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The_Grace_of_God___UCG

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					                                     Mr. Mike Grovak
                                    Sermon Transcript

                                        July 14, 2001


                 The Grace of God

I   would like to ask you a question. Or maybe this is a question I might like to put to a, if
I had kind of a wide variety of Christian believers from various churches and
denominations present, I would like to ask you the question. Is Gandhi in hell?
Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most marvelous inspiring leaders in the twentieth
century. And I think in any sense of the word that you might define him as a good man.
We would have to say he was a good man. In fact, I thought if I were to make a list of
the, say, ten most admirable people, as well as influential people of the twentieth
century, I think one of them would be Mahatma Gandhi because not only did he lead to
independence the world's largest democracy, but he established a tradition of bringing
change using certain Bible concept. Using the principle of non-violence, which we saw
people like Dr. Martin Luther King and many other use here in this country in the
American Civil Rights Movement. Basically so much of what Dr. King and others did
was based on the teaching and the example of Gandhi. His teaching, his example of
non-violence and tolerance, I think just make a tremendously admirable man.


If you think who is a good person who deserves to be rewarded by God, it is someone
like him.
But you know, that leaves us with a problem. The Bible very clearly states, and this gets
to the subject of salvation by grace, which is what I want to talk about today, that we can
only be saved through Jesus Christ.


I am just going to read, I have here in my notes, a key scriptures that regard Acts 4:10,
12. It makes it so very, very clear. It states;


Acts 4:10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whomGod raised from the
dead, that this man stands before you healed. (NIV translation)
Now here is the key statement, verse 12
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name, it is sort of like
what part of no other name don't you understand, under heaven given to men by which
we must be saved."


See, the whole point of salvation by grace is this; is it the free gift of Jesus Christ. You
can't earn it. You can't produce it. Jesus has to give it to you. You know, since salvation
is by grace to those who accept Jesus as their Savior, you have a problem. Gandhi is
not saved. He never accepted Jesus Christ.


Now there are probably many of you who were taught as I was taught. I attended a
parochial school throughout my elementary school years and I will tell you what I was
taught. I was taught that people like Gandhi are saved. I was taught that if you were a
Jew or Muslim, Hindu, and you lived in good conscience according to the teachings of
your religion, you would go to heaven. Well that leaves you with a problem because
what it says that salvation is by grace if you are a Christian, and it is by works if you are
not.
You know, one of the most blessed gifts that we have under the new covenant is God's
gift of grace. Through Jesus' sacrifice we have undeserved, unearned forgiveness of
our sins and we have access to God.


I would like to read to you from the article grace, in the Interpreters Dictionary of the
Bible. This is how it starts. It says; Grace is God's unmerited free and spontaneous love
for sinful man. revealed and made effective. In other words it only works through Jesus
Christ. As such, it lies at the very heart of the Christian gospel and is one of its most
distinctive features. A feature that you accept Jesus as your Savior. Everything you
have done wrong is forgiven and you have access to eternal life


But there is sort of a flip side to that. And the flip side is, if you don't do that you do not
have salvation and … then what happens to you?


What is really ironic is that most Christians, and I know many, many very sincere
believers and I don't in any way disparage their sincerity, but most Christians really do
not believe in grace as is explained in the Bible because any people who talk about
grace of God and salvation by grace at the same time deny that most of humanity will
ever have the chance to receive it.


You see, the Bible makes two things very clear. It says God wants to give His grace of
salvation to everybody. Everybody. And we are going to go through some scriptures in a
little bit that say that. Also, only when you receive and respond to this grace will you
receive salvation.


Now where I am going with this is you look at the subject of grace, what we are going to
see today is that only once you understand and accept the plan of salvation as is
revealed through the Sabbath and particularly through the annual festivals, that you
have salvation the way it is described in the Bible. If you don't have the understanding
that God gives us through the festivals, then believing in salvation by grace, maybe to
use the terms many people are familiar with, simply consigns most people to hell.
Because most people never have the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior.


And that contradicts, we are going to see many statements in the scriptures where Paul
and others say He is going to give salvation to everyone. So, salvation by grace is
offered only through God's plan of salvation as revealed in the festivals, otherwise God
is a lot less than the God He is.


You know, one of the reasons we are here as part of the United Church of God, is that
we insist that salvation by grace is something God is going to give to all people,
because what most of us were asked to do is, will you reject God's plan of salvation by
grace? And we said unh uh. No we won't.


What we are first going to do is look briefly at just what grace is. That is the first thing
we are going to do. Then, second, we are going to look at Biblical statements that show
you only receive salvation by the grace of God. You don't earn it. It is God's free gift.
And third, and this is going to be the key point, we are going to see how many
statements there are, and we aren't going to go through all of them, but just enough to
make the point that God's stated goal is that everyone must receive salvation, the grace
of salvation through Jesus Christ. And what that simply leaves us with is the inevitable
conclusion that unless you have the plan of salvation as pictured through the festivals,
you don't have grace.


Now sometimes people will say, why do you take off to go to the Feast of Tabernacles
every fall? Why do you take off for these Holy Days? Why do you keep these festivals?
Sometimes I would say it is because I believe so strongly in salvation by grace through
Jesus Christ. And after today's sermon I hope you will be able to understand this a little
better.


First point, just what is the grace of God? Grace is God's basic nature. We all know
about the energizer bunny, right? It just keeps going and going. God is sort of, in terms
of His capacity to give, and to just give us benefits; He is kind of like the energizer
bunny. He just keeps giving and giving and giving. You think of all the things He has
done for us. The gift of salvation. The fact that we can be saved from our sins. The
incarnation, the fact that God, One of the members of the God family just emptied
Himself and became a flesh and blood human being like us.


I would like you to just maybe imagine you would have the opportunity, if that would be
the word, to empty yourself of your nature and become, oh I don't know, an ant, a
garden slug. You would still know everything that you knew as a human being, but you
would just seem to be trapped in this absolutely, by comparison, terribly lower form of
existence. Well that only begins to capture what it was like for Jesus Christ to empty
Himself and become a human being because He loved us and wanted to give us
salvation.


The Holy Spirit, all these things, these are manifestation of a limitless generosity. That is
maybe one way of looking at grace. Grace is just how God expresses His generosity
just without any limits. It is how He is. And He shows His grace in many ways.


Let's turn to Ephesians 1:5 These verses state that we receive eternal life and sonship
in the family of God by grace.


Ephes. 1:5-8 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in
accordance with his pleasure and will-- [6] to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves. [7] In him we have redemption
through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's
grace [8] that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Verse 7 says we are redeemed from sins through His blood. We must never lose sight
of the fact as to how huge a thing the forgiveness of sin is. Let me just say, and I include
myself, all of us in some point of our life have been thieves. Some of us have stolen
more than some, but at some point in our life, I think I could make a blanket statement
accept for maybe the very young among us, all of us have been thieves. At some point
all of us have broken the first commandment and been idolaters and put something in
the place of the true God. All of have broken God's Sabbath in some way. Some of us
have been adulterers. Perhaps one or two of us have even been a murderer at some
point. But you know what the grace of God means? Because we have been baptized
and we have sought God's forgiveness, once we repent, none of these things matter.
How great is that grace that God gives us?
Now verse 5 and 6 that we have read, state that we are made God's children through
grace. How great a gift is that? The fact that we will live forever. The face that we will
have all power. You know, when you really think of all the things that God is giving us,
His grace is greater than we can ever imagine.


Do you remember, especially those of you who are adults and weren't raised in the
Church of God, when you come into the truth as a teenager or an adult, there is
something there very marvelous? There are certain points in time where you can look
back and say I remember the first time I understood. Remember the first time you really
understood what God's plan was? It was like this bolt of lightning like, everybody is
going to come back to life and have a chance! Everybody is going to have a turn! God is
not really trying to save the world now.


I can remember so clearly the first time I understood what salvation was. I was about
sixteen years of age. It was about this time of day on a Sabbath afternoon. I was sitting
in a small office in the home where I grew up and I was reading the book Why Were
You Born? I got about two-thirds of the way through it. I can remember just how the light
was kind of like this, coming through. We had actually stained glass windows in the front
of house. And I just remember reading that page over and over again saying, you mean
God is going to make me one of His very children and I am going to share His nature
forever? I can remember where I was when I first understood that.


So what is God's grace? Very simply, it is His total nature of generosity in every way
which He deals with humanity. God's grace is His basic nature. God's grace is the way
in which He never stops giving. And what makes it so special is that it is undeserved.
We don't deserve it. It is unanticipated. When we really see all that God has in store for
us, we can't imagine that until it is revealed to us, and certainly it is unearned. We didn't
do anything to receive it.


Next we just need understanding. Because of this grace, this basic giving nature God
has, that is the only way we could have salvation. Salvation is only because of grace.
Turn to Ephesians 2:8


Ephes. 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not
from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- [9] not by works, so that no one can boast.
Salvation is something God just gives us. We are saved because He is generous. We
are saved because He is loving. We are saved because He is forgiving. Verse 9 makes
it clear. This act of giving us salvation, of saying your sins are gone and you are going
to live forever, is not something that any human effort can bring. Our works are
specifically excluded. There is nothing that we can do to cause our salvation. Why are
we saved? Why are we giving eternal life? Why are our sins forgiven? Because God is
generous. There is no limit to His generosity. There is no limit to His love. There is no
limit to His forgiveness. But to kind of put in on the flip side, no amount of good works
can save you from your sins. When you understand what salvation is, which is the
forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, all of Gandhi's good works can't bring him
salvation. And we understand, he is not saved. He is not lost. He is just simply not
saved at present.


To name a couple of other individuals who are rather note worthy recently, Anwar
Sadat, former President of Egypt. His good works didn't save him. Yitzhak Rabin. And I
mention those three people because they were three, I think, admirable people. One
was a Hindu. One was a Muslim. One was a Jew. Each of whom was gunned down and
assassinated why? Because he wanted peace. He wanted war to stop. Each one of
them wanted there not to be fighting and for people to live and get along. And each one
of them gave their lives to an assign's bullet because they wanted something that we all
want. And yet, each one of them never came to the grace of Jesus Christ. See, this is
as I said kind of the flip side of salvation by grace. There is no salvation without grace.
You must be a Christian. And as we read in Acts 4:12, accept what Jesus gives you in
order to be saved.


Now, a lot of Christians look at what we have read in the Bible so far and say, well that
is why we have got to expend every possible effort to go to all corners of the globe to
just have as many people as possible hear about this message of salvation of Jesus
Christ because if we don't they are lost. There are many people who believe that there
are billions of people today who are living and dying and in fact are lost because they
don't hear this, they don't make a decision. And we just have to try to get to as many
people as we can. There is a problem with that though.


There are many statements in the Bible, and we are going to read about three of them,
all from the book of Romans that make this point. I would say that this is the key point of
the sermon. God says I am going to give My grace to all people. I guarantee it. And you
just have to ask, if God is going to give His grace to all people, and salvation by grace is
so important, how does that reconcile with the idea that we have to get to everyone
now? It tracks perfectly with what we understand about the festivals, that there is a
millennium, there is a last great day, everybody has their turn.


But let's look, this is the key point of the sermon. God says I am going to give grace. I
am going to give salvation to everyone. Yet, most people who have ever lived have
never had a chance. And if this life is the only chance of salvation for most, you have a
hopeless contradiction. And the plan that we are so blessed to understand through the
festivals is the only answer to that.
Notice back in Romans 5: 17. Sometimes you just pass over what really the plain
statements that the scripture is telling us.

Romans 5:17-18 For if, by the trespass of the one man, He is talking about the
sin of Adam, his sin, death reigned through that one man, Adam's sin introduced
sin into the world, how much more will those who receive God's abundant
provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one
man, Jesus Christ
It states to give some hint here, that as much as sin is now universal, some day God's
grace and His forgiveness will be universal. Of course we understand that will happen
after the return of the Lord and the establishment of the kingdom for a thousand years.
But notice verse 18. It makes a real important point here.

. [18] Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all
men, because Adam introduced sin to the world, everybody sinned and everybody
was condemned, so also notice, the result of one act of righteousness, Jesus
sacrifice, was justification that brings life for all men.
Does that really mean what it says? That Jesus' sacrifice brings salvation, brings the
grace of God to all men. It doesn't say just all who accept Him. It says everybody. See,
the time is going to come when grace will be as universal as sin. And basically, all
people will be offered forgiveness. Now how does that square with the fact that most
people die without receiving forgiveness in this present life? It makes total sense once
we understand that there is a future resurrection when everybody will receive this grace
and will receive this opportunity. See that is how great God's grace is. That is how
Christ's sacrifice can bring grace to everyone. And yet, how could this happen if this is
the only day of salvation when only a small minority of people are Christians? Notice
going on in verse 19.


Romans 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were
made sinners, Adam sinned. He got us going down that path. Everybody became a
sinner. so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.


He is saying basically just the way Adam introduced sin to everyone, Jesus is going to
introduce grace and righteousness to everyone.


Romans 5:20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where
sin increased, grace increased all the more,
Wherever you see sin today, someday you will see the grace of God, and grace will be
universal. And again, how do we reconcile all this with today being the only day of
salvation? Another scripture in Romans 3:23. We have read very often Roman 3:23, but
I think in the context of what are talking about today, it is really very important to go on
and read verse 24 and see what it says.


Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Now we
understand this. We all have sinned. I mean, I have sinned since I got up this
morning. Notice what verse 24 tells us. It kind of makes a contrast with verse 23.
It talks about, in verse 23, we are all sinners, and notice [24] and are justified
freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Verse 23 says all have sinned, but then verse 24 says all are justified. No, we don't see
all justified yet. This isn't happening now. When will it occur? One last verse I want to
read in Romans is Romans 11:32. Now something you have to understand about the
book of Romans. The reason the book of Romans is here first among all of Paul's
epistles is that it gives a really marvelous outline of God's plan of salvation. As you go
from chapter one through chapter eleven, you basically understand first of all that
Gentiles are sinners and Jews are sinners. All people are sinners who need the grace of
God. Then he introduces Abraham and the fact that even Abraham, whom the Jews
would look to as the father of the faithfull, was saved by grace. And then it brings
through how we can have forgiveness of sin. We can walk in newness of life. And then it
kind of concludes in chapter eleven where it talks about how in the millennium then all
people, including Israel, will come to salvation. It kind of goes through the entire plan of
salvation in eleven chapters. And what verse 32 does is kind of summarize the first part
of the book, and really then summarizes God's plan of salvation.


Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may
have mercy on them all.
God is going to have mercy on all people. We haven't seen that happen yet. I mean,
and obviously United Church of God is not the only place where you find believers, but if
you were to just look by any measure of criteria that you want to, say, most people
today, even people that are sitting in church and trying to live according to some religion
as best they can, have not received the grace of God, have not been forgiven, have not
been shown the mercy of God, but God just simply says, how do I sum up My plan? My
plan is this; all men are bound over to disobedience, but I am going to show mercy on
them all.


What we have seen here are kind of two very clear statements or concepts of scripture
that most believers cannot reconcile because they just haven't had revealed to them
part of God's grace that we have.


One of these clear statements is that salvation is only by grace through Jesus Christ.
That is the only way you are saved. But the others are statements such as the one that
we just read and others, that God will offer salvation to everybody.


The fact that salvation is only by grace and that God will save all men and women, that
is in total harmony with what we learn each year, year by year, in keeping the annual
festivals. But if you don't have God's plan as revealed in the festivals, you can't
reconcile the two and you are left with sort of the dilemma I talked about earlier. Either
salvation is by works, which is not Biblical, but you say God tries to save good people of
all religions. But what that also says is that the sacrifice of Jesus really doesn't matter.
Oh you have the choice that salvation is by grace through Jesus Christ and God is only
saving a few people. If you don't know God's plan, you either have to conclude that
Jesus sacrifice doesn't matter or that only a small number of people are saved.
There are many, many marvelous statements in the scripture that talks about the grace
of God. I think we need to focus on these now. And what it says is, when it comes to
grace, maybe to kind of quote the colloquial phrase, "Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet".
That the grace of God, what ever we have experienced in this life, is totally paled into
insignificance by what He is going to do.


What He is saying, what is that percentage they use on Ivory soap? Ivory soap is
99.44% pure. Maybe if I were to make an analogy, 99.44% of the grace of God is for the
future. And the Bible states that in many, many places we are going to read. If you will
notice John 1:14. It talks about Jesus Christ and His free human condition. It talks of
Him as the word. As a member of the family of God.


John 1:14 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.
When in commenting on this verse, the article in the Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible,
I mentioned earlier, the article grace comments on this verse. It says, "Grace here is
combined with truth as if they are being presented as complimentary to each other. And
together they make up the totality of the gospel message."


That is kind of interesting. That to understand the totality of the gospel message you
need two things. You need grace and you need truth. The problem is that many,
probably I would say most who understand about grace and understand how important
it is, don't have truth. Because it not only important to understand the what of grace, as
to what it is, but when it occurs. In other words, knowledge of grace must be combined
with the knowledge of the truth. You have the truth only by understanding the plan of
God. And if you only focus on grace you become confused.


Notice what it says in Ephesians 2. This is one of several verses that says that grace is
not revealed until an age to come. All that the Bible says about grace we are not going
to see that until the age to come when the Lord returns and everybody is offered
salvation.


Ephes. 2:6-7 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus, [7] Notice, that in the ages to come He might show the
exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
You see, verse six says that God and Christ are working something great in us in the
Church. And then verse seven says the full richness of His grace. In other words, if you
want to understand the grace of God you have got to stick around for the age to come
because not until you get there are you going to really see what the grace of God is.
How consistent is this with the great white throne period, because you deny God's plan
and you deny the grace that He is going to extend to every human being that has ever
lived. Do we ever focus on, for example, what a time of total reconciliation the great
white throne period is going to be? It seems like in this age there is so much injustice.
People seem to literally get away with murder. People go to their graves with ill feelings.
Do we understand how much God is going to sort that all out in the great white throne
period?


Let me just give you an example. It is Feast of Tabernacles time, oh, a little more than a
1,000 years in the future. We have just been through the general resurrection of all
people who have ever lived, and you have got literally probably tens of billions of people
who are learning to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. We are at a Feast site somewhere
and we see a couple of individuals over here in the corner that are kind of keeping to
themselves. They are speaking to one another. They realize that they need to be here.
They realize they have done some terrible things. They have done some awful things.
They realize that they need to get with this program of salvation that is being offered.
They need to learn what they are here to be taught. And they need to become a part of
this community, this body, the Church. These individuals are Adolph Hitler, Fuehrer of
the Third Reich, and Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo. They are going to be
there. They try to be friendly. They figure well, let's go meet someone. Probably most
people here won't even know who we are. And they go and introduce themselves to
someone, and the person has just, not an angry look, but such a hurt look in his eyes.
And after they introduce themselves and say what their names are, he answers them
not in the pure language that is going to be spoken in that day, but in the German of the
20th century. The man says, "Ich heisse Joseph Lieberman. Ich bin im Auschwitz
gestorben." My name is Joseph Lieberman. I died at Auschwitz. And he introduces
them, Mr. Himmler and Mr. Hitler, to his wife Naomi, to his children Ashur and Miriam.
And he just explains what it was like for them in the Second World War and what they
went through.


I am telling you, things like this are going to happen. And how this fits in with the grace
of God is this; do you know that by the time that hundred year period is done, not only
will people like Hitler and Himmler come to terms with what they did, not only will they
be forgiven, but the hurt and just incredible agony between them and the people that
they affected in this life, that is going to be gone. That is going to be forgiven. That is
one of the things that is going to be buried in the grace of God. And by the time that
hundred-year period is over, Adolph, Heinrich, Joseph, Naomi, Miriam, and Ashur, are
just all going to be able to go out and enjoy a good time together as fellow children of
God.


Now how does that, as the grace of God, compare to anything we can have in
this present age? You know, I think of someone like Timothy McVeigh, who just,
not far from Lafayette, IN where we live, went to his death defiant and
unrepentant about a month ago, for being one of the greatest mass murderers in
the history of the United States. He is not going to be able to remain defiant.
There will have to be reconciliation. Him coming to terms with what he did, a
forgiveness. And we could just go on and on and talk about all of the hurts, great
and small, that people have experienced over all time. And when we understand
what God has in store through the fullness of His grace, then this statement we
read in verse 7, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable
riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus, has a real
meaning. We don't really understand what the grace of God is until we see it
manifested in His full expression through the festivals. Acts 20 makes the same
statement. It says that grace is only something that you have in the kingdom of
God in its fullness.
Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; if I only may finish
the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me. The task of
testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
Because of course, the message of the kingdom of God is all about grace. It is all about
forgiveness and reconciliation for each and every human being.


Acts 20:25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about
preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.
Notice what he does in verse 24 and 25. He equates the gospel of the kingdom with the
gospel of grace. He uses the two terms interchangeable. The kingdom is when grace is
poured out. Until the kingdom comes, you really won't see grace. I mean we, like many
other things, we have a foretaste of it today. We see God's giving us in our lives. We
see His forgiveness in our lives. But how does that compare to each and every last
human being being called, reconciled, forgiven and reconciled to God? And, I might
add, each and every human being eventually being reconciled to one another?
Remember, actually, probably very few of us are old enough to remember the comedian
Will Rogers. We have heard of him. He always used to say I never met a man I didn't
like. The day is going to come when each and every human being is basically going to
be able to say that, and that is the grace of God.


Titus 2, makes it clear that grace is something that comes to all men only after the
second coming.


Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,


I just read this from the New International Version. The Revised Standard states; For
the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.
In other words, the grace of God appears for all men to be saved. Bauer's Lexicon
Standard, one of the standard Greek English Lexicons, actually has a translation of this
verse as well. It says, the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.


So when does the grace of God appear? When everybody is offered salvation. This
happens only after the return of the Lord. Versus 12 and 13 bring this out.


Titus 2:12-13 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and
to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, [13] while we
wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior,
Jesus Christ,
You see, we live godly in this present age, and then we wait for Jesus' return which is
our precious hope. Why? Because that is when grace and salvation is revealed to all
people. So this imparting to all men is tied in with the second coming.


Being saved by grace means that you have the opportunity to hear and accept the
gospel, which, for most people, doesn't happen until the future.


I am going to read a couple verses here in Acts 15. Peter, in his message to the
Jerusalem Council actually makes this point.


Acts 15:7-11 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you
know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear
from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. So the Gentiles had heard the
gospel and believed. [8] God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by
giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. [9] He made no distinction between
us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. So he is talking all about the Gentiles
and how they received the gospel. [10] Now then, why do you try to test God by putting
on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to
bear? [11] No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved,
just as they are."

See the point, hearing the gospel and believing is the same as receiving grace. Hearing
the gospel and believing is the same as receiving grace. But that also says that without
hearing and having the chance to believe you do not receive grace. Without grace you
cannot be saved. That is why grace is necessary for salvation, because just simply
having your mind opened to the message of the gospel is one of the great
manifestations of the grace of God.


So, again, to come back to this point we have been making over and over, if this is the
only time of salvation, most people never received the grace of God. And without the
blessed knowledge of God, the best that some of the sincerest and brightest minds
have been able to come up with is some sort of an idea that we have to preach to
everyone that we can now because most people are condemned to some sort of hell
because they don't have their chance now. There simply has to be a future time for all to
understand the gospel.


We look forward to God saving everyone. At least offering salvation. Certainly nearly
everybody will choose it. But a Christian, I hope I am not offending by saying this, but a
Christian who believes in salvation by grace without understanding God's plan, basically
has to settle for a plan of salvation in which ten or perhaps twenty percent of people are
saved and the rest are lost. That can't be because as we see in many places, and just
one final scripture in Romans 2:11, God does not show favoritism. God does not show
partiality. God is no respecter of persons. And here in this context he is even talking
about both Jew and Gentile. And as he is talking about "Jew" being those who have
known of God's way for centuries. "Gentile", those who were unaware of it, he says:


Romans 2:11 For God does not show favoritism.
God does not show favoritism by opening to His truth to some now, by making His
Bible, Christianity, and salvation through Jesus available to just a few now. God is no
respecter of persons. Everybody has a chance. And that is the grace of God.


To just kind of sum up what we have seen. Grace is God's fundamental nature. It is the
way He is. Remember it is like the energizer bunny who keeps giving and giving and
giving. Grace is God's absolute and unmerited generosity that He shows to us. He just
can't give enough to us. And I think maybe the biggest manifestation of God's grace is
not the physical blessings we have, whatever they might be, it is the fact that He makes
us His children and we are going to have eternal life. God's grace eventually is going to
reconcile all human beings to one another. And unless we have the grace of God, which
we have through the preaching of the gospel, we don't have salvation. God so eagerly,
we have read several scriptures that say that, wants to give His grace to everyone. Yet,
most people who have ever lived, never even have the opportunity here what we are
talking about, let alone to decide I want it or I don't want it.


Jesus said He died so that all people will receive the grace of God. All will have the
gospel preached to them. All will understand about salvation. All will have the
opportunity to say yes, and brethren of course we believe nearly everyone will say yes,
and yet this is an opportunity that only a fraction of people have had so far.


God tells us His grace will be universal. And it is only by understanding His marvelous
plan of salvation that we understand through the festivals; the Passover, the Days of
Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of
Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, we can really understand how great the grace of God
is.
God tells us that grace is going to be universal. We must understand grace in
combination with truth. If we only look at grace and don't understand truth, don't
understand when grace is and how it will be given, we get confused. We have read
several scriptures that kind of magnify that truth as well.


What is it that truth teaches us? Truth teaches us just for most grace is not revealed
until the age to come. That is when they receive the gospel. Truth teaches us that grace
is not revealed to all until the kingdom of God. Truth teaches us that salvation and grace
begin to come to all people only after Jesus returns. The truth teaches us that only
when people hear and can be opened to the gospel can they receive grace. And for
most, that happens in an age to come.


So brethren, does the United Church of God, and I don't mean to single us out, does the
Church of God, do sincere Christians, do we believe in grace? That is all that God's plan
of salvation is about. And if you talk about grace without understanding God's plan, you
are preaching a false gospel; and either what you have to end up preaching is kind of a
combination of grace and works, or just without saying too much about it, preach that
most people are condemned.


I am awfully thankful that God has given us an understanding of His grace. I am thankful
that we have received it. I am thankful that we can share it with others. And I am
thankful to be a part of an organization where that preaching is going out in ever greater
power.


Why are we going to go and make preparations in about three months to keep the Feast
of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day? One of the reasons is to go and say I am just
so looking forward to when everybody is going to receive the grace of God. When
everybody comes into God's family. That is really the true and genuine grace of God.


When we celebrate God's festivals, and the fall festivals will be coming up on us before
we realize it, one of the things that we can reflect upon is that they teach us about the
fulfillment of God's grace when it is made available to all people. The feasts are not just
there for us to be happy. They foretell when the entire world will be happy and rejoice to
finally be given the grace of God.

				
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