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GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 05/16/04.
Virtue and Grace. 2 Peter 1:1-8.

Philippians 4:8 (corrected translation) From now on, members of the Royal Family of God, whatever is true[doctrinal], whatever is honorable [noble or worthy of respect], whatever is just [fair or right], whatever is pure [of proper motivation] whatever personal loves exist, whatever is commendable, if there is any virtue and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

Our study of virtue has brought us to 2PE 1:1-11, which is a fantastic passage describing all the aspects of the virtue of the Christian way of life. In verse 2, we read, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." The Greek word for "grace" is charis, which refers to the policy of God toward man. Grace is God's right to deal with us on the basis of the Cross. Grace always depends on the character and nature of God.

All three members of the Trinity are involved in this policy of grace, where grace is the policy of God the Father, the work of God the Son, and the enabling power of the Spirit. All three members of the Trinity invested everything they had in grace. It required a policy to be established by the Sovereign of the universe. It took an amazing, unique, unprecedented action called the Cross of Jesus Christ to set it up. It takes ongoing unlimited power flowing from the Godhead to mankind to perpetuate this concept called grace.

What is the purpose of grace? Why did God do it? What is God accomplishing with this policy, this investment, this unprecedented allocation of resources? Well, God has put everything on the line, so to speak, to back up grace, and it is all His work. God will never bless us because of human merit but because we have His righteousness as born-again believers. God blesses on the basis of His merit, His virtue, and His holiness.

The moment we made a non-meritorious decision to believe in Jesus Christ, God performed at least 40 benefits for us; among these are imputing His righteousness to our soul, creating in us a human spirit, and giving us eternal life,TIT 3:5-7, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

His grace justified us, meaning that the grace of God imputed to our souls the very righteousness that in turn made us eligible to receive all the other blessings from the "grace pipeline." The pipeline begins at God's justice and ends at God's righteousness resident in our souls. The imputation of righteousness at salvation means instant justification and a lifetime of grace provision. In order to even get started with us, God had to perform radical surgery at the very beginning. This necessitated a plan, a plan that would require omnipotence, sacrifice, and genius. It also required that He reveal to all the angels, and all creation, something about Him called grace.

1CO 15:45-49 So it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man is from earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [Jesus Christ].

At the moment of salvation we receive a human spirit, and we become a brand new creature, a new spiritual species, and that is major surgery.
2CO 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2PE 1:3 Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

The grace of God always comes first, setting the stage for every facet of the Christian way of life.
· JOH 1:17 - grace and truth
· ROM 1:7 - grace and peace
· EPH 2:8 - grace and faith
· 1TI 1:2 - grace and mercy
· 2PE 3:18 - grace and knowledge

Grace sets the stage for truth, peace, faith, mercy, and knowledge. It is necessary to be reminded of the grace of God as we set out to learn and master the mechanics of virtue in 2PE 1:5-8, Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith [doctrine] supply moral excellence [virtue], and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours [spiritual maturity] and are increasing [spiritual momentum], they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This passage shows how one quality in our soul leads to and develops another, and then another. This study requires that we examine ourselves to see if these qualities are being manifested in our lives.

We always need to be reminded of grace, which is the source of our blessing, and also of the Giver of the gift of virtue. However, lest we become ensnared by our own arrogance, and we begin thinking that we are somehow responsible for these qualities in our souls, we need to look at the end of Peter's letter. What is Peter's final conclusion in the matter?
2PE 3:17 You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand [the existence of false prophets and the destruction of earth and the heavens on the day of the Lord], be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Daniel put it like this in DAN 12:3, "And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."

Without grace, there would have been no justification, no regeneration, no reconciliation, and no salvation. Without salvation, there would have been no faith, and without faith, there would have been no virtue. It all begins with grace. Grace is the producer of the whole show. Grace produces the show that virtue stars in.

Philippians 4:8">PHI 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true [doctrinal], whatever is honorable [noble], whatever is right [just or fair], whatever is pure [of proper motivation], whatever is lovely [pertaining to those areas of personal love in your life], whatever is of good repute [commendable about others], if there is any excellence [arete, meaning virtue] and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

Virtue is God's word in action, ISA 55:10-11, "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."

2PE 1:3-8 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith [doctrine] supply moral excellence [virtue], and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours [spiritual maturity] and are increasing [spiritual momentum], they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These are the passages where Peter develops the analogy of Greek drama in connection with virtue, with virtue as the lead actor on the stage. God has established the means whereby He can give to us magnificent blessings without compromising His attributes, and this is called grace. Part of the grace orientation of the mature believer is becoming a master in the basic principles of grace so that he can function properly and magnificently as an ambassador for Christ. There are seven conclusions we can draw with regard to the subject of grace.

1. God exists, PSA 14:1, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good."

2. God reveals Himself through the Bible, 2PE 1:20-21, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophesy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

3. God has a plan for the Church. God not only has a plan, but His plan is perfect, and His plan includes you.

4. God's plan is based on a policy, and His policy is called grace. Jesus Christ came to reveal the grace of God to all creation, JOH 1:17, "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ."After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there were 11 men who were entrusted with carrying the good news of this new dispensation called the Church.

5. The grace of God is divided into three categories: (1) pre-salvation grace, TIT 2:11, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men"; (2) salvation grace, EPH 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God"; (3) post-salvation grace, GAL 2:20a, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."

6. The Church-age believer is saved by grace, therefore, we are required by God to live by grace, COL 2:5-7, "For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord [that is, by the grace of God], so walk in Him [also by the grace of God], having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."

7. Every believer owes both the plan and the grace of God a hearing. God makes this perfectly clear throughout His Word. The perfectly logical conclusion is this: If God exists, and if He has revealed Himself through an incredible book called the Bible, and if He has put together this awesome plan just for you called grace, then He is giving to you in grace, no matter where you are in life; even if you have not yet believed in Him, He still continues giving. The rain comes down and the sun shines for all of us.

The Doctrine of Grace

1. Grace is not held back or withdrawn because of failure; in fact, it is one's failures and faults that usually compel him to reach out for the kindness and benefits of grace.

2. Grace cannot be lessened because of failure or sin. This means that God cannot to do less in grace for one who is sinful than He would have done if that person had been less sinful. Through the Cross, the sin question has been set aside forever, and grace is extended to all mankind.

3. Grace cannot incur a debt. An act is not gracious if under any circumstances a debt or an obligation results.

4. Grace is not something that God owes the human race because of the Cross. The payment of a debt could never be an act of grace. The offer of salvation to the human race is not something that God owed the human race; is it not something He had to do. It is a free gift and strictly a manifestation of the grace of God.

5. Grace is never the overpayment of a debt or a reward for trying hard. Grace is neither treating a person "as" he deserves, nor treating a person "better" than he deserves. Grace is treating a person without the slightest reference to what he deserves.

6. Grace did not appear in the immediate divine dealings with the sins of the world. Grace did not judge our sins; justice and righteousness did.

7. Grace is not the issue in dealing with the sins of the saved. What God does in forgiving us experientially in time is based on the Cross and all that was accomplished!

The Cross of Jesus Christ provides eternal salvation to the unbeliever, and provides the means for the believer to be restored after he sins. In the divine forgiveness and cleansing that takes place when a believer is restored, only confession is required of the believer. Then there is absolute forgiveness and cleansing promised by God. In His death, the Lord Jesus Christ provided the sufficient ground for both the salvation of the unsaved and the restoration of the saved.

For a more detailed study, order tapes 1892 to 1895.

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