The throne of grace


Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

What a wonderful invitation! Invited to enter the throne room and to approach the One who sits upon the throne “boldly”. How can such a thing be? I, a mere man, sinful and weak, and wholly undeserving should “boldly” come to my God? Yes, for I am a child of this King. I am not a commoner, my position in the kingdom is greater by far than that of a subject, I am a son!

When I approach this throne, I can do so without fear or reservation for it is not a seat of judgment but one of grace! A one word description of this throne of God given in the above text is not holiness, although He is holy, it is not justice although He is just, it is not righteousness although He is righteous, no, here it is characterized as a throne of grace! It is a place where the unmeasured favor of the God of is lavished upon those who come to Him. Grace? What does it mean?

I fear that we have been short sighted in regard to grace. The usual answer given when someone is asked for a definition is “God’s unmerited favor”. It surely is that but most of the time we have in mind the forgiveness of our sins only. God’s grace toward us does encompass forgiveness, justification, sanctification, and even one day glorification. But most of the time when grace is mentioned in the Bible it means much more than a perfect salvation given to imperfect people.

In Luke’s gospel he wrote of the child Jesus and said, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40)From this verse we can be sure that grace meant something far different than having to do with salvation. “…And the grace of God was upon Him.” Every day of His life on earth He walked in the favor of His Father in heaven. Every good thing He needed His Father provided. It is one thing to have the favor of a public official. You might possibly get some special treatment that other citizens do not enjoy. But this is the Creator God who loves us without measure and is extravagant in how He provides for us. We can’t imagine what bad things would have come our way except for His love in caring for us. We know for sure that every good and perfect gift comes from His loving hand of grace.

Do you have lack? Paul said, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) Do you need help witnessing for Christ? Grace is the answer. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) It is to this God of grace we can come as dear children. Why do we come? “..To obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. How wonderful are the benefits of being a child of God! (Psalm 103)

It is at our point of want that we need God’s lavish favor upon our coming and going. And we find it accompanied with mercy. By God’s grace he delights to give us what is good and best for us, to simply “help” us. But then by God’s mercy He stays what should be ours if we received what we deserved.

What would God do such a thing? Because He is love.

In His final statement to mankind about His love, Jesus Christ the Righteous took upon himself our sin, or brokenness, and because He could do nothing more for us and could offer nothing more to the Father, there He died in my place and yours. God’s fiery wrath for sin was poured out upon Christ to the last drop.

He looks on Christ and pardons sinners, declaring them “right” with Him. “To those who received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God”. Have you received Him? He is full of grace for you. He will not always wait.

Christian have you been living on less than God’s gracious provision? Shake it off! Run to the throne of grace, your Father waits to pour out His love into your life and circumstances.

His peace,

Royce Ogle

“…..the gates of hell shall not prevail….” against the church


On last Sunday the Hemley Rd. church in Bayou La Batre passed a mile stone that many did not expect. At 2:00 p.m. they had a celebration and dedication of their permanent home. Against great odds and in the face of opposition from within and without, the little flock has persevered in prayer and service and they now have a facility with great potential, much of the rehab work has been done, and they are debt free.

People traveled from as far away as Los Angeles, California to come share the great victory and celebrate what God has done. On Sunday morning I taught the adult Bible class and challenged them to remember that the race of faith is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the greatest qualities of one who would please the Lord is patient endurance. Learning to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, and when necessary, to simply wait upon God are much needed disciplines.

Bro’ John McCord, pulpit minister of the ElCampo, Texas church of Christ preached, reminding us of the past and casting a vision for the future. He characterized the members of the Hemley Rd. church as “Sold out, over committed, junkies for Jesus” whose mission is to confront their community with the claims of Jesus while serving their physical needs. Two of ElCampo’s elders were there as well.

After the great service there was a spread to die for, (or because of). Big fat bay shrimp prepared in different ways, and almost everything one could want for a great feast. The fellowship was amazing!

In the afternoon World Radio Director Bro’ Ken Bolden opened the time of dedication, celebration, and thanksgiving. One after another, elders, preachers, and those who have generously given to the work in Bayou La Batre spoke words of encouragement and challenge and several of the men prayed simple, humble prayers, asking God to keep His hand on the work and to continue to supply every need. Next to the last speaker was a leader at Hemley Rd. Bro’ Billy Spaulding gave a very moving and inspired talk answering the question “Have I ever seen Jesus?” As he told of the many times he had seen Christ in others who had come to Bayou La Batre to serve those who had lost so much he was so overcome with emotion he had to pause before he could continue. Billy Spauling is one of those “Salt and Light” men for whom I, and everyone who knows him, hold the deepest respect and trust him completely to always do the right thing.

I closed the meeting giving honor to Daphnie German without whom the work would have died long ago, and to my wife Carol whom I often lovingly call “The Little General”. Just as in Paul’s ministry, faith filled women with pit bull perseverance, and unconditional love in their hearts, are just as valuable to ministry as any man can hope to be.

There are perhaps 2 or 3 pews of teens who are there every time the doors are open. What great potential!There have been 3 baptisms in the last few weeks! What a great bunch of Christians who see no limit to what God can do. Praise God for the folks at Hemley Rd. church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

If you know a preacher who is Christ centered and grace oriented and can support himself for several months please contact me. The church desperately needs a preacher full time to come along and help them.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

Pentecost revisited – Myth #2


In the last post I made the case from the Bible that believers were not first indwelt by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. I did have the time to discuss all of the blessings brought to each believer by the blessed Holy Spirit who lives in them. It is a rich and exciting study and perhaps one day I will attempt to scratch the surface of that topic. Today I want to address another myth concerning the events of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts, especially chapter 2.

Pentecost was not the first time people were filled with the Holy Spirit. Many people teach that view and most of them make other errors as well. It is clear that it is our blessing and wonderful privilege to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55; Acts 9:17; Acts 11:24 all talk about Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit just in one book! However, before Luke wrote those words consider these people.

Elizabeth in Luke 1:41, Zacharias in Luke 1:67, Luke 4:1 speaks about Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit (if Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit don’t you guess we should be too?). It is also from Luke that we learn that John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. God filled Bezaleel with the Holy Spirit (Exodus 35:30,31).

All of these old Testament men of God who were filled with the Spirit were so filled that they might accomplish the impossible for God. Jesus never did a miracle, healed the sick, or did any other great work until the Spirit of God came upon Him and “anointed” Him for empowered service. Before Christ came God would fill one here and there for specific tasks, but now just as Peter said in his great Pentecost message, “this is that” great promise given by the Prophet Joel that God would one day “pour out His Spirit on all flesh…”. Now any man or woman who is a child of God can have the power of God for witnessing to the risen Christ. Every person saved now has the Holy Spirit living in them as a resident who will never leave, but they can also have His fullness and power for ministry, especially for giving out the good news about Jesus.

In Luke 11 Jesus taught the disciples to pray and He ended the lesson with this verse. Verse 13 says “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Notice the context here, prayer; praying and not giving up. Yes, just as the disciples and others obeyed Jesus’ command and waited in prayer until the Holy Spirit came in prayer we too can come with persistance and get the same blessing as they.

Perhaps you and I should not be so busy trying to find the secred to ministry at the next lectureship, or in someone’s newest book, but in the discipline of prayer.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

The purpose of Pentecost


 

 

A fire department sub-station finally gets the long awaited new fire truck. It is delivered late in the afternoon and parked in the place of the old, worn out truck. At 7:00 a.m. the next day, just as the 1st shift gets to the station there is an alarm; there is smoke coming from a building at 10th and Main. The firemen rush to their gear putting on fire proof overhauls, the long coat, the helmet, and the long boots. Out the door they go and they see the shiny new fire truck. “Man, look at that chrome!” one exclaims. Another shouts, “Check these seats out, they are plush!”. Yet another can’t resist taking a quick peek under the hood. “it’s a Cat engine” he adds to the excitement.

Finally they get to the corner of 10th and Main to find only smoke and ashes and some charred steel girders. It is always best to keep the main thing the main thing and not get overly interested in the details. Many well meaning people approach the Scriptures making the same mistakes as these firemen. They involved themselves with secondary issues at the expense of not putting the fire out until it was too late.

Multiplied thousands of books and articles have been written about the events surrounding Pentecost and the overwhelming majority of them completely miss the reason for Pentecost. The most common reason given is that the birth of the New Testament church was on the Day of Pentecost. Our Pentecostal and charismatic friends focus almost entirely upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit and unknown tongues. Another group finds water baptism the high point of the story and emphasize baptism in an unhealthy way. Then there are the dispensationalists whose focus is the belief that the “church age”, the “dispensation of grace”, or the “last days” should be the important point. And, those Christians who love Bible prophesy might focus on the fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophet Joel.

All of these views have merit but none is the main reason the Bible gives for the happenings on that 50th day after Christ arose from the dead, Pentecost. The reason for Pentecost is recorded by the good doctor Luke.

“and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…..but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47,49)

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak….and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:4,41)

The central theme of Pentecost is that the Apostles and others did, and experienced, exactly what Jesus had commanded and promised. They waited on God in prayer until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to become soul winning witnesses for Christ.

After Jesus gave the disciples the great command of the great commission and promised them He would be with them, He expressly commanded them to do nothing but wait. Can you imagine they were eager to go tell others about the risen Lord? I can just see Peter chomping at the bits to go tell the whole world. No…, not yet….Jesus said WAIT. As eager as they are, as excited as they are, as much as they loved the Lord Jesus, they must wait for the Holy Spirit power necessary to do the job. If you miss this central truth of Acts, you will be like the firemen in the illustration. You will get focused on the incidentals and miss what Jesus wanted above everything else.

A good thing to keep in mind when you read the book of Acts is the word “redemption”. God is always busy with redemption. If you go down a path that is not focused on the redemption of sinners it is a good idea to come back to the main road and try again. If you get hung up on secondary themes you might miss joining God in His redemptive work.

Until next time,

Grace to you

Royce Ogle