Theophilia and a Thief
You are never too bad for God’s grace. Why do you think people choose not to accept this wonderful truth? What would you say to someone who is fighting with the sin of their past?
1 Timothy 1:13-14
13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It is never too late and we are never too hopeless for the grace of God. How do the stories of Theophilia and the thief on the cross illustrate this encouraging thought? What does it say to you about God’s grace and your own mistakes, sin and life?
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Is your photo inside the “Showcase of God’s Grace?” Have you received God’s grace yet? Maybe you have questions about grace or how you might come to enjoy this wonderful blessing. Would you mind writing them down and then share them with your Mathetis group?
If you are a Christian, reflect on the incredibly simple, yet simply incredible process you went through to receive God’s grace. Compare it with the verses below and share with your Mathetis group how God’s amazing grace has changed your life.
If you are not a Christian or if you are unsure if you have correctly followed the simple pattern God has designed for us to enjoy His grace, consider the verses below and how they pertain to your life. Reach out to your group for prayer. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, no matter how “minor” or “major” you might think it to be. If you wish, you can also request a Mentor to join this study or create a personal group which unites you and a Mentor into a one-on-one personal discussion. We want to do everything we can to make sure you enjoy the incredible gift of God’s grace!
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 3:20-21
20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
1 John 1:7-9
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
God calls us to be faithful to Him and not live in the sin of our past lives. If you have not come to enjoy God’s grace, His plan for your life is extremely simple.
#1 With all of your heart, believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
#2 Change the way you think and live. The Bible calls that repentance and it might require a change in your belief system or religion as well as your behavior.
2 Corinthians 7:10
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
#3 Confess before others your heart-felt faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Acts 8:37 (NKJV)
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
#4 Be immersed in water to have your sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. The Bible calls that baptism.
1 Peter 3:21
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
1 John 1:7
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Acts 2:37-38; 41
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
None of these important responsibilities earn us salvation. We are saved “by grace through faith” as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). First, we are saved by grace. The mercy, love and kindness of God have made salvation possible with the sending of Jesus to die for our sins (Hebrews 2:9). Second, we are saved through faith. Salvation becomes our personal gift when we have faith. That is a faith that moves us to submit to what God wants us to do to accept that gift. In other words, our faith moves us to change the way we think and live, confess our faith in Jesus as God’s Son and be baptized to have our sins taken away by the death and shed blood of Jesus (Romans 5:1-9). Baptism is the point in time when, because of our submissive faith, we receive God’s gift of grace. With God’s grace, He washes away all our sins, we are made alive again through the resurrection of Christ, and we are given the unwavering hope of eternal life. When we stumble—and we all do—Jesus’ blood keeps us clean as long as we “walk in the light with God” (1 John 1:7).
That’s the simple grace of God and that is simply INCREDIBLE!