Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 14 - The Gospel in a Nutshell, Part 1 - 30 Days of Grace

Let's stop and take a few verses into our thoughts that just sum up the gospel of grace.  We have seen how Grace is God's nature, that it is seen in the Old and New Testament, that it is the love of God even for sinners, that it means God giving good gifts for us for free, that it shows God is a God of love and not wrath..now let's just stop and ask "What is the gospel of grace, then?" 

John 3:16 is probably the most famous and well-known verse in the Bible, and it is like the Gospel in a Nutshell.  Let's see what this verse tells us about God's heart of grace and gift of grace! 

I will give two translations so we can get a fuller look at this verse and its meaning; Let's read what it does say and note what it does not say:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.         John 3:16  NIV

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.         John 3:16 AMP

Who does this verse start with, that is setting the whole salvation process in motion?  God, not us!  God acts, we don't have to do something to get Him to act.  God initiates salvation, not man.  Salvation starts in His heart and mind, not ours.

How does God feel in His heart and what moves Him to act?  He loves, He so greatly loves and dearly prizes!  This is a great love that moves God to do something big!  He loves, He doesn't hate!  He dearly prizes, He doesn't see as worthless nothings..

Who does He feel so strongly about, have this great love and esteem for?  The world!  Who does the world include?  Everyone, including the worst sinners ever!  He doesn't just love the good people, doesn't just love the worthy, doesn't just love those seeking Him, doesn't just love those who are repentant or turning to Him or committed to Him.  He loves the world!  He loves people who are running from Him, who hate Him, who rebel against Him, who don't want to have anything to do with Him!  These are the kind of people He actually loves and prizes!  To love is to value and esteem highly.  To prize is to see as special and valuable, to want to have because of the great worth of the object.  Amazingly, that is how God feels about a world that wants nothing to do with Him, so actually a godless world is loved by an amazing God of grace!

What did this great love for the world move God to do?  He gave!  He didn't withhold!  He didn't destroy or punish or rant and rave or turn His back on this world of wicked people.  No, He gave!  He gave a gift to those wicked ones.  Did the world deserve a gift, had the world done anything to merit a gift? NO!  The world deserved punishment, but God gave a gift instead!  That is grace!

What wonderful gift did God give this world?  His Son!  He gave of His own family, of His own heart, the Son of His bosom.  What kind of Son?  His one and only, only-begotten Son! The only Son He had, He willingly gave up for and gave to us!  God didn't begrudgingly say oh, if you do a lot of good things, maybe I'll force myself to look upon you and give you a little reward..no! He said I give you the best I have, without you having to be anything or do anything, I give you My one and only Son!

What is asked of us?  Believe, simply believe!  Not do good works, improve, look better, clean yourself up, be committed, promise to do better, sacrifice all, say you'll obey, or even turn away from all your sin and want to do better..no it says simply, to believe!

What will happen if we just believe? We will not perish! We will not be destroyed, ruined, or separated from God.  He rescues us from the destruction of sin.  It is not that He is saying, oh, you accepted my Son, oh well, I guess I have to let you in heaven.  No, He is wanting us in, welcoming us in! It is not that we barely get to go to heaven but still are basically ruled by sin, no, we are delivered completely from the kingdom of death into the kingdom of life, and we won't perish!  We are not barely saved and could slip into lostness, no, we will not perish, we will never be lost, we are safe and secure!

Instead of perishing, what do we have?  We have eternal life! That is God's life, the Spirit in us, forever, a relationship with God, union with God, knowing God, a life that is abundant and everlasting! It's not that He is saying, okay, you believed, you are in the family but just stand over there in a corner because I barely tolerate you..no, He is lavishing everything upon us in the Son!  Life, real life!

This is the Gospel in a Nutshell!  God loves us sinners and gave His Son so that by simple believing, all bad things are taken from us and so can't ever harm us, and God's life and all good things coming with that life, come to us, and it lasts forever!

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14