The Spirit of Grace in His Church

A little over six years ago I went for a walk with a very good friend of mine. I valued his opinion greatly. I considered him to be somewhat very wise and as I walked with him he said to me, you are not going to go to heaven. I thought what sort of a friend was that? Being the Seventh Day Adventist that I was I was highly offended that anyone would even dare to tell me something like that so I said to him, why not? Come on, tell me why? So he reasoned with me and said there is no rock and roll in heaven, there are no V8 Cars and he went through a list of things that were dear to me. He said God is a God of love not of force and when we come if you have a like for rock and roll and there is no rock and roll in heaven then he can’t take you to heaven because when you get to heaven and there is no rock and roll you are going to be very unhappy. He reasoned with me that when God comes if he was to reach into my mind any of my desires give or take, it would be force. As he talked he seemed to become very depressed with himself because he also liked rock and roll and cars.

Being the Seventh Day Adventist I thought I was I offered up a prayer and I said, Lord my dear friend is deluding himself, he is scaring himself out of heaven. Please can you give me some words of comfort that I can speak to him? Indeed words of comfort for me as what he was sharing was so logical. For three hours we walked and not a single response came and he talked and reasoned and the clouds grew darker till it almost rained. I couldn’t argue with his logic. He departed and I went home. I was wondering why no answer came to me from God that I could give him to comfort him in the darkness. As I contemplated and reasoned it through I came up with two reasons. The first reason I didn’t have a close enough relationship with God for him to be able to work through me and secondly maybe he was right. I pulled out my Bible and dusted it and I thought well, what must I do to be saved? I remembered the story of the rich young ruler so I found it after much searching and there Christ said to the rich young ruler, sell all that you have, give to the poor and follow me. Just a few months prior to that I had bought myself a big TV, DVD player, surround sound stereo system, a play station and rock and roll. I had everything my heart desired but to sell all and give to the poor and follow me? I looked at my stereo and at my Bible and looked again at my stereo and I shut my Bible and put it aside. Many months afterwards I discovered the truthfulness of his logic.

In his sinless state, man held joyful communion with Him “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3. But after his sin, he could no longer find joy in holiness, and he sought to hide from the presence of God. Such is still the condition of the unrenewed heart. It is not in harmony with God, and finds no joy in communion with Him. The sinner could not be happy in God’s presence; he would shrink from the companionship of holy beings. Could he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy for him. The Spirit of unselfish love that reigns there –every heart responding to the heart of Infinite Love –would touch no answering chord in his soul. His thoughts, his interests, his motives, would be alien to those that actuate the sinless dwellers there. He would be a discordant note in the melody of heaven. Heaven would be to him a place of torture; he would long to be hidden from Him who is its light, and the center of its joy. It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them. {SC 17.2}

God will not change me at his coming. God does not force or take into heaven something that would disturb not just the peace of heaven but the only joy that people have in themselves.

If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth. The traits of character you cherish in life will not be changed by death or by the resurrection. You will come up from the grave with the same disposition you manifested in your home and in society. Jesus does not change the character at His coming. The work of transformation must be done now. Our daily lives are determining our destiny. {AH 16.2}

I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. {EW 71.1}

But that is what Sr White says. I like my rock and roll and my fast cars but that’s what Sr White says. So what saith the scriptures then?

Leviticus 19:2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God [am] holy.

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

If the Father is holy and perfect and I am in heaven and am not, then there would be a continual disharmony between him and I. The scriptures are blatant, be ye therefore perfect, be holy. I cannot add or take away. I must read it as it reads.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

These texts are very straight forward aren’t they? Denial, sacrifice and giving up those things that are dear, it seemed to me that life was not going to be easy. But grace, I’m saved by grace. A glimmer of hope, I’m saved by grace but I know what else it says.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

God in his mercy, his big infinite heart of love even though I was a sinner he raised me up.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Isn’t perfection a working of that which is right? But here I can’t be saved by my works, I’m saved by grace. It sounds so comforting doesn’t it? How much of Christianity today revels in grace? What are you worrying about they say, you are saved by grace. They say you are falling from grace if you are trying to keep the law. Have fun, live life, do as you please and you will be saved. These are the teachings of the religious circles of today. Indeed it was a teaching that I was brought up under. The great scholars of the world the learned men and those who have been educated in the best theological institutions but how many of them have looked up the word grace in the dictionary? The Miriam Webster’s dictionary which is known as the dictionary of the English language has been around since the days of the interpretation of the Bible or close to it, describes grace as this – “Unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

For what purpose? Regeneration or sanctification. What is sanctification? It means if you are sanctified it doesn’t it mean you are righteous and righteousness is right doing. Grace according to Miriam Webster’s is unmerited assistance given humans so we might be perfect. But that is the dictionary. What then does the Bible tell us? By grace I am saved. That’s what it tells me. Not by works and unless I am perfect I can’t see God and go to heaven. There is something here that I need to understand more clearly. How am I saved by grace then? What can I learn from the bible about this saving grace?

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Grace is manifold. What does that mean? There is one inlet and many outlets. We have manifolds on our cars. One exhaust comes out of the back and if you have a six cylinder then six outlets/inlets where the exhaust goes through. Grace is manifold. It has many different functions. What else does the Bible tell us about grace? It is the gift of God. When Christ departed from this earth he promised he would send his people a gift. What was that gift?

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

That gift of the Holy Spirit is referred to as the spirit of grace.

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

God would give us a gift, a gift of the Holy Spirit and that gift of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace. How many Spirits are there?

Ephesians 4:4 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

How many Spirits? One Spirit. There is one gift, one grace and yet manifold grace? Is this Spirit of grace of whom there is only one, is he manifold?

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

Many gifts but one spirit. Much grace, manifold grace. If I am saved by grace and I need to be perfect when Jesus comes then it is necessary to serve a purpose of making me perfect. Would that be a correct assumption? The gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of grace is manifold. As there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit there are many graces but only one. How then will this grace with diversities of gifts make me perfect?

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

All these gifts he gave are diversities of gifts but one Spirit, the Spirit of grace coming out through the numerous outlets. For what purpose are these gifts?

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

The gifts that God has given in his church serve the purpose of perfecting the saints. Is that not what the work of grace needs to be? Perfecting. The Holy Spirit the Spirit of grace has given some apostles, evangelists, teachers and pastors for your perfection and this simply put is the work of grace. By grace are we saved. Some may say the church cannot save you. By saying that all these gifts and all these graces of the church are going to save you, you are saying the church can save you but that is not what is said. We are saved by grace and the Word of God is very clear and definite.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

It is very straight forward. It says by grace are saved through faith. I am saved by grace how? Through faith. Evidently I can’t have grace unless I have faith. From where comes faith?

Romans 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If we are to have grace, we must have faith. If we are to have faith we need to hear the work of God.

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Grace comes by faith which comes by hearing which comes by the preaching. Can I have grace without a preacher? Without a preacher I can’t have faith and without faith I can’t have grace. It seems evident that I do. So he gave some apostles, prophets and teachers.

Grace is a Teacher

What does grace have to do with teachers? Grace is a teacher and guess what it teaches?

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Grace has everything to do with a teacher. A teacher and grace has everything to do with our perfection as grace teaches perfection. He gave some prophets. What do prophets have to do with grace?

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here the testimony of Jesus has to do with being blameless when Jesus comes as without holiness we can’t see him. What then is the testimony of Christ?

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

In order that I come behind in no gift that grace which is given us by Jesus Christ will even confirm in us the Spirit of Prophecy. He gave some apostles, some prophets, some teachers.

1 Corinthians 12:29 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

How then can the Spirit of Prophecy if gifts that need to be confirmed in me that I come behind in no gift? If all these other gifts are given to others how can I have it when the gift of prophecy is given to every man severely as the spirit of God wills? Are all apostles and prophets? The scripture says no they are not. The manifold Spirit of grace has distributed the gifts diverse from one another. So how then can the Spirit of Prophecy be confirmed in me? And much more so how can I come behind in no gift if one is given to one and another given to another?

1 Corinthians 12:20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.

The grace of God is manifold. There are many gifts and graces but only one spirit of grace. As with your body, you have two arms, two legs but only one body. If there is but one body, but many members then all those members are part of the same body. Even though there are many graces there is only one grace. Therefore that manifold body and grace of God, each member of that body is what makes up grace. One has one gift, one has the other gift and we are to come behind in no gift therefore through the body we become as one. Therefore if the diversities of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the different members of that body all contribute to the grace that saves, how would we regard each other?

1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked: 

If you were to close your eyes and try and walk a straight line, you can’t do it. Straight is the path and narrow is the way. You need your eyes to walk that path. The feet may be fine and they may walk but not know where they are going. Those members of the body which seem to be feeble and unnecessary. Why? Because they are different gifts of the manifold grace of God. By grace are we saved, we can’t do without one another. The different members of the body whether comely or not are necessary.

Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Who has grace? Everyone one of us has grace and it is according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

If the church has the Spirit of Prophecy and if I am a member of that body and each member is one of another then that gift of prophecy will be confirmed in many.

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

In that body are different members with different gifts and each gift has a particular purpose. Gifts differing according to the grace given us. What is the purpose of those gifts? The talents that you have, the experiences you have made with Jesus and our experiences we express according to our talents, if you are a writer good at writing, you write it out in story and testimony. If you are a painter you paint it. There are many different gifts of grace.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

To profit the entire body. The eye on its own is useless unless it has something to guide. The foot on its own is useless unless it can see where to go or else it will stub its toe. Therefore what is that profiting? What is true profit? It is everlasting life, eternity with Jesus. That is the purpose of the graces that we have. We have but one grace manifold. Many gifts but I need in order to be saved because grace is a culmination of all the talents that he has given in his church.

Each one of us is but an avenue of the spirit of grace and according to our experiences we express it according to our talents and you have a perfect one, a perfect grace which saves us. With such contemplation can we ever write someone else off? Can we ever say to someone you are useless? Each one has grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Each one of us has received talents and grace and made experiences. My experience is only part of the grace of God. Your unique individual experience has been given to build and to add to my experience to make a perfect whole.

Gifts to Profit Withal

Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

A diversity of gifts. For what purpose?

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Each one of us has an element of grace. Grace is manifold and when it comes in combination then they serve for the perfecting of the saints and for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come in the unity of the faith. Not till just one of us comes in the unity of the faith but till we all. It is a body working together.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

A manifold starts in one and goes out in the body and it comes out from the head.

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

We have been given grace to minister it to one another not to keep it to ourselves because if I keep it to myself and if you keep it to yourself then we are not going to supply that which is necessary that we might edify in love and that which is necessary that we might be perfected and blameless when Jesus comes. We know the prayer of Christ.

John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

He has given us gifts that we may be one. Without each other, without your and my grace combined we do not have saving grace. Saving grace is the working of the body, a people all contributing one to another.

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Yet we are saved by grace. I have received grace and so have you but we are only stewards of that grace, we are to minister it to others. This is the gift of God. God’s gift to me is you and I am God’s gift to you. When we come to such an understanding, aren’t we going to view church relations as truly a gift given of God in love? We get gifts given us and we love it. Why not love even more a gift given for my perfection that I might be profited with eternal love. When we truly take such an appreciation on board, then those things that are uncomely to us will be beautiful. Those things that we consider of not being of any value they are so precious.

Whether they be the elders and leaders of the church to the quiet ones who clean the toilets and wash the dishes, they all have something to offer to mine and your salvation. We all have something to give and even if we think it’s but two mites, the number is not made up without it. May we not write anybody off as Christ is there and says lo I come quickly, I want to come quickly waiting to see if his people reflect his image or not. When we really take this on board, what a power will the church be. The whole world will be absolutely dumbfounded. They will be awed and stand a gasp and say behold how they love. We know when they say that Jesus himself will see it too and he will come and take us home. It is my prayer this will be our experience.

Amen.

Posted on February 28, 2011, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Bongani Ndwandwe

    Beautiful sermon. I know clearly that God will not force me to play in His team, but I must choose to play there and fully give myself to the team

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