Five Points Blog
- Brent Nelson
- Jul 24, 2014
Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”
God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29).
One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.
Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace! This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!
In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true.
Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives. We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.
The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.
Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.
- Brent Nelson
- Jul 17, 2014
God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence.
We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power.
Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).
But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.
So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!
Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.
- Brent Nelson
- Jul 10, 2014
Out of his great love and rich mercy God has made us alive when we were dead! “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved“ (Ephesians 2:5).
Because of our sin and the sin of our first ancestor, Adam, we are all born into death. A curse covers humanity like a blanketing fog. All are born into sin and therefore sin. This is why we die twice, both physically and spiritually. This is also why Jesus could instruct his followers, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60). There are vertical corpses, those walking about yet dead in relation to Christ.
But for some, those of God’s free choosing, he overcomes death and makes alive. Because of God’s great love, a love that surpasses his love for the world, and owing to his rich mercy, a mercy both boundless and priceless, God made these objects of mercy to live!
By what warrant can a holy God make the dead live? By exchanging the death of his Son for the life of his enemies. It is our trespasses, our sin, that cause death. When our sin is forgiven, we live. Romans 5 makes this clear, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (v.10). Christ’s death purchases life for those to whom God grants mercy.
God gives life. He owes it to no one; it flows from his great mercy. He does so for the purpose of love. He achieves all this by the great exchange of his Son’s life for ours. If you have it, cry out for joy and for witness. If you don’t, cry out for mercy. God will hear and give life.
- Brett Toney
- Jul 03, 2014
At the end of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we read that his final and highest desire is for all of his disciples to enjoy the triune relationship of love that the Father, Son, and Spirit have enjoyed for all eternity. Commenting on John 17:21, 23 in one of the greatest theological works, The End for Which God Created the World, the eminent theologian Jonathan Edwards writes:
[T]hose elect creatures ... must be viewed as being, as it were, one with God. They were respected as brought home to him, united with him, centering most perfectly in him, and as it were swallowed up in him so that his respect to them finally coincides and becomes one and the same with respect to himself. The interest of the creature, is, as it were, God’s own interest, in proportion to the degree of their relation and union to God. Thus the interest of a man’s family is [looked] upon as the same with his own interest because of the relation they stand in to him, his propriety in them, and their strict union with him.
But consider God’s elect creatures with respect to their eternal duration, so they are infinitely dearer to God than a man’s family is to him. What has been said shows that as all things are from God as their first cause and fountain, so all things tend to him, and in their progress come nearer and nearer to him through all eternity, which argues that he who is their first cause is their last end.
What Jesus and Edwards hold out to us—and an unbelieving world—is the perfection of our joy and the full communication of God’s glory through our eternal union with God. Our joy and God’s glory are not opposed. They are intimately united through our intimate union with God.
This is what Jesus asks the Father to accomplish through his work. This is what disciples of Jesus are sent into the world to declare.
Join us this Sunday for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the joy that is ours because of our intimate union with the triune God.
- Brent Nelson
- Jun 26, 2014
The New Testament is virtually silent on the subject of tithing. Apart from Jesus affirming tithing (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42), tithing is not specifically mentioned. Why is this so, when it is so clearly affirmed in the Old Testament? Abraham, Melchizedek, the Exodus, and throughout Israel’s history, offering a tenth of all that God has given to worship him was the norm. But why is this not carried over to the New Covenant?
The answer comes under the umbrella idea of how Christians should relate to the Old Testament law. The Old Testament law, of which tithing was a part, no longer controls us who are under grace. In its place has come the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, I Corinthians 9:21). We have died to the law and live to Christ.
You can see this clearly in Romans 7:4,6, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God...But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
In the New Covenant we’ve been turned away from law keeping and toward obedience to Christ by the Spirit all for the cause of love.
Being born again, we should cherish our freedom in Christ so highly, value our riches in God so highly, and enjoy our forgiveness of sin so highly that we would love to give freely in
his name. In other words, the better promises of the New Covenant calls for greater giving than merely the tithe of the Old Covenant.
In Sunday’s message we’ll reflect on how cheerful stewardship of God’s money springs from our love for Jesus Christ.