God's Grace is the 'central theme' of the New Testament. Nothing else is in itself apart from the Grace of God. That is revolutionary thinking for anyone who even thinks outside the box. The Greek word "Charis" occurs about 155 times in the New Testament, about 100 of these just in the letters of Paul.
"Charis" plays a crucial role in the New Testament's presentation of God's relationship to mankind. Grace is the "autograph" of the decree of God's kingdom; it is governed by Grace. Grace also shapes existence in the new age of the Kingdom.
Even in Luke 4:19 God reveals the concept of "Charis" is consistently defined in terms of God's "gracious" act of redemption in Christ Jesus. God's intervention in history for establishing a New Covenant as well as His effort to maintain the New Covenant are all manifestations of His grace. Grace is simultaneously the cause as well as the effect of the saving work of Jesus Christ. The main gifts we receive because of Grace are the forgiveness of sins, fellowship with God, and eternal life. We see this in Romans 3:24 and following; 5:1 and following; and Ephesians 2:5 and following.
Everything that Jesus says and does reveals and actualizes the Grace of God; thus "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" -(John 1:17), and "of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace" -(John 1:16). Jesus' message about the kingdom of God, the central element of His preaching, expresses God's grace. The Kingdom's coming is no less a sovereign act of grace, an unmerited, undeserved, merciful gift -(Matthew 18:14; Luke 2:14; 12:32). The recipients of grace include the unworthy -(Matthew 5:5; 11:5; Luke 15:21 and following; 18:13-14), the lost -(Luke 15), and the sinful -(Matthew 9:13). By virtue of the shedding of His blood, Jesus established the New Covenant; moreover, He secured redemption for pardoned sinners -(Matthew 26:28).
Grace is also a central concept, if not the preeminent concept, in the Apostle Paul's theology; his entire theology might be termed "a theology of grace". God's grace partially concerns the favor and goodness of God toward sinners which displaces His wrath -(Romans 5:2). At the same time, Paul considered grace to pertain also to the merciful act of God sending His Son as the atonement for humanity's sins -(Romans 5:8-9). Because of His grace God justifies the unworthy and undeserving. Through grace in Christ Jesus He grants them a share in eternal life -(Romans 3:24 and following; 5:1-15).
Being a Christin means one is a "partaker" of God's grace -(Philippians 1:17). It is in this grace that believers "stand" -(Romans 5:2). Grace is the sphere of existence for believers -(Romans 1:7; 1st Corinthians 1:3; Colossians 1:2), and they live every aspect of their lives in light of this fact. They are, as Paul said in Romans 6:4, "under grace". Although they "stand" in grace, they may also "fall" from it -(Galatians 5:4), "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace". This is a profound statement on the contrast from the Mosaic Law, which dominates the thinking of so many confused believers, including many web sites that pushes the "Judaizer-style" law on its readers! Their intent is less obvious, and more subtle, but by the method of their interpretation of the Bible is to reject such things as the birth of the Church in Acts 2; their misrepresentation of the so-call lost tribes of Israel being the UK and America; by their position that states Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled by 70 AD; etc. This comes as a total misunderstanding of the entire Biblical message. They further confuse their readers by pushing all the lies and heresy of those extra-Biblical books, which serve to offer up plate of weeds and thorns. The use of sensationalism is more of a distraction to hide or keep one's eyes off of their ignorance [lack of knowledge/understanding]. Their problem is they are confused and lost to what Galatians 5:4 states above. Pray for the folks that have been deceived by the lies of Armstrongism and are smug-face defiant to the pure Gospel of Grace.
Grace as a way of salvation stands in radical opposition to any notion that one can be Saved by the Law. Grace excludes any hope of achieving righteousness through works of the Law, or self-redemption -(Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:4). Likewise, human praise and wisdom are ineffective for securing salvation, "For by grace are ye save through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" -(Ephesians 2:8, 9; confirmed in Titus 3:5). Grace and faith, therefore, complement one another -(Romans 4:16; Ephesians 2:8). By faith we accept grace, and by faith the grace is in effect. Grace and faith, they, form an inseparable unity -(1st Timothy 1:14). There is no need to turn to extra-Biblical writings or so-called missing books. They have nothing to add or take away from God's Saving Grace!
In one sense it is proper to speak of different levels of grace -(Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:7). God's grace may be manifested expressly through the gifts ("Charismata") given and distributed by the Spirit of God. Believers also can be strong or weak in their faith -(2nd Timothy 2:1; confirmed in John 1:16; 2nd Peter 3:18). The effects of grace take place on a multiplicity of levels. One can speak of the "manifold grace of God" -(1st Peter 4:10; confirmed Romans 1:11; 2nd Corinthians 1:15). The various gifts of grace and demonstrations of grace are all manifestations of the one grace - the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Grace instructs us in holy living and provides the impetus for sanctification -(confirmed in 2nd Timothy 2:1; Titus 2:12).
Paul's understanding of grace is echoed elsewhere in the New Testament. The message of God's saving act in Christ Jesus is thus described as "the Gospel of the grace of God" -(Acts 20:24) and the "word of His grace" -(Acts 20:32; confirmed in Acts 14:3). In this work of grace Jesus Christ tastes death -(Hebrews 2:9). Also, at the "throne of grace" believers receive "grace to help" -(Hebrews 4:16). To become a Christian is to experience the grace of God and to hold it fast -(Acts 11:23; 13:43). This is the distinguishing aspect of what differentiates us from being CINO's, "Christians in name only", or what some define as being "carnal Christians". Other terms such as "Easy Grace" "Easy Believism" or "Cheap Grace" are often thrown about by legalists to demean genuine grace.
The Apostle John did not speak of grace as frequently as the Apostle Paul; however, his whole notion of love ("agape") includes the concept of grace. Here too the notion of grace involves first and foremost the saving act of God in Christ, just as it did for Paul -(John 1:14-17). Grace forms the basis for fellowship with God and the forgiveness of sins -(1st John 1:6, and following). And again, faith works hand in hand with grace to see that forgiveness realized -(John 3:16, 36).
In summary, one could say that "Charis" primarily denotes the demonstration of God's grace, favor, kindness, mercy toward mankind. This especially relates to the work of Christ Jesus as that demonstration. Moreover, it concerns the effects of this gesture of grace: a new relationship with God based upon faith and grace. "Charis" further expresses the manifestations of God's grace that believers continue to receive in the life of the Church, the example being in the "Charismata" or gifts.
God's act of grace in the giving of His only Son was accomplished for all mankind -(Titus 2:11). Nevertheless, grace is a sign of God's delight in humanity an can only take place in keeping with the covenant established on Calvary -(Romans 3:22-25). Only those who acknowledge and share in the grace of God, manifest in Christ's atoning death, can stand in God's grace -(Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:12-14). Outside of fellowship with God, God's wrath is still in effect -(Romans 4:1 and following; 8:1 and following; Ephesians 2:3 and following; and confirmed in John 3:36). Do not overlook that point, a serious mistake of the "cheap or the easy grace" individual. God's grace and favor are realized only upon the condition of faith-(Romans 5:1, 2, 17; 6:1 and following). Apart from accepting by faith the gracious act of God in Christ, one cannot participate in the justification and redemption provided in Christ Jesus, which includes the averting of God's inevitable wrath because of sin. Therefore, grace closely parallels favor in the Old Testament, especially as it concerns the covenant relationship between God and His people. Grace rests at the foundation of all Biblical covenants and is the central or sole basis for the forgiveness of sins.
A balanced understanding of Grace is essential in order not to mislead in regards to our understanding of "deliverance" as revealed in Scripture. "Deliverance" is a 'one-word' description of the book of Exodus, where God delivered the Israelites from slavery and bondage to the Promised Land. This is a "typology" picture of God's grace at work in the Old Testament. But it was but a mere shadow of what was to come for those who received God's gift of salvation. Isaiah 51:1 states, "Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance - all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined".
Far too many people today have forgotten that God is still in the deliverance business. There are lots of the types of friends like those of Job around to tell us we should just curse God and die. We do not have to go very far on the Internet to find these negative, misguided, and blinded folks that have lost the vision of what God plans to do in His Covenant people. We are His people of the New Covenant of Grace. We do not have to submit to the negativism that comes forth from the likes of those that seem to get some sort of satisfaction in throwing cold water on our Blessed Hope! It's as if they want something bad to happen to us so that they can say, "See, I told you so!"
A real story that has been an inspiration to so many was that of Stanley Primnath. Stanley was a Vice President for Fuji Bank, and on September 11th, 2001, Stanley was in his office in the South Tower at the World Trade Center when his phone rang. An employee in the Chicago office called and ask if he was alright. He tells that he turned to look out the window and said "I'm fine", and as he was saying those words he saw the most surreal sight of a low-flying commercial jet, heading straight for his tower. He dropped the phone and dove under the desk, and began praying to God "Lord, help me" as the aircraft smashed into the South Tower.
The smell of jet fuel in the air, equipment scattered all around, rubble covering the floor, dust in the air, he began clawing across heaps of debris. "Lord, I have to go home to my family" he wheezed. "I have to see my daughters". Just then he saw a light. "I am here to help you". He thought, "This is my guardian angel! The Lord sent somebody to help me!" Stanley's guardian angel was Brian Clark, a Christian, who was in the office 3 floors below. The two miraculously climbed out of the rubble to safety.
Stanley Primnath stated, "My Lord has some unfinished tasks for me". He said he took the tattered clothes he was wearing that day, put them in a box, and wrote 'DELIVERANCE' all over it. He said, "I told my wife, if I ever grow spiritually cold, I want you to bring this box to me, open it up, and show me what the Lord brought me for me". Today, Stanley pastors a small church not far from his home. Stanley understand "God's Grace" better than most people today. Anyone that experienced a close encounter with death can empathize with Stanely Primnath.
Deliverance might contain a small reminder rock, so that we better can remember the rock from which we are cut, and the quarry from which we are mined. God has not forsaken us, His people. No bondage is too strong for Him to overthrow, no enslavement that He cannot cancel.
The New Testament radiates God's message of Grace and it contains the elements of "Deliverance" all throughout the pages from the Gospels to the Revelation of Christ Jesus. We can take the promise of "Deliverance" to the bank of eternity, because God's message repeatedly reminds of us that God will deliver us from the wrath to come. That promise is wrapped up in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture!
The nay-sayers continued to beat the drum that you and I will go through the Biblical Tribulation. The host of one web site says there is no one verse in the Bible that says there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. And yet, they will deny the hundreds of pieces of evidence that I have shared previously that paints a beautiful picture through type, and shadow, the "diamond and nuggets" as I refer to them as, that only a loving God could have placed within the New Testament. I do not believe it was placed there as some sort of a bad joke to simply deceive or trick us. Unfortunately, their fruits are all too obvious from what trees they bloom.
I would also remind you that for thousands of years we did not have any historical proof, not even a single piece or stitch of evidence to confirm the fact that the Biblical Exodus of the Jews occurred either. The story of crossing the Red Sea seemed to have been a fable, a myth written as propaganda to encourage a persecuted people. The church even tried to allegorize the Red Sea event via various contrived stories to somehow defend God's Word. The Word of God does not need defending, it is Truth. Nonetheless, over the centuries the church painted itself into a corner, and as usual, only God could "deliver" a solution. In 2000, Dr. Lennart Moller published his book 'The Exodus Case', in which the Exodus crossing of the Red Sea was revealed. The book contains around 500 color photographs, many of the debris laying on the bottom of the land-bridge beneath the Red Sea at Yom Suph, and so much more. You can watch the archived 2-part program interview of Dr. Lennert Moller with the late J.R. Church and Gary Stearman of the television program "Prophecy in the News". Simply Google "The Exodus Case".
I have said all this simply as a reminder to note the fact that, if there isn't a single verse, and I would most fervently disagree, that we have, not just a "crumb trail" if you like, that confirms God's Word in Proverbs 25:2, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter". We have a battle plan laid out before our eyes! The Bible is overflowing with evidence that declares the Pre-Tribulation Rapture! One would have to be blind not to see the grand design of God's plan of removing His Bride/Church. If not blind, then obtuse! These "out to lunch" folks needn't eat your lunch in the interim waiting period which can be filled with trepidation and anxiety as well as excitement for some. Their fear-mongering should be of no concern for those of you "In Christ" because you are covered by His Grace! Stay alert to the signs, be awake, and at work by sharing your faith, by showing how God has worked in past prophecy, and how God is at work in prophecy, and in prophecies to come. The signs are all around us today in Spades!
I can't stress enough the importance that you share the Good News with everyone you can possibly reach. Even if I am wrong about Rosh HaShanah 2015, this does not change the long-term outcome. It simply confirms that the Hebrew "Idiom" that no one knows the day or hour of His coming. I have noted numerous times the words of HIlton Sutton who said, "when the bombs are descending, the saints will be ascending!"
Maranatha, Lord Jesus Come Quickly,