March 2019   
Upcoming Events


Baby Shower
Mandy (Kay Holbrook)
Bible Search
God’s Amazing Grace
Saving Grace
Ephesians 2:8-9
If you have the Word of God I want you to turn to Ephesians 2:8.  We are beginning a new series today on "God’s Amazing Grace".   You cannot understand the Christian walk apart from understanding grace.  Grace is what God is all about, aren't you thankful for that?  Where would we be without God's amazing grace?  Well, Ephesians 2 tells us where we are without God's amazing grace.  It describes our condition as being dead in trespasses and sin.  So this morning we are going to be looking at what God says about "Saving Grace".
I am going to begin some common sayings of American culture and I want you to finish them. 
  • If it sounds too good to be true ----- it is. 
  • We make money the old fashioned way ---- we earn it. 
  • There is no such thing as a free ---- ride or lunch. 
And this is one that is very well worn;
  • God helps those who help ---- themselves.
Everything about the way most of us were raised taught us that what we get in life, we earn.  We work for it.  Most of us understand the value of hard work.  Certainly the generations before this one understood that. 
I personally believe the American work ethic is alive and well.  It emphasizes competition and discipline and pulling yourself up by your own boot straps.  And there’s nothing wrong with that system.  In fact, I think it ought to be emphasized even more    . . .except in one area. 
When it comes to saving grace and understanding how we are saved, the American work ethic doesn’t work.  Where salvation is concerned, we must have another approach.
In salvation it is not what we have done, but what He has done.  The Bible says in Psalm 145:8, "God is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger in rich love." 
Now think about that, God is a gracious God.  God loves to be gracious to you and to me.  God is rich in mercy and in forgiveness.  And so if you understand the heart of God, then you understand what Paul meant when he said we are saved by grace. 
And of course, the Baptist anthem is "amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see." 
The man who wrote those words was a wicked man, a drunkard, a slave trader, a tough man, but he was saved by the grace of God.  And when he was saved by the grace of God, God completely changed him from the inside out.  God always works from the inside out.  That is what grace is all about.
How do you define grace?  I think it is humanly impossible to define grace.  The first definition of grace that I learned was “the unmerited favor of God toward man”.  Another definition of grace is that grace is God's love in action.   Another definition is that grace is God giving me what I need, not what I deserve. 
Confusing the issue is a companion word called “mercy”.  Although they are linked, they are not the same.
Mercy is God not giving me what I deserve.  Mercy is God saying, you deserve death but I am going to have mercy upon you and give you life.  Grace is God giving me what I don't deserve.  Mercy is God not giving me what I DO deserve, which is judgment. 
Grace, on the other hand, is God giving me what I DON'T deserve,  He gives me forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, the Holy Spirit, God dwelling within me, and all those things I have I don't deserve but because of grace God has given them to me.
So, today this is a foundational message.  I’m afraid there are many people in churches today who are familiar with the terminology but not the theology of grace.  I say that because there are multitudes of people in churches today who sing about the grace of God and know there saved by the grace of God, but live like they are under the law of God and are saved by doing good works. 
O what I hope to accomplish in this series is not only teach us what it means to be saved by grace, but learn what it means to live by grace. 
We are going to look at many different aspects of God's grace such as his sustaining grace and restoring grace and redeeming grace. 
But there is one aspect of His grace that is foundational and fundamental to them all and this is saving grace.  And to prove just how foundational it is to the concept of grace, I want to use the letters of the word as an acrostic this morning to teach us about saving grace.
I heard about a professor who was speaking at Yale University to the students and he chose this very technique as the outline for his speech.  He just took the letters of Yale and spoke on four attributes of a Yale student.  Y means they are young.  A stands for adventurous.  L speaks of loyalty and E represents being enthusiastic. 
It was a great speech and a great idea.  But the problem was, he went on and on and on with his speech.  It went for hours.  By the time it was over the students were restless and bored and fidgeting around. 
After his speech was finally over and students were leaving, he stopped one of them and asked, “What did you think about my speech?”
The student said, “Well sir I was just sitting there  thanking God that I don't attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology!”
I’ll keep that in mind as we make our way through this wonderful concept and principle of Grace. 
By the way, next week, Jimmy is going to begin an evangelism class teaching some fundamentals on sharing the faith.  I would just suggest that you could use this approach as well.  So if you want to take some notes, by the time we’re finished you’ll have an easy to remember and present plan for sharing the faith with others.    
Let’s start with the letter G which stands for
1.  God's Gift to Me
Let me point you toward a couple of verses in the book of Romans to support that thought. 
Romans 6:23
Romans 3:24
Now if went down town and asked people how they think you get to heaven, we would get a variety of answers. But when it’s all said and done, the answers boil down into two categories.  Everyone who believes there is a heaven, believes you get there in one of two ways. 
Either it is a works based approach that relies on what you do or it is faith based relying on what someone else does.  It is either a “do” approach or a “done” approach.   
Only Christianity believes the way to heaven is through the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Others may talk about Christ, but they tack on doing good works or being baptized or joining the church or tithing or reading the Bible.  Now listen carefully. 
If anything, no matter how Biblical it sounds or logical it seems, is attached to the finished work of Jesu Christ on the cross, it is a works-based approach to salvation. 
Ultimately it comes down to, not what Christ has done, but what you do to earn your salvation. That is the American work ethic but it is not the grace of God.
True saving faith believes that salvation is God’s gift to lost humanity. Toward the end of the time on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished”.  Now some interpret that to mean his time on the cross was coming to an end.  It may have meant that, but that wasn’t all it meant.  In fact, that’s not the main thing it meant.  
What was finished, or better understood, accomplished was everything that was necessary for man to be saved from his sin.  The work of the blood atonement, the work of the cross, the work of salvation was fully accomplished. 
And grace means that on that cross, Jesus provided salvation by satisfying ever thing God demanded in His law. 
The go-to text regarding that doctrine is
Ephesians 2:8
We’ve just finished Christmas and I suppose every child who had someone to provide for them got presents and I can say, without exception, as a child and as a parent, if it had depended on being on the “nice” list, not a one of them would have gotten anything. 
There’s not a child in America that deserves what they got!  Do you know why kids get presents?  It is because their gift givers are gracious.  But that’s the nice thing about gifts.  You don’t have to earn them. 
And the good news is “G” stands for God's free gift to me.  All you’ve got to do is receive it. 
I read some years ago about an evangelist holding tent meetings across the country.  In a certain town, he put up the tent and preached the gospel. 
A man had come every night to the crusade and every night, under the preaching of the gospel, he would get under conviction, knowing he needed to be saved. 
But every night he turned down Christ.  The last night, the invitation was given and he clung to the chair in front of him until his knuckles were white.  He said no to the Holy Spirit and the revival was over. 
The next day he went to where the preacher was taking down the tent.  His heart was broken because he thought he had missed his opportunity. 
When he saw the evangelist, he ran up to him and said, “Sir I have come because God has been speaking to me.  I want to be saved, I want to be saved.  What can I do?”
The evangelist didn’t even look up from his work.  He simply said, “You are too late!”
The man put his face in his hands and as the tears began to stream down his face, he said, “I’ve waited too late.” 
Then the evangelist said to him, “Sir, you asked me what could you do and I say to that you are 2,000 years too late.  There is nothing you can do to be saved; you must receive what Christ has already done for you.”
Salvation is God’s gift to you. 
The second letter is “R” and that letter is a reminder that God’s gift must be
2.  Received By Faith
Notice again what we read in Ephesians 2:8
Now the logical question that arises from the verse is, “Where do I get faith?”
Well, the rest of the verse tells us that even the faith we use to receive the gift is a gift itself!
Is that not incredible?  Does that not illustrate the great love that God has for lost sinners?  Even though we’ve rebelled against Him, he not only provided the sacrifice for our sins by sending Jesus to die on a cross, but when we couldn’t produce enough faith to respond to that love, He gifted us with the faith to accept and believe. 
But the sober reality is, you must take Him at His word and exercise that faith and receive confess Him as Savior and Lord.  To fail to receive the gift of salvation is to remain lost in sin and be eternally separated from God in a place called hell. 
So, G stands for God's gift and R stands for received by faith.  Let’s move to “A”. 
The “A” means salvation is
3.  Available to Everyone
God is no respecter of persons.  God doesn't limit His offer to any particular group of people.  In fact, a little farther over in the book of Romans, in chapter 10, verse 13, He says, "for whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved." 
And whether you live in the gutter or you live in a mansion, whether you are black or white or brown or red or yellow, it doesn't make any difference to God. 
The Bible says He is no respecter of persons and He will save anyone who calls upon Him.  So when we come to the letter A, it means it is available to everyone, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
Next we come to the letter “C”, and there we discover that while God’s offer of salvation is available to everyone, we must
4.  Come Through Christ
Listen to what Jesus said in
John 14:6
That means in order to be saved, you have to come to God through Christ.  That makes sense when you think about it.  If there was any other way for sinners to be saved, then why would God have required Jesus to do what He did?
But salvation required what Jesus provided and only Jesus could do that.  Therefore, salvation is possible, but only through Christ.
That’s why Jesus is the focal point of the entire Bible, both Old an New Testaments.  It’s all about Him.  And in particular, God has a favorite phrase He uses to talk about salvation and the phrase is “in Christ’.     
In 2 Corinthians 5:14, w read, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." 
Romans 8:1 says, "there is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." 
Let’s think about that in very practical terms. If we are honest, then our lives must be described as imperfect.  We have a lifetime accumulation of sin.  We lose our temper.  We are dishonest.  On and on the lsit goes. 
And the Bible says it is that sin that separates us from God.  That means as long as God sees sin in my life, I can’t be in His presence.  I can’t go to heaven.  But here is where our phrase becomes extremely important because the Bible says when I received Christ as my Savior, God places me “in Christ.”
I have this bulletin in my hand and let’s just let it represent my life.  I have some ugly stains and hateful words.  I have discolorations and tears.  It’s all a part of who I am.  It’s pretty messed up, to be honest.  And everyone can see that. 
But what happens if I place this bulletin in my Bible? 
Well, that bulletin representing my sinful life, my mistakes and failures, is now covered by the Word of God and when you look, all you can see is the perfection of the infallible, inerrant, perfect Word of God. 
Did you realize that is exactly what happens in salvation? When you accept Jesus, God covers you with His Holy Word.  He places you in Christ.  And God no longer sees your imperfection, your sin, no matter how vile or how great it is.  God now sees you in Jesus and sees only Jesus. 
And I want to tell you something:  God is delighted and pleased and overjoyed and satisfied when He looks at Jesus and we have the privilege of coming to God through the Lord Jesus Christ and only through Him can you be saved.
One more letter and this is “E”.  Let’s let it remind us that grace 
5.  Extends for Eternity
What did we read earlier in Romans?  The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
As a testimony to His grace, God designed that it will never end.  We will never go beyond its reach.  We will never exhaust its supply.  And we will be its beneficiary for all eternity.  It doesn’t have an ending point.  It does, however, have a beginning point, at least for a lost person.
If you want to enjoy God’s grace for all eternity, you have to accept it in time and space. 
That’s why we have invitations and share the message of salvation.  
Do you remember the story of the woman who was taken in the very act of adultery?  Jesus enemies wanted to trip Him up so they bring  a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery to Him to see how he’ll respond. 
They remind Him that Moses said she was to be stoned. What do you say?  Jesus didn't say anything at first.  He stooped down and began to write on the ground.  Some people feel that maybe He wrote on the ground the sins in the life of those Pharisees who were condemning her.  We don't know what He wrote.  But when He stood up He said, "Let the one without sin throw the first stone.” Then He stopped down and wrote something else.  Well, they all dropped their stones and left. 
When Jesus looked up, they were all gone and He said to the woman, “Where are your accusers?"  She said, "They are all gone Lord, no man condemns me."  He said, "Neither do I condemn thee, now go and sin no more."  He said I forgive you, I cleanse you.  I extend my grace to you and now go and live in that grace.  Live in the power of that grace. Live a changed life through that grace. 
Over the course of the next few weeks, that’s what we’re going to be talking about. Not only how to be saved by grace, but how to live by grace.  The good news is you can receive that grace of grace right now. 
Let’s pray.
Post a Comment