I’m interrupting your regular programming (that series on Total Recovery: The Apostolic Vision and the Eternal Purpose – it’ll be back soon) just briefly today as the Convention starts this evening. And this year’s Convention theme for AblazeUK is ‘Amazing Grace’. So at the beginning of the Convention, let me just talk to you a bit about God’s Amazing Grace at the beginning of the Bible and the beginning of the world.
How did God create the world? The Father spoke His Word in His Spirit. We read that in Genesis 1:1-3. But where was the Spirit hovering? ‘Over the face of the waters’ in the ‘darkness’ that was on ‘the face of the deep’ of an ‘earth [which] was without form and void.’ In other words, the Father didn’t send His Word and His Spirit into a perfect world, a world which somehow merited His presence. No, He sent them into the chaos and darkness to graciously bring order and light. Right from the very outset of creation the Triune God has shown that He doesn’t work according to merit, but according to His grace given in His Word (the Lord Jesus) in the Spirit.
And then what happens when the LORD God creates mankind? The LORD Jesus lovingly stoops down to the dust of the earth to form Adam and then breathes into Him the Spirit of Life. Once again, Adam hasn’t done anything to earn fellowship with God, and yet in His love and grace God creates Adam in fellowship with Him – in the image of God (and so united to Jesus, who is the Image of God) and filled with the Holy Spirit. Before Adam had a chance to do any good or any bad he was welcomed into the loving, intimate fellowship of the Triune God, only by grace.
Then, when Adam does sin and brings the whole of humanity in him down into death, what does the LORD God do? He comes and walks in the Garden. It’s Adam who flees and hides, but Jesus in His love and mercy who comes to seek and to save the lost. And in His grace He speaks the Gospel, telling them that one day the Saviour would come – that He would come – the Seed of the Woman who would, through being bruised, crush the Serpents head and bring salvation from sin, death and the devil. On the day when they should surely die, the LORD Jesus speaks the Gospel of Grace to Adam and Eve.
And more than that, He provides a substitute to die and their place. In reality He provides Himself as their substitute. But in the meantime He teaches them of that saving substitution by providing a sacramental sacrifice. Adam and Eve see that this is the death which they deserved that day for their sin, but that the LORD God provides a substitute to bear it for them and then clothes them in that substitute to cover their sin and shame. Of course, those animals of Genesis 3:21 were only a sacrmament: the reality was Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Lamb of God who died in the place of Adam and Eve, and of you and me, taking the wrath of God which we deserved, setting us free from sin and death. The Lamb of God in whom we are clothed, so that He is our righteousness, our life and our salvation.
That is grace – the Lamb who died for us and in whom we’re clothed for salvation. That is grace – that in this Lamb we are welcomed into the loving intimate fellowship of the Triune God, not because of anything we’ve done to deserve it, but only because of the Lamb. That is grace – that clothed with this heavenly Lamb we are plucked out of the darkness and chaos, and brought into the Light. Grace isn’t a new thing. Grace isn’t a post-Fall back-up plan. Grace has always been God’s way. And grace will always be God’s way throughout the ages to come (Eph. 2:7). And always that grace is in Christ Jesus.