A benefactor is one who will exhibit kind feelings toward others. This exhibition is in the form of benevolence, which also implies and even demands that those who receive it are benefitted. Simply, a benefactor benefits others with his benevolence. These three terms are all related to what the Bible speaks of as God's GRACE. GRACE can be defined as God's good will, kindness, mercy, and friendship shown to humanity because of His good nature. Quite a number of Bible verses speak of God's grace shown to man. Please consider just a very few that speak also of these mentioned characteristics of His grace:
"God, who is RICH IN MERCY, for his great love wherewith he loved us" (Ephesians 2:4).
"But after that the KINDNESS AND LOVE OF GOD our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:4-5).
"Ye have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is full of PITY, and of TENDER MERCY" (James 5:11).
"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the FRIEND OF GOD" (James 2:23).
"Ye are MY FRIENDS, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14).
Obviously, God cares for us and will take care of us because "GOD IS LOVE; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). This grace and care that God has for us is all a part of the blessed Gospel. This same Gospel we preach and teach is that which the apostle Paul preached. Note what he says of this Gospel, "But I hold not my life of any account as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD" (Acts 20:24). There it is! This is what the Gospel is all about—the "good news" of God, His care for man, and desire to have man live with Him forever. This gospel was delivered and made known to us through His Son, Jesus Christ! This Gospel is what Paul called "the gift of that grace of God" (Ephesians 3:7). As our benefactor, God has given us the "gift" of His grace.
THE GIFT OF GOD
The subject of the "gift of God" can be quite lengthy and confusing at times to some. It has reference to many different things in the Bible. Perhaps the greatest confusion and controversy might be the "gift of God" as it refers to the Holy Spirit and miracles. Some of the "gifts of God" were of benefit only for a few for a short time. The object of this lesson does not include a discussion of those things. Let it be enough, just now, to state that the "gifts of God" we want to consider are those things which He has given for the benefit of ALL MEN.
First we must consider that the very globe upon which we live is by the blessing and benevolence of God. In preaching to the people of the city of Athens, the apostle Paul said,
"The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:24-28).
The precision of the seasons and orbit of our world around the sun shows the handiwork and care with which our God has created this world. All this because of his care and love for us.
THE MATERIAL WORLD
The natural things within our world that come to all are indicative of God's benevolent love for all mankind. Jesus taught us of God's benevolence for all when He said, "that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he MAKETH HIS SUN TO RISE on the evil and the good, and SENDETH RAIN on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). At least two times in the book of Ecclesiastes, the wise man observed, "Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 3:13).
Finally, even in the Jewish Law, Moses reminded Israel, "But thou shalt remember Jehovah thy God, for it is HE THAT GIVETH THEE POWER TO GET WEALTH; that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as at this day" (Deuteronomy 8:18). May we always remember that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning" (James 1:17).
SPIRITUAL BENEVOLENCE: HIS SON, JESUS
Surely the most important gift God has given to this world is that of His Son Jesus Christ. He is, after all, the reason we write and you, friend, are reading these lessons! Notice what Jesus said of himself: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water" (John 4:10). Perhaps the best known and most quoted verse in the Bible is, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Truly, Jesus is God's gift to mankind and for his benefit and salvation.
What Jesus came to this earth to accomplish, then, is yet another gift from God. He plainly taught that he came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Thus, we learn from the apostle Peter, "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Thus, this salvation is a gift from God. Listen to what Paul told the Christians in the city of Ephesus, "for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD" (Ephesians 2:8). Again to the Romans "For the wages of sin is death; but THE FREE GIFT OF GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Finally, one other spiritual gift of God's grace—that book divine which tells us of all these blessings of God's benevolence—the Bible. The message of the Bible as delivered in the first century by the apostles or in this century by Christians is still the same. Luke records these words with reference to the apostle Paul and his partner Barnabas: "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3). Although the miracles which were done by the apostles no longer take place (for there are no apostles alive now), still it is the "word of God's grace" which we must proclaim to others. So, as Paul blessed certain men in the city of Ephesus, so do we also with these words: "And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). God bless you as you continue to study His Word!
Questions for Lesson Ten
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