Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Grace of God. . .

I recently took a business trip to Canada. I go there several times a year. On my drives I keep a book of Scriptures that I found at a resale shop on the dashboard of the car, "Personal Promises from God's Word." It is small leather bound book of Bible verses arranged by category. On my trip, I have about 8 hours behind the wheel. I love this time alone with God. I don't listen to the radio. I don't often have a CD in the player. I talk to God and I take scriptures from my little book and I meditate upon them, for mile upon mile down the highway I chew upon the manna from God. . .The drive passes very quickly. I eagerly anticipate every opportunity I have for such extended period of communing with God. . . no distractions, no interruptions. . . no need to hurry. . .

This trip I spent much time pondering this verse:

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

This idea of grace, I do not know many things. I am very new to Christ. This lack of knowledge of mine can be both a disadvantage and it can also be a positive. I do not have a lifetime of assumptions based upon the teaching or maybe assumptions and traditions of others that I must unlearn. I don't have preconceived notions about things. I did not attend Sunday School as a child. I must learn purposefully, with greater effort as an adult. There is so much I do not know. I love to learn of Biblical concepts by looking at the context of the word usage in the Bible. Grace is one concept that I've heard used over and over again, but I really have only a murky idea about in my mind. How is it used in the Bible?

The first occurrence of a word in the Bible is usually significant. Following is the first usage (Hebrew) in the Old Testament followed by the first usage (Greek) in the New Testament:

Strong's Hebrew 2580
Genesis 6:6-9
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (7) And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (9) These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

This is how the Hebrew word is translated and the number of times in the KJV
grace 38
favor 26
gracious 2
pleasant 1
precious 1
well favored 1

Strong's Greek 5485
Luke 1:26-31
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, (27) To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. (28) And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (29) And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (30) And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. (31) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

This is how the Greek word is translated and the number of times in the KJV
grace 130
favor 6
thanks 4
thank 4
pleasure 2
misc 7

This Greek word, with one exception (James 1:11 ) is the only word translated as 'grace' in the New Testament. Similarly the Hebrew word, with minor exceptions, is the only word translated as 'grace' in the Old Testament. These words must be the key to our understanding of the Grace of God. . .

How very fascinating, in the book of Genesis, in the Old Testament, Noah was the first to find grace. . . In the book of Luke, in the New Testament, Mary was the first to find favor, or as otherwise translated, Grace in the eyes of God. . .I never saw this association before, but both Noah and Mary are inextricably involved with the Salvation of Man. . .Salvation comes only from God, but God used Noah and Mary to carry, to create the vehicles of salvation. . .

This is a rich vein to mine. . .

The salvation which came by way of Noah, the salvation of the vessel of the ark, was built by the hands a man, a just and perfect man, but a man nonetheless. Wood and pitch and undoubtedly various other unspecified materials went into the making of the ark. Men and animals entered into the ark, but it is never recorded that the Spirit of God entered into that place of salvation. The ark offered a miserable salvation, a salvation of the flesh. The world before and after the ark, were little different from one another. The salvation of the ark showed that even a fresh start, wiping the slate clean and beginning anew without the Spirit of God, really accomplished nothing much of any consequence. Only the number of the world's sins diminished for a time due to there being fewer people, but the severity of the world's sinful nature did not change much at all. This salvation did not give the saved power over sin, but created within the world a dependence for the continued killing of animals without blemish, the shedding of innocent blood for the payment of the endlessly recurring sins. There had to be a better way. . .

By contrast, the salvation which came by way of Mary, the salvation of the vessel of Mary's, the vessel of her womb was built by God, being virginal and never touched by man, never entered into by man, but filled with the Holy Spirit, now combined with the ovum of Mary, which could not pass along the sin of Adam. . . the fruit of that union, the fruit of that Salvation, the fruit of that Spirit building and doing its work within that virginal vessel:

. . .the fruit of the Spirit is .is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . .against such there is no law. This was a salvation of the Spirit and soul of man by the power of the Spirit of God. Is there any better description of Jesus than those descriptive words of the fruit of the Spirit??? . . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith meekness, temperance. . . isn't that exactly what Jesus was? Against such there is no Law. . .The fruit of the Spirit is outside of the law. . .There is today and there was then, no power of the Mosaic Law over the fruit of Mary's womb. . .Jesus was outside of the Law. The salvation of Mary's womb represented such a dramatic departure from what the world had received from the ark. The world with its fleshly eyes, was unable to recognize it for what it was.

In your mind, assign hues to those wonderfully rich and vivid attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, again I repeat them: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, assign each a color across the spectrum of the goodness rainbow. All these hues combined together, equal the intense white light of grace. Leave one hue out and it is no longer purely white light. God's grace toward us is His undeserved acceptance of us, with all of our imperfections. His grace is the sum of all those attributes combined. They must all be present in equal amounts. Any single one of the fruits of the spirit omitted by Him would not result in grace. Choose one. Leave love out of God's acceptance of us or leave His joy in us out, leave out longsuffering or gentleness or goodness. Leave out His faith in us. Leave out His meekness or temperance toward us and you no longer have the pure white light of grace. . .

A rainbow is light split into its component colors. . . No one looking at a rainbow would ever guess that the origin of those beautiful colors was simply pure white light. . .This is no earthly palette, we speak of here, where mixed colors create muddy brown, but in the spectrum of light, all colors combined create white. . . the unimaginable purity and whiteness of grace. . .That is what the first rainbow of the flooded earth pointed to. In all its beauty, it was still a shadow of something more beautiful to come. It pointed to another promise. . . a promise of the grace to come in a more perfect salvation. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Thank you God
for your acceptance. . .
Thank you God
for your grace each day. . .


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