Sunday, October 18, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 61:1-3 (NASB). The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. The Spiritually Destitute At some point during the early years of Jesus’ ministry here on the earth, he quoted the first half of this passage in reference to himself, i.e. that this prophecy was fulfilled in him (See: Luke 4:14-21). He is the one on whom rested the Spirit of God, for he was fully God, yet fully man. God the Father dedicated his Son to a very specific purpose, which is laid out for us in these verses. First, God the Father anointed his Son to preach the good news of the gospel to the afflicted (to the spiritually poor and destitute, meek, and/or humble). So, who are these who are spiritually poor and destitute? Well, for one, they are sinners. When God created mankind and he placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he gave them instructions on what they could eat, and what they could not eat. Then, the devil, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to eat of that which God had forbidden. Adam was present with her during this temptation, and he also ate of the forbidden fruit. Up to this time, humankind was free from sin and was in perfect fellowship with God. But, now they sinned against God, and their sin thus separated them from that pure fellowship with their maker. So, God banished them from the garden, and he put a curse on them and on their descendants, and on the earth. From then on, all who were born on the earth were born with a sin nature, separate from God, without hope, and destined for eternal damnation. They are also the people of the entire world, for God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (See: 2 Pet. 3:9). “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). He sent his Son, Jesus, to the earth to take on human form, to suffer as we suffer and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was sent here to die on a cross for our sins, so we could be set free from the power of sin over our lives. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died once for the sins of the entire world (See: 1 Jn. 2:2; Jn. 1:29; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:18). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over our sin, death, hell and Satan. By his stripes we are healed! Amen! Freedom for Captives So, because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire world, are all people saved? No! “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Only through the shed blood of Christ on the cross for our sins can we be saved from sin and have eternal life with God in glory. We can do absolutely nothing to earn or to deserve our salvation. No amount of good works will ever save us, because our good deeds will never cancel out our bad deeds. Our human righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. So, how can we be saved? It is only by God’s grace, through faith, that we are saved, yet even the faith to believe is a gift from God, yet a gift we must willingly accept and appropriate to our lives. So, what is faith? For one, faith is not absent of deeds. James said that faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. He said that even the demons believe there is one God, and they shudder. He said about Abraham that his faith and actions were working together, and that his faith was made complete by what he did (See: Jas. 2:14-26). Hebrews 11 is considered by most believers to be the “faith” chapter of the Bible. It lists for us many of the saints of old who were honored for their faith. In most every case listed, their faith and their actions worked together hand in hand. Imagine if Noah said he believed, but he never built the ark. Picture this: If Abraham just claimed to have faith, but he never went where God told him to go. Suppose Moses said he believed, but he did not go to Pharaoh and he did not deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt. By faith, all of these people obeyed God. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who persist in conducting our lives according to the Spirit. If we persist in walking according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). When we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ro. 6; Eph. 4:24). Our faith is shown to be genuine by what we do. Faith without deeds is dead. A Crown of Beauty In other words, God the Father sent Jesus, not just to give us freedom from hell and the hope of heaven when we die. He sent him to heal us, and to deliver us out of our prisons to sin while we still walk the face of this earth! Amen! That is GOOD NEWS! We are released from darkness through faith in Jesus Christ, so that we no longer have to walk in it, but we can now walk in the perfect light which gives freedom. This is true grace, which sets the prisoner free, and does not leave him bound in his sin. It does not ignore sin, placate it, or overlook it. It continues to encourage us to walk in that freedom and to not return to what we were like before Jesus set us free. This is the comfort we receive from God when we mourn over our sin. He not only forgives us, but he sets us free from our prisons. That is cause for rejoicing!! It is NOT true grace if it leaves us still bound in our sin! In place of the weight of sin is freedom as light as walking on air. In place of guilt over sin is peace. In place of mourning and grieving over sin is joy and gladness. In place of a life lived in the ugliness of sin, we receive a crown of beauty, i.e. we receive Christ’s righteousness, which is credited to our accounts. Instead of feeling oppressed and burdened by the weight of our sin to where we feel utterly hopeless, and useless, we are now the Lord’s, and are his vessels for his purposes and for his glory, to bring forth the light of his truth and of his gospel to a world which is drowning in sin and despair. We can give them hope, but true hope which sets the prisoners free, not a false hope that promises them heaven but still leaves them in their sin. It is no hope at all if we give people feel-good messages which promise them heaven, but we don’t tell them the truth of the gospel, which means death to sin so that we might be alive with Christ and walk in the freedom of the Spirit. Amen! Your Grace Divine / An Original Work / November 6, 2011 All I have is Yours, Lord. You gave all to me, When You died at Calv’ry On that cruel tree. Crucified for my sins; You paid what I owe, So I’d be forgiven; My God come to know. All I have is Yours, Lord. You gave all to me, When You died at Calv’ry On that cruel tree. Lord, I am so thankful For Your grace divine. I invited You, Lord, In this heart of mine. I have been forgiven For all of my sins, So I’d live with Jesus; His grace flow within. Lord, I am so thankful For Your grace divine. I invited You, Lord, In this heart of mine. Growing in Your grace, Lord; Live for You each day; How I love to worship You throughout my day. Sitting at Your feet, Lord, List’ning to You speak, Leads me to love You, Lord, More throughout the week. Growing in Your grace, Lord; Live for You each day; How I love to worship You throughout my day.