allowing the aroma of their presence to permeate the garden.

Is there something they would say to us?

  • THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS ALREADY ANSWERED BEFORE THEY ARE ASKED. Who will roll away the stone? It is so heavy. Looking up, the women saw that it had been rolled back from the tomb's door. They discovered the answer amidst their questioning. Are there questions? Perhaps the answers are near.

  • IN ALL THE FEARFUL PLACES OF LIFE, GOD HAS HIS AGENTS TO ASSIST US. In the tomb the young man in a white robe spoke such wonderful news: "He has risen, he is not here." Have you experienced fear, doubt, trouble, frustration? Perhaps someone, unknowingly, spoke a word or shared a bit of scriptures in passing. Then the burden lifted; guidance was found. They were God's agents.

  • THE LIVING CHRIST IS WITH US AS WE WALK THE DUSTY LANES OF LIFE. The young man told the women to tell the disciples and Peter "that he is going before you. .. " "He precedes you …. " (Moffatt). What about your life? Does Christ twiddle along in your life? Late? No! "Lo, I am with you." He is not behind us but with us as we make our way

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  • from earth to heaven.

  • THERE IS A WONDROUS STORY TO PROCLAIM. Fear and questioning filled the disciples after Jesus' death, followed by the burial. They forgot what Jesus had told them earlier: "… and after three days rise again." (Mark 8:39). Now the women in the empty tomb heard that Jesus is now alive. He lived, He died, He lives again. But "they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." We may assume that fear later vanished and they did testify of the risen Christ.

The spilled spices, too, are silent witnesses. They are no longer needed for their intended purpose of anointing the dead. He is now alive!

"Our wonderful Friend and Savior, how precious it is to sing about a risen Savior, who is with us, and goes before us in our lives. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I add a few more "miles" in my spiritual journey today, I have the assurance of the living Christ who will walk with me.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. From the fact that God became a man (Incarnation) what can you conclude about the attitude of God regarding the physical world and regarding the value of humans?

  2. The fact that God raised Jesus from the dead (resurrection) reveals what important realities regarding the character and the authority of Jesus Christ?

  3. Why is it no longer necessary for Christians to obey the ceremonial and legalistic requirements of the Old Testament Law? (Note Ephesians 2:14-15)

  4. Explain what is meant by the following statement: "The ceremonial law of the Old Testament is no longer valid for Christians; however, the moral laws are still in place." (Matthew 5:17-18)

  5. Explain and illustrate the meaning of the following statement: "Basic morality is carved into the sculpture of created order."

  6. When you honestly evaluate your personal spiritual life and your moral 'condition', why are you in need of God's mercy rather than in need of God's justice?

  7. From a study of Mark 10:46-52, can you conclude that, amidst your times of despair, God cares for you personally and desires to heal your spiritual brokenness and to give birth to hope in your life?

  8. During a difficult time in your life when you were desperately seeking answers to life's mysteries and satisfaction of life's "spiritual hungers", have you ever felt the "unseen presence of the Divine" during your earthly pilgrimage? (See Luke 24: 13-25)

  9. What attitude should you manifest toward a person whose sin has been outwardly exposed? (See John 8 and Galatians 6:1-3)

  10. From your own personal experience, share a time in your life which demonstrates the truth of the following statement: "In all the fearful places of life, God has His agents to assist us."

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    Discussion Questions (Continued)

  11. Tell to what extent you "identify" with the following statement: "Christ is not behind us but with us as we make our way from earth to heaven."

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