Grace – Part 3

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Gen. 5:24

In concluding this series on grace, let us see what grace is. In the first place, notice that the Bible talks of the grace of God, and not another. In other words, grace is of God. Man has no grace in himself. Man without God is mere flesh; and the carnal mind, or the flesh, is actually enmity with God (Rom. 8:7).

That means that if you want grace you go to the Lord. And that is why all those good people you see walking by are not so good, after all. Those smiling and good-looking people you see out there are capable of doing anything. The most peace-able people have been known to commit the most unbelievable atrocities.

In any case, crime or no crime, man without God has no grace in him. Even if he does not commit a crime all his life, still man cannot walk in the righteousness of God and he cannot do anything that pleases God. That is why we believe on Jesus and there begin our journey of living a life that pleases God. And, once we believe, the door is open for all to join the race of grace and win big!

Grace is therefore a work of Christ in a man’s heart. But it is Christ crucified, and not another. This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is a result of a work in our hearts, a work of the cross.

In Galatians 1:15-16 we read of Paul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me…”

Notice that Jesus was not revealed to Paul, but rather He was revealed “in me…” There is a big difference there. In the first place, when Paul talks of a revelation, he was not talking about visions. He was not talking about a vision of Jesus Christ, however “spiritual” such a claim might be. Christ would appear to Paul in visions many times later; but at that particular moment, it was not a vision of Christ that he saw. Here Paul was talking of something far more profound, far grander. He was talking about a work of the cross in his life. That is what he was talking about.

In other words, when Paul says he met with Christ on the road to Damascus, he is saying he met with a work in the Spirit. It was his heart that was confronted. It was not a physical encounter with a smiling Christ as we most likely are tempted to think.

But let us move on. The Apostle Paul was as much human as you and I and, as much as he recognized the beauty of this grace that the Lord presented him with and desired to walk in the fullness of it, yet at the same time he wanted some relief in the flesh. The Lord told him you cannot have your cake and eat it. You have to choose one of the two.

Paul chose to walk in the grace of God. God told him, “OK, let me show you how things work out around here” – and God immediately plunged a thorn into Paul’s flesh. In other words, in desiring to walk in the fullness of the grace of God, Paul allowed God to deal with his flesh. And God leaped at the opportunity afforded by Paul.

God got to work in Paul’s heart, and He actually sent a messenger of Satan to deal with Paul’s body. Can you imagine that? God sent an emissary of the enemy to buffet Paul! That is certainly not good news!!

You can imagine the fury and vengeance with which this messenger must have descended on Paul. Ka-boom!! By the time he would end his ministry Paul was in bad physical shape, literally. He had been battered and pounded and pummeled, and you just have to wonder how strong physically Paul was!

But the worst suffering that Paul endured was not the physical suffering. Rather, it was the opposition that the gospel itself received, so much so that with those whom Paul managed to reveal the gospel of Jesus to, many would begin reneging on their first faith and turn to deviant gospels. And Paul was compelled to go back and lay the foundation of Christ anew.

Paul suffered so many things for the sake of the gospel. You can read about it in 1 Cor. 4:9-13, 2 Cor. 6:3-10, 2 Cor. 11:23-33 and in many other scriptures. These were the circumstances under which the cross would work in Paul’s life to reveal the grace of God. Paul had no other way of arriving at God’s grace.

That is why, in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul himself “… determined not to know any thing… save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Christ had revealed to Paul the single avenue to carrying His grace. It was through living the crucified life. A life where we are daily denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ.

It is therefore evident that all the Godly men of old, since Abel, to Enoch, to Noah, down to our generation, have received a revelation of the crucified life just as the Apostle Paul received it on the road to Damascus. They understood the cross just as he understood it. These people suffered the same way that Paul did. And they also preached the message of the cross to the men of their generation.

The apostle is the messenger of God to reveal the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul proved faithful to his calling in this regard.

Is it too much for us today to desire to know nothing apart from the cross of Christ – the message that Paul faithfully represented – wherein we also might receive the same grace, the grace to live a life that would please the Lord?

[I love the sentiments expressed in this song. It’s a work of grace, and it’s got to come from the heart!]

Grace – Part 2

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Gen. 5:24

Enoch, the Bible says, “walked with God”. What does that mean? Pray, how does one walk with God?

The way this phrase is put in the Bible, it talks of fellowship. It talks of two people who are completely agreed, completely as one. If God is a God of grace, then for someone to “walk with” Him, it would only mean one thing: that the man (or woman) who “walked with God” was loaded – loaded with grace! Enoch, therefore, was a man of grace. He was full of the grace of God!

Because Enoch had so much grace, he daily walked in fellowship with God. Every day, he was able to please God. He did and thought and said things that immensely pleased God.

There are people who think that being a worship leader or being a pastor pleases the Lord. No, it does not; and certainly many of the things that we are or that we do do not please God.

I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt exactly what pleases God. What pleases God is when we are carrying His grace in our hearts. That pleases God more than anything.

I am not certain, but I don’t think there is anywhere else where it is stated in the Bible that someone “walked with God”. It probably also is not important for us to know whether or not Enoch was the holiest person who walked on the earth, given that no account of his life is written in the Bible. But to read in the Bible that he walked with God, we can only conclude that this man lived an immensely exemplary spiritual life.

One can only walk with God if that person has grace! You cannot walk with God if you are a person of, or under law, or if you are a sinner. God loves sinners; but He is not going to shake any sinner’s hand and pat them on the back and tell them we shall meet on that wonderful shore. No. On the contrary, God tells that person to repent, and to turn from his evil ways. That’s God’s grace at work. But people today are foundering their own versions of grace, where God loves the sinner so much He is going to overlook their sins even if they don’t repent. But that’s trying to make God senile, and God certainly is not senile.

As far as I know, only the blood of Jesus washes us of our sins, not any ridiculous form of love.

In the third part of this rendition, we will see exactly what grace is.

And now, with Enoch, suddenly, one day, “… he was not; for God took him”.

This proves that Enoch walked in the grace of God while he was here on this very earth. The phrase “… he was not” means he disappeared – disappeared from the earth.

There are believers today who are “hibernating” spiritually down here, somehow misunderstanding scripture and waiting for that grace to be revealed in some distant time capsule, or in heaven. But that’s a big miscalculation, for we see that Enoch did not wait for such uncertain times. And he certainly did not “hibernate”. We see that while he was here on earth, Enoch “worked” the grace of God. Enoch walked and lived and worked in the grace of God.

And then, one day, God just came down and swept up this Enoch from the earth. Whether Enoch died a natural death of whether he was taken up alive like Elijah we do not know.

But it is clear that Enoch walked with such grace before the Lord that a time arrived when God got beside Himself with love for this man and He told him, “Friend, today I am not leaving without you. Let’s go away and live together forever!”

That’s what it means when the scriptures say that “God took him”.

The truly amazing thing in all this saga is that God took Enoch to go live with Him forever. Can you imagine that? Forever!! Most of us are in a such a hurry to get to heaven we do not pause to consider that if God is going to live with someone forever, the first thing He would do is to make sure – double sure – that He will enjoy that person’s company. That is what God did with Enoch; and you can bet your last dollar that God has the best measuring tools available anywhere.

Are we sure God would enjoy our company?

And so, at a time when men were living here on earth for close to a thousand years, Enoch lived only 365 years – and he disappeared.

“… God took him”. In other words, God was so enamoured with Enoch, so attracted to him, that He “eloped” away with him the way a man elopes with the girl he loves. God just couldn’t live without Enoch. He needed him up there with Him!

I truly envy Enoch.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul – a true man of grace – says it were far much better for him to be in heaven with the Lord Jesus than to be down here. Words cannot express the fellowship that Paul anticipated on getting to heaven!

Let us now trickle down to us. Most of us live such legalistic and grace-less and sin-filled lives that, if we were to meet God face to face, there would be no pleasure in that encounter! Certainly not for God. I could be wrong, but I suspect that is why He is not in a hurry to bring many of us up to be with Him! He has no pleasure in the kind of lives we are living down here, how could He expect to be happy with us once we get to heaven?

There is, however, a small group of people whom the Lord does not call up to “be with Him” for a more positive reason. God allows these people to live long lives here on earth because He wants them to continue benefitting the church on earth. These are the truly grace-ful people. That was the case with the early apostles. And it applies also to the men and women of God who have impacted the church positively throughout history up to the present time.

Unfortunately, this second group is a very tiny portion of the total number of believers. A disproportionate figure is in the first category, those who are still around for a lack of grace in their lives. God is not a hurry to surround Himself with such people, and forever, at that! He gives them more time to soak in the grace that is all too readily available to them here on the earth, to be more perfected, so that when He finally calls them up to heaven, they will bring Him as much joy as Enoch did – and still does.

[Below: Where the grace of our Lord is to be found in men’s hearts there is love, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, and purity of heart. These were the things that Enoch carried in his heart while here on earth]

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Grace – Part 1

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Gen. 5:24

Sometimes the Lord reveals something and you wonder, how much is such a “leak” worth? And all of a sudden you realize that if all the money in the world, every last dime of it, and all the gold, and all the silver, and every kind of worldly treasure – if all of it were gathered together, it would count as nothing in the face of the tiniest bit of heavenly revelation that the Lord grants us to see in our hearts.

Today I would like us to consider the subject of grace a little bit more. There is so much the Lord wants us to know about this subject for He Himself is a God of grace. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to reveal a God of grace and truth.

Did you know, for example, that before the law came God dealt with His people through grace? For example, Abel walked in the grace of God. And so did Enoch, and Noah.

I mention these three people specifically because in their time the world was so evil, but the Lord set them apart. Not that today or in other times the world has been less evil, no. But these gentlemen had so much grace that in the midst of all the evil that surrounded them, they stood out the way a lighthouse stands out in the darkest of nights.

Just think, during Noah’s time there was so much evil on earth that only one man, this Noah, could find favor in the eyes of the Lord! That is incredible, to say the least.

And what was it with Cain and Abel? It was simply that Abel sacrificed to the Lord by grace, and Cain by law. Cain’s heart was hard and we can see it in the manner in which he sacrificed. The Bible goes to length to describe the quality of the things that Abel sacrificed. You can see the heart there.

It says nothing of the things that Cain sacrificed. When it came time to give to the Lord, Cain gave because he had to, and the Lord had not respect” for his sacrifice.

That should be an eye-opener. God has no respect for things we do or give to Him because we have to. He only respects or considers the things that we do for Him out of a heart of grace. Anything done out of a heart of law is rejected by God.

That brings us to the issue of tithing. The way tithing is done today is invariably by law. You cannot mention the tithe today outside of law.

But did you know that Abraham – through whom we first learn about the tithe – tithed to God by grace? Whether it was a revelation from God that Abraham should give Him a tenth of his spoils, or whether Abraham decided on his own account to give God that much is not stated in the Bible. But the fact is, Abraham gave to God out of a spirit of grace, and not because he had to. That would have been law, and Abraham did not walk with God through law. God called Abraham His friend. There is no way you can put law on a friend.

It could very well be that God instituted the tithe in the law that He gave to Moses simply in honor of Abraham, who freely decided to give to God a tenth of his spoils.

That is why we do not read that Isaac gave to God a tenth of whatever he got. He probably gave more – or less. For sure he did give. But one thing is clear, though. Isaac lived in a free environment with God.

When Jacob was on his way to Laban’s house, he was granted a vision of the heavens; and in his gratitude he prayed to God and promised to give to God a tenth of whatever the Lord would bless him with.

That does not make the tenth to be a law. No. Notice it was Jacob who promised to give to God the tenth. It was not God who said, “Thou shalt!” In fact, in all probability, it must have surprised God to have Jacob say and do the same thing that his grandfather Abraham did. A pleasant surprise.

In any case, whatever the reason that made Jacob to promise to give to God a tenth of his wealth, he would have been very surprised had you stood before him and used the word “must”. No, it was not a must. It was a pleasure. It was a freewill gift.

Now, today you have preachers reading out of the Law of Moses and concretizing God’s people in law. When it comes to giving and to the tithe in particular, there is nothing but law that is at work in today’s church. And God has no respect for such giving or such service. God has no respect for anything that is done through duress.

I don’t care whether you are reaping a hundredfold or not, but if you are giving because you have to, or because men are coercing you into giving, you are sinning against God.

We are called to give, yes, and God blesses us when we give, but it should always – always – be in a spirit of freedom, and grace.

In the second part we will consider Enoch.