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The Grace Age

Romans 5:12-21
(12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
(13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
(14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
(15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
(16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
(17) For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
(18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
(19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
(21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this passage the apostle Paul refers to the “grace of God,” “the gift by grace,” “abundance of grace,” and the wonderful truth that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Notice in v.21 that whereas sin reigned in time past, grace is REIGNING today through the righteousness of Christ. Paul refers to salvation as a "gift" six times in the passage.

Grace has to do with showing favor and kindness to those who do not deserve it. Ever since the fall of man, God has shown grace to sinners. By grace He provided a covering for Adam and Eve ("grace" is found 39 times in OT). However, in this present age, God is showing His grace to a much greater degree than ever before (131 times in NT, 91 times by Paul). There is a difference between grace in an age, and an age of grace. There is a difference between grace in a dispensation, and a dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2). The apostle Paul describes the grace of God with superlatives like “abundance” and “exceeding abundant.” In this age God is reaching down lower than He ever has that He might lift up sinners higher than He ever has (Eph. 2:1-6)!

God has a twofold purpose that is implied in the first verse of the Bible. The prophetic program concerns God’s purpose to establish His kingdom on the EARTH through Israel. He chose that nation to be a kingdom of priests. They rejected the Father in the OT, the Son in the Gospels, and the Holy Ghost in Acts. At the stoning of Stephen everything was ready for God to pour out wrath (Acts 7:56), but instead He poured out grace! He saved the leader of the rebellion against Him (Acts 9), and revealed His secret purpose concerning the HEAVENLY places through him. The Body of Christ is one new spiritual man seated with Christ in heavenly places, and destined to reign with Him eternally in the heavens. God is not at war with the world in this age, but rather He has sent out His ambassadors with a message of peace and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

However, make no mistake about it, the "wrath to come" will come and the "day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2) will give way to the "day of his wrath" (Rev. 6:17) AFTER the Lord’s ambassadors are called home to heaven in the rapture. There is a difference between an age and a dispensation, but they are related. Ages are periods of time ("other ages," "ages to come"), and dispensations have to do with how God is dealing with man during the ages. Christ dispensed the revelations of this present age through Paul, and the grace he needed to make them known (Eph. 3:1-13).

We may rightly call this present age the Grace Age because:

I. We are SAVED by Grace (Rom. 3:24; 11:6)

The only gospel by which we are saved in this present age is the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 1:13). To add any works of man whatsoever to the gospel of the grace of God is to pervert it (Gal. 1:6-12).

II. We STAND in Grace (Rom. 5:1-2)
We are not living under a performance-based religious system. We are not working for acceptance with God because he has already accepted us in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). I don't have to keep myself in fellowship with God, or work to stay on “praying ground.” We live under grace (Rom. 6:14). This means that the core operating principle in the believer’s relationship with God and others is grace. The law said, "Do and be blessed." Grace says, "You are blessed, now do." Living under grace is not about liberty to sin, but liberty from sin (see Rom. 6).

III. We SERVE by grace (Rom. 12:1-8)
Christ has a role for every member of His Body to fulfill (Eph. 4:16). The sign gifts ceased with the setting aside of Israel and the completion of the word of God (1 Cor. 13:8-13). However, the principle of God giving us the grace we need to fulfill our responsibilities in the ministry still applies today.

In light of these wonderful truths, shouldn't we be emphasizing the grace of God? It is the only way that sinners are saved! It is the only way saints are going to live for God. Several years ago, someone tried to warn me about my emphasis on grace. He said that we also needed the law. The law does not stop, or even reduce sin our lives (1 Cor. 15:56)! It is the grace of God that teaches us how to live godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-15). Do you know the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:6)?


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