Intro: Last Sunday we investigated one of the most thrilling and challenging subjects contained in scripture – the grace of God. We began by affirming that we are saved by God’s grace. Paul says it clearly in Ephesians 2:10-11; “You have been saved by grace, through faith”. We considered the connection between God’s great love and the extension of His unmerited favor toward us in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It should stir our hearts to contemplate how God has given us what we do not deserve – pronounced us justified when we are guilty. But I would also suggest that we studied about God’s grace in the morning Bible class today as well. Is grace a New Testament concept only? Is there a picture of grace in the O.T.?
I. Grace & Jehovah: In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Because He did on the Sabbath, some objected to His actions, even seeking to kill Him. In His defense Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. (John 5:19-21) Notice that Jesus said when he healed this paralyzed man, (act of grace), He was simply doing what He sees the Father doing.
A. Many were attracted to Jesus and knew He was from God because God was a source of grace, and so was Jesus. His claims to be from God rang true. Consider this OT description of Jehovah… “You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” – Nehemiah 9:17-21, ESV
1. One of the most common Hebrew word for grace (chanan – khaw-nan’) appears over 80 times in the O.T. It denotes favor or generosity, and is often applied to Jehovah’s treatment of His people. Jacob offers to share his wealth with his brother Esau after returning home because “God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” (Gen 33:11)
2. The Hebrew word checed (kheh’-sed) appears over 250 times in the OT. It means favor, mercy, lovingkindness. It appears along with our first word (Khaw-nan) in Neh. 9:17 and is translated as steadfast love. Ps 103:8-10 – The Lord is merciful and gracious [chanan], Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy [checed]. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
3. When the prophets spoke forcefully about the coming judgment of God against sin (particularly of Israel) they designed to move the people to repentance so as to invoke the waiting grace of God.
• Amos 5:15 – 15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
B. We must never be drawn to accept this notion that the God of the OT is different from the God of the NT. Grace is the eternal nature of the true God of all scripture. He is a God of grace.
II. Grace & Jesus. We recognize easily that the doctrine of God’s grace, especially as it relates to our salvation is championed in the writings of the N.T. Consider the first chapter of John’s gospel.
• John 1:12-14 – 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
A. Jesus is full of grace and truth. Jesus was manifested in the flesh (came as a man) in order to show us the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jamieson calls grace (mercy) and truth the keynotes of the New Testament. They are the two necessary elements of our salvation provided in Christ alone. In the next verses John writes… John 1:16-18 – And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
B. Jesus brought grace and truth with Him – The distinction here is not just between the person of Moses and Jesus, or even between the law and grace alone. But that the law was given from heaven through Moses; but Jesus brought grace and truth with Him when He came.The original word implies a primary cause; that by which something is generated.
1. Grace: Jesus is the appearance of God’s mercy in our behalf. As we just noticed, this is not to indicate that grace was not extended in the OT. But grace appears in Christ in a unique way. It is fully realized.
• His appearance was the fulfillment of every promise of mercy in the O.T.
• Without His propitiatory sacrifice, there is no mercy extended, because God could not be just in remitting our sins. He died for us.
a. The O.T. system of sacrifice involved vicarious suffering. The innocent lamb taken to the altar had never transgressed God’s law, the person doing the killing had. The Law of Moses provided for remission of sins through sacrifice. But the lamb that was offered was provided by the sinful person himself. The sacrifice offered was.
• It was a measure of his own ability to provide for his sins.
• It was never designed to be the redemptive element of his salvation.
b. It was only a shadow (or representation) of the true sacrifice that was needed. The true sacrifice of grace. Heb 10:1-4 – For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
c. The writer of Hebrews accounts the transition from those weak sacrifices to the one effective sacrifice of Christ. Heb 10:5-10 – “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. 7 – Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come– in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.'” 8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The Father “had no pleasure” in the sacrifices of the O.T. – they were not enough to provide redemption. They did not provide for the approval of God. But the sacrifice of Jesus’ body did.
d. So, in Christ, salvation could be accomplished the only way it was possible – through the grace of God. Rom 3:21-26 – But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
2. Truth: John also says that Jesus brought Truth with Him. Again we recognize that truth is not absent before Christ. Jehovah is a God of truth. But there is a sense in which truth is uniquely and fully present in the coming of Christ. The word truth is aletheia (al-ay’-thi-a). It means that which is real or genuine… according to reality, as opposed to false. It is also “indicative of His faithfulness in the fulfillment of His promises as exhibited in Christ”… the meaning is not merely ethical “truth,” but “truth” in all its fullness and scope, as embodied in Him; He was the perfect expression of the truth;”(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary) There are 2 possible thoughts here:
a. The truth mentioned here is the true substance of the shadows of the O.T. What was foreshadowed in the Law of Moses is brought to fruition and reality in Christ.
1) Jesus is the true John was not the Christ and readily made it known He was only a lesser light shining until the true Light was revealed. John 1:6-9 – “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
2) Jesus was the true bread – John 6:32-33 – “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
3) Jesus is the true High Priest of the true Heb 8:1-2 – “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
4) Jesus is the true sacrifice –” John 1:35-36 – “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
b. The truth mentioned is the true & final message of God that came through Jesus. Heb 1:1-2 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; The truth of God has been revealed by the Spirit through the apostles and prophets, and written down and preserved for us. John 16:12-13 – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. Eph 3:4f – “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.” You cannot be saved apart from a knowledge of the truth that has been revealed in Christ through His apostles. Jesus brought this message with Him from heaven and no man can set it aside or abrogate it. Paul says it is it ( the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16)
1) 2 Peter 1:10-12 – “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth”. What is this present truth that Peter was to establish them in? It was the final revelation of the gospel… the prophetic word confirmed. 2 Peter 1:19-21 – “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2) Jesus commissioned these apostles to preach the gospel (truth) to the whole world. What did they preach? Luke 24:45-47 – “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Acts 2:38-40 – “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
What do you need to be saved? You need what Jesus brought – Grace & Truth.