Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Nineteen – Grace And Galatians

This article is part 20 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

(Special thanks to Jay Guinn  for his work on “Scary lessons of Galatians”. This lesson is largely from his study. Thanks Jay.) (Not all of this is Jay’s material… I have added quite a bit of my own thoughts. jhejr.)

  a.) We studied Romans 14-16 ‘Backwards’, and noted that Paul wanted us to
       “mark” (watch out for) certain ones who were DIVISIVE, acting contrary to
       Paul’s teaching on GRACE and UNITY.
  b.) Paul called the two ‘issues’ – “disputable matters” Rom. 14:1 (“disputes over
       opinions” RSV)(“passing judgment on their scruples” TCNT).
       i.) Eating meats
      ii.) Holy days
c.) Paul’s judgment on these things are found in phrases like “accept him”,
     “must not look down”, “must not condemn”, “each should be fully convinced…”,
     “not put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way”, EVEN IF YOU
d.) Key verse: Romans 14:17 Paul’s focus = UNITY, PEACE, MUTUAL EDIFACATION.
e.) Galatians = much different

1. The Galatian problem
    A. Galatians 4:9-11 “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how
         is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish 
         to be enslaved by them all over again?  10 You are observing special days and 
         months and seasons and years
! 11  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted
         my efforts
on you.”
        1.) What is the difference bet. Romans and Galatians
             a.) Romans (Paul is indifferent) Galatians (Paul is not indifferent!)
                  I.) Romans = a matter of the weak and strong brother and personal
                      preferences. Galatians is about adding to the Gospel of Christ certain
                      requirements not commanded by Paul.. (Gospel plus…..)                 
    B. Paul’s explanation
        1.) Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and
             do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
        2.) Remember Israel wanted to RETURN AGAIN TO SLAVERY IN EGYPT
             instead of PROMISED LAND.
        3.) Galatians = preferring  the familiarity of LAW (do’s and dont’s) instead of the
              challenges and responsibilities of being free!
        4.) Galatians 5:4 “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been
             alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”
        5.) PROBLEM: Galatians didn’t just want to CELEBRATE holy days…
             They wanted to be JUSTIFIED by keeping their holy days.
    C. “Justified” = “declared righteous” – Legal term – “acquittal” – a finding of not guilty/ 
         a DECLARATION of God’s forgiveness.).
         1.) This is a one time for all time action which takes place when a person is born
               again of water and Spirit (John 3; Acts 2:38-39). By the way, a Christian
               doesn’t need to re-justified (re-born) every time he sins. 
         2.) “Justification removes the guilt of sin and restores the sinner to fellowship with 
               God.” (“Grace in which we stand” Eldred Echols, Pg. 51).
         3.) “Sanctification removes the effects of sin (moral corruption, spiritual pollution) 
               moves the Christian increasingly toward identifying with the image of
               Christ” (Eldred Echols). Thus sanctification is what we grow in. Set apart for
               “good works which He before prepared for us”.
         4.)  Now these Galatian Christians are being told, that they must show their 
               salvation by OBEDIENCE and CONFORMITY to certain ‘boundary markers’ or
               fellowship. (Ie If you don’t see things this way or that and do this or that, I
               have no fellowship with you.)
         5.) “I can’t find any difference between this idea of essential boundary markers
              and “marks of the church” or “tests of fellowship” that are added to the Gospel 
              today. (Dad listed 95 issues over which the church has argued over, been
              disturbed by). It’s the exact same approach to Christianity. And Paul
              declares that insisting on any boundary marker other than faith in 
              Jesus causes one to fall from grace.” Galatians 5.
         6.) One coin – TWO SIDES or just TWO COINS. 
              a.) If you treat HOLY DAYS (or something else) AS INDIFFERENT/ 
                   TAKE IT/LEAVE IT… THEN IT IS! If you treat those who honor holy days as
                    brothers and those who don’t as brothers, then you will stand, because
                    God will make you stand.
              b.) If you treat HOLY DAYS (or something else) AS A MARK OF THE
                   CHURCH THUS added to the Gospel THEN the blood of Christ is NOT
                   SUFFICIENT to save from the “sin” of NOT OBSERVING HOLY DAYS…
                   THEN YOU HAVE bound yourself to live perfectly and keep the entire law
                    of God. 
              c.) Which of these two points (above) best describes the church today? What is
                   the only ‘boundary mark’ that Paul mentions to the Galatians? 
         D. “Faith in Jesus” includes acknowledging “Lordship of Jesus” – Within this..
              some kept special days “unto the Lord”, and some did not. God honors both. 
              Whenever a Christian refuses to work on Sunday (considering it a “Christian
              Sabbath”, God accepts the worship. He does not accept behavior that violates 
              Galatians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But
              do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another
              humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:
              “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
         a.) Principle for Christians: (Holy Days, like so many other things) are neither
              loving nor unloving. They are indeed ‘indifferent’. But if we separate from our
              brothers by declaring the ‘indifferent’ a mark of the church, then that is very
unloving — and may well separate us from God’s grace.
        b.) Galatians 5:15 “IF YOU KEEP ON BITING AND DEVOURING EACH

Grace is truly amazing, along with our freedom in Christ. It demands that we all THINK FOR OURSELVES. We have a challenge with this because we don’t really study as much as we need to, and apply scriptures and principles to our lives as we should.
Always remember, WE HAVE BEEN FREED IN CHRIST, BECAUSE OF CHRIST, THROUGH CHRIST, FOR THE PURPOSE OF BEING FREE! Take your freedom seriously (Gal. 5:1), guard your freedom courageously (Gal. 5:2-12)  and use your freedom lovingly (Gal. 5:12-13).
The idea that Tithing, Circumcision, Rules on worship styles, can be bound as law, and become lines of fellowship is wrong. Prefering to tithe on your own, is fine, but it is not necessary for salvation…. never will be. It’s the same circumcision and styles of worship etc… The Gospel is simple, and marvelous… “faith working through love” solves many problems. The division and strife among brethren, would be solved quickly with more understanding of grace and freedom in Christ… Fellowship of conscience is one thing and seems ok, but dividing the church over matters of opinion and drawing ‘lines’ is another.    
Grow in Grace brethren…

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – I Just Don’t Agree With You On That

This article is part 19 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

   The grace of God is truly amazing. Our class is almost done, but the study on grace goes on. Over the past few years I have spoken and taught on God’s Amazing Grace, one thing I have tried to consistently do is begin the class by saying, “Repeat after me, “I JUST DON’T AGREE WITH YOU ON THAT.”” The reason for this, is that for some reason we just have a hard time discussing things, disagreeing, and still loving each other.
   Grace, along with a myriad of other subjects desperately need re-studied with new truths just waiting to be discovered as to application and relationship to life. Extremes need to be avoided, and a true balance found… but none of this can take place as long as we cannot sit and discuss things together and love each other throughout the process.
   It wouldn’t be the first time if someone wrote in and said, “I just don’t agree with you on that”. I probably wouldn’t melt, so what would happen? 1. I would read the objection. 2. I would give some time to think about it, while re-reading what I had written. 3. I would go to the scriptures and see if there was something I had missed. 4. Write out my response and then think about it. 5. Respond. I usually do this be pointing out, that I don’t know it all, and could be wrong, and will re-study what I have written and get back to the one submitting the objection or question. No animosity or sarcasm need be involved…. just brothers in Christ seeking truth. If this spirit can be maintained, then we will get somewhere, and even if we agree to disagree…. we continue to grow and who knows, people change…
   What happens when brethren disagree in class or in response to a sermon etc…? Sometimes brethren get angry and walk out, or stand up (as one brother did when I was preaching a lesson on “Giving”). (To be fare, I think a lesson which goes for almost an hour would make anyone upset especially when dealing with MONEY.) I was embarrassed, cut the lesson, tagged on an invitation, and went home discouraged. Who wouldn’t?
   Acts 18:24-26 we find Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos. Apollos, a good speaker, well versed and learned man, was preaching Jesus, but he only knew the baptism of John. They didn’t interrupt him, and say, “STOP THE LESSON! That’s not right Apollos!” It seems they waited and spoke with him privately and taught him more perfectly about Jesus. (At least this is what I see.)
   Paul later wrote the Corinthian brethren in regard to speaking in tongues and prophesying, and disorderly women in the assembly…   26  What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
27  If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
28  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29  Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
30  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.
31  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
32  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
33  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34  Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
35  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36  Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?
37  If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.
38  But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.
39  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
40  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
    Obviously I Corinthians 14 is dealing with something else… and yet principles can be learned and certainly are needed.
   1. Whatever happens in the assembly should be such that it ENCOURAGES the church.
   2. What is said should be weighed carefully.
   3. If someone is speaking and someone has something to say (I assume this would be something which would help), then they should be allowed to speak. (This is not an interruption.)
   4. Turns speaking is allowed so all can be edified.
   5. Since we are in control of ourselves, then if taking a turn speaking is not in order, then be quiet.
   6. God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
   7. Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
   Principle? It seems that we can be decent and orderly in our proceedings, and not get all bent out of shape when someone says something we may not agree with, but should really try and consider what is being said with care for truth. At an appropriate time, speak in a calm and decent way. Regarding opinion, certainly don’t be offended when someone doesn’t agree, or has a different slant. In all this, we don’t want weak Christians to be offended, and we certainly don’t want Christ to be shamed by our actions (walking out in anger). We don’t want to say or do something for which we will regret. So let’s learn to “do the right thing at the right time.”

   I JUST DISAGREE WITH YOU ON THAT… is not a bad saying. I won’t melt, you won’t melt. Christians can disagree and still go to heaven together, and with a little patience, love and grace… maybe we can all learn and grow…. Grace is much bigger than we think, and certainly we have a lot to learn. Let’s be patient with each other… and by all means, don’t divide the church over opinions or ‘issues’.
    For what it’s worth, I hope this little lesson provides something to think on.  
   Grow in Grace (and peace) brethren…

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Seventeen – Objections To Grace

This article is part 18 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

* “I just don’t agree with you on that!” It’s ok to disagree… I don’t know it all, but hopefully this lesson and series will help you think.
* Normal objections to GRACE come from EXTREMES. Liberal mind objects to the conservative mind set, and the conservative objects to the liberal mind set. LABELLING each other hurts not only the one LABELLED but the LABELLER, and the body of Christ. It generally means that we just group people that we do not want to meet, know or understand. When we label someone, we are saying they are 100% (whatever). When in fact it may be a position taken on one or two things as opposed to many things with which there is no disagreement. Perhaps we need to be more patient with brethren.
* Sincere objections always have merit and tend to help us avoid extremes and make us re-examine our posture more closely.
* Here are a few objections from both sides of the fence that may help us all stop and think.

     A. Here it seems BALANCE is called for and rightly so. Yet we lack the patience to
          study and not only understand GRACE but learn how it is applied and fits in real 
     B. Grace without specifics is “half-baked”. Yet ‘specifics’ are not understood without
          first understanding the ‘big picture’ of grace first.
     C. Begin with understanding the ‘foundation’ – the ‘overview’ and then see how it fits
          into and works in connection with specific commands.
     D. Avoid the temptation to apply grace only to BECOMING A CHRISTIAN and then
          omit grace from the Christian life. (You can’t go to heaven in a straight line!”)
     A. There is certainly a place for warnings about hell and being lost… But what good
          is preaching hell fire and damnation without the teaching of grace by which one is
          saved from this?
     B. On the other hand, what good is preaching grace only if there is no teaching on
          the awfulness of sin and the danger of being lost?
    C. Our real need is for preachers and teachers and leaders who KNOW AND
     D. Once again the need for BALANCE IS SEEN.
     A. No it does not.
     B. If grace is taught right, it will include Paul’s instruction in Romans 6:1-2 and Titus
     C. When one teaches grace right and one understands grace right… both the 
          teacher and the student are lifted to higher spiritual ground.
     A. That is exactly why we need to TEACH IT, PREACH IT PROPERLY and
          encourage Christians to  BELIEVE IT, LIVE AND DEMONSTRATE IT in daily
     B. Leaders who FOCUS ON rules and regulations, don’t understand grace.
          LIFE. Christian do not depend on ‘rule keeping’ to (stay) saved and if they do, 
          they are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
     D. The real danger is not in GRACE but in being gobbled up by a SYSTEM OF
          danger of just becoming a ‘digit’ on somebody’s attendance punch card.
     E. Grace brings freedom… freedom to grow and live and think, pray, study, love,
          sacrifice… and Grace brings personal responsibility which each one of us must 
          bear and account for (Galatians 6:5-8).
     A. This comes from someone who may have lost his freedom.
     B. The freedom to read the word all by yourself, see what it says, and understand
          the meaning.
     C. Familiar passages need to be studied again more carefully (without the chains of
          traditional interpretation).
     D. The church is not the authority, nor are leaders… THE WORD OF GOD IS!
     E. Let’s admit it, we have just been out of balance on this subject.
     F. If preaching grace properly sounds NEW, so be it… let’s get on with it.
     A. Again, that is not so.
     B. I Corinthians 15:10
     C. Grace understood motivates one to do more and enjoy it.
     D. Both LAW and GRACE motivates…. ONLY ONE OF THESE WILL BRING JOY.
     A. Can you imagine Paul not obeying Jesus?
     B. C.M.M.D.H.T.H.H. (Can’t Make Me, Don’t Have To, Ha Ha) = cheap grace
     C. Jonah had hard time with God’s grace to Nineveh. They repented/God backed off/
          Jonah got mad!
     D. Matthew 20:1-6
     E. Grace isn’t ‘fair’ to us. Grace is grace. GRACE MOTIVATE ONE TO
     F. Prodigal son – grace – elder brother complained – ‘not fair’.
     A. They see the over-all picture better than we do at times. We see specifics better
          than they do at times. They need balance and so do we.
    B. Obedience based on LAW/WORKS is legalism… obedience based on
         GRACE/FAITH is the natural product and fruit of the Spirit of God in the
         Christian’s life.
    C. This is what conversion is all about, (2 Peter 1:4).
    A. Here again our weakness and misunderstanding (perhaps fear) of grace is seen.
    B. As a rule we are weak in GRACES and strong on RULES/OBEDIENCE/WORKS.
        The sweetness of the Christian life is not found in LAW/RULES/WORKS etc…
        JOY IS CERTAINLY NOT FOUND IN THESE. Our challenge is in finding the 
    C. Ephesians 2:1-10 Speaks to how strong… really strong grace is…  Our weakness
         is in understanding grace.
    C. Unity in the body of Christ suffers.
    D. Colossians 3:12-15

I am sure that there are more objections, and I am equally sure that these answers may not satisfy some. At least these may help us think. You might even want to get your concordance out and look up the scriptures listed on grace and study for yourself.  Here are just some….

John 1:14, 16-17; Acts 4:33; 13:43; 14:3; Romans 1:5, 7; 3:24; 4:16; 5:2, 15, 20; 6:1; 11:6; 15:15; I Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 4:15; 8:1, 6, 7, 9; 12:9; Galatians 1:6; 5:4; Ephesians 1:7; 2:5, 7, 8; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Timothy 1:14; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 4:16; 13:9; James 4:6;I Peter 4:10; 5:5, 10; 2 peter 3:18; Jude 4.

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Sixteen – Sufficient Grace

This article is part 17 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

* Paul had a problem. Don’t know what it is. Many have debated on ‘what’ his
“thorn in the flesh” was, but PAUL LIVED WITH IT! So, let us not think of Paul
as a ‘spiritual Superman’… s/one above suffering, because he wasn’t. Paul
finally cries out, “Why me Lord?””Why this?” Sounds very much like us!!!
* 2 Corinthians 12:7-12
* God’s answer “TAKE MY GRACE AND WAIT”
* No one has the total answer to the “Why?” of hard times/suffering/trials….
But the believer has an advantage… those in Christ can stand in God’s grace and
wait till the answer comes.
* Paul = not first nor last to: (a) wonder in his hurt, (b) crey out to god in
his pain, (c) release himself fully to the grace of God.
* James 1:3; Romans 5:4; Heb. 12:11
* Four basic reasons for why we suffer. Time will tell which applies to your
situation. All come from God’s GRACE not God’s ANGER. All are designed for our
good.. perfecting… growth of our lives in Christ.

    A. A faith untested is a disciple in prospect – UNTESTED and UNPROVEN.
    B. Students=tested w/EXAMINATION. Bridges=tested w/WEIGHT/STRESS
    C. I Peter 4:12-13
    D. The test is not to show the strength of the bridge or the knowledge of the
         student… but to reveal the flaws (so corrections can be made).
    E. Being a disciple doesn’t make one immune to suffering… it guarantees GRACE
    F. “My grace is sufficient for you” and this is regardless of the situation – YOU ARE
   G. I Peter 1:7
    A. Discipline IS NOT PUNISHMENT 
         1.) Discipline=for a son -Punishment=for a criminal
         2.) Discipline- has hope and help in correction – Punishment has hurt and shame.
         3.) Love is the basis for DISCIPLINE where JUSTICE OR VENGEANCE is the
              basis for punishment.
    B. When we obey our parents we HONOR them (Ephesians 6:1-2), when they
         DISCIPLINE us we REVERENCE (respect) them (Hebrews12:9).
    C. The CMMDHT concept = cheap, abuse of grace. No growth takes place here.
    D. Grace enables, allows discipline and growth.
    A. James 4:6,7, 10.
    B. “We tend to grow in our own conceit. We become “big people” and begin to feel
         our own ‘clout’. With our Master Card we can buy anything, go anywhere. We plan
         to live anywhere and build bigger barns. The Proverb, “Pride goes before a fall” is
         still true!
     C. You cannot fill what is full nor teach someone who thinks they know it all.
     D. God cannot lift the one who considers him/herself in this manner.
     E. Humbling yourself is better than God humbling you!
    A. Discovering God’s will for your life truly takes humility and time… not bargaining
         and pride.
    B. Story of Joseph Genesis 37,39-45:5; 50 Joseph’s life of ups and downs….

Grace is sufficient for the Christian who like Joseph goes through trials and
suffering… ups and downs. His grace is sufficient especially when God’s plan is
not clear. Sometimes, God’s grace is all we have…but in the end… it is enough
for the journey.
1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in
Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and
make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Heaven bound by grace!!!!


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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Fifteen – Forgiving Grace

This article is part 16 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

This is one of the most problematic of our studies, and yet one of the most hopeful. The dimensions of forgiving grace have been limited by some while still touting the “completeness” of His forgiveness Heb. 7:25-28). Forgiving grace has been abused by others (Romans 6:1-2), and misunderstood by other who know the meaning (unmerited favor) but fail in the application of this marvelous outpouring of God’s love. Forgiving grace can also be un-believed by others who feel they are beyond His loving hands. Whether LIMITED, ABUSED, MISUNDERSTOOD, OR UNBELIEVED… the result is the same, limited joy and success in the Christian life. Everyone wants to be forgiven, yet fail to realize the “give and you will get” principle tied to it (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). Forgiving grace IS AT THE HEART OF GOD’S GREATES GIFT – JESUS!

Bible forgiveness is to (a) GRANT FREE PARDON  (this is grace), and (b) STOP FEELING RESENTMENT (Part B is harder and takes more time because of the healing process. Forgiveness is THE BEGINNING OF HEALING.) BOTH ARE OF EQUAL IMPORTANCE TO THE PROCESS!!! Both are critical to this gift of grace and both involve the head and heart of the one wounded.
To offer “free pardon” to an offender, with no ifs, ands, or buts attached is pure grace (cf. Lk. 15:11-32). To “stop feeling resentment” is the crowning blessing of forgiving grace. This is grace – pure grace – God’s grace – and He offers both to all (Revelation 22:17). THERE IS A “BALM IN GILEAD” (Jer. 7:22). Healing is offered freely, which enables the forgiven, to extend this grace to the one who wounded him/her. THE FIRST GRACE EXTENDS LIFE TO THE WOUNDED AND THE SECOND GIFT REVIVES LIFE IN THE WOUNDED. BOTH ARE ESSENTIAL – IMPERATIVE – ABSOLUTE, for one without the other leaves the problem only HALF SOLVED!
True FORGIVING GRACE is a paradigm shift for many if not all Christians!
When Paul says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2)… he simply mentions GRACE, this includes, FORGIVING GRACE!!!

    Well IF WE CANNOT FORGET, then how can we deal with the bad thoughts and memories that keep bothering us all day and night? The key word here is “bothering”, and the answer is found in 1.) forgiveness and 2.) learning a lesson making changes 3.) focus on the present and future and not the past.
    A. The human brain is not made to forget, if it could, lessons would not be learned.
    B. Why try and forget something which can teach a VITAL LESSON (stepping stones)
    C. We are disciples (learners) not forgetters, and some of the greatest lessons, and times of growth comes from situations where there are heartaches and stress. BESIDES, WHEN GRACE IS EXTENDED TO THE TORMENTOR, HEALING GRACE IS GIVEN TO THE TORMENTED. DON’T FORGET… LEARN, GROW AND REJOICE IN THE GROWING. Here we find a WIN-WIN situation. The forgiver is not tied to the past, and the offender is free as well.
(Note: Dealing with “Tolerating” will be considered in #3.)

    A. We have no right to play the old parlor game “Heavy heavy hangs over your head”. Forgiving is for HEALING. It takes away the idea of always bringing things up that were supposedly forgiven.  (IF YOU ARE GOING TO FORGIVE, GO ALL THE WAY!)
    B. Paul says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:17-19).
    D. God is more interested in the OFFENDED that the OFFENDER, especially if the OFFENDED is a Christian. He wants His child to heal, grow, and be protected against bitterness. God will protect and restore the wounded before he will help the one who crushed him to the ground. Both need help, but God will BEGIN with the one who needs it most. So if you have been wounded, forgive freely, it’s your only hope.

     A. Yes! It is necessary for one to repent and ASK for forgiveness (and receive it) before forgiveness to be complete, but even if someone is mean, doesn’t ask or want your forgiveness… (You can’t make a person “be sorry” or repent), but THE OFFENDED, THE HURT PERSON CAN FULLY PREPARE THE GIFT OF GRACE and even if it takes a lifetime… can be prepared to give the gift.
     B. Consider WHY this is important.
It wards off BITTERNESS in the heart as one says in his/her heart “I FORGIVE YOU ANYWAY”.  It maintains your communion with God and doesn’t block your prayers (as Bitterness does). It allows you to continue growing in grace (2 Timothy 4:16-18).
     C. What about “Toleration”? There are people who offend, and don’t care, and won’t change. What now? Well, first take care of your own heart. You must be willing to give the gift. However, some people are close to us either by association at work, or family, or even church. Contact is inevitable. Suggestions:
          1.) Maintain your stand in grace and be ready to forgive. (WWJD)
          2.) Where trust is broken, and there is fear of repetition, be cordial.
          3.) Boundaries are critical. Determine what actions can and cannot be tolerated. Bad actions don’t have to be tolerated. Bad people don’t have to be allowed in your inner circle. But you have the Holy Spirit to help you treat this person right.
          4.) When boundaries are crossed, be assertive and deal with the action in such a way that you don’t have to look back and ask yourself, “Did I do wrong.” Maintaining a stand on certain things is not wrong, it’s how we do it that makes all the difference.
           5.) Matthew 18:15-20 deals with a brother who sins against you…. Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins against you,  go and point out their fault,  just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” How it is done, makes a lot of difference.
           6.) Don’t put off dealing with problems…. They just get worse!

     A. I don’t like this one. Yet it is plain. I cannot tell you when God will reject the Christian who is an un-forgiver. Yet Jesus is plain, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). This one will eventually be lost. Matthew 18:21-35 gives a more graphic story concerning this.

    A. “Let’s just forget it!” “Let’s bury the hatchet!”, “I’ll just move to another congregation!”, “Let’s just get re-baptized!”, “Let’s just pray about it!”, “Let’s just say it never happened!”.None of these things will work!!! None of these things takes the place of forgiveness… ASKED FOR AND RECEIVED FREELY.

     A. Galatians 6:1
     B. Who is called on to do the restoring? An elder? Deacon? Minister? NO! The spiritual (filled with the Spirit) brother or sister in Christ.
     C. Is this easy? No! Yet it must be done. Would you allow an amateur to operate on your physical heart? Would you want a beginner to operate on your brain? Forgiveness probes deeply into the heart… only the spiritual can expect to succeed, (Ephesians 4:32).

    A. This is what is so bad about the unforgiving person. He/she leaves the other to just spiritually ‘bleed out and die’. Read again Ephesians 4:30-32
Jesus paid the full price of our sins as well as others. How would God see you without Jesus’ cleansing blood? We owe Him so much and yet He forgives….. This is FORGIVING GRACE!

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Fourteen – “Giving Grace”

This article is part 15 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

GIVING is a grace… not a law. Not like under the Old Testament Law.
Old Testament:
   a.) Genesis 14:20  b.) Genesis 28:22  c.) Leviticus 27:30 d.) Numbers 28:25-27 e.)
        Deut. 12:17 f.) Deut. 14:22-24 g.) Deut. 24:18-19 h.) Mal. 3:8, 10 i.) Luke 18:12; j.)
        Hebrews 7:4-9
New Testament: Tithing is not a command… WHY? Answer is found in GRACE!
1. Giving is a grace not a law. It is tough to try and legalize grace!
    A. Two things happen:
         1.) Joy is taken out of the grace.
         2.) Guilt comes back with the ‘law’.
    B. 2 Cor. 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not
        reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
        1.) “Each man” = PERSONAL/PRIVATE/INTIMATE/POWERFUL almost secretive
              attitude. (Hypocrisy destroys this grace) Not the way to grow in grace! (Matt.
        2.) “what he has decided in his heart” No external decision/ pressure/ threats/ guilt
        3.) “to give” This is a voluntary – no force/ JUST LET HIM GIVE! Enjoy!
              (Matt. 6:3 “don’t let your right hand know what left… is doing”)
              (Acts 20:35 “more blessed to give than receive..”)
        4.) “not reluctantly or under compulsion” Giving should be motivated by GRACE
              not the budget, or bills, buses, or programs or missions, or ministers. One
              motive beats all others… GRACE!
        5.) “for God loves a cheerful giver” The result of growing grace is growing in giving
              as well. When a need is presented… grace will respond.
2. There are two power principles (and some promises) mentioned in the word on the
     grace of giving.
    A. Power principle #1 = 2 Cor. 9:6
         1.) Paul speaks of life in general, not just money. Sow generously reap
              generously/Sow sparingly etc…
         2.) Sow a smile/ get 12 back…
         3.) Idea = not to divorce this grace from others… GROW IN GRACE = all of life!
         4.) Result of Holy Spirit in life (create Christ in us).
         5.) Proverbs 18:24 People reflect what we give out… snobbish/grouchy/fearful
              /avoidance = come back to us. Friendly/generous/helpful/openhanded/joyful
              /smile = comes back.         
    B.  Promises made: 2 Cor. 9:8, 10.
         1.) Food to eat
         2.) Multiply your seed which is sown
         3.) Increase the fruits of your righteousness (Make you a better person)
         4.) “Money is NOT THE ISSUE, for it is little more than a measure stick into your
               value system. It is one of the chief indicators of HOW YOU THINK – OF
               YOUR PRIORITIES.”   
              AND DEVELOPMENT.”
    C. Power Principle #2: Luke 6:38
         1.) “Give and you will get” – Does not say “Give in order to get”
         2.) Summarizes previous 37 verses
               a.) Note: Vss. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37…
         3.) We have taught SOWING, GIVING… but not REAPING.
               a.) Yet reaping is as important to sowing as sowing is to reaping. This is a
                     lesson on GROWING IN GRACE, NOT GREED. It’s a lesson on the
                     HEART not the WALLET.
         4.) Conclusion is simple: Luke 6:38  “Give, and it will be given to you. A good
               measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured
               into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
               a.) If you want good things to come into your life… what we need to do?
               b.) Want people to visit/call/send cards to you… what we need to do?
         5.) Wherever you are in this Grace… begin to GROW!
         6.) Giving 1%, 5%, 10%, 15%? Wonderful!!! GROW
         7.) 2 Cor. 8:7 “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in 
              knowledge,in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in 
              you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
2. Extra – Key Words in 2 Corinthians 8-9
    A. Key Words
         1.) “Grace” (8:1, 6, 9), 2.) “Gift” (8:4), 3.) “Gave” (8:5), 4.) “Gathered” (8:15), 5.)
              “Care” (8:16), 6.) “Abundance” (8:20), 7.) “Bounty” (9:5), 8.) “Bountifully” (9:6),
              9.) “Give” (9:7), 10.) “Grace” (9:8,14), 11.) “Multiply” 12.) “Giving” (9:11), 13.)
              “Liberal” (9:13), 14.) “Unspeakable gift” (9:15).
    B. Key Thought: “GIVING IS A GRACE NOT A LAW”
        ACTIONS, (Eph. 4:13-14)

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Thirteen – “Grow In Grace”

This article is part 14 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

* “THE SECRET OF GRACE IS IN ITS GROWING. (Like Leaven)(As a young plant)(It’s the nature of grace to grow.)(No limit or law on how much saturation, or growth.)(“It is for the sheer joy of it, the feeling of fulfillment, the fruit that is just natural to it.”)
* Orange trees bear oranges – joyfully/willingly/ gladly – Not their TASK – it is their NATURE – THE MORE THEY GROW, THE LARGER THEIR CAPACITY. They have no goals, no programs, FOR IT IS “FRUIT-BEARING” NOT WORK-DOING.”
* John 15:1-8
* Charles Hodge “Use your imagination. Imagine a cornstalk. COMMAND this cornstalk to make corn. It cannot! A CORN STALK CANNOT MAKE CORN! Only God can make corn. He bears corn on a cornstalk. This is fruit – not works. It is INTAKE not OUTPUT. A cornstalk of itself, cannot manufacture corn. A cornstalk will produce in direct proportion to what it has brought in. This is a simple LAW of nature – INTAKE DETERMINES OUTPUT. The cornstalk brings in to put out. A cornstalk needs soil, water, sun and minerals. The more the better. You do not blame the cornstalk during a drought. No farmer is angered with a cornstalk during bad conditions. The cornstalk is at the mercy of intake. Put it in and nature will put it out. So simple!” (“Amazing Grace”, 20th Century Christian Foundation, pg. 61).

    (Apply what has been learned!)
    A. Vs. 1-4 “Raised with Christ” –
         1.) “Set” New focus/goals/aim
         2.) “For you died” (attended your own funeral) – Hidden in Christ – BOXES
    B. Paul reasons this way, YOU HAVE DIED TO SIN… RAISED UP WITH CHRIST…
        1.) Notice the BALANCE in Paul’s reasoning vs. 5-9
        2.) “Put to death” – An encouragement to keep on doing what was done at
              new birth!
    C. How does this phrase make since here… “INTAKE DETERMINES OUTPUT”.
         1.) Conversion is not MORAL REFORMATION (based on will power) IT IS
                a.) Luke 3:15-17; John 3:3-5; 7:37-39; Titus 3:5-7 cf NIV and KJV
    E. Vs. 12-15 – (Put on) the new ways
          1.) cf. Philippians 2:12f; 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace and knowledge”
                (“IN-TAKE DETERMINES OUT-PUT”)

     A. Galatians 5:22-24
          1.) Paul did not say, ‘Grow in church attendance’, ‘grow in taking the Lord’s
               Supper’, ‘grow in adding more busses’, ‘grow by adding more elders or
               deacons’, ‘grow in having a larger number in Bible study’, or ‘grow in meeting
               you budget’… On and on we go with a list of DOING THINGS (none of which
               are wrong within themselves nor should be opposed or discouraged). THESE
               ARE NOT GRACES so much as they are duties and jobs, and organizations,
     B. The forgotten FIRST COMMAND (and second) Love God/Love others as self.
          1.) Division is not the product of growing in grace… it is the result of growing in
          2.) Teach the truth of baptism and Lord’s Supper – but these can be done w/o
                growing in grace.
     C. 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace and knowledge”

    A. Graceless Simon – the worst disciple
         1.) Said/did wrong thing (foot in mouth)
         2.) If Simon can make it… anyone can make it.
    B. Simon was converted
         1.) First gospel sermon – Acts 2:14-40
         2.) Cornelius – Acts 10
         3.) Simon grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord.
     C. 2 Peter 1:3-10 Read
     D. Is this the same Peter
         1.) Luke 5:8 “Get away from me Lord, for you don’t know how many sins I’ve
              really got.”
         2.) Matthew 17:4 “Let’s build three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses and
              one for Elijah.”
         3.) Matthew 16:22 “No Lord, you are not going to the cross!”
         4.) John 18 “I don’t know the man!!!”
     E. YES, this is the same man… but NOT the same man….
          1.) He grew and grew and grew and grew in grace….
     F. Peter’s encouragement, “Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior
        Jesus Christ…”
Grace as opposed to law/works… simply enables and promotes the growth which many leaders are seeking in their congregations. The problem seems to be in the way leaders and preachers are going about trying to get their congregation to grow.
Grace is a motivator, liberator, and encourager… whereas law/works (check-list system) and the resulting efforts at ‘perfect performance’ and guilt for failure…does not promote growth. Growth will come as Christians grow in grace…. the results will be with joy, and love, and will be the natural fruit of the Spirit who lives within each and every Christian… This in turn will promote unity in the body of Christ. 

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Amazing Grace Bible Class – Lesson Twelve – Romans 16, 15, 14.

This article is part 13 of 20 in the series Amazing Grace Bible Class

                  (HOW GRACE UNITES – A STUDY OF ROMANS 16 thru 14)
* One of most marvelous thgs. a/GRACE = promotes and enables UNITY. “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE BODY, and ONE SPIRIT, just as you were called in ONE HOPE of your calling: ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
* Consider ‘unity’ of the body of Christ today… Do you see the “unity of the Spirit”? Is there a BOND OF PEACE? WHY? WHAT HAPPENED?
* Study GRACE – consider its REVOLUTIONARY NATURE. Revolutionary because:
   1.) It is bigger more marvelous than we thought…
        – Based on RELATIONSHIP with God thru Jesus, not PERFORMANCE
        – Resulting in ONGOING FORGIVENESS of all who live within, not continual guilt
        – Empowered by the HOLY SPIRIT which all who are ‘in Christ’ have
        – Entered thru the ONE BIRTH (baptism) of WATER and SPIRIT
        – Sustained by the ONE PERFECT, ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST – Jesus Christ
   2.) How can the Holy Spirit bring UNITY BY GRACE TO THE BODY OF CHRIST ?
* We have studied Romans 1-8…now jump to the end… In this study we will be looking
   at Romans backwards…
1. Romans 16   
     A. Vs. 17 “Now I urge you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions
          and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and turn away
          from them.”    
          1.) Strange place to begin a study on UNITY!
                a.) This verse is used many times by those WHO DIVIDE BRETHREN!
     B.  What is “…the teaching you have learned…”?
          1.) Romans 1-15! (Particularly ch. 14-15) which deals with HOW TO BE UNITED
          TEACHINGS IN ROMANS. (What are some of the teachings of Romans?)
     D. No surprise that FALSE TEACHERS “cause divisions”. They disagree with Paul’s
          teachings on how not to divide! And now we know what “obstacles” they put in
          the way–they sow seeds of division: false doctrines that are obstacles to being
2. Romans 15
    A. HIGHLIGHT Vs. 7 “WHEREFORE Accept one another, then, just as Christ
         accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
          1.)  “Wherefore” refers back to immediate/general context.
          2.) “accept” – present tense/continual ACCEPTANCE
          3.) “accepted” – aorist – refers back to particular point in time.
          4.) THEREFORE “(Continually) accept one another, just as Christ has accepted
                (new birth) in order to bring praise to God.”
          5.) Good comparisons of ‘just as’
                a.) 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, JUST AS  I am also of Christ.”
                b.) 1 Corinthians 13:12 “… but then I shall know fully JUST AS I also have
                      been fully known.”
           6.) Romans 15:7 Re-written! “Continually accept one another, then, (in the same
                way) Christ accepted you (when you were first re-born) in order to bring
                praise to God.”
           7.) Now ponder this one for a while. Paul says that acceptance of a brother or
                sister in Christ should be based on the very same test as whether one is
                accepted when they are redeemed! That test is simply faith, penitence, and
                new birth of water and Spirit.
               a.) Were early believers asked about their ideas of worship?
               b.) Were they questioned as regarding their beliefs on instruments, divorce
                     and remarriage, one cup or many, co-operation with other congregations?!
               c.) What if a member disagrees with me over an ‘issue’… can I / should I
                    accept him?  ON WHAT BASIS?
    B. Romans 15:5-6 Read
         1.) Where does UNITY come from? Who’s UNITY IS IT?!  Eph. 4:3 tells us this
         2.) How have we tried to make UNITY TODAY? HAVE WE SUCCEEDED? WHY?
         3.) What is the solution? Repent and accept the unity of the Spirit which has been
              created and given.  
         4.) Phil. 3:16
    C. (Unity of the Spirit at work) Romans 15:1 Read IT’S THE “STRONG” THAT HAVE
         THE BURDEN…
         1.) Who are the weak?
         2.) How can the “strong” bear the burden of the “weak”?
3. Romans 14:17-19 Read
    A. Roman Christians disagreed at times (as do we).
         1.) ‘Doctrinal’ issues – WHAT TO EAT/DAYS TO CELEBRATE
               a.) Paul’s answer: THAT’S JUST NOT WHHAT THE KINGDOM IS ABOUT!
         2.) What is the kingdom about? DOING GOOD/LIVING IN PEACE/JOY IN THE
         1.) Kingdom is not about rules over worship, church organization etc… yet we
              argue and have divided over these things and more!
         2.) What is the kingdom about? DOING GOOD/LIVING IN PEACE/JOY IN THE
         3.)  The church today believes Romans 14 = about MATTERS OF
                INDIFFERENCE (color of carpet/which song book etc…) THIS IS WRONG!
          4.) Romans 14 is about what they considered (big deal) DOCTRINAL
               a.) Eat meats offered to idols vs. vegetarianism (Jewish custom vs. Gentile
                    custom) cf. (I Corinthians 8). Some “yes” some “no”…
                b.) Holy days to be kept (Sabbath) Some “yes” some “no”….
     C. Romans 14:1-4 Read (cf. 15:7)
     D. Romans 14:10
     E. A DISPUTABLE MATTER: a disputable matter is any issue over which we can
          dispute and still remain Christians. After all, how could we be disputing if the
          issue were beyond dispute?! Hence, faith in Jesus and the Lordship of Jesus (our
          obligation to obey) are not disputable. You cannot deny Jesus or rebel against his
          authority and remain saved.            

Conclusion: There is no doubt in my mind, that the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT WORKS BETTER THAN THE ‘UNITY’ OF MEN. It kinda frightens us because it challenges us to re-examine our ‘unity’ which seems to be ‘uniformity’. The danger (as I see it) of this is when brethren disagree, there is little ‘patience’, ‘love’… and ‘elbow room’ for growth… Too many times brethren who question, or disagree are told, “sorry, you just won’t be happy in this congregation”.
The Unity of the Spirit is all about the truth for sure. Yet it is all about how to deal with each other and growth in grace as well. The longer we force a false unity (uniformity) on the church, the more the chances of division if not over one issue, then over another.

 (My thanks again to Jay Guinn on his lesson “Romans studied backwards”. Which is a part of his study on Amazing Grace, oneinjesus,info).

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