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Genesis Framework Part 22


The Meaning Of Grace


Genesis Framework

GF 22 Meaning of Grace
January 24, 2016
Part 22


Do you think you are totally free from influence from tradition in your application of biblical truth in your personal life?

For example, are you willing to reject a definition of the word “grace” appearing in your Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, if the meaning presented there is shown to be contrary to the Word of God as defined in the Holy Scriptures?

grace n. in theology, a) the unmerited love and favor of God toward man. b) divine influence acting in man to make him pure and morally strong. c) the condition of a person thus influenced.

Be careful where you get your theology little children.

Dictionaries, while intended to help us by recording the current usage of words in our language, should not be used as a source-book from which to form correct personal theology; as they can also be misleading.

The covenant order in its original created form was already one of beatitude, a state of blessedness.

The creation covenant also contained the provision of a probation period in the form of a grant making it possible for Adam, as servant-son, to make a significant advancement in attaining kingdom-glory of the promised Sabbath rest, by the process of confirming himself in the
blessed state and advancing him toward the consummation of his beatitude for eternity, making this provision contingent on Adam’s obedience, under the governmental principle of federal representation of all mankind, with the outcome of the probationary test to be
imputed to all who would follow, as opposed to requiring probationary confirmation on an individual basis.

This idea is properly called a covenant of works.

In order that this issue be settled without prolonging the probationary period indefinitely, God arranged to test Adam’s obedience by bringing the probation to a turning point where a decisive response from him would be unavoidable.

The Lord did this in two ways.

1) God added a special negative prohibition to the general positive obligations of the creational covenant.

While this stipulation had a special function to bring the probation into a concentrated focus, God did not simply reduce the covenantal obligations by replacing them with this one requirement alone.

2) God subjected man to a direct satanic solicitation to disobedience, not unlike that to which Christ was subjected.

Adam, like Christ was placed under a covenant of works probation. In the same manner, God’s old covenant with Israel was a covenant of works, and though in an adapted sense, it was a re-enactment of man’s original probation and fall.This is the analogy that Scripture gives us in its interpretation of the mission of Christ as a second Adam; the difference being that Jesus succeeded where the first Adam and Israel failed.According to the terms stipulated by the Creator, the creational covenant of works is on the ground of man’s faithful completion of the work of probation that he would be entitled to enter the Sabbath rest. f Adam had been successful in obediently performing the assignment signified by the probation tree, he would have received, as a matter of pure and simple justice, the reward symbolized by the tree of life.

There is no other way to say it other than Adam’s successful probation would have been meritorious. So, what principle was operative in order for Adam to attain to the consummation-kingdom of heaven as offered in the blessing sanction of the creational covenant?The principle was “do this and live” – the principle of works.

When we say “heaven is neither earned or deserved,” we are being a little sloppy theologically.

So with good reason covenant theology identifies this probation arrangement as a covenant of works, and it therefore stands in sharp contrast to the Covenant of Grace.

It may surprise you to learn that this standard Reformed analysis of the covenants; that is, sharply contrasting a principle of works as the opposite of the principle of grace, has come under attack from various theological groups from within what was previously considered the
broadly Reformed community.Many notable theologians reject the Covenant of Works concept, by considering it impossible that man
could merit reward and try to compel us to attribute whatever blessings man enjoys entirely to divine grace.

They even go so far as to appeal to the very beginning of man’s existence, and to the nature of God the eternal Creator, that it is inconceivable that He could ever be further enriched from any source outside of Himself.

Their argument needs to be presented in various theological contexts in order to grasp its true colors.

One way they put it is to say that in granting His blessings of His kingdom God has never dealt with man on the basis of law, only on the basis of grace.

Another expression; paternal love informs all such transactions as eternal blessings bestowed and fatherly beneficence is not compatible with the legal-commercial notion of reward for meritorious works.Another appeal is to the fact that man cannot possibly add to the riches of God’s glory.

But, think about this.

Although Adam could not enrich God by adding to His glory, it was nevertheless precisely the purpose of man’s existence to glorify God, which he does when he responds in obedience to the revelation of God’s stipulations.

Then God performs justice, and man receives his proper desert and God glorifies the man who glorifies Him.So the conclusion is drawn that in the covenant relationship in all its forms, we must recognize everywhere the presence of an operative principle of “grace,” and therefore we may never speak of meritorious works.

This argument has gone so far to the extreme of suggesting to think that obedience of man, even as in pre-fall Adam, might ever serve as the meritorios ground for receiving the promised eternal blessings, is to be guilty of devilish pride or worse.

The fact is, the works principle is foundational to the gospel, and to repudiate the works principle altogether and deny the possibility of any kind of meritorious works subverts the gospel.

Jesus, the second Adam, regarded His works as meritorious and claimed for Himself the Father’s glory on the basis of having glorified the Father.

John 17:4-5
4 "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
5 "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Also, in the Mosaic economy, while it was an administration of grace on an abstract level, the stipulations for entering into the promised land
(the figure of entering God’s rest in a glorified state) were informed by the principle of works, not by grace as the controlling administrative principle.

The creational covenant was a matter of works; it was an aspect of God’s creational love, but it was not a matter of grace.

Consider this; if meritorious works could not be attributed to Christ Jesus as second Adam, then obviously there would be no meritorious achievement to be imputed to His people as the ground for appropriating their justification.

This will help clarify what I’m talking about.

Grace lives and moves and has its being in a legal or forensic environment.

Grace is the antithesis of the works principle.

Grace does not exist except in relation to the rendering of divine judgment on situations involving acts of human responsibility, acts of man as accountable to God for compliance with appointed duty.

Grace only exists in situations where a judgment has been made, according to works, in the face of violation of stipulated moral-religious duty rendering demerit.

In a works environment either man produces merit or demerit, there is no such concept in all of Scripture as “unmerit.”

When an accountable response to a covenantal duty is expected in the form of obedience, obedience brings merit, and failure to perform the duty incurs demerit.

Unmerited is not a proper description of the blessings of goodness of God shown in the act of creation, since there can be no thought of merit at all in that context.

When we insist on using confusing language we potentially create a destructive river flowing with misunderstanding and misconceptions that can erode our perception of the character and person of God.

For example, we might carelessly speak of God’s acts of Creation as love “unmerited,” but this kind of expression would be better to avoid.

The goodness and benevolence of God in the act of creation is His expression of divine love, but not His grace.

In creating man with glory and honor is a marvelous manifestation of God’s love, but it had nothing to do with human merit or demerit.

Think about this; without prior existence, man was obviously without merit-rating one way or the other.Unfortunately we insist on commonly defining gospel- grace by the term unmerited.

So when umerited is also used to describe the divine benevolence in creation, an illusion of similarity is created as the term grace is applied to God’s goodness.

This produces the basis for a totally false argument that, since “grace” is built into the human situation at the outset, the covenant that ordered man’s existence could not be a covenant of works, because works is the opposite of grace.

See how much confusion this produces.

Here is what I believe is a distinctive meaning of grace that is biblically-theologically correct:

grace n. in theology, a) a divine response of favor and blessing in the face of human violation of obligations.

Failing to make a careful distinction between the love of God and the grace of God is at the root of all kinds of faith-problems in the church today.

This blurring of meanings feeds debate between things of grace and things of work, and promotes the lie that grace covers all situations. We have become so indoctrinated by a false understanding of grace that we cannot even tolerate the idea that we might be able to earn anything by works.

I also believe that the blurring and lack of distinction between the love of God and the grace of God is the root problem that continues to feed the argument of those who shudder at the thought that any believer could ever earn rewards from God by being obedient to the stipulations of
His new covenant, and forbids the idea that obedience is mans way of expression to glorifying God, and denies that God would glorify man who is obedient, that this idea can only be attributed to “legalism.”

By this thinking, the notion that God will someday reward those who are obedient to His expectations, is lost, and has no place in influencing a believers behavior.

Many will be surprised on the Day of Judgment when they discover that it was just as the Word of God says; only the righteousness of Christ is able to save you.All men are sinners and no one can save himself. God is just, so He must punish sin; but He is also merciful, moreover gracious, and offers His Son as the perfect sacrifice in order to purchase a place for you in heaven, which He offers to you as the free gift of eternal life. As we continue to examine man’s earliest duties with regard to the covenant of works, although they can be categorically divided into two distinct types of classes; one in relationship with God, and the other in relationship with fellow man, all covenant stipulations are expressions of the will of the Lord. The law of the covenant is the law of man’s image-sonship.

Jesus is God Incarnate

In order to pay the debt of our sins, He came from Heaven, having been sent by the Father, where He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father even unto the shameful death upon the cross in order to pay the debt of your sins.This gift must be received by faith, believing that Jesus’ perfect life and Cross Work was His complete and necessary Atonement for your sins, in your behalf.Faith is a gift that comes by the Power of God the Holy Spirit working in a person’s innermost being. The Holy Spirit has the authority and power to quicken your dead spirit, to make it come to life. If you have not done so before this moment, ask Jesus to forgive you your sins, tell Him you’ve stop trying to be your own savior, and ask Him to come into your life right now, and to give you eternal life. Then, in faith believing, thank Him for the gift that He is giving you, the one He paid for in full in your place, in Jesus’ name,AMEN


Copyright January 2016
Rev. Jim Craig
All Rights Reserved


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