Monday, February 10, 2014

Be Like Abe Part 5

This week, we continued the “Be Like Abe” series. We looked at two ideas related to this topic of grace. First, we looked at the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit as we receive the message of God’s grace.  In Galatians 1:11-17, Paul talks about how it was not any man, including the apostles who walked with Jesus, who gave him the message of the gospel of grace that he preached. It was the Spirit of God Himself who gave it to him. Paul, after receiving Jesus on the road to Damascus, spent as many as 17 years back and forth to Arabia to study his new-found faith in the one he had been persecuting.
 The power of the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth of God’s righteousness by faith, as opposed to righteousness by works. This is a difficult concept for us to truly receive and live by. The Holy Spirit is also the source of God’s signs and wonders – the things that will draw men toward God.
In Mark 2:1-12, we read a story that perfectly illustrates both of these points. Jesus was teaching in a home. The home was so full that no one else could fit. Do you think so many would be drawn to hear a then still unknown teacher, if all he was teaching was the same law teaching that they regularly heard in the synagogues? In addition, the parallel passage in Luke 5 says that the Spirit to heal was there – that is signs and wonders. Even though people did not yet know WHO Jesus was, they were drawn by that healing spirit in Him (and that same spirit dwells in each of us!).  Because of the crowd, a paralytic man there to be healed had to have four friends take him up to the roof of the house, cut a hole in the roof, and lower him down to where Jesus was. Jesus sees the man and tells him that his sins are forgiven.
 The Pharisees (read “the law”) were there thinking that Jesus was a blasphemer for implying He could forgive sin. Jesus, by the power of the Spirit (again the same Spirit who dwells in you!), knows what they are thinking and calls them on it. After arguing with them and shutting them down, He goes back to the paralytic and tells Him to take up his mat at walk away.  Did you see what happened? The law was there to try and disqualify the man from receiving what Jesus said was his. The enemy likes to use the law to either disqualify you or disqualify the healer when you stand for a miracle. Don’t let the law steal your miracle!
Next, we moved on to Romans 4 to clarify our examination of what it was that Abraham believed that caused God to credit his faith to him as righteousness. I believe we will get to the actual answer next Sunday, but I wanted to draw our attention to a couple points Paul makes in this chapter.  He quotes King David in verses 7-8. This is referencing Psalm 32:1-2. David says that blessed are they whose sins are forgiven, and blessed is the man whose sins God never holds against him.  I wondered why he changes pronouns there. Why is it first “they” and then “the man?” There are many who believe they are forgiven and will be received by Christ in eternity, but there are very few who ever get the revelation that He is NEVER holding their sin against them – and that includes NOW. You see, it is not just that we WILL be clothed in His righteousness when we enter heaven, but we are righteous NOW because of what Jesus did!
Many in the early church had a very difficult time receiving Gentiles into the faith without the requirement of circumcision. Even the apostle Peter was a proponent of this qualification.  Paul reminds that Abraham was declared righteous and blessed BEFORE he was ever circumcised. Before Abraham had DONE anything, God declared him righteous – not by what he did, but because of what he believed.
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