GRACE BRINGS FAITH
BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” This was God’s own order and arrangement for his own creation. This order includes man, who apparently was to be the one to execute his purpose. Genesis 6:5, “From Adam to Noah, the inhabitants of the earth became evil continually.” God saw the corruption of his way in the earth. In Genesis 6:12-13, he told Noah, “The end of flesh has come before me. The earth is filled with violence by man and I will destroy them with the earth.” Is this happening over again? When it shouldn’t?
What of the present? The earth is filled with violence - both personal and national. There are thirty or more wars being fought every day. These wars are the result of ethnic conflicts, international terrorist attacks and political fighting. There are rapists, robbers, murderers, child abusers, and a host of other evil deeds that are perpetrated as well. These are so common that only a few of them get public attention.
Today, man has progressed in knowledge. There are amazing accomplishments in science, medicine, electronics, education and communication. Mankind, in their own eyes, feel they can elect control of these things. Man never makes any efforts to give up these accomplishments. Every one of these works has been used for evil. These works have been used for good as well, yet all of them have been used for evil.
In Noah’s day, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Grace was Noah’s escape from the flood. Noah preached and prepared an ark and received no response, so it seems, for his prophecy of a judgment to come. Nothing was the same after the flood. God called Abraham, and through him, gave a promise of blessing, which was contingent upon faith. Moses was given the task of mediating a law of commands to give man the knowledge of sin and its consequences and penalty. The law was not of faith, and the law was not of grace. The law did not produce the heir; it was given in the form of a promise through a seed. The law was added as a restraint by angels, through a mediator (Moses), until the seed arrived (Galatians 3:18-19). The seed has come and has brought forth sons. Why has the last days then brought forth scoffers? They claim things have been the same since the creation of the world (II Peter 3:3-6).
Mankind is bringing forth all kinds of evil. There are wars and famine and we get the idea that God is withholding his blessings. This is the idea that Satan used to deceive Eve. He said, “You can be as God. It is pleasant to see. It is good for food and to make one wise. Make up your mind, Eve.”
The law is fulfilled in Christ. He is our ark of safety. This is the escape from the judgment of the world. Jesus said that the sign of his coming, as the son of man, will be like the days of Noah. The flood came as a surprise. The water was the judgment (Matthew 24:36-39). Noah, by faith, and being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark by which he condemned the world, a disrupted world (rule) in Adam.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Yeweh). Grace was the withholding of punishment. The ark and its construction was the escape from the death of the flesh. Grace, now, is time given to man for repentance and for gaining Christ. Grace will not cover the man who rejects Christ. We are saved by grace, through faith. Grace is forbearance. Men frustrate the grace of God, which is given in God’s forbearance to escape the penalty of death. Grace, without repentance, is a rejection of Grace itself.
Galatians 3:18-24, “The law was added to the promise because of transgressions until the offspring (the child), of the seed would come.” Without the law, there would have been a repeat of Noah’s day when things deteriorated to the point that something drastic was needed. It was the Son of promise (not man) that was the key to the purpose of God, i.e., it’s God’s own Son through which all things are made right. It’s not the old man, the human nature, or the flesh man. The flesh man has suffered the penalty of death because he has transgressed the law.
In the Old Testament, the transgression of the law brought an immediate punishment to the flesh. People were stoned on the word of one or two witnesses. Today, in God’s forbearance, he has given us a period of grace and a time of grace in which we can find the faith of Jesus Christ and repent. This means we have to give ourselves up to God to do with us as he pleases. We must have the confidence to know that things will never get worse, but only better if God takes control of our life. This is called the kingdom of God.
Luke 13:22 (about Jesus), “He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem, and someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ He replied, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many I tell you will seek to enter and will not be able. And, when once the householder has risen up and shut the door, he will begin to stand outside and knock at the door saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you came from.’” What a statement! “Then you will begin to say we ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets. He will say, ‘I do not know where you came from. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity.’ And you will weep and gnash your teeth. When you see Abraham and Joseph and Isaac and the kingdom and you yourself thrust out.”
If we do not repent and believe the Gospel, will we then go our own way? Absolutely not. We then are still dead in sin and are being led about by the powers of the spirits of this world. To repent is to release ourselves and have God rule our being. Can man do this on his own? No.
Repentance is granted in the grace in God’s word (Acts 11:18). Saying ‘yes’ to God is a result of the preparation of the promise to Abraham, plus the law and the prophets (Luke 16:29-31). Evil spirits were operating in man long before this present time. Evil spirits will exist after we leave the flesh. It was a spirit that persuaded Eve to partake of the tree.
We must remember our battle is not against people, nor against flesh or blood. These spirits, which led us about in the world in days past, have now become our enemies and we are no longer subject to them.
Consider what I say and may the Lord give you understanding.