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Abounding Grace (Vol 02) - Grace: God's Answer to Sin

Sunday English Service - 05 JUL 20

Transcript

We began a brand new series last week, the series about grace and we titled it as “Grace that Abounds Much More”. The title comes from the book of Romans chapter 5 and verse 20, where Paul says, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. So we titled this series as the “Grace that Abounds Much More”.

What does he mean by that statement “where sin abounded, grace does much more abound”? He means that sin abounds in the sense that it dominates everything. It touches everything, defiles everything, ruins everything, every thought, every imagination, every part of man, the spirit, soul, and body, as well as his world and all of creation. Sin has its impact upon everything. It's spreads everywhere and touches everything and ruins and destroys everything literally. But the answer to the sin is grace. Because wherever sin abounds, grace does abound much more. That's what Romans chapter 5 teaches. That sin has damaged much, but grace restores in such a way that it restores everything that has been ruined. Plus, it brings about a whole lot of other blessings. And therefore, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. It's much more powerful than the impact of sin and the power of sin.

So we titled it like that, and we have just begun it and we just went through the first session last week. In our first teaching session on this subject, we talked about how life begins with abounding grace. There we showed, from the first three chapters of Genesis, how the grace of God is an abounding grace. It's always much more than what we need. And we see the grace of God in so many ways in the first three chapters.

I showed you, first of all, when you ask the question, why did God create everything? Why did He create man? Why did He create the world and everything in it? Was there any reason, need? Well, the answer is simply He created because He wanted to. It's His grace. He wanted to give us a life like this, a world like this, and all the enjoyments that we have today in this world. He wanted to give it to us like that. There you see the grace of God.

And secondly, we see the grace of God in the fact that He created everything calling it good. Everything He created was good. That shows the grace of God.

Thirdly, He created everything for man and gave it to man for his enjoyment. There you see the grace of God.

Fourthly, He created the woman, because He said, “It's not good for a man to be alone.” He ordained this married life. Husband and wife, the family, the entire concept comes from God. God wants us to live in a family setting, supporting one another, loving one another. All the joy that the family life brings is something that we would have never conceived of. We would have never thought about it. God invented it. It’s an invention of God.

And then fifthly, He gave us some responsibilities and authority. He gave man some responsibility and authority. He said, “Subdue everything and dominate it,” or rule it. He gave man the ability to rule and to dominate and subdue everything that goes wrong. Now that shows God's grace again.

And then sixthly, we saw how God's gifts of grace are innumerable. That is what He has given to us, it's very difficult to count. So many blessings. If you read the first two chapters, all the good gifts of God's grace, it's amazing. So much He gave to us, but only one law. That is, “Do not eat of this tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of all the trees of the garden, you may eat. You may enjoy everything. But just don't do this.” Just one restriction, one law.

You know, in the world, people give so little and give so many laws. But God is exactly the opposite. He is a God of grace. He gives so much and gave only one law. You can imagine what kind of life God wanted man to have. All right.

And after that seventhly, we saw how God dealt with the fallen man. When man fell into sin, God came into the garden, brings man out of his hiding, inquires what happened, listens to him carefully. And then even when He pronounces what everybody calls as curse… Some people are very upset about it. How can God curse? But what God did is so different from what we think of as curse. Think about this. When we say curse, we are thinking about looking at somebody and just cursing them out saying that you won't amount to anything, be gone, be dead, be destroyed, that kind of a thing. That's what a real curse is. God didn't do that.

See, when God came and found man in his sin, He did not destroy the world. He didn't send man straight to hell. He didn't completely destroy man and throw him in the burning hell or something like that. No. What God did is very much, I told you, like what a parent would do when they find a child disobeying them. They will tell the child usually to go to a room and stay there; can’t watch TV, can't ride a bicycle, can’t play cricket or something like that. Something that the child enjoys is taken away from the child. It's a kind of punishment. The punishment is given for a time period so that the child will realize what he has done wrong and understand that he can’t go on like that and repents of his wrongdoing and get straightened out. So that is why the punishment is given.

And that is exactly what God did. God didn't destroy the earth. God didn't simply blow man out of His sight and just destroy him. No. He could have done that. What God did was exactly what parents would do. He put him under a punishment, and that's what it is. He was under a punishment. Many of his liberties and pleasures of life were denied him. That's what happened. He was under a punishment. And while he is under the punishment, God was making arrangements to send a savior and save him and redeem him. That is God's plan. So the seventh thing is about how God dealt with man when he sinned.

But the most beautiful expression of grace is found in the eighth thing. And that is, in the midst of all those words that we call as the curses pronounced upon man and Satan and so on, in the middle of those verses is a verse that brings hope. And that is Genesis chapter 3 verse 15. The first promise of the coming Messiah. I’ll make enmity between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel, was a promise that God made saying that one day a savior will come and He will defeat Satan who's brought human beings into this kind of condition. And that that Savior is going to be born of the woman and so on. That promise was given right there in verse 15.

So that is very beautiful. What we call as curse is not really like the curse that we experience in this world from others. It is God's grace, I would say. Even the thing that we call as curse is God's grace, manifestation of God's grace, where He speaks hope right in the middle of it. Amen.

And finally, when God sends him out of the garden, it's a very moving sight. That God clothes them with coats of skin, the Bible says. Covers their nakedness, brings dignity, removes their shame, helps them out, and sends them out because He wants them to be under punishment, but not forever to be like that. But wants them to realize what sin will do and what sin has done and wants them to repent and come back to Him. And all that opportunity is given to man.

That's what we saw last week. We saw grace manifested in so many ways. And the last two ways out of the eight is very important; how God dealt with the man who fell into sin and finally how God spoke words of hope right in the middle of those words that pronounced the curse upon man.

All right, today, in our second session on this teaching, we're going to talk about how grace is God's answer to sin. I want to show you how God begins to clean up the mess that man had made by falling into sin and begins to work out his salvation. How God puts grace against sin. Sin has brought ruin and destruction. And God begins to minister grace right in the middle of it so that man can be restored. So I would say God's answer to sin is grace.

Just imagine something like this. If you see an old, ruined building, a house - it was once a beautiful edifice, a beautiful bungalow, or palace now come to ruins. I mean, it's first of all, saddening. But the condition is so bad because the ruin has happened so extensively that every wall is damaged, every door, every window is damaged, everything is damaged. The floor is damaged, roof is damaged, everything is damaged, and all things are laying around everywhere. The first thing you find is you don't know where to begin. You feel like you want to completely destroy this whole thing and build a new one.

And God had that option. God could have said, “Well, sin has ruined everything. It has touched every area of man's life, spirit, soul, and body, and the world and in every thought, every imagination of man's heart has become like this. So let's get rid of it and get over with it and start with another new man.” But God didn't do that. God looked at the whole situation and He decided to do something about it.

He knew that everything had been corrupted, nothing remain untainted. He knew that the perfectly balanced ecosystem that God designed to meet the needs of every man was contaminated. And it was contaminated by the very man for whom God created everything.

Let me read to you a very sad statement here in Genesis chapter 6, and verse 5 and 6. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Now, look at the words here. He saw that the wickedness of man was great, was great on this earth, that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Every intention, that is every thought, everything that came to his mind was only evil. And it was evil continually. So great was the evil that sin has brought about. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.

Now, it is only after this you find that the world had to be destroyed by that flood that came during Noah's time. Now even that flood, just like the words that pronounced curse upon Adam and Eve, was actually words of grace if you looked at it properly.

I would say to you what happened when God destroyed the whole world except Noah's family, by the flood, it was also a gracious act. Because all of man's earth would have been destroyed. Every man would have been destroyed. God would have to start with the new man all over again. And God wanted to preserve mankind. God wanted to preserve the earth. God wanted to preserve everything that He has created because He's created everything good. God wanted to preserve it and then repair it and fix it and make it good. So how does He do it?

It's like, some people when they go to a doctor, a limb has to be removed in order to save the life of the man. That's exactly what happened when the flood was sent and the whole earth was destroyed except Noah's family. Through the ark, they were saved. All right.

But still, even after Noah, sin began to multiply and spread. That's why in Romans we read, where sin abounded greatly… Sin does abound. Sin does abound very much. And whenever sin abounds, God sets grace against it, because grace is the thing that overcomes what sin does.

So sin abounded even after Noah’s days. Again mankind became like that because it's like a virus. One person has got it and everybody gets it and everybody is ruined by it. Every thought, every intention is evil continually. So great is the wickedness of the thoughts of man. That’s how the Bible describes it.

So, God had a plan. God wanted to step in and clean it up. And He could have chosen to really destroy the whole earth and completely do away with man and the whole creation, but He did not do it. He was gracious. He showed grace. God chose to step in and clean up the mess that sin had created. How does he do it?

He chose one man, Abraham, and starts with him. Now, when I described the palace that is in ruins… When you see such a building in such great ruin, you don't even know where to start. But you got to start somewhere in some little corner and work your way into the mess and clean it up. So God starts with one man. His vision is to start with one man and build up nation through that one man and bring a savior through that nation into this world, so that that savior can bring salvation to mankind and deal with the sin problem and deliver people from their sin and so on. That's what God wanted to do.

But which man to choose? There is no perfect man, there are no saints. Everybody was a sinner. Everybody fits the description that we read in Genesis 6, verses 5 and 6. Their thoughts are evil continually. They’ve become so wicked, so evil so that God regretted making them. Every man's condition was like that.

So God, an all-able, all-powerful God, who can work with anything, now begins with a man who is a sinner, Abraham. Abraham was an ordinary man. He lives without the knowledge of God in some culture somewhere, following his own ways, and God begins with Abraham and selected Abraham.

And Abraham, not only did he not know God, he was not in any way worthy. If you looked at this merits, he was just like any other man, a sinner, unworthy before God. His thoughts and intentions were evil also. So there was no worthy man around. So God had to work with a sinner. So God chooses him and that was one problem. He was a sinner. But not only that, he was an old man. Not only that his wife was also getting old and they had no children. His wife is not able to bear children.

Now God wants to choose this man and through him build a nation. That's a difficult proposition; to take an old man who has no children, and the wife cannot bear children. And he's a sinner. You don't know whether he's going to walk with God, do what God says and obey God and bring about God's vision. And you got to use this man and trust in this man and work with this man to make things happen. And God says, “My grace is more than enough, I can do it.” Because grace abounds much more where sin abounds.

So God chooses this man with all his shortcomings, and begins to work with that man. He establishes a relationship with that man, a covenant relationship with that man. That's the first thing that He does. In Genesis chapter 12, we read about it. God goes to him and speak to him and the first words that God speaks to Abraham are recorded in Genesis chapter 12. Now the Lord said to him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land I will show you.” So God is calling him to leave everything and go to the place that God will take him to.

And He says, “I'll make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great.” Now He's making three great promises to Abraham. He says, “I will make you a great nation. I'll bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 

So He makes these three great, wonderful promises to Abraham. That's how He initiates a relationship. He begins with a promise. Now this is very important truth because look at how God initiates a relationship because this is something that Paul takes later on in Romans and Galatians, and so on. Uses it extensively to show how our relationship with God is formed today, how we come into a relationship with God.

God did not start His relationship with Abraham with rules. He started it by giving him promises. He gave promises to a man who did not deserve any of these promises, who had nothing worthy in him to receive these promises. He did not ask him to adhere to certain behavior and certain ways of conduct. He didn't give him 10 commandments. 10 Commandments were given much later in Moses’ days.

What was given to Abraham? Abraham was given promises. And an invitation was given to Abraham to come and trust in Him. And this is how the relationship was initiated.

Throughout our teaching we’ll show that this is how God has been initiating relationships ever since, even today with you and I. How does God initiate a relationship with us? How do we enter into a relationship with God? God didn't come to us and say, “You obey all these rules, and you do it perfectly, then you can have relationship with Me.” That is not how a relationship with God is achieved.

A relationship with God is a relationship where God comes and makes some promises and we believe. By faith, enter into a relationship and it is by grace that we enjoy this relationship with God. So this is a very important teaching concerning how God invites human beings into a relationship with Him. Abraham is a model for that. And that is taken in the New Testament by Paul. And he gives a great exposition of that and we'll come to that a little later.

So God takes a man, one man, wants to build a nation through that man, takes the most unworthy man, ordinary sinner; takes a man who's old, takes a man who cannot have children, his wife cannot have children and invests Himself in that man, offers that man a relationship, invites that man into a relationship, not based on some rules that He has given to him, based on some unconditional promises that He has given to him. He has declared some promises that Abraham didn't ask for. Abraham was not praying for it, asking for it. Abraham was not even wishing for it. Abraham probably didn't know that such blessings existed. And God comes and offers to him blessings he's never heard about, blessings that he has never known, blessings that he had never desired, and blessings for which he is not worthy at all. And God offers him. That's how the relationship begins. This is a wonderful picture of how God's relationship with us begins. All right.

Secondly, by grace God declares him righteous. That's the next thing that happens. Now, Abraham has already left his country as God said. He believed God, so he left the country. Travels to the place where God showed him and settles down there. He has a lot of sheep, he has cattle, and they take up unclaimed land and begin to do agriculture and so on. Abraham made it very wealthy, became a very wealthy man over a period of time, very short period of time, I would say.

And not only did God help him to become very wealthy, God also helped him to win many victories against enemies. In those days, enemies were a great problem. If you were prospering, if you were doing well there’s always enemies. And Abraham had many enemies come against him.

So, Abraham had to fight one time against five kings who were threatening in that area, already taken Lot and his family as slaves when they captured Sodom and Gomorrah. So Abraham goes after them with just his household servants and wins the battle with just 318 servants and comes home. And he's probably very tired. Won a great victory and has come home and experienced God's grace in his life in an amazing way. Knows that God gives victories.

Then in his tiredness, he comes and sleeps and God appears to him in a dream and speaks to him. In chapter 15, we read about it. It says that the Lord came to Abram in a vision and said, “Fear not, Abram, I'm your shield and your reward shall be very great.” And then Abraham begins to complain to God. And tell him about how he doesn't have a child and he's become very wealthy, and all his property and wealth is going to be taken one day after him by his servant.

But God consoles him and tells him, “No, no, no. It's not your servant that's going to become your heir. Someone that's born as your offspring will become your heir.” God promises him that. Then He takes him out and shows him the sky, shows him the stars of the sky and says, “Count this if you can.” And Abraham understands. God looks at him and says, “So shall your seed be.” What an amazing promise to a childless man who's getting old, almost giving up hope of having a child. And it's a very crucial thing for him. He's got enough wealth and a lot depends on him getting a child. God says, “So shall your seed be.” Promise is so great. Something beyond his ability, beyond Abraham's imagination and ability. That's the kind of promise.

But amazingly, the very next verse, verse 6 says, and he believed. And he believed the Lord. And then it says, He counted it to him as righteousness. Now, what does that mean? That's a very interesting thing. This is something that we'll study later in great detail. But what does it mean that he believed and that the Lord counted it to him as righteousness?

That means because he believed what God promised, God set aside his sins and all these other things. His debts, his sins were canceled. All that now could not stand between him and God. Ordinarily, he could not come to God and have a relationship with God. But now God declares him as righteous. That means He declares him as a person that has right standing with him.

God says, “I put away your sin, I covered your sin. And I will not count your sin and I will not see your sin, but I will see your faith. I spoke to you and you believed Me. In the whole world, you're the man that's believing Me. Therefore I count you as righteous.” As a person in right standing with God, as a friend of mine, God says. And so Abraham is counted as righteous. God declares that he is righteous.

And then, immediately after that, in the next few verses, you read about how God tells him to bring some animals and birds and lay it in front of Him, cut them in half. There is a blood covenant that God makes with Abraham right there. He formalizes His relationship with Abraham. And then in verse 13 onwards, He speaks to Abraham prophetically about things that will happen later on, many centuries later to his people.

See, after Abraham, there was Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. And then during Joseph's days, you remember they went into Egypt and moved there and lived there for some time. For 430 years they were there, the Bible says. And 430 years later, God brings them out with a mighty hand. That's the Exodus.

So from Abraham to that time, it stretches many centuries. And when they came out, it was almost like 600 years after God spoke to Abraham. But God tells him as far as about 600 years of story of what is going to happen.

God said to Abraham, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be servants there.” They will be slaves there. “And they will be afflicted for 400 years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. But as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age,” He says. After all this, God gives Abraham a land. You read that in verse 17 and 18, and so on. God gives Abraham a land after making this covenant with him.

So in 15th chapter, significant things are happening there. That God comes to Abraham, gives him a great promise of a seed like the stars of the sky, and then makes a covenant with him, formalizes His relationship with him, and prophetically speaks into his life about things that are going to happen over the centuries to come. Tells him what's going to happen all the way up to the time of Moses, and the deliverance under the hand of Moses. Amazing. And then God gives them a land. Land is given.

So, you see grace there. So first of all, you see grace in God choosing Abraham. It was by grace He chose because Abraham had no special worthiness or qualification. It was by God's grace. Abraham was not wanting it. But God comes to him and does it anyway. It's God's grace, pure grace.

Secondly, God declares Abraham as righteous. Abraham was just as much as sinner as anybody but God chooses to declare him as righteous. The sinner is declared as righteous. That's grace. That's what you call grace. An undeserving person is given the opportunity to be a friend of God. That's grace. God draws him in, takes him as his friend, and confides with him. That's grace. That's amazing grace.

Thirdly, God's grace provided for and protected Abraham and his family, even when they disobeyed. Now, talk about grace. God knew when He chose him that this guy is a sinner, he’s hopeless. He’s not going to walk perfectly before God. He’s not going to live a life where he can follow certain rules and be very perfect and completely please God. This guy is going to fail again and again and again and again. God knew it very well.

But yet, God chooses him and now He deals with him and He finds him disobeying. After God spoke to him in 15th chapter, saying, “Like the stars of the sky, I'll make your seed,” in 16th chapter, something very sad happens. As soon as 16th chapter opens, it says, Abraham's wife, Sarah, had borne no children for him. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abraham, “Behold, now the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

I think what Sarah did was this, she said to him, “Look, I know God said, “Somebody that's your offspring that will become your heir.” That's exactly what God said to Abraham when he said, “My servant is going to own all my possessions one day.” God said, “No, no. Your offspring will be an heir.” So Sarah probably told him, “Look, God said your offspring, but He didn't add me there. He didn't tell my name there. He didn't say that the child is going to be born through me. So God might have very well meant…God knows that I'm getting old and you're getting old and it's too late already to be talking about this. God knows our problem. So He never mentioned me. He probably thought of some other woman through whom you will have a child who will be your offspring. That will be your seed. So here is this woman, Hagar, born-woman. Take her and have a child through her so that we may build our house through that.”

Big blunder. After God promised Abraham so surely and made a covenant with him, made a blood covenant with him, meaning that it cannot be violated what God said He would do, still Abraham disobeyed and went ahead and did what his wife said. And as a result, it ended up in a big problem. Hagar started persecuting Sarah for being barren and boasting about her ability to bear children and so on. That caused the great tension. Finally, Abraham had to take that woman and the child and send them away. That was one great big blunder along the way.

But God was still with Abraham. God has chosen him and God is able. God is able to work with imperfect people. And God is able to use them. God is able to make them better as He goes along.

The next thing that happens is Abraham leaves that area and goes to another place and camps near another kingdom. And the king over there had set his eyes on Sarah. He found that she looks very beautiful. So he wanted to take her as his wife. And Abraham, in order to protect his own life in those areas - it was very risky to have a beautiful wife - so I guess Abraham decided to lie saying that she's my sister. And as a result, the king offered to marry his sister. And then God had to intervene. And finally, Abraham was delivered out of that situation and came out safe out of that situation.

Abraham, when he came out of it, probably wondered if God would ever show favor to him after all these violations, after all these mess-ups that he had committed, after these two blunders. I’m sure Abraham's mind was nagging him because he has failed to obey God. He has failed God in so many ways. And it was a good chance for God to forget about him, forget about doing anything with him and through him.

But God did not do that. God did not do that. His covenant with Abraham was unconditional. He was the recipient of an unconditional promise, Abraham was. The promise was simply a promise. It didn't carry any condition. God said, “I'll do this.” That's it. “Bless you. Make your blessing. Bless those who bless you and curse those who cursed you. Make you a great nation. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” And that can be fulfilled only through the Messiah coming out of Abraham's bosom. As part of the nation that will be built up through Abraham, Messiah will be born and He will become the savior of the whole world. Only in that way can all the families of the earth be blessed.

It’s unconditional promise. There was nothing that Abraham had to do in order for this to happen. God said, “This will happen. I'm going to do this through you.” That's it. So God goes ahead and does that.

So here is God's grace. That even in his imperfection, God took care of him, provided for him, and protected him.

Fourthly, you see God's grace in the fact that God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a child at a grand old age. He was 99 years old and Sarah was 90. God appears to him again and promises him again that they will bear a child. And He changes his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. And after a few months, they have a child. And that child is a son, who they named Isaac.

When I think about this, the thought comes to me that if God after 15th chapter, after God spoke to him saying, “I'll give you a seed like the stars in the sky,” if He just went ahead and gave him a child the next year, all this mess would have not happened. All those big blunders of having another child through a born-woman and then almost making your wife the king's wife. All these dangers that he takes her into dangerous situations that he takes her into, all these things would not have happened. These blunders would not have happened. He could have saved all that, if God had simply given him a child immediately. But God waits and waits and waits. He waited for many years after 15th chapter. Meanwhile, all these blunders happened.

Now, when I think of that, it looks to me like God waited to fulfill His promise until after Abraham had enough opportunities and time to prove through his behavior that he was unworthy of such an honor and such a blessing. That's what it looks to me when I consider grace in this subject. Why did God delay? Why should He delay that many years? Why should He wait and wait and wait and cause such confusion in the meanwhile and allow such things to happen? Why?

I think God waited to fulfill His promise until after Abraham had enough opportunities and ample time to prove through his behavior that he was unworthy of any such honor or any such blessing. Finally, when the child was born, Abraham could not just sit up and say, “Well, praise God. I lived a holy life for God. I followed every commandment of God, obeyed every law of God. And that's how I got this great blessing.”

No. When the child was born, Abraham knew that it was a wonderful grace gift of God. It’s God's grace that has brought this child into their lives. He knew. And Sarah, his wife, knew that this is nothing but grace. Despite the failure, God's plan progressed. The nation was being built one person at a time and Abraham now had a legitimate heir. And through this heir, God will now be able to multiply His grace in the days to come, all right?

Fifthly, it was God's grace that would move him to see this whole plan of redemption worked out through to completion. Now, when God gave Abraham a son, He wanted to give him a revelation that it does not end with this son, but the promise goes beyond the son, to the seed that's going to come. So God is making preparations for that. And Abraham is not going to be able to see it because in his lifetime, it's not going to happen. It's going to take many centuries. And God wanted to give him a vision of that.

So God tells him to take his son and to go and offer him in a mountain that He’ll show him. So Abraham travels there three-days’ journey. What a tough thing it would have been. Child sacrifice was common in those days among the people in that area. And people thought that God was displeased with them in some way, therefore, the gods are extracting some kind of a punishment from them. And that is why this kind of sacrifices were made, they thought. I don't know what Abraham thought. It would have confused him very much. When God said, “Go offer your son on the mountain that I'll show you,” he goes to that mountain.

And on the way his son asks, “Look, we have fire, we have wood. But where is the sacrifice for the burnt offering?” And Abraham opens his mouth and says, “God will see to it. God will provide for Himself a burnt offering.” And so the go up and there he builds an altar, puts his son on top of it, ties him up, and is ready to kill him. Raises his knife and God speaks to him, says, “Stop. Don't kill your son.”

So he gets his son up. And by the time he gets his son up, he sees there in the thicket, a ram is caught and already ready and waiting there for him. God has provided. Before he ever got to the mountain, the ram got there somehow, waiting for him there. Amazing.

And he took that ram and sacrificed it there and named that place Jehovah Jireh, which means God will provide. And it really means God gets ready to provide even before the need arises, which is what that story shows really. Before Abraham went up to the top of the mountain, that ram went up to the top of the mountain and was waiting there, caught in the thicket, ready to be offered as a sacrifice. When Abraham went there, it was already there waiting. That's the way the Bible presents it.

So Abraham takes that offers it as a sacrifice. And what God was saying through that was this, when Abraham took his son out of the altar and placed that ram and killed that ram upon that altar and shed its blood and burned it as a burnt offering, he was able to see dramatically that God has got a plan of redemption. And that plan of redemption means this, that it's not Abraham’s son or anybody's son, but in the place of all of us, another lamb is going to be given as a sacrifice. The Lamb of God is going to die in our place as a sacrifice. That's why Jesus says in John chapter 8, Abraham saw my day, and he rejoiced in it. Abraham literally saw that Jesus would come. He would come as the Lamb of God, He'll take over the sin of the world, He'll die in our place. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins shall die. But we will not die. He will die in our place. He will take our place that we will be set free. And this is the solution that God has for the sin problem.

Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Sin tries to completely destroy mankind and completely ruin mankind. But God has great and wonderful plan to save unworthy sinners that He’s going to send His own Son. He has prepared the Lamb of God and kept ready. He is going to send. God gave him a vision of what is going to happen. Amazing. That was a wonderful experience for Abraham.

Abraham finally dies at the grand age of 175. And by that time Isaac had fathered two sons of his own. But the promises that God made to Abraham had not been fulfilled yet, such as that He will make his name great and all the families of the earth will be blessed through him, that he will possess the land that was promised. All these promises were not fulfilled at the time. But through his descendants, these promises will be later fulfilled.

But it will be fulfilled not because of any worthiness or some extraordinary qualification on the part of Abraham. It will be fulfilled because God, the gracious God, God of grace has made a promise. And Abraham, an ordinary man, a sinner, has believed the promise of this Almighty God.

That's the story. With this, the cleanup has begun. Work is not over yet, but the cleanup has begun. Son is born. A revelation is given about the Lamb of God that's made ready. And all of this is going to happen. A vision is granted to Abraham of all that is going to happen. So the common thread throughout that is grace.

Look at this. Because of grace, Abraham was chosen. By grace, he was declared righteous. By grace, Abraham was provided for and protected even in spite of his failures and disobedience. And it is by grace that God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son after all the blunders that they did. And it was God's grace that is going to continue to work and carry this fulfillment of this promise that God made to Abraham to final completion in the end. It's God's grace that's going to carry it out. So the story line is about grace. The entire thing is about grace. From the choosing of Abraham to the end of that promise, it's all grace.

Now God's interaction with Abraham…what happens between God and Abraham here in this story cannot be overemphasized because we've studied it many times. And now we're studying it to understand grace. We have studied it to understand blessing. We have studied it to understand faith. Now we're studying to understand grace. And it's one of the stories that the New Testament uses extensively, particularly Paul uses it. And others also use Abraham, mention Abraham because he’s their father, right? He’s called father Abraham, father of the Jewish race. All right.

So the story of Abraham and his connection with God or his interaction with God is given deliberately in the Bible to teach us certain things. Why? What does it teach us?

In and through the life of Abraham and His interaction with him, God teaches how God establishes relationship with people, how a sinner can come and have right standing with God. The ground rules for that is made known through the story of what happened between God and Abraham.

See, by the time that Paul was preaching, the 1st century, the Pharisees and the Jewish people began to believe that it's the law that justifies them. And so they emphasized the law very much. But hundreds of years before God ever gave the law, before God ever gave the 10 commandments, God gave Abraham the gift of righteousness, right standing, a right relationship with God, access to God.

The law was not there. It is not by depending on the law that Abraham received this ability. It is not by observing the law that Abraham entered into a friendship with God. See, this is what this story that talks about Abraham's relationship with God shows us very clearly.

How does one have a relationship with God? God established His relationship with others, even today, not based on rules. It's not a rule-based relationship. It is a promise-based relationship where a person comes and believes in the promises of God. And that is how he enters into relationship with God. That is how we are saved today. That is how we enter into a relationship with God. That is how we are born again. Not by the law, not by the deeds of the law, not by the works of the law. But in the 1st century, by the time the 1st century came around, people, the Jewish people were thinking like that. It's the law that qualifies. You got to be qualified according to the law. They made a religion out of it, rule-book religion.

That is why it's important to realize that when God established His relationship with Abraham, it is not with a rulebook. It was long before 10 commandments came.

No rulebook, then what? Simply God gives a promise. Promise to who? Promise to an unworthy person, promise to a sinner, promise that he’d never even sought for, never even asked for. But God comes and gives His promise. God draws him to Himself, promises him that He will do this and that and makes a covenant with him and enters into a relationship with him. It's amazing.

If a relationship with God can only happen through rules, then God would have shown it in the life of Abraham. He would have come with some commandments to Abraham, like 10 commandments and given it to him and said, “If you do this, then you can have a good relationship with Me. Otherwise, you cannot have it.” But God didn't do that. The entire cleaning process did not begin with a list. It began with God establishing His relationship with a man, God coming to a sinner, calling a sinner to come and follow Him, calling a sinner to come and believe in Him, giving a sinner the promises and asking him to believe in Him.

Let me read to you from Romans chapter 4. Hundreds of years later, one of Abraham's descendants, Paul, is now in a big battle with the Jews. The Jews are saying, “Well, the law is supreme. The law of God, that only qualifies a man. Only through that you can have a right relationship with God. A man can be justified only through the law.” That's what they were saying. But Paul was going and preaching that man is justified not through the law, but by faith in what Jesus Christ has done. You simply believe what God's grace has provided and that is how you're saved, not through the law. They were saying, “No, it’s the law that qualifies, law that justifies.” Paul was saying, “No, it’s faith through which man is justified.”

Now, in Roman chapter 4, he presents the strongest arguments against justification by works of the law and in favor of justification by faith in the gracious promises of God, in what God has done. Look at chapter 4. What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our father according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. He says, “Our father Abraham, look at the case of our father Abraham,” and they all respected Abraham and they would listen if you talk about father Abraham.

He says, “If Abraham was justified by works,” that is the works of the law, “he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Abraham had nothing to boast before God. Because why? For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

If you work towards your salvation, then that is not the gift of righteousness. That becomes your salary for your work. That becomes something that is due to you for all your works. To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift, but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

What he's saying is, “Look, how was Abraham justified? Abraham didn't even have the law. Abraham lived before the law, before Moses. Moses only brought the law, 10 commandments. Then how did he get saved? How was he justified? Not by the law because there was no law, not by works. In fact, he was unworthy, he was a sinner. How was he justified? He believed God.” Believed God and therefore he was justified, he says. So he makes the argument that Abraham lived before the law came, before Moses, and therefore, he was not justified by the law.

But then he uses another example, the example of David. David is a man who lived under the law. He was born after the law came. He was obligated to the law. He lived under the law. How was he justified? He says, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” He’s quoting the psalmist, David.

How was David saved? He says he’d lived under the law but he was not saved by the law. Living under the law, how was he saved? He says his deeds were forgiven, covered. The Lord did not count his sin against him. How? Not because he observed the law perfectly. That is why the Old Testament times there was law, which accused them and said they were sinners. And side by side there were sacrifices. And when they shed the blood and stood there and say, “I believe that this is how God forgives. There is a Lamb of God that takes away my sins and I believe that. It's by God's grace.” A when you believe that, that is how you are saved.

And David was not saved by keeping the law. Even living under the law, he was not saved by keeping the law. He was saved because God has forgiven his sins, did not count his sins. He covered his sins, he says. Amazing.

Even today, God offers men relationship with Him based on this kind of a thing. Not by the law, not by your works, not by your worthiness, not by your qualification, but based on His grace, which comes to an undeserving sinner and promises things and the person believes. And by believing, he’s saved and he’s counted as righteous.

But in a world of sin, where sin has reigned, people think differently. They think, “Well, my bad conduct displeased God. So I cannot come to God. I cannot have a relationship with God. So if I need to come to God, then I must clean up and act good, do good, do the works of goodness. That's how I can come to God.” And so they get off on works. And they think that's the natural way to come to God. But that's religion. But the living God comes to people. He initiates a relationship with people just like he initiated a relationship with Abraham.

How does one get saved today? People get saved today because God comes just like He came to Abraham, knocking on his door. Even though he was unworthy sinner in the world of sin, God comes to him and says, “Come. Leave everything, your old ways, your old everything. Come and follow me. Come believe in me. This is what I will promise you. You believe in me. If you believe then I will declare you as righteous on that basis. I know that you're a sinner, but you'll be justified by faith.” This is how God offers.

Now, the God who came to Abraham on that day is coming to people today. He has come to me. He has come to so many people. He has knocked on the doors of our heart. He has called us, invited us into a relationship. How did we get saved? Not by our great works of righteousness, not by doing good. No. It is by believing in what God has done for us, in the grace of God. By believing in the love of God, by believing in God who forgives.

And works is something that comes later. Because you become a child of God, now you begin to do good works. Later you begin to live for Him, so that you be just like your Father, just like your God. That is how you do good words. You don't do good works in order to qualify for salvation.

Now, I say to you today that God is knocking on people's hearts today. The God of Abraham is knocking on people's hearts today. And if you open up, He will come in. He will bless you. And whatever ruins sin has brought about in your life will become nothing compared to the glory and the beauty and the honor and the dignity that God, through Jesus Christ, will bring in your life. That is grace. God will do it for you. God will do it for anybody who comes and says, “Lord, I'm a sinner. I believe. Be gracious to me, O Lord. I receive your forgiveness. Come into my life. Bring your blessings into my life. Transform my life. Make me a new person.” And God will do that today for you.

Let's pray.

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