Sunday Sermon: ‘Part 1 God’s Amazing Grace and Our Salvation’

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1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering. Their faith was being tested like gold in the fire and many were wondering if it was worth it. Peter wanted to assure them that indeed it was worth it and that God was with them, helping them in all their trials.

It was radio Bible teacher Steve Brown who said –

“The truth is that you can stand most anything, serve in any situation and bear almost any burden if you know for sure that God isn’t angry at you.”
Steve Brown,
www.keylife.org

We can stand almost anything if we know that God is there to help us. He is there to help us if we will let Him and Peter calls Him – ‘the God of all grace.’ What is grace and how does God’s grace help us?

Over the next few weeks, we are going to study the word ‘grace’ and how it applies to our lives. In preparation for this message, I have done a brief study on every verse of scripture found in the New Testament that uses the word grace. From that study I have discovered that God’s grace helps us in one of three ways:

1)       Saving Grace

2)       Strengthening Grace

3)       Serving Grace

It is by God’s grace that we are saved. It is by God’s grace that we find the strength we need to become a stronger Christian. And it is by God’s grace that we are equipped to serve Him and bring Him glory. I have entitled this series:  ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace?’ and I pray that before we’re done, you will be ready to answer that question.

Part 1: Saving Grace                           

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

A. What is grace?

Perhaps the first question we need to answer is – ‘What is grace?’ Many define grace as: ‘God’s Unmerited Favor.’ In other words, grace is God’s kind and merciful involvement in our lives. We have neither earned nor deserve it and it is ours solely because God desires to give it to us.

It was John Newton who wrote the words:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
John Newton (1725-1807)

1. Unmerited

Grace is unmerited. By that, we mean that we don’t deserve it. There is nothing that we have or can do that deserves it. Why do we not deserve God’s grace?

a. We Don’t Deserve God’s Grace Because of Our Sin  

i. The Sinfulness of Man 

The Bible tells us – Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

The reason we don’t deserve God’s kind favor is because we have sinned against Him. We’re all sinners. How did we all become sinners?

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

That one man was the first man – Adam. You know the story. The Lord placed Adam and Eve in a garden called paradise and He gave them everything they would ever need. They had a perfect relationship with God and with each other. There was nothing to cause them even the smallest pain or inconvenience.

The Lord then gave them one restriction – ‘Do not eat of the fruit in the midst of the garden, for in the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die.’ (see Gen 2:17) Just one simple rule – ‘Don’t eat of the fruit of this one tree.’ What did Adam and Eve do? They ate it. They willfully and deliberately disobeyed God. What was the result? By their act of rebellion against God, they brought sin and death into the world. Why is there death today? Why do people get sick and die? Why is there cancer and heart disease and diabetes and other forms of suffering? It is all because of the sin Adam and Eve brought into the world.

If Adam and Eve had not rebelled against God, there would be no suffering or sorrow. But they did sin and because they are our first parents, they passed down their sinfulness to their children and to their children’s children, and to their children’s, children’s children and so on. ‘For as by one man sin entered the world…’, the Bible says.  And therefore ‘death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ We’re all sinners and we all suffer and die.

Many in the world don’t like to hear that. They don’t like to hear that they are a sinner, yet the Bible is very clear in this matter. The Bible says –

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one… 12 … there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

There is no one who does good as good is defined by God. Jesus said that there is only one who is truly good and that is God.  We don’t like to hear that. Modern philosophy says that there is something divine and good in every man and that true spirituality is discovering that inner self and getting in touch with it. That’s completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible says that no one is good enough to be acceptable in God’s sight. No one.

ii. The Holiness of God

Perhaps one of the reasons we struggle so much with accepting the terribleness of our sin is because we have such a vague understanding of the holiness of God. The Bible describes God as light and in Him is no darkness at all. In other words, God is perfectly and completely holy and there is not even a hint of sinfulness in Him. We read in the Old Testament of a man named Isaiah who was a prophet of God. If we would compare Isaiah to the other men of his generation, Isaiah might appear to be good; yet when Isaiah saw the Lord, the Bible says that Isaiah exclaimed–

‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ (Is 6:5)

When Isaiah was brought into the presence of God’s holiness he exclaimed – “I am dirty! I am so dirty that I should be destroyed.” Peter had a similar experience. Very early in his encounter with Christ, Peter said – “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8) When John the apostle saw the glorified Lord Jesus, scripture says that he fell to the ground like a dead man. (see Rev 1:17)

When we compare ourselves to each other, often we don’t look too bad. But when we compare ourselves to God, we begin to see just how sinful we really are. The term sometimes used to describe the spiritual condition of humanity is ‘depraved.’ Bible teachers sometimes write of the Total Depravity of man. What does that mean?

How spiritually depraved is mankind?  Chuck Swindoll said that if depravity was the color blue, you could cut a man and he would bleed blue. We are totally depraved from the inside out.

Perhaps you might think that this is an exaggeration. Surely men are not that bad. Consider what we read from God’s Word-

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth , there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way , they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.  

How could this be true? We don’t see ourselves this way. We read from Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Only God knows what is in a man’s heart and when God looks into the heart of an unsaved man, what God sees is depravity.

b) There is Nothing We Can Do to Earn God’s Favor

Not only do we not deserve God’s favor, but there is also nothing that we can do to deserve it. According to the book of Jude, everything that man touches is ‘spotted’ or defiled. (see Jude 1:23) Isaiah tells us that even our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God. (see Isaiah 64:6) Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that they were like ‘white-washed caskets full of dead men’s bones.’ (see Mt 23:37)

c) Therefore – We Need Grace  

I’m not saying all of this to beat us up, but to help us see just how much we need God’s unmerited grace. If we don’t understand how much we don’t deserve it, we won’t appreciate how amazing God’s grace really is.

2. Grace is God’s Unmerited Favor

To emphasize even more how great God’s grace really is, we need to understand that God’s grace not His ‘tolerance’, but His ‘favor.’  God does not just tolerate us. God loves us and desires to bless us. Grace is His unmerited favor.

I looked up the word favor and discovered that it means – {something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice; a kind act; an act of love}. Here’s something else that is interesting; every time the word ‘favor’ is found in the KJV, it is actually the same word translated as grace. God’s grace is His kind favor.

Perhaps this illustration will help us understand how amazing grace really is. Suppose someone broke into your home and brutally murdered your family. But instead of retaliating against them, you would choose to do something good for them. You would bless the murderer with your favor. If you did so, everyone would think that you were crazy. Even the man who committed the crime would think you are crazy. But grace is ‘crazy love.’ It is not logical to love your enemies. It doesn’t make sense to want to do good to those who oppose you. Grace is unmerited favor and that’s what makes it so amazing.

B. Why Would God Choose to Be Gracious to Sinful Men?

Why would God choose to be gracious to sinful men? What is His motivation? Surely there must be something very important that would cause God to do all that He has done for us.

Paul gives us some great insight to this in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Why would God be gracious to us?

1. Because He is Rich in Mercy and Grace

In Ephesians 2:4 Paul refers to the richness of God’s mercy. In Ephesians 2:7 he refers to the exceeding richness of His grace. Perhaps some of you will remember that I have told you that mercy is God withholding from us what we deserve and mercy is Him giving to us what we don’t deserve. God has made a way so that He might withhold from us the judgment and damnation that we deserve and in its place, He has extended to us His favor which we don’t deserve.

Paul uses the word ‘richness’ to describe God’s mercy and grace. I studied the word ‘richness’ and it means abundantly wealthy. God is abundantly wealthy in mercy and grace. That is why Paul could write–

Romans 5:20 … where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

That’s why hymn-writer Julia Johnston could pen the words –

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

2. Because Grace is a Part of His Eternal Nature  

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus …

God is the God of all grace. Every act of graciousness is the by-product of God’s character. Peter tells us that in eternity future, God will be glorified for the grace He has shown through His Son the Lord Jesus. Paul teaches us in Ephesians 1 that God began to plan His supreme act of grace, even before He laid the foundation of the world. Therefore we might ascertain that grace is a part of God’s eternal nature. God was gracious even before there was a need for grace.

3. Because God Desires to Receive Glory For Being So Gracious

Peter refers to the ‘eternal glory’ that God will receive for His grace. Paul tells us that the reason God has made a way for us to be acceptable in His sight is to the ‘praise of the glory of His grace.’

The church needs to make much of the grace of God. We need to sing and worship and praise God for His amazing grace. God’s amazing grace is the central theme of our salvation and all we are as His children. Years ago my pastor used to say over and over again – We are the Trophies of God’s grace. What amazing grace it is that God could save a wretch like me.

C. How Do We Receive Such Grace?

I have tried to give you a taste of the glory of God’s amazing grace. It’s not something that we can deserve or can earn. It is totally His unmerited favor extended to even the vilest of sinners.  We read from the book of Titus-

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.

Jesus said – ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16)

God’s grace is available to all, yet not all will receive it. Many will reject it. Some will scoff at it and claim they don’t need it. Some will stumble over it because it sounds too good to be true. Others will ignore it and put off receiving it to a more convenient season. Yet in order to be the beneficiary of God’s amazing grace, we must with child-like faith open our hearts and receive it.

During the American Revolution, it is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops at Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn’t bother to read it until the game was finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed, and the rest of the regiment was captured. (Sermons Illustrated November/December 1988)

The Bible says that today is the day of salvation. Now is the acceptable time. (2 Cor 6:2) It is foolish to put off until another time the decision to receive God’s forgiveness. We do not know that we will have another time. We do not know that we will have another tomorrow. Today is the day that you need to receive God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

D. Have You Received God’s Gift of Grace?

Grace is a gift we must receive. It requires faith to receive it. As a boy I was taught that faith could be defined as – FORSAKING ALL, I TAKE HIM.

Forsaking all my sin, I receive God’s free gift of forgiveness. Forsaking all of my own self-righteousness, I receive God’s free gift of salvation. Forsaking all my stubborn will, I receive God’s free gift of strength and support. Forsaking all that is of me, I receive God’s free gift to become one of His children.

Have you received God’s free gift of salvation? If you would like more information, please click on: HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN  You may also contact me at pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org or call the church office at 540-365-6312 and ask to speak with one of the pastors.

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