God vs. the Coronavirus

Many of us are at home and have more time than usual to improve our relationship with God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This is probably the most important activity we can do at this time. When we say to God, we want to improve our relationship with Him and allow Him to come into our lives more fully, He is listening and will respond.

In James, God tells us: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8, NIV

Let’s just look at the first part of this verse. Here we see that if we draw near to God, God will come close to us. More than ever during the time of the Coronavirus, we want to be closer to God and open our hearts to HIs ways and callings. Too easily we can begin to think catastrophically and become focused on all of our needs and wants.

For some of us, our insecurities result in rushing to the store and and buying as much toilet paper as we can. We buy too many canned goods being afraid we will not have enough food in the future. Some people are buying guns.

Now in the second part of the verse in James, God tells us how to come closer to Him. He instructs us to “purify our hearts”. We know as Christians who put our faith in Jesus Christ, that we must look to Him for help us in developing out spiritual lives. As much as we may try on our own to control our selfish desires, we find out over and over again that our human willpower will fail us. Only when we reach out to God and call out to Him with sincerity will we allow Him into our lives, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

If we look to Him now during the Coronavirus, Psalm 91 tells us how much He loves us, because He will provide and protect us, even during the most difficult of times.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,

nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes

and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”

and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you,

no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;

you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he  ( probably the king )  loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

If we read Psalm 91 carefully, we can see that God will protect us from many things. But we must believe in Him and His power if He is to do these things in our lives. First of all, declare Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you haven’t yet. Say this simple prayer sincerely, “Lord, I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and ask You to wash away my sins by Your grace and mercy. I open my heart to you Lord and ask You to come live inside me, to change me and love me. Amen.

If you have true belief in your heart that you trust the Lord and accept HIs ways over yours, then the promises in Psalm 91 of protestation and all the other promises that Jesus has made to us are yours. The Lord requires our surrender to His will in our lives, but the rewards of doing so are beyond our wildest dreams or imaginations. It is just the beginning that He will be with us “in trouble” and show us His salvation.

Our lives become far more satisfying living with the Lord’s promises that unfold in our lives than any life we could live without Him. God will always reveal more to us in our walk with Him.

So what did we learn in this examination of the Holy Scriptures of God’s Word?

We have found out that God does not want to condemn us. The Coronavirus is not about condemnation or punishment. God wants to save us, and that is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the earth. He wants us to draw closer to Him, have faith in his protection, goodness and mercy and not to panic. God will provide for us during this time. Knowing that, we can devote our time to deepening our relationship with Him.

We can pray more and come to know Him more through the Word of God. This activity can have a tremendous impact on how we live our lives, even when the seclusion in our homes is over. We can examine the areas of our lives where we do not depend on God for answers, whether it is in the area of our relationships with others, our attitudes toward money, fears of getting older and how we will be provided for, relationships with others, and how we make our livelihoods. Perhaps we should be taking new steps to provide our good health, like taking regular walks.

The list of ways on how we can improve our lives goes on and on . We can listen to God’s urging and write these ideas down. He will help us to prioritize them so we know where to start. With His help, we can examine each area, and continue our inquiry. The next step is to write down our goals, and steps we need to take to accomplish them.

A Bible journal that also acts as a prayer journal is a very good tool to use to bring God’s promises to us to fruition as we keep drawing closer to Him. God will not let us down, but we must seek Him, call upon Him, and know the joy of communing with Him.

He will provide for us because we are His children. He wants each of us to be brought closer to Him, no matter how far we have wandered away from Him.

Search Results

James 4:8, NIV: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

How Can I Please God?

Title: “I Have a Dark Side I Must Understand”



We learn in the Bible, that spiritually speaking, we have two natures in one body. The nature that we go on feeding will grow, while the nature that we go on starving will diminish. We each find ourselves in a spiritual struggle, even after we’ve come into a relationship with the Lord. In fact, we could say that each and every one of us has a dark side. And even as we find ourselves trying to please God, thoughts, emotions, and actions sometimes come to the surface that we know are not in keeping with our faith.

Today, I hope to come to an understanding of how we got to this point, and what can be done to overcome the dark side of our lives. There are three basic phases that humankind has gone through since the creation, and by examining these we will learn how to better deal w/the struggle that is so much a part of our everyday lives.


To live a life of serenity means that you live in peace, calm, undisturbed and unchallenged by conflict. This was the life that God created for us in the beginning. A life that knew nothing of the spiritual struggle.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.  And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:8-9 (NIV)

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)

God caused an unlimited variety of trees to spring up in the garden. The “tree of life” gave life – even eternal life – when eaten (3:22). The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was placed in the garden to give man the opportunity to exercise his freedom of choice.

Every tree was appealing, but only one was prohibited. This tree gave man the occasion to express his obedience and love for God. There was nothing inherently evil about the fruit of the tree. On the contrary, the eating of this tree gave its partakers a knowledge which God Himself possessed.

God gave Adam and Eve a life of serenity, but He also granted them a very special freedom: He gave them the freedom to choose. They were not created as robots; they were created in the image of God and with the freewill to make their own decisions. They were created to have fellowship with God, but the exchange of love always requires the freedom of the recipient to respond to or reject that love. To institute freewill, to give humankind an opportunity to respond to or reject His fellowship, God warned, “If you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will die.”

Unfortunately, this life of serenity soon ended as we shall see. But the good news is that this age will return for those of us who come to Christ for salvation. Paradise is on the horizon for those who have teamed up with Jesus.

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”Revelation 2:7b (NIV)

In at least some fashion, heaven will be a return to the Garden of Eden. So we see mankind was made for serenity, but regrettably Adam and Eve moved into our second phase:


Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,  but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”  “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.  The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.  And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. – Genesis 3:1-24 (NIV)

Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve in much the same way he tempts us today. Eve was tempted by her desire for the fruit, it appealed to her senses, and it also promised her something beyond her present experience – the wisdom of God. In effect, the temptation was to substitute what God had freely given, fellowship, love, serenity, in exchange for a life of self-reliance.

The temptations that come to us are the same – no matter what form they take, they are always designed to take us away from fellowship with God and to become men/women/children who are dependent only on ourselves. In short, it is a reversal of God’s plan – rather than man being made in the image of God – we choose to make God in our own image. And rather than accept the great generosity of God our Creator and rejoicing in the fellowship He grants us, we find ourselves, like little children, reaching out our hands for more. Adam and Eve gave into the temptation and serenity ceased. They chose to walk away from God, and God honored their choice. And we, as their spiritual ancestors, all have made that same choice when we have chosen to sin against God.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23 (NIV)

To help us better understand our separation from God it will be helpful for us to grasp five areas of alienation that resulted from Adam’s sin.

1) Psychological Separation: Man from Himself

Before sin, there was no shame, no guilt, no self-consciousness. But now the man and woman are ashamed. Human shame is a feeling of distress at our deficiencies, deformities, or absurdities – real or imagined – and especially at the uncovering of these things. It is also a feeling of distress at the uncovering of things once held private. Our text suggests the joining together of these sources of distress with a few words of great sorrow and mystery: after they had sinned, Adam and Eve “realized they were naked.” For the first time in their lives they couldn’t stand scrutiny. It wasn’t merely that they flinched when their partner’s gaze dipped southward; it was also that they had trouble looking into each other’s eyes.

2) Spiritual Separation: Man from God

Before sin, man was comfortable being with God. There was no running from Him, no hiding, no desire to be away from His presence. But once they sinned, the comfort level was gone, and they foolishly thought that they could hide from the presence of the Creator of the Universe. The spiritual separation that we feel today began with Adam and Eve.

3) Sociological Separation: Man from Man

When God challenged Adam, he took it like a man – He blamed his wife! For the first time they found themselves at odds with each other. Marital strife, abuse, divorce, lawsuits, gossip and war were all introduced by the virus of sin.

4) Environmental Separation: Man from Nature

The world was thrown off kilter because of sin. This was the beginning of weeds, erosion, floods, droughts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and viruses which began to make life miserable. (Romans 8:19-22) informs us that the creation itself waits in eager expectation for a return to Eden and serenity.

5) Physical Separation: Man’s Spirit from His Body

From this point on Adam and Eve began the process of physical death. They were banished from the garden and their bodies began to age. What was once united, body and spirit, is now separated. The spirit lives eternally, but the body’s days are numbered. So here we have two phases of mankind’s existence – Serenity and Separation. You and I and all who follow Adam exist in the third phase.


Ever since the Fall of man we have been involved in a spiritual struggle. Even those of us who have turned our lives over to Christ find ourselves in turmoil.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.Romans 7:14-25 (NIV)

If we are to overcome, we must understand the basic truth of our depravity. We need to understand that we all have a dark side. Evolution says that man is getting better – that if the right environment is provided man will choose the good. But the Bible teaches us that we have a bent toward evil. Laws, discipline, and punishment are necessary to curb our sinful nature. And most importantly we must recognize this sinful nature within ourselves. Here are four truths about our sinful nature.

1) I have inherited a sinful nature that, if unrestrained, is capable of dreadful evil. I think we’ve established this.

2) I need Jesus Christ to transform my sinful nature.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:24 (NIV)

The good news is that with Christ on my side, and with my willingness to rely on Him instead of on my own goodness, I can overcome. It is simply a matter of letting go and letting God.

3) As a Christian, I rely on the Holy Spirit to empower me against the daily struggle with my sinful nature.

You…are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.Romans 8:9a (NIV)

God knows that we can’t do it on our own. He’s not sending us out like lambs to the slaughter. He is empowering us to prevail over the forces of evil by relying on the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

4) I look forward to Heaven when the struggle will be over and the Victory won!

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Heaven will be the beauty of the Garden of Eden restored. Heaven will be the perfect fellowship with one another – no sham, no pretense, no self-consciousness. Heaven will be the freedom to walk and talk w/our Creator – perfect fellowship with God. In heaven we will be completely free from the sin nature and its consequences.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)


We all have a dark side – we’re capable of the most horrible crimes. But greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. There is no sin so horrible that the blood of Christ cannot wash it away. There is no sin so bitter that He can’t transform it. No matter how grievous or minor you think your sin is, you need Christ to cleanse you and transform you into His image. Paradise is waiting for you.

You Never Know When God Will Speak To You!

Wet oil paint on a pencil from my art studio—Must have been wet for years. It reminds me of professionals and constant…

Posted by Church of Our Savior on Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Prayed Into The Church of Christ Before Accepting Him as My Lord and Savior!

I know you have heard all of this before, but for me, it was monumental. God changed my life for the better and now I feel and believe my feet are on solid ground and I can meet all of life’s challenges without a doubt.

I was personally transformed by Christ and I will always be so grateful I now feel as though my feet are on solid ground and that I can meet all of life’s challenges!

But, God is the One who changed me. I cannot explain what happened to me in any other way, except that Christ wanted me to come to Him and when He called me, I had to respond. You hear that God uses people to fulfill His purposes? Well, that was certainly true in my case.

If it wasn’t for my wife and her evangelizing friend Rhonda, who was constantly talking about the life-changing power and goodness of Christ, I don’t know of what might have happened to me. Rhonda had her own serious personal problems but that did not stop her from speaking out for the Lord. My wife met her on the job and they had become friends. They both prayed for me that I might find the Lord in my life and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior.

They both prayed for me that I might find the Lord in my life and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior.

Even though for a few months prior to this, I began to sense that something bad might happen to me if I did not take some action soon, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. In spite of this, I resisted going to church with my wife who had just started going with Rhonda to a church in Arizona called “Confirmed Word”.

You see, I did not like to even hear about Jesus, even though I had been brought up in a Christian family who went to church almost every Sunday. For some reason, I got the idea that God was an angry and punishing God. As far as I know, my parents and my two brothers never believed that God was this way. So when my wife started encouraging me to go to church, I agreed to check out a few, but when it came to going on a steady basis I rebelled. I didn’t even like to hear contemporary Christian music on the radio. It just grated on me and I felt an anger raise up inside. I couldn’t wait to change the channel.

Eventually, their prayers began to have an effect on me. I joined them in going to church, however, I told my wife if I felt uncomfortable during the service I might get up and go outside. She was fine with this and after several months of going sporadically, I realized that I was staying through the whole service.

Through the pastor there and the whole congregation, I began to hear about a different God than I thought I knew. The pastor, Phil Jackson, preached about a Jesus that had a message from God who only wanted people to know how much He loved them. He sent His only Son Jesus not to condemn men but to let them know that by believing in Him and accepting Him as their Lord and Savior that they could be forgiven of sin and they would no longer be separated from God and HIS LOVE by the power of sin and even death! When I began to understand that this was the message of the New Testament and the one that Christ was born into this world to carry to us, then my heart softened and I began to believe that Christ really had a gift for me.

When I began to understand that this was the message of the New Testament and the one that Christ was born into this world to carry to us, then my heart softened and I began to believe that Christ really had a gift for me.

I had heard that sometimes when people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior that they experienced an almost immediate change inside. Even though I wanted this to be true for me, there were no bells or whistles, and I did not feel as though the Holy Spirit had entered my heart. I did recite the “Sinner’s Prayer”, or something very close to it in admitting that I was a sinner and that I repented for my sins, and was in need of Jesus the Savior to forgive me for those sins.

For me, Jesus changed me more slowly on the inside. I continued to go to church and church functions, however, at times I was still uncomfortable and felt self-conscious. I began to enjoy the sermons, though and hearing about biblically based messages about New Testament lessons that I could apply to my life.

Then, maybe six months later the unexpected happened. It was like a storm blew through my life and more specifically my mind. I was home alone and began to feel very uneasy, however, it was not the same as feeling sick. But I had a strange feeling that I was dying. Later, I came to realize later that it was my old self that was dying, not my physical self. I have to say, though, that it was psychologically painful. It felt like my skull was splitting open, and my body was racked with pain.  It was a very strange experience, but at the time, I knew it was something I had to go through. Looking back, I see that my spirit man was being born. It did not change me so that I no longer have any of my own desires, but I am more aware of God in my life and some of the burdens I had been carrying had broken off of me. I felt lighter and more than ever wanted to do the will of God in my life.

It felt like my skull was splitting open, and my body was racked with pain.  It was a very strange experience, but at the time, I knew it was something I had to go through. Looking back, I see that my spirit man was being born.

That was back in 1998. We have since continued to go to church on and off, however, I have not stopped reading the Bible and praying. Learning that I had to pray on a regular basis was a lesson that took me a while to learn.

Life Now

When I pray at least 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before I go to bed, then I stay in touch with God and my life stays on what I consider a solid path where I can be guided by God. But, truth be told, when I first get up in the morning, I often do not feel like praying or even grateful for the day or for what He had done for me. Overnight, my old self has reasserted itself.

But, truth be told, when I first get up in the morning, I often do not feel like praying or even grateful for the day or for what He had done for me. Overnight, my old self has reasserted itself. 

The prayer can be simple. Sometimes if I am in a rush, (which I try not to be, but sometimes life is like that) I will enter a note on my cell phone using voice activation. There are times I do this while waiting for the bus in the morning or walking to work.

I always start out my prayers saying, “Thank You God” and usually it is “Thank You God for this day.” For me, it is essential to thank Him. As I start to pray, I can feel my spiritual self start to reassert itself. I begin to express my gratitude for all He has done for me. When I get going, with my spirtiual self activated, I can then begin to connect with spiritual concerns.

Often my prayers will express the things that I have I my mind. I will pray that I will pray that “I will fulfill my God given destiny” (I believe and the Bible supports that we all have a purpose on this earth); I thank God for my wife and son and pray for their well-being and for all of our friends and family members. I pray that our enemies will be blessed. Sometimes I pray that our enemies will come to know Christ’s love and forgiveness. It says in the Bible that we should try to overcome evil with good. I have seen in my life how this really is true, that goodness can overcome evil.

Sometimes I catch myself as being unforgiving about something and try to move into forgiveness. As I am writing this, I think that I should ask God to helped me to forgive others just as He has forgiven me, and ask His help when it is particularly difficult to forgive. I will often thank God for his creation and ask that His creation is preserved, that there are solutions to environmental problems of global warming and pollution.  Usually, my morning prayer is shorter than the one I say before I go to sleep at night.

What I have found over and over again in my life to be true is that I have to keep up my prayer life. I cannot stop praying. Sometimes I have gone three days without praying, and I see that life is no longer so wonderful. Nothing has changed except me. God is still there, but I have moved away from Him.

I once again become grouchy, dissatisfied, focused on material things in my life, critical of others, and like a monkey is on my back. Then it dawns on me that there is nothing wrong except that I have stopped praying. When I begin to pray again, then I get into right standing with God and life becomes good again. My spirituality is restored. Then I vow again that I will never fall into that trap and stop praying. At this time, I usually don’t forget to pray regularly, but I am fallible and God forbid that I really forget. There are many good things about being married to a practicing Christian, but being reminded by my wife that I am not acting like myself can be a wakeup call that I have stopped praying.

At this time, I usually don’t forget to pray regularly, but I am fallible and God forbid that I really forget. There are many good things about being married to a practicing Christian, but being reminded by my wife that I am not acting like myself can be a wakeup call that I have stopped praying.

For me, this emphasizes a great truth. First, that without a doubt, God exists. How else can I explain the change that comes over me when I pray? Only God can fill me with His light and love when I pray. It certainly does not come from me. It underscores my dependency on God, but that is something I do not mind at all! It says in His Word that He is the vine and we are the branches and when we are not connected to Him we can do nothing. So praying is the way for me to stay connected to His vine and I know He is the source of life.

I am still being called by Him to fulfill a purpose and destiny he has for my life and I am sure that He has a purpose and divine destiny laid out for you as well. I pray you to accept Him as your Savior and find out about all of the love He has for you (no desire to harm you!). You can find on this website in one of the blog posts the sinner’s prayer. May you find all the joy and success in living a satisfying life on earth, the one He specifically has for you! Amen.


Eric Henty, Pastor

Must See And Hear Passionate Sermon!

Pastor Cymbala talks about seeing people and the world as God or Christ sees them. The danger about just “doing church”, that Christianity is not about being laid back for God but being passionate for Him. Take a look at Paul . He loved people so much, he just wanted to help them with Christ, to accept Christ and all He wants to freely give us to be changed as He was changed. He was passing on a gift that he was freely given. And he was passionate about telling them about Christ’s love for them “as a mother or father loves their daughters or sons “.



Grace [T] [E]

The word “grace” in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God’s activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward man. In the Old Testament, the term that most often is translated “grace, ” is hen [ej]; in the New Testament, it is charis [cavri”].

The Old Testament. The word hen [ej] occurs around sixty times in the Old Testament. There are examples of man’s favor to man, but the theological concept of importance to us is the grace of God demonstrated toward man. The term occurs most often in the phrase favor “in your (i.e., God’s) sight” or “in the eyes of the Lord.” This assumes the notion of God as a watchful master or king, with the one who is finding favor, a servant, an employee, or perhaps a soldier.

The concept first occurs in Genesis 6:8. Noah finds “favor in the eyes of the Lord.” The context is that the Lord was grieved at “how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become” ( Gen 6:5 ). This statement about the Lord’s antipathy toward man is followed by his promise that he will wipe humankind from the face of the earth, that is, completely destroy him, because of his anger at their condition. Noah is then described as having found favor in the eyes of the Lord. The themes of judgment and salvation, in which the vast majority of humankind are condemned to destruction, while God finds favor on a few (Noah and his family), reoccurs often in connection with the idea of grace. Hence, concepts of election, salvation, mercy, and forgiveness are all linked in this first illustration of grace in the Old Testament. Interestingly, the rest of the references to favor in Genesis all describe favor in the eyes of man (e.g., Jacob begging Esau’s favor, 32:5 ; Genesis 33:8 Genesis 33:10Genesis 33:15 ).

Crucial among the Old Testament passages on the unmerited favor of God is the conversation between Moses and God recorded in Exodus 33. There, in the space of six verses, Moses is said to have found favor with God five times, hen [ej] being translated either “find favor” or “be pleased with.” At the beginning of the chapter, Moses goes into the tent of meeting, while the pillar of cloud stands at the entrance to the tent, and the people of Israel stay outside, worshiping (v. 10). The Lord speaks to Moses “face to face, s a man speaks with his friend.” In the passage, the conversation between Moses and the Lord has to do specifically with the favor that God shows to Moses, and Moses requests that God demonstrate that favor toward him. Moses begins by reminding God that he has called Moses to lead these people, but that God has not let him know whom he will send with Moses. The statement echoes the original conversation between Moses and God at the burning bush in chapter 3, where God promises to send Aaron with Moses to help him get the people out of Egypt. Here, the Lord promises only that his “Presence” will go with Moses, and that he will give him rest (v. 14). Moses has just stated that he knows God’s name (another echo of chap. 3), and that he has found favor with God; he requests that God teach him his ways, so that he may “know you and continue to find favor with you” (v. 13). Moses demonstrates his humble dependence upon the grace of God by affirming that if God’s Presence does not go up with them, he does not want to be sent, because he knows they will fail (v. 15). But he asks the reasonable question, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?” (v. 16). God promises to go with him in the next verse because “I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (v. 17).

Moses then makes one of the most remarkable requests of God ever made in Scripture, asking God to “show me your glory.” Just as remarkable is that God answers his request positively. He promised to “cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” and that he will proclaim his name “Yahweh” in Moses’ presence. He then makes a statement that is connected with grace throughout Scripture, one that Paul will quote in the context of election in Romans 9: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” This is a remarkable example of the unconditional and full character of the grace of God. God holds very little back, only telling Moses that he “cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Even this is an act of unconditional and full grace in that God has withheld from Moses what would destroy him. The passage closes with the strange instruction that God will cause his “glory” to pass by, Moses being hid in a cleft in a rock and covered with the hand of God until the glory has passed by. Then God will remove his hand and allow Moses to see the back of his glory, but not his face. Again, this protective, gracious act of God emphasizes the extent to which God is willing to go with his faithful servant to show his favor toward him.

Moses again speaks of finding favor with the Lord in Numbers 11:4-17. When the people of Israel complain at having only manna and not any meat, Moses cries out to the Lord in an apparently sincere state of vexation at the burden of judging this entire people by himself: “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right nowif I have found favor in your eyesand do not let me face my own ruin” (vv. 14-15). Without questioning his integrity or his strength of character, God immediately gives Moses a solution to his problem by appointing seventy of the elders of Israel to help him carry the burden of the people, “so that you will not have to carry it alone” (v. 17).

At the same time, God even answers the question that Moses has not asked: What about meat for the complaining people? God instructs Moses that he will give them meat for the month, though he will give them more meat than they want, as the story makes clear. The fact that the Lord brings judgment upon the people, however, does not vitiate the point of God’s favor toward Moses in this passage. He still Acts as a sovereign who gives complete, unmerited favor to his servant.

God’s favor sometimes extends to the fact that he will wait upon man as if he were his servant. Gideon, when called by God to lead Israel against Midian, asks God to wait while he goes to get his offering to set before him ( Judges 6:17 ). As with Moses, the statement is in the context of the promise of the Lord to be “with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together” ( Judges 6:16 ). When Gideon actually brings the offering that he has prepared, God shows his grace beyond what Gideon has asked by giving him instructions on where to place it and how to arrange it, then creating a supernatural fire that consumes the meat and the bread. After he disappears, Gideon realizes that he has seen the “angel of the Lord” and, interestingly, makes reference to the fact that he has seen him “face to face, ” recalling the passage in Exodus. God shows his grace one more time by assuring Gideon that although he is afraid since he has seen the angel of the Lord face to face, he is not going to die ( Judges 6:23 ).

Samuel, too, finds favor in the eyes of the Lord ( 1 Sam 2:26 ). Here, the boy Samuel is described as growing in stature and in favor, not only with the Lord, but also with men. This verse is quoted, of course, in the New Testament, using the heavily theologically weighted term charis [cavri”] in relation to Jesus ( Luke 2:52 ). It is significant because it is a description of the growth of a child in the favor of God. The child cannot earn that favor since he is merely a child. Thus, God’s grace toward those whom he loves grows in its extensiveness, as the child grows. This is perhaps no less important because of Samuel’s unique relationship to salvation history. He is the last of the judges and is the transitional figure between the period of the judges and the period of the kings in Israel’s history, as John the Baptist is in the New Testament between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament evangelists.

Remarkably, the life of David is devoid of references to finding favor in the eyes of the Lord, though often he finds favor in the eyes of men, or requests such favor ( 1 Sam 16:22 ; 1 Samuel 20:3 1 Samuel 20:29 , etc. ). One reference, however, is striking, especially in light of the dearth of references elsewhere. As David flees the city of Jerusalem after hearing that Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron, he takes the ark with him. A particularly faithful servant named Ittai, the Gittite, has declared his faithfulness to David, even though David has given him leave to go back and spare himself potential death by association with David. The procession continues into the desert, where it stops so that they can offer sacrifices with the ark in their midst. Then the king tells Zadok the priest to take the ark back into the city because he knows it belongs in the temple of the Lord. In a remarkable display of trust in God and in his sovereignty, David says that if he finds favor in the Lord’s eyes, then God will bring him back. But if he does not, then David is ready; as he puts it, “Let him do to me whatever seems good to him” ( 2 Sam 15:26 ). David recognizes that the unmerited favor of God has to do with God’s choice, not his. Grace in the Old Testament is just as much an act of the sovereign will of God as is grace in the New Testament.

The last prominent example of grace in the Old Testament is found in the Book of Esther. Of course, the book does not speak of God’s favor at all, but Esther’s humility in seeking the favor of the king has always been understood as a pointer toward human responsibility to humbly accept the grace of God. Esther finds favor in the eyes of the king and is rewarded with the freedom of her people ( 5:1-8 ; 7:3 ; 8:5-8 ).

Only a few references close out the notion of grace in the Old Testament, but they are significant. Ezra in his notable prayer to God when he finds that the people have intermarried with foreigners against God’s will (Ezra 9), states that God has been gracious to the people of Israel “for a brief moment, ” in doing two things. The first is that he has left the people of Israel a remnant. The remnant is a sign that God’s gracious favor bestowed upon Israel in the covenant continues on even in times of great disobedience and/or destruction among the Israelites, though this is the only reference to the remnant in the context in which hen [ej] is used in the Old Testament.

God has also given them “a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage” ( Ezr 9:8 ). Here is a reference to the grace that is shown the people in the giving of the temple and the light that it brings to Israel. But in the context of the Book of Ezra, this may also be a reference to the grace shown by God in giving Israel the Law, since the reading of the Law and the confession of the sin of the people on the basis of that reading is so important to this book.

Another crucial reference is found in Jeremiah 31. The famous passage about the new covenant (vv. 31-34) is enough of a statement about the grace of God on its own, but it is linked to the hen [ej] of God by the occurrence of that word in 31:2. Introducing the same passage with the phrase “at that time, ” an echo of the beginning of the covenant passage in 31:31, God says that “the people who survive the sword will find grace in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel.” Here is a promise of the grace of God given to the people when they are given the new covenant. The new covenant, of course, is a promise that God will be their God, and they will be his people, with the Law written upon their hearts and present in their minds, and the gracious promise that all God’s people will know him. From the least of them to the greatest, they will be forgiven their wickedness, and God will remember their sins no more.

The New Testament. Grace in the New Testament is largely encompassed by the use of the word charis [cavri”]. While the idea of unmerited favor is found in some other places, the concept may be fairly restricted within the bounds of this article to the use of that term. It is worth noting that, though Jesus is never quoted as using the word charis [cavri”], his teaching is full of the unmerited favor of God. Perhaps the parable of the prodigal son is the most obvious example. In that parable grace is extended to one who has no basis upon which to be shown that grace, other than the fact that he has asked in humility and repentance to be shown it. Other parables demonstrate grace in the teaching of Jesus, perhaps most notably the parable of the laborers in he vineyard ( Matt 20:1-16 ) and the parable of the great supper ( Luke 14:16-24 ).

While the idea of grace can be said to be largely a Pauline one, there are references to it in John and Luke as well. John describes Jesus as “full of grace and truth” and speaks of his people receiving grace upon grace from the fullness of his grace ( John 1:16 ). In one of the most important theological statements about grace in Scripture, John says that the Law, a good thing, was given through Moses; the better things of grace and truth came through Jesus Christ ( John 1:17 ).

When we turn to the writings of Luke, we find that Jesus is described as having the grace of God upon him ( Luke 2:40 ) and as growing in grace with God and man ( Luke 2:52 ). Many more references to grace are found in the Book of Acts. Luke makes a strong association between grace and power, especially in the early chapters ( 4:33 ; 6:8 ; 11:23 ). Grace is found without qualifier ( 18:27 ) and in the phrases “message of his grace” ( 14:3 ), “grace of God” ( 14:26 ), “grace of our Lord Jesus” ( 15:11 ), “grace of the Lord” ( 15:40 ). The distinction between these phrases does not seem acute, and therefore the basic synonymity between them points to an intention on Luke’s part to make a statement about the deity of Christ. Again, these phrases often seemed to be linked with the power of God to create spiritual life and to sustain Christians. This grace is, as in the Old Testament passages, an unmerited favor, but now a new aspect of power in the Spirit has been added to it.

The concept of grace is most prominently found in the New Testament in the epistles of Paul. The standard greeting in the Greek ancient world generally involved the verb charein. Paul’s greeting, however, was unique, combining the Hebrew greeting, shalom [/l’v] (eirene in Greek) with the word charis [cavri”]. This in itself is enough to note that Paul is thinking and not simply reacting as he writes his greeting.

The fact that he sometimes uses grace in his benedictions as well, which clearly are intentional, indicates that his greetings are to be taken with some seriousness. For instance, the benediction in 1 Corinthians 16:23, coming just after his dramatic plea to the Lord to come, demonstrates a strong belief in the grace of God. In the salutation of the letter ( 1:3 ), one gets a greeting that follows on from a strongly worded theological statement about sanctification and calling ( 1:2 ) and that leads into a statement about grace in 1:4 demonstrating the theological import Paul intends. A similar seriousness could be argued about the other salutations in Paul’s letters.

Overwhelmingly in the letters of Paul God is the subject of grace. He gives it freely and without merit. Hence the many different phrases connected with grace: the grace of God ( Rom 5:15 ), the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 2 Cor 13:14 ), and the like. Sometimes this is explicitly stated, as in Ephesians 4:7: “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Interestingly, Paul sometimes mentions the gift of grace from God using alongside it language that speaks of human responsibility. So in Romans 15:16, Paul speaks of “the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God.” Grace, then, is the power with which the human being then performs his or her gifted task. This is even more clearly seen in Paul’s self-defense in Galatians. In one of the most truly dialectic passages in Scripture, Paul proclaims that he has died, yet lives, yet not he but Christ lives, yet he lives in the body by faith. He then argues that in living “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, ” that he is not “setting aside the grace of God” ( 2:20-21 ). Only an argument that Paul was too dependent upon works in his life would create the argument that he was not setting aside the grace of God in his understanding of the sanctified Christian life.

Grace can be such a forceful thought for Paul that he sometimes anthropomorphizes it. Hence, in 1 Corinthians 15:10, in the midst of an emotional defense of his apostleship despite the fact that he had persecuted the church of God, Paul says that he is what he is by the grace of God. He then goes on to compare himself to others who had worked among the community, the other apostles, and declares that he worked harder than all of them. In order that this statement might not seem boastful, Paul follows it up by saying “yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Though this grace is said to be God’s grace, it nevertheless is said to be “with him, ” and working harder than the other apostles, and is tantamount to equating the grace of God with the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 1:6 Paul speaks of the “glorious grace” of God, which should garner our praise. Of course, once again, Paul is not expecting us to praise an abstract comment, but he is thinking of the grace of God working so mightily in his life that it becomes a metonymy for God. The highly rhetorical character of the passage in which this verse is found ( 1:3-14 ) helps explain the power of this statement. The point is that Paul was so saturated with the notion of grace in his writing that he thought of it as an essential, if not the essential attribute of God.

Grace is most often associated in Paul with other terms having to do with salvation. We see it related to election ( Eph 1:3-6 ), to the gospel ( 2 Col 4:15 ; Col 1:5-6 ), explicitly to justification (Romans passim, esp. 3:23-26 ; Eph 2:8-9 ), and most often to sanctification ( Romans 5:2 Romans 5:21 ; Romans 6:1 Romans 6:14 Romans 6:15 ; 2 Col 12:9 ; Eph 2:10 ; Titus 2:11-14 ). It is even used with the human subject in speaking of the collection for Jerusalem as a work of grace.

In connecting grace to election Paul sees God as electing us before the creation of the world for the purpose of holiness and blamelessness ( Eph 1:4 ). He predestined us to be adopted as sons into the family of God ( Eph 1:5 ). All of this elective work is so that we might “praise his glorious grace.” In other words, election and grace go hand in hand because of their free character. We can do nothing to deserve them.

This is the essential connection also with the gospel. In one of Paul’s passages about the suffering that a minister of Christ undergoes, he speaks of faith and continuing in ministry “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence” ( 2 Cor 4:14 ). Paul sees this as the benefit of not only the Corinthians but also all who receive his ministry, so that “the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart” (vv. 15-16). Grace thus renews Paul’s inward spirit and assures him of glory in the afterlife (vv. 16-17). Hence, Paul’s ministry is not one that he always does joyfully or motivated by his own power, but rather motivated by faith that God is working in the present and will reward him in the eschaton.

In the same way, he links the grace of God with the gospel in Colossians 1:5-6. The word of truth, the gospel, is bearing fruit and growing at the present time “just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (v. 6). The parallel descriptions of “gospel” and “grace” as “truth” link the two as synonyms in the passage. This grace is therefore the “hope that is stored up for [them] in heaven” (v. 5), presumably something God is doing in heaven for them, and hence free from merit.

Perhaps the most dominant metaphor with which grace is associated is the legal metaphor of justification. We see the two linked in two very important passages in which grace is used in Paul. Romans 3:23-24 states quite clearly that all have fallen short of the glory of God and are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Here, while the language of the slave market may be implied in the use of the word “redemption, ” and that of the cultus in the use of the phrase “sacrifice of atonement” in the next verse, the strongest linking with grace in this passage is with the word “justified” in verse 24. Hence the unmerited favor of God buys us legal freedom from our sin and cancels the sentence of guilt the judge has had to declare in order “to be just and the one who justified those who have faith in Jesus” (v. 26). It is interesting to note that the next thought of Paul is: “where, then, is boasting? It is excluded” (v. 27), again emphasizing that grace is free and not the work of man.

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul states the free character of grace perhaps even more explicitly, now not using the language of justification but simply of salvation. We are told that we have been saved “by grace” but “through faith.” Grace is seen here as the means by which we are saved, a free gift; faith is seen as the mechanism by which that salvation or grace is appropriated. Paul must then go on to argue that even faith is “not by works so that no one can boast” (v. 9).

This does not mean that Paul keeps grace separate from works in sanctification, for he goes right on to speak of us being God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works (v. 10). Similarly, grace is seen as being in the midst of our present Christian life. In Romans 5:2 Paul speaks of gaining “access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” and in 5:21 of grace reigning “through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” While all of this is in the context of the grace of God as a gift versus the Law of God as a work, nevertheless grace is viewed as reigning even as we live the life we are supposed to live in Christ. Hence the argument of Romans 6 that we are not to go on sinning so that grace may increase, but we are to “count [ourselves] dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus for sin shall not be [our] master, because [we] are not under law, but under grace” (vv. 11-14). The key metaphor used in this chapter to describe this “work” of sanctification is “offer.” Hence we are not to “offer the parts of [our] body to sin as instruments of wickedness, ” but rather offer ourselves to God, “as those who have been brought from death to life” (v. 13). This is done as slaves, offering ourselves in obedience to him (v. 16).

Even the suffering of the present Christian life is linked to the grace that God gives us. In Paul’s famous statement about the thorn in his flesh ( 2 Cor 12:7-10 ), he speaks of asking three times that this thorn be taken from him, only to receive the answer “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Here grace is equated with the power to live the Christian life and to do ministry in the name of Christ. So Paul delights even in the hardships of that ministry. In a similar way, the whole of the Christian life is linked to grace in tit 2:11-14. This grace “teaches us to say No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.” Here we see both the ethic of the Christian life (saying no and living uprightly) and the thought of the Christian life (the blessed hope) combined under the reign of grace.

Finally, grace is associated strongly with the gifts of the Spirit. This is true of the list of gifts in Ephesians 4:3-11 corporately to the church and the gifts given to individuals within the church for its edification ( Rom 12:4-8 ; 1 Cor 12 ). In all of the work of grace about which Paul speaks, the Spirit has been implicit if not directly explicit. Hence, even though grace is not specifically mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, we find that the Spirit gives to each one a gift “as he determines” (v. 11). The simple mention of these attributes as “gifts” throughout the chapter implies that they are a work of grace as well, but the connection with grace is explicit in the parallel passage of Romans 12:3-8. Here Paul states we have different gifts “according to the grace given us” (v. 6), and he has opened the passage by proclaiming that the source of his statement about thinking of others more than you think of yourself by saying that it comes through grace (v. 3). The somewhat different list in Ephesians 4 is similarly controlled by the notion of grace. Paul states in verse 7 “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” As he then describes this grace that has been given, it comes in the form of apostles, evangelists, and pastors/teachers in order “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v. 11).

The notion of grace as connected to the Spirit of God is continued by the author of Hebrews in such a way that even mentions “the Spirit of grace” ( 10:29 ). Hebrews also emphasizes the connection of grace to salvation ( 2:9 ), sanctification ( 4:16 ;12:15 ; 13:9 ), and the final blessing of God ( 13:25 ).

The other literature in the New Testament also emphasizes the free character of grace. The one reference in James links it to God’s gift ( 4:6 ). Peter, who also includes it in his greeting, quotes the same Old Testament verse as James ( 1 Peter 5:5 ) and speaks of us as stewards of the grace of God ( 4:10 ). Peter also closes his second epistle with a benediction in joining us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The Book of Revelation also begins with a salutation and closes with a benediction that includes grace ( 1:4 ; 22:21 ), the only two references to grace in the entire book.

Andrew H. Trotter, Jr.

See also FavorPaul the Apsotle

Bibliography. H. Conzelman, TDNT, 9:359-415; H.-H. Esser, NIDNTT, 2:115-24; A. B. Luter, Jr., DPL, pp. 372-74; J. Moffatt, Grace in the New Testament; C. R. Smith, The Bible Doctrine of Grace; J. H. Stringer, NBD, pp. 442-44.

No Sin Is Beyond Christ’s Forgiveness

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NIV)

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

“I’ve often said that one of life’s hardest lessons is that we cannot change the past. When you’re driving somewhere and you take a wrong road, you can always go back and take the right one—but we can’t do that in life. Bad decisions always have bad consequences—always.

Image result for billy graham

But listen: You can change the future—with God’s help. And that’s why I urge you not to turn your back on God’s people. Yes, it may be difficult or embarrassing for you to return to the church you once attended—but that doesn’t mean God can’t guide you to a new group of believers who can encourage and help you. If our bodies are sick we’ll go where we can find help—and if we’re spiritually sick we ought to do the same. The Bible says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

The first step, however, is for you to seek God’s forgiveness for whatever you’ve done. Don’t let shame, or fear, or guilt, or anything else keep you from Christ. He loves you and offers you forgiveness as a free gift—a gift He paid for at the cost of His own blood. No sin is beyond His forgiveness. Leave your burden of guilt and shame at the foot of the cross.

Then ask God to help you walk with Him every day. In addition, ask Him to use you in the lives of others, helping them avoid the traps you fell into and to live instead for Christ.”

Billy Graham