God Determined Grace; Romans 9:15-16
January 1, 2012

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2012

God Determined Grace
Romans 9:15-16

For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.' So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

          Grace has a mind all its own and is on its own course. It is God determined. No one advises grace as to what it will or will not do. Grace, though, is in charge of more things in God's kingdom than what the church has been taught. For one thing, it does not take the counsel of any man. Grace goes where man gives up and swells the recipient's faith to the point he or she is able to be on overcomer. When man judges a situation as unsolvable, grace rushes in and stops the action and supplies the answer and men stand overwhelmed by its power. Grace has been God determined before the foundation of the world, and it trumps the feeble resolve of desperate souls and demands redemption, restoration and relief. Grace chooses its own subjects and carries with it mercy, love, forgiveness and truth. It stands in the way of the avenger. It defies satan and renders him unable to continue his plans. Grace bursts through walls of self-erected defenses and establishes a presence that permeates the situation in order for vistas to appear where dead ends were once the only option.

O' the power of Grace--- it goes into impossible realms and declares immediate sovereign victory.

It is God who directs His grace toward those the world has discarded. His grace resurrects them from the grave of poverty, mental illness and death. Grace is part of the person of God. God sits upon its throne and its power is absolute. No issue is too complex and no venue distant enough to exclude its presence. It is greater than the greatest sin. It is the ultimate good news, for it is called the "gospel of grace." Grace speaks and salvation comes running.
Acts 20:24
nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Man can do nothing to summon it; he is powerless to stop it; Man cannot persuade it or change its mind. Man cannot manipulate it or change the direction of its course. Man cannot command its presence or diffuse its effect.

Grace moves on the determined path of God and is the highest appeal heard in His court. It permeates everything in its presence. It seeps into every nook and cranny of man's existence. There is no arena where Grace cannot establish a presence or a circumstance where Grace cannot demand a different outcome. Grace saturates the soul and becomes the chief consideration of every action regarding the believer. It draws from the depth of God's inner person and allows man to receive revelation hidden from angels. Grace is what I am talking about.

Grace motivates the higher and holy life. It keeps stacking upon itself until a stairwell to the highest goals can be reached from the lowest hell. "Grace upon Grace" is what the scripture says ("grace unto grace ...charis anti charen [Greek])." It means grace stacked up, piled up. It is mountain high grace. Its riches have no number and its venues are inexhaustible.

Regardless of the measure used by man to formulate his appraisals of others, grace extends itself into the equation to change the formula! Grace's companions are all the attributes of God and all the gifts of the Spirit and all the resources of heaven and all the power of the Almighty. They are wrapped in its bosom. Grace is more than a resource to be relied on at church invitation time; it is dynamic all of the time and is unafraid to use the armies of heaven to bring its rule to man.

Grace, I am telling you, is not a static doctrine living in some religious library of ineffectual spiritual tools---it is what Paul invoked for every epistle he ever wrote. Grace is mentioned more often in his works than any other word. He knew it was grace that intervened on his behalf and changed him from Saul the salacious to Paul the gracious. Paul said that redemption bows at Grace's feet and must be recognized in every spiritual transaction.

When Paul wrote: "In Him we have redemption through his blood," he finished the sentence with "according to the riches of His Grace."
Ephesians 1:7-8
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence
O' reader, take note of the latter portion of this scripture. "He made the riches of grace to abound toward us" while bringing with it wisdom and prudence.
Ephesians 2:4-7
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the 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 in Christ Jesus.
Paul was responsible for 112 of the 156 times the word grace appears in the New Testament---his life, his writings, his theology, his mission and his future lay in the arms of grace and he knew it. Are we greater than Paul? Have we reached a plateau so high that we are not humbled by Grace's portent in our own lives? Are we saying to the world, "we have outgrown grace?" How can this be?

Grace and the gospel are inseparable. Grace and the blood are inseparable. Grace and mercy are inseparable. Grace and truth are inseparable. Grace and love are inseparable. Grace is the prime ingredient redeemed man must use when he ministers, for it is what God uses to minister to man.

Grace is the ultimate weapon of the believer.

Simon asked, "Shall I forgive seven times?" Grace answered, "NO, seventy times seven." Jesus ministered through Grace, and we must minister through it as well. John 3:16 could not have been written without the music of Grace as its background. The Covenants of the Bible are marinated in it. We must be defined by it.

If faith is a substance, then grace is substance of the same order. Grace is not ethereal; it is real and tangible and can be applied like faith to any situation. It abounds, and through it, the redeemed reign. Paul, seeking to show the vast power of Grace, juxtaposed it with sin. He showed whereas sin scarred, poisoned, devoured, ravaged, killed and destroyed, Grace entered to repair, be the antidote, restore, heal, raise and build.
Romans 5:20-21
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul, just three verses ahead of this, said:
Romans 5:17
17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

According to Romans 5: 21, Grace reigns. Grace issues God's decree for redeemed man to reign and it is done. Similarly, Grace empowers man's words and enhances man's deeds and they are established. Reigning through grace is different from the triumphs being assured in pulpits across the world today. Reigning through grace pays homage to the truth that man can do nothing apart from the Spirit of grace. Grace-reigning utilizes every spiritual resource named in the Bible. (They are not called the "grace gifts" for no reason.)

Grace is undefeatable and indefatigable. Grace reigns. God's grace does not fall short or fall to the ground-it, like the Word, reaches its goal and accomplishes its task. (That is why when man judges another's efforts to be the least "likely" of enterprises-grace carries those efforts through.) Grace propels the Holy Ghost inspired works of the saints into a realm of success deemed by many as the miraculous. (John Lake was a prime example.) Grace covers the saint and covers his actions, and no man can stand in its way.

© Guy T. Rowe
(Strangely enough Job is a perfect example. Grace hedged him about, and inside that hedge was vast wealth and prosperity. When satan was given permission to test him, grace hovered over Job, limiting death and bringing him closer to the "values of the most High." Then grace restored him. Grace did not leave Job during his difficulties; neither will grace abandon the saint in times of trial. The saints live by God's grace and the constant realization that they are being brought to the fullness of Christ by its mercy and love.)

Grace is indefatigable; it never grows weary. Did He not say, "I will bless to the thousandth generation them that love me?" Grace extends from the foundation of the universe to the bringing in of the New Jerusalem. There is no place it cannot go, no situation it tires of; it knows no aspect of mankind that it cannot change.

Dissect now the passage in Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2:4-7
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the 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 in Christ Jesus.

(1) God, who is rich in mercy
(2) because of His great love
(3) exceeding riches of His grace
Paul's complex sentence grasps the powerful motivators of the living God: Mercy, Love and Grace. His Mercy and Love are destined toward one goal, "that He might show the exceeding riches of His grace." There it is. Saints do not beg for His mercy or pander His love---they have it (and so with Grace). Great joy for the Lord will be in reviewing the "riches of His Grace" in the "ages to come." I don't think modern saints grasp the force of this passage. Grace is inexhaustible. Its supply is vast and greater than pulpits have heralded or saints known.

Grace is pointed and directional. I mean by this, that grace always has a grasp on its position both in time and history. It is not some "universal" truth found in Everyman. It is not the "light" within every created being that somehow illumines them inwardly toward some transcendent state whether that state is defined as success or religious nirvana. The New Age thrust to redefine Grace has a chilling effect upon the work of the Spirit and makes man the interpreter of its application and direction. Grace has one purpose: to bring the saints to the place of fullness that Jesus Christ occupies.

There is a passage that must be reviewed at this point.
Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ
The sequences of scriptures following this passage have been such pulpit favorites that attention has been diverted from the total picture. Verses 12 & 13 of that same chapter give direction:
Eph 4:12-13
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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:
Grace is pointed toward Jesus and His fullness. Grace aligns its path to accomplish this goal. It is THE goal of grace. Modern theology twists grace to be a vehicle to add standing to man and his pursuits. Though grace is about man, it is about the perfect man The perfect man is its goal. The perfect (grown up in grace man) attains to, "The stature of the fullness of Christ."

The early gospel writers said it a bit cryptically, but succinctly:
John 1:16-17
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
John knew that grace stacked upon grace came to them (the early disciples), and they did not miss any of the fulness of Christ. They knew their ministry was pouring out from that fullness, and it was the result of grace upon grace. (Thousands of folks in Christian ranks have none of this fulness to work from. Thousands of pastors, leaders and churchmen have no personal fulness pouring out grace upon grace to those who encounter them. Listen, this is a serious matter. Because the fulness is not present, grace is not being ministered.)
(Oh, that these words would ever course toward some soul who has never experienced ministry through the fulness of Christ, but desires a deeper walk with God...my advice to him would be to read this treatise again and again until something swells up inside and allows that fulness to express itself in a ministry of grace! Experience "grace upon grace" personally and soon the heart will develop that certain softness that grace alone can produce. Wait upon it. Then link with heaven and minister grace as it rushes from beneath the throne (Ezekiel 46) and let it pour through you to some soul or some group or some congregation. See the difference!)
If "The Ministry" is imparting grace to the hearers, why then do so few minister with this goal in mind?

The answer lies in the redefinition of both subjects: ministry and grace (for when the direction of one changes, the other follows). When ministry and grace are aligned under the Spirit, grace takes the lead and ministry follows.
Eph 4:29-30
29 Let no corrupt* communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
          *Corrupt: worthless
How grieved the Spirit must be at what is ministered broadly in congregations and groups today! I firmly believe the nature of worship and the direction of services would be greatly altered if the following passage was implemented.
Col 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The model for ministry must indeed return to its roots among those of the early followers and away from the strident efforts of man to mesmerize the public through meaningless functions. Grace must return to its proper standing and dominate the intentions of church leadership. The actions of Grace must again characterize the church.

The book of Acts characterized the early church in terms of grace "Great Grace was upon them all (Acts 4:33)." How long has it been since a congregation has been so characterized? According to Scripture, signs and wonders follow THAT KIND OF GRACE.
Acts 14:2-3
3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Paul's ministry was characterized by grace.
Acts 18:27-28
he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;
I attest to you this day, the trend to redefine Grace is an attack to uproot Christianity from its foundation in the grace of God. Paul wrestled with the Judaizers over the grace matter early on and answered them with the purest of grace definitions:
Acts 15:5
(Some said)" It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them (the Gentiles) to keep the law of Moses.
(Paul responded) Acts 15:10-11
Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."
Christianity today is rife with "add-ons." The bulk of rules, regulations, approval methodologies and ludicrous schemes have robbed the people of the ministry of grace. This very thing is what called for the Reformation centuries ago, and it again calls for the same.

Paul wrote:
Acts 20:32
32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
He then defined the "Word of His Grace" as:
Romans 3:24-25
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness,
Why do systems and structures feel compelled to "add" anything to Paul's declaration?

Seeing the gospel of grace clearly put forth, how then can modern interpretations of grace become a vehicle for Warrenesque manipulation? How can such be tolerated? Somebody must apply the brakes, lest the run away train of popular interpretation carry the church into the arms of the anti-Christ. Grace will never lead the body of Jesus Christ into an interfaith unity.
Romans 4:4
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt
The book of Romans might be interpreted to be a documentation of the grace of God in conflict with any religious structure that seeks to redefine God's work. In the past, the Jews with their huge ideologies had been adding Talmudic Law to the Scripture. When the preachers of God's grace came against them, they expressed little tolerance for their message. They were afraid. Grace would have erased them. Grace always overcomes the "add ons" and guts their premises.

Opposition to the gospel of grace still seeks to present its formulas and solutions; they still are afraid of the freedom found in the word of grace. (Their programs would stand to be canceled and their agenda's would have no money supply. ) That is why I say: Let grace do so again! Let grace reign in our hearts and reign over our spirituality! Let grace mount its rightful place in the order of our worship and daily living.
Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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