Hello people, I have now got all four parts of Grace Encounters for you, here is part 1, all these 4 parts are by a brilliantly anointed Biblical lecturer Arthur Meintjes. As I would like to make this more engaging and so I will be speaking directly without quoting the speaker.
Let us read Romans 5:15-19
15 But the two are not the same, because God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. It is true that many people died because of the sin of that one man. But God’s grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. 16 And there is a difference between God’s gift and the sin of one man. After the one sin, came the judgment of “Guilty”; but after so many sins, comes the undeserved gift of “Not guilty!” 17 It is true that through the sin of one man death began to rule because of that one man. But how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.
18 So then, as the one sin condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act sets all people free and gives them life. 19 And just as the mass of people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way the mass of people will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.
The spotlight is on verse 17, with this we begin this four part series of Grace Encounters for a New Beginning – turning dead ends into New Beginning, am sure that the Jesus believers out there have experienced this and know what am talking about, looking back at your life seeking God, you would surely have seen good growth in God. I am talking of situation that bring change and rapid growth in people where God is concerned, yeah ‘God moments’ is what you would call them ‘Grace Encounters’ is what Arthur calls them.
Encounter by definition means to ‘run into / collide with’ unexpectedly; the idea of the Grace Encounters series is to make known God’s ‘goodness / grace / unmerited favour /mercy / forgiveness’ that we collide with in seasons of life especially when we feel farthest from God.
Let read the story of Saul from the New Testament.
1 In the meantime Saul kept up his violent threats of murder against the followers of the Lord. He went to the High Priest 2 and asked for letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.
3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed round him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” he asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. 6 “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men who were travelling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone.
This Saul, who later came to be known as Paul, was a man zealous about God, he was a man who held on the Law dearly and saw himself to be perfect in the eyes of the Law of Moses. Being somewhat of a religious fanatic he felt as though he needed to do something for God, which God was not doing for Himself!! but was counting on Saul to do. This is a characteristic feature of religiosity, people feel that if God’s doing nothing about something, whatever it may be then God is expecting help for it to be done, as though God need’s help to function.
To share a few juicy tit bits about the early Church, I would like to tell to tell you that they were known by outsiders as the “followers of the Way”, you can see this in verse 2 of Acts 9. The Bible says that the Church is an institution of God & it is God’s desire for the Church to remain in existence. The identity of the Church is not in a particular construction but a body of people who believe in Jesus, the Son of God, as the only salvation that is from God & upon this belief the Church is built, which breaks through even the house of Satan to save souls.
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
So you see anyone who comes against the Church is actually whether he knows it or not, coming against God. Religious Saul had such views of God, that Saul though God paid death as fitting price to all His enemies. So he blindly did the same to the Church because he thought they were against God. As you may have heard people turn out to be just like the god they serve. You see Saul asked for letter of approval from his religious houses to persecute the Church because according to His religious view that is what God would do to those who were against Him & that is why during the stoning of Stephen, Saul stood in approval, watching over the clothes of those who murdered whom he knew not was a man of God. In all his life as unbelieving Saul, he thought himself to be mercenary for God; doing what he thought was God’s dirty work, thus helping his god stay clean.
Saul had such a strict view on the Law of Moses that he felt it applied to everyone even those who knew nothing of it. According to the Law certain sin was punishable by death and to Saul people could never have an excuse such as they dint know. Death was what he thought was how God answered rebellion. From verses 3 & 4 of Acts 9, you can clearly see that Saul in a matter of seconds realized his blunder that his persecution of the Church was actually going against God, he instantly falls to the ground expecting death right there because to Saul the biggest thing about God was not love but wrath. This encounter of Saul with Jesus was that of grace and this changed his entire life.
My hope for you is that in the next 2 days that you too have such an encounter with the grace that comes from Jesus, which you will never recover from & which you will never get over. May you come to enlightenment knowing that everything in the kingdom of God focuses on the cross and the finished work of Jesus Christ. Having an encounter with grace is not about some shallow encounter with some doctrine or law but a destiny changing encounter with Jesus Christ.
Let’s read John 3:16-17
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its saviour.
The word “world” in the above scripture indicates people, meaning that God sent His Son that people may know that they are safe when it comes to God. Even sinners whether Christian or non-Christian; are safe with God. Jesus came so that the world might know that they are safe with God. People, any people are in no way inferior or damaged in the eyes of God.
Take the example of Saul’s experience in His encounter with Jesus. God was in full right to annihilate Him right then & there but instead God asks Paul to rise & Paul instead of being condemned is given such a privilege, that it turns out that he winds up writing 2/3 of the New Testament, preaching the Good News of eternal salvation from Jesus to different Churches & looses his life holding on to his faith in Jesus.
Looking through history and the world even today; we must come to realize that no human being can live an emotionally stable life while living under the impending judgment of God. We are in need of such encounters with Jesus that make known to us the unmerited love and favour God has shown us in Jesus. If you find this concept of a gracious God very alien as it may not match certain religious views then my advice to you is repent – change the way you think because God is no stick holding policeman. The world is so full of emotional disasters, these are on a high one moment and down in the dumps the next moment. Their living environment is to them a bed of nails, they are not at peace with it & to say the least they are not at peace with God, though they may not admit it.
There is a story told of very successful lawyer, who looses everything, his wife leaves him and loots him in divorce. He is advised to live in obedience to the will of God. This advice he takes with a pinch of fanatical religiosity. Sometime he’d be on his way to a restaurant & he would turn back thinking that that was probably not God’s will for him and so he would then turn heading in the opposite direction to another restaurant. Needless to say, in a matter of a few months he lands up in an asylum.
There are also certain stories told of religious prohibition of going to the movies (theater). The Bible teaches that we have a God to leads His people to green pastures; our provision comes from Him & so there is little sense in depravity due to religious belief, when it is God Himself providing for you. Religious bondage was never a solution for sinful desire.
From John 3:16, we can see that God so greatly prized the world that he gave up His only begotten Son. This is the love the Bible speaks of that God has for man. God did not decide to redeem man, thinking of cost effectiveness or limiting the damages. He did not send some angel serving in some corner of the universe that no one would miss; no the kingdom of God is very differently from this world’s so called corporate religious beliefs. When it came to saving people, God said that he would send One through whom all things exist, God was going to bankrupt heaven, this is the value God has for people. Christianity is not about people working to be put right with God but about God working on the cross to save people, indicating Him to be a God of action rather than just sitting back in approval. If you are feeling let down today or feeling farthest away from God then let me tell you that God gave up on His Son Jesus just for you & that is how much he loves you. God did not limit the damages when it came to saving you. What He paid for you cost Him everything, He put His identity in the line of fire just for you. When Jesus came He was tempted & thank God He did not fail for if He did then everything God has & is would have ceased. God valued you and me so much that he paid the ultimate price that you may have the same life that sustains God eternally (John 3:16).
This is your Encounter of Grace with this great God (Father Son Spirit). So no matter who you are whether rich / poor / sick / healthy / addicted / abused / mental / handicapped, you may not be cared for by the world but you are precious in the eyes of God & He will let you know how precious you are when you encounter Him.