“A Favour” ( Romans 4: 4-5, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Ever done a favor for someone; perhaps even for a stranger, someone who may have knocked at your window at a stoplight to ask for money? Paul says this is what God does for us, strangers, even enemies. God does a favor for us! He makes sinners “just men.” We are not due this favor; we do not earn it. In other words, our salvation is not a reward. Rather it is a favor.

The reward given to one who works to earn it is not reckoned as a favour, it is reckoned as his due. When a man’s faith is reckoned virtue in him, according to God’s gracious plan, it is not because of anything he does; it is because he has faith, faith in the God who makes a just man of the sinner.

We gain God’s favor by recognizing, if you will – by believing that it is a favor. We recognize and believe God does us this favor “according to [His] gracious plan.” Paul says that “it is not because of anything [we do].” Yes, it’s a favor.

 

“Deprived Of Divine Splendour” ( Romans 3: 23 – 24, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“For all alike have sinned” — not some, but all. “And [all] are deprived of the divine splendour,” separated from God the Father by that very sin. “And all are justified by God’s free grace alone.” The grace of God — although free — is priceless and the only requirement for justification.

That we attempt to add to God’s grace is a huge waste of energy and time. “What room is left for human pride? It is excluded. And on what principle? The keeping of the law would not exclude it, but faith does. For our argument is that a man is justified by faith quite apart from success in keeping the law.” (Romans 3:27-28)

In addition to this principle,”God’s act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam’s wrongdoing.” (Romans 5:15) “The gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man’s sin; for the judicial action, following upon the one offence, issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a verdict of acquittal.” (Romans 5:16)

We are acquitted. The judge has struck the gavel and declared us ‘not guilty.’ “The conclusion of the matter is this: there is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

“The Good Portion” (1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3, ESV) by Carley Evans


“If I have not love, I gain nothing.”

Paul is very clear in his letter to the Corinthian church. You may be able to speak in tongues with interpretation for the edification of others; you may be able to give all your possessions; you may be willing to sacrifice your body for the glory of the Lord — but, if you have no love in your heart, then you gain nothing.

Martha invites Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet “and listens to His teaching.” (Luke 10: 39) Martha is busy with serving, distracted. She is also resentful that Mary is sitting while she is working. She asks the Lord to intervene, but He says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 41 – 42)

The good portion is Christ Himself — not what we do for Him; but what He does for us.

The one who loves most is the one who is forgiven the most. Jesus says that those of us who are keenly aware of our need of His forgiveness are those who are the most grateful. David is a man after God’s own heart. Why? Because David is acutely aware of his need of God’s grace. As we are aware of how much God loves us, though we are undeserving, we are able to love others, though they may be undeserving.

We are to forgive as we are forgiven.

Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus responds, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18: 21, 22)

Love keeps no record of wrongdoing. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 7 – 8)

“Access By Faith Into This Grace” (Psalm 86: 5, ESV) by Carley Evans


David sings, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 86: 3 – 4)

“Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.” (Psalm 86: 6)

“For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”

David relies on the grace of God. David trusts in God’s abounding and steadfast love available to “all who call upon [Him].” David knows God is “good and forgiving.”

Paul writes, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we obtain access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5: 1 – 2) “For by grace you are saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 8)

Peter exhorts, “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 13)

Paul and Peter, along with David know and proclaim that God’s grace is sufficient. Our hope rests on God’s gift which is His “steadfast love” and His “good and forgiving” nature. Let us rejoice. I say it again: Rejoice and be grateful.