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Grace

Opening prayer:


Father, thank you so much for granting me the privilege of bringing your word to your people. Now this is your word and this is the message that you have given to me for the blessing of your people. I have prepared for this lesson the best I know how, but I cannot do this myself. I only ask that you will do it through me.


One of the most amazing verses that I know of in your word is Psalm 138:2 where you say:


I will worship toward thy holy temple,

and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:

for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.


God, we know how great your name is, and yet here you say that you have magnified your word above all thy name. How great your word is! I pray that as we go through this short lesson we will keep this in mind. When we study and meditate upon your word, or when we hear your word taught or preached in truth we are truly standing upon holy ground.


And you have also said in Psalm 119:18:


Open thou mine eyes,

that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.


And that’s my request this morning, that you will open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of thy law. I thank you for these things in the name of your blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. To you be the glory. Amen.


Message:


In Isaiah 28:9 & 10 God says:


Whom shall he teach knowledge?

and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?

them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept;

line upon line, line upon line;

here a little, and there a little:


Understanding God’s word is often a building process (“line upon line”). We are first going to look at a portion of a verse which will become the foundation for this lesson, and we will look at this portion of this verse in three lines. The first line of this scripture is:


For it is a good thing


God is about to tell us of something that is good. Now if God says that a thing is good, then it is good, and we ought to want to know what this good thing is. Do you want to know what this good thing is? Let’s build a second line onto the first line:


For it is a good thing

that the heart be established


Now I don’t believe that the heart that God is talking about here is that heart of which he speaks in Jeremiah 17:9:


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?


Surely that cannot be the heart whose establishment God says is a good thing. So what heart is it that God is speaking of here? It must be the new heart that God gives his child when he is born again. God speaks of this heart in Ezekiel 11:19:


And I will give them one heart,

and I will put a new spirit within you;

and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh,

and will give them an heart of flesh:


It is not a hard (“stony”) heart, but it is a soft heart (“an heart of flesh”) whose establishment is a good thing. A soft heart is a heart that is yielded (surrendered) to his will. This surrender is spoken of in Proverbs 23:26:


My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.


Now what does God mean when he says “that the heart be established”? To be established means to be settled (not subject to further questions or doubts). God teaches us this in Deuteronomy 19:15:


One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin,

in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses,

or at the mouth of three witnesses,

shall the matter be established.


You see when this matter was established the “case was closed”. So God wants our new heart to be established, settled within us.


This establishment also speaks of something that is lasting. In Psalm 93:2, God says:


Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.


God’s throne is established. It is lasting. God wants our new heart to be established in this way also. Now, once a person is saved he is saved forever, but he can yield to the desires of the old heart. This will tend to establish the old heart rather than the new heart.


Allow me to paint you a word-picture of what to me is an earthly example of establishment:


I love to hike. One of my favorite hikes follows a trail that passes under a huge oak tree. This tree is massive. Each one of its main limbs is big enough that it could be a very large tree in itself. I believe that the rangers estimate its age at 500 to 1000 years old. It was probably alive when Christopher Columbus landed upon the shores of our continent. Some of its huge roots are exposed and they have such an appearance of weathered age that they look similar to the granite boulders around which they have grown over the centuries. This tree is settled. It is lasting. It is established. It is a good thing that it is established because…

Its beauty and grandeur bring glory to God.

It provides much food and shelter for its neighbors.

Its establishment is a blessing to the tree itself.


The establishment of the heart is similar.


So, we’ve seen that God is telling us of something that is good: the establishment of our new heart. And surely we should desire that our new heart to be established. But how does our new heart become established? With what is it established? Let’s build the third and final line on our three-line scripture foundation as seen in Hebrews 13:9:


…For it is a good thing

that the heart be established

with grace…


With grace. With grace! That is how the heart is established.


I think that often what happens in the life of a Christian is that they begin with grace, but don’t grow much in grace. It is obvious that grace is essential for salvation, but do you know how important grace is to us after salvation? My friend, I want to tell you that you cannot outgrow grace. You cannot outgrow grace.


Consider this: the Apostle Paul was one of the greatest servants of God. He was used of God to lead the greatest missionary effort of all time. Much of the New Testament which we read today came through Paul. Surely Paul was a great servant of God. How did he become great?


But by the grace of God I am what I am:

and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;

but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I,

but the grace of God which was with me.

1 Corinthians 15:10


Consider King David also. He was the leader of the greatest nation on the face of the earth. He was one of the greatest military leaders of all time. God gave us wonderful portions of the Old Testament through him. How did David become great?


Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up,

and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Psalms 18:35


Thy gentleness hath made me great. Thy gentleness hath made me great! Now, gentleness and grace are not the same, but grace is gentle, so I believe that it was grace that made King David great also.


Here’s a verse that may speak to you who are singers, musicians, or choir leaders more directly than it may speak to some of the rest of us:


It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD,

and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:

Psalms 92:1


I love the godly singing of the choir. It has been such a blessing to me. It is a good thing. It is a good thing! Well, what we’ve been talking about is another good thing that God speaks of:


…For it is a good thing that

the heart be established

with grace…


Now, let’s look at some of the scripture that God has given us which shows us how important grace is. There is so much that God tells us of grace in his word.


Grace is through Jesus Christ alone

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 1:17


If you want to know what grace is, you need to take a walk to the foot of the cross. Here are some of the best paths that I know of to lead you there: Isaiah 53, Matthew 26 and 27, Mark 14 and 15, Luke 22 and 23, John 18 and 19, and Hebrews 10: 1-23.


We are saved by grace!

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:5


We are justified by grace!

That being justified by his grace,

we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:7


Grace is given to the humble

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:

for God resisteth the proud,

and giveth grace to the humble.

1 Peter 5:5


We are accepted by grace (I love this verse)!

To the praise of the glory of his grace,

wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:6


Grace is abundant!

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant

with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I Timothy 1:14


Grace is sufficient!

And he said unto me,

My grace is sufficient for thee:

for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

II Corinthians 12:9


Grace is not works (I love the simplicity of God’s word)!

And if by grace, then is it no more of works:

otherwise grace is no more grace.

But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:

otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 11:6


Grace is available!

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy,

and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16


Grace is essential for growth and service!

And now, brethren, I commend you to God,

and to the word of his grace,

which is able to build you up,

and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Acts 20:32


Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,

let us have grace,

whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Hebrews 12:28


Grace brings joy

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.

Colossians 3:16


Grace gives hope!

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father,

which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation

and good hope through grace,

II Thessalonians 2:16


Grace brings freedom!

For sin shall not have dominion over you:

for ye are not under the law,

but under grace.

Romans 6:14


We are stewards of grace (and this is a key verse in this lesson):

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another,

as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I Peter 4:10


We cannot minister to others if we do not have grace in ourselves.


You see my friends, from the preceding scripture, how essential grace is in our lives. We cannot outgrow grace.


Now let’s enter into the last portion of this lesson. This portion of the lesson is going to be very repetitive. I’m not apologizing for this because repetition is often an important element in learning. God often has to speak to me over and over again until I understand what he wants to tell me. I don’t believe that I am alone in this, for the scripture says:


For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

Job 33:14


Consider Psalm 136 as a clear example of God’s use of repetition in his word. Every one of the 26 verses in Psalm 136 contains the following statement:


for his mercy endureth for ever


God wanted us to get that message so he gave it to us twenty six times in a row.


The Apostle Paul understood the importance of repetition:


Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Philippians 3:1


“To write the same things to you”: that’s repetition. Paul said that this wasn’t grievous to him (it wasn’t a burden or a bother to him), “but for you it is safe”. It is safe for you and for me to see how important grace is to us. God wants us to see this and he uses repetition to help us see this.


Consider this also before we return to the scriptures: In written communication, what is stated first is very important (it gets the reader’s attention and lays a foundation for that which follows). What is stated last is also very important (it tends to be what the reader will remember best, and what may make the most lasting impression upon him). In the New Testament there are many instances where “grace” is spoken of in the beginning of a book, and there are many instances where “grace” is spoken of at the end of a book. This should tell us just how much God wants to impress grace upon our hearts. Let’s consider the scriptures on grace that occur at the end of books, and when we do so, let’s remember that this is the word that God has magnified above all his name.


The fourth from the last verse in Romans:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


The second from the last verse in I Corinthians:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


The last verse of II Corinthians:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.


The last verse of Galatians:

Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.


The last verse of Ephesians:

Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.


The last verse of Philippians:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


The last verse of Colossians:

The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds.

Grace be with you. Amen.


The last verse of I Thessalonians:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.


The last verse of II Thessalonians:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


The last verse of I Timothy:

Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.


The last verse of II Timothy:

The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.


The last verse of Titus:

All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all. Amen.


The last verse of Philemon:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.


The last verse of Hebrews:

Grace be with you all. Amen.


The third from the last verse in I Peter:

By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose,

I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying

that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.


The last verse of II Peter:

But grow in grace,

and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.


Now a man might reason within himself that these verses are just closing statements of common courtesy, just the Apostle Paul’s customary way of ending his letters, but with no real significance beyond this. But this cannot be true for we see grace not only in the closing of Paul’s letters, but in Peter’s also (and we shall shortly see that the Apostle John used this same type of closing). It is not the work of man’s hand that we see here, but God’s. For this is the word which God has magnified above all his name. Brethren, be still for a moment and consider the importance of last words, and then consider how often we find grace in these last words…don’t you see that at this point in the lesson we are standing upon holy ground?


But there is more. Please consider this: What if you were to write a letter to someone who was very dear to you (perhaps a close family member, or dear friend in the faith) and you knew that this was the very last letter that you would ever write to them. Wouldn’t you think very carefully about the last words that you wrote? Wouldn’t these words be ones that you considered to be very important?


Do you remember the scripture that I quoted in my prayer before this lesson?


Open thou mine eyes,

that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18


Now, wouldn’t it be wondrous, I mean wouldn’t it really be wondrous, if the very last words that God wrote to us in his book were words of grace? Would that impress your heart in a way that would make you understand how important grace is to you? Would it?


Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation 22:21. This is the very last verse in the entire Bible.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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