Amazing Grace: Where Sin Abounds, Grace Superabounds – Paul Says So!

The following is a transcript of a sermon given by  my uncle Santo Calarco at his church yesterday, who has been a minister of religion since 1981.  I feel privelidged that he has given me permission  to publish his article as it is his desire to share  his knowledge  with the  hope those who read it will receive some blessing from it. 

Where sin abounds grace superabounds: Paul says so!

 In Romans 5:20 Paul makes a radical statement that has been the thorn in the side for many believers throughout the centuries.  It basically sounds like Paul is creating a license for sin.  He says, “The law was added so that trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” 

 Although Paul has made it clear that grace is no license for sin (Romans 3:8) Paul is still maintaining that man’s sin cannot outstrip the grace of God.  Paul uses two important words in this verse that makes Paul’s intent clear.  He uses the word “increased” in reference to both sin and grace: where sin “increased” graced “increased” also.

 However the difference between the “increase” is not proportionate: where sin increased grace increased all the more!  How much more is the question: a little more, a lot more?  

 The Greek word for “increased” with reference to sin is not the same Greek word in regards to grace.  When Paul refers to sin increasing he uses the Greek word pleonazo and when referring to grace he uses huperperisseuo.

 According to Strongs Concordance the former means “abound” but the latter means “to abound beyond measure, to abound exceedingly, to exceed a fixed number of measure.”   In other words Paul is telling us that as sin increases grace increases disproportionately to cover that sin.  What amazing grace. Look at the way the Amplified Bible has dealt with the original language:

20But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded.

This is the gospel of God’s amazing grace according to Paul and admittedly it can seem to sound like license for sin.  Let me say this categorically and in no uncertain terms: unless the gospel we hear doesn’t “sound” like a license for sin then we have not heard the gospel of Paul.

 How do I know that?  In the very next verses Paul says, “shall we go on sinning that grace may increase”?  Although he is quick to qualify what he is saying Paul knows for certain that his message seems to sound like that very thing!

 As we read this verse we need to remember that Romans 5:20 is the climax of the message of the entire fifth chapter and needs to be understood within that setting.  Paul commences in verse 1 by telling us that since we are justified by faith we have peace with God. This is a summary statement of everything he just said in the book as a whole.  This verse also sets the scene for what follows in the chapter which climaxes in radical statement in verse 20.  In Romans 1-4 Paul has carefully set out to define what Justification by faith is.

 He tells us that to be justified means to be “declared righteous” not made righteous – in spite of all our failed attempts to keep God’s law. The word translated “declared righteous” in the NIV of Romans 3:20 is the exact same word as “justified” in Romans 5:1.

 To be justified by faith is not an ethical quality but a legal, relational standing one has with God through faith in the blood of Jesus. It has nothing to do with how righteous I become in regards my behaviour here on earth. To be justified means that God freely declares us righteous by faith in Jesus and then credits to our account all the good works of Jesus and credits all our sin to Jesus himself.

  See Romans 4:1-6.  It not only means “just-as-if-I-never-sinned” but it also means “just-as-if-I-had-only-ever-been-righteous”.  Although forgiveness of sins is included in justification (Rom 4:7) it goes beyond it: it also means acquittal which means we never committed any sins that need forgiveness. 

 The Revised Standard Version of Romans 5:18 translates the same root word as “acquittal” compared with “justification” in the NIV.   Forgiveness means we have committed wrongs but acquittal means we never have! 

 Because of all this Paul concludes that the believer has peace with God. Rom 5:1.  And just in case we still don’t get it, Paul continues to labour the point in chapter 5 by listing even more results that accompany this blessing. 

 Through a series of contrasts he speaks of the peace that comes through justification.  The key phrase in this chapter is “how much more” and climaxes with his radical statement in verse 20. 

 Paul tells us that we not only have peace with God as a result of justification but we also have a number of other things: continuing standing in the grace of God (v.2), hope for the future coming of Jesus (v.2) and meaning and purpose in trials (vv.3-4). 

 This hope that grows out of justification is grounded in the very love of God which has already been poured out into our hearts. Romans 5:5.   It is at this point that Paul commences his series of comparisons; his “how much more” statements. 

 He reasons that if God has already poured this love into our hearts through the experience of justification by faith (which has resulted in peace) and since God demonstrated this love to us through the death of Jesus whilst we were still lost sinners, then how much more certain can we be now in our standing with God: if he loved us and Jesus died for us when we were lost sinners then how much more now can we have peace knowing that we will escape his wrath? 

 Read verses 5-9 in one sitting carefully to notice the contrast.   He continues with the next contrast and says that if God made peace and reconciled the lost world to himself through the death of his Son then how much more should we rest peacefully secure since we will [not “may”] be saved through faith in Jesus life? Romans 5:10. 

 He goes onto say that if through Adam’s one sin we were all wrecked then how much more peacefully safe are we now in God’s grace that overflows to undo and compensate? Romans 5:15.  Then Paul finally arrives at his radical statement on the grace of God.  He says that if the introduction of the law worsened our situation by increasing sin then how much more at peace can we be, knowing that our standing with God is never jeopardized since God’s grace superabounds our sin? 

 What amazing grace! We cannot out-sin the grace of God:  this is the essence of the good news of the Gospel.  We can rest assured of the peace we have for it is grounded in the marvellous and boundless grace of God demonstrated through the doing and dying of Jesus.

————————————————————————————————————————————————Author Bio:

 Santo Calarco has been a Minister of Religion since 1981. He has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts, receiving awards for academic excellence and is currently completing his Masters Degree.

 Santo has written articles which have been published in “Ministry Magazine-International Journal for Clergy” and “South Pacific Record”. During the course of his ministry Santo has received professional training in Management by Objectives, Conflict Resolution, Group Facilitating, Communication Skills and Pastoral Counselling.

Santo has completed post-graduate professional training as a Therapist and is registered with the REBT Institute in New York and Australia. Santo is currently a Life Coach and Strategist, Lecturer, Motivational Speaker and businessman. He has spoken to crowds of up to 5000 all around the globe.

Santo’s greatest qualification he says is his life experience.

“My life was a shambles. It was riddled with anger, hostility and depression for 20 years! I tried so many forms of therapy and self-help for so long with little or no success. I had nearly given up hope until I began to study various forms of Cognitive-behavioural Psychology. This was the catalyst that began my journey and transformation. From my research I developed a specialised approach to self-empowerment. I am a strong believer in helping people help themselves and others. As a result, not only have I radically and rapidly changed, but I have also witnessed the transformation of many lives. The greatest thrill I get is when people contact me and say thanks for the massive, enduring transformation they received at my workshops.”

Through Focus For Life Seminars and Workshops you will learn how to use the simple, proven strategies of “CET” to develop long-term control, empowerment and transformation of your life.

For more information or to contact Santo please go to: www.focusforlife.com

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The Power of Prayer

The terms  ” power of prayer” and the “power of thought” are so closely linked that the interpretation is identical.  Prayer actually deals with the mind or the ‘changing of the mind or thought patterns’

We often turn to prayer to calm, uplift and renew us.  Hence this means it affects our thinking.  When we change our thinking we change our world.

 Prayer releases the highest form of energy in the universe, as it links you with a God energy, which is your source”.

“When you pray, you stir into action an atomic force.  You release a potent spiritual vibration that can be released in no other way.  Through prayer you unleash a God energy within and around you that gets busy working for you and through you, producing right attitudes, reactions and results.  It is your prayers that recognize and release that God power.”  ( The Dynamic Laws of Prayer by Catherine Ponder).

As a young girl I learned about the power of prayer from a group of nuns whom I frequented every second weekend or so for many many years.  I spent long periods of time in prayer in the chapel of the convent I visited and it was there that I began to appreciate and understand that one did not approach prayer as a way of ‘pleading with God for something we desperately needed and wanted in our lives’, but as a way to make conscious contact with God.

How often have you seen movies where one came to crossroads in their lives and went down on bended knee and cried out ” God, I know I never come to you for anything but if you grant me this one little thing I promise I will never bother you again”.  That is prayer?

That is a desperate attempt nothing short of grabbing at a straw and hoping ( though secretly doubting).

Prayer should not be our ” last resort’ when all else has failed.  Through prayer we connect to the God within.  When we turn to praying as our first option on every occasion we learn to become proficient in communicating with our Source.  As we look within, quiet the mind, body and emotions, it changes our energy or vibrational frequency thus attracting to us   ideas, inspiration and solutions to problems that we would not have otherwise thought of if we had turned within.

” Through prayer, you tap the operation of higher laws of supreme mind and spirit.” ” Your imprisoned thoughts and pent-up negative emotions go free and dissolve, as a higher energy floods your being and your world.” ( The Dynamic Laws of Prayer by Catherine Ponder).

There are so many ways to approach prayer: meditation, relaxation, affirmations, through periods of silence and more.  Because we are all so unique one method of praying does not fit all.  However the end result is what we want right?

Catherine Ponder was one of the first authors to influence and help change my own thinking.  She is considered one of America’s foremost inspirational authors and is a minister of the nondenominational Unity faith – long known as ‘the pioneer of positive thinking”.  She has been described by some as the ‘Norman Vincent Peale among lady ministers”.

After reading Catherine Ponder’s book  The Dynamic Laws of Prayer , you will not longer consider prayer as a dull practise.

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The God Force

Marie Antoinette ( yes that is her real name!!) is a new author who is currently writing a book titled ‘Reflections Of My Pain’.  This chronicles the authors challenging times during a what has seemed to her a lifetime of continual heartbreaks.

Marie jouranls her experiences in the form of poetry with dazzling illustrations.  Below is a sample of Marie Antoinette’s poetry of her experience of ‘The God Force’.

“I HEAR HIS VOICE CALLING FROM AFAR
AND YET I ONLY FEEL THE WIND PASSING GENTLY THROUGH MY SOUL.

I FEEL THE FORCE BENEATH MY WINGS
AS IF I WERE TO FLY AWAY TO PLACES WHERE I’VE NEVER BEEN
TO UNKNOWN WORLDS, TO THE STARS ABOVE AND TO ENTER THE SECRETS OF MY MIND.
THE DEEP BLUE SKY SO FAR ABOVE THE EARTH
AND YET SO NEAR ITS ECHOES CALLING ME FROM WITHIN
I NEED NOT QUESTION, T’IS BUT FAITH AND FAITH ALONE THAT SURROUNDS AND FILLS MY LIFE WITH JOY.
HOLD STILL AND FEEL HIS PRESENCE FROM WITHIN, FOR HE WHISPERS WORDS OF WISDOM, THROUGH YOUR MIND AND THROUGH YOUR SOUL.
I HEAR THE WIND WHISTLING GENTLY THROUGH THE TREES,
AND YET I HAVE NO FEAR WITHIN,
NO GRIEF OR SHAME.
I NEED NOT PRETEND TO VENTURE UPON THE TRUTH WITHIN THAT HOLDS MY HEART FROM FEAR.
TRUE BLISS, HOW CAN WE REACH BENEATH THE DEEP BLUE SKY THAT CALLS US FROM THE WILD.
I FEAR NOT NOR SEEK NOT TO GAIN THE EARTH BELOW
FOR IN IT IS EVIL AND ABOVE THE PURE SOUL.”

 

 

Marie Antoinette

That Silent Place

Two of the most influential writers and speakers of my time, and who have inspired my life is Dr Deepak Chopra and Dr Wayne Dyer.     I had the absolute privilege of attending a seminar in Sydney some 20 years ago now and this was the beginning of the rest of my life.  So profoundly moved was I for having heard them both speak, that I walked out of the seminar transformed.  I cannot  describe it any other way.

One of  my more  favourite books that Dr Chopra wrote  is ” Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”.  In the chapter The Law of Pure Potentiality, Dr Chopra suggest practicing silence periodically to experience this Law of Pure Potentiality.  He offers meditation, ideally 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to experience this field of pure silence and pure awareness.  This is where he says ” is the field of infinite correlations, the field of infinite organizing power, the ultimate ground of creation where everything is inseparably connected with everything else”.

It is through meditation, going within to find this silent space, a space that Dr W Dyer also refers to it as ‘the gap’- that place between thoughts that you will find absolute bliss and connection with our source.  In the Bible it is expressed as: ” Be still, and know that I am God” .

It’s in that silent space between your thoughts that  we find stillness and we tap into our creativity.  However Dr Chopra suggests that in order to find that connection to the field of pure potentiality we need to practice non-judgement.  this is where we are constantly judging things as right or wrong or good or bad.  This creates what Dr Chopra calls ” internal dialogue”.

Dr Wayne Dyer also peaks about meditating and its purpose is to get into the gap where we enter that sacred space that we know as the unlimited power of our Source- the place that takes us to “that awareness”.

In his book  Getting In the Gap Dr Dyer says ” meditating is a way of quieting our chatterbox thoughts and swimming below the surface.  This is where we can be still and know God”.  He mentions that we have about 60,000 thoughts every day so it would be almost impossible to find that space between our thoughts    ‘the gap’ during our waking hours.  So in order to find that silent space – the gap – to connect to our Source- to find the “place of pure potentiality” as Dr Chopra puts it or “the gap that the magic and the infinite possibilites await us” as Dr Dyer writes, we must learn to meditate. 

It is through the practice of meditation that takes us to that ‘gap’ between our thoughts to make conscious contact with our Source  that we find God.