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1-5-7 The grace of the gospel

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MBC - 6/6/2004 - Pastor Doug Thompson

“The Grace of the Gospel”

Romans 1:5-7

ROM 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

ROM 1:2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

ROM 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

ROM 1:4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

ROM 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake,

ROM 1:6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

ROM 1:7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

{Talk about what it means vs. how it applies}

I. God’s grace to Paul.

Ø      ROM 1:5 through whom we have received grace . . .

For Paul, his life was all about the grace that he had received through the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one word that sums up Christianity, it is the word “grace”--one word that sums up our salvation, one word that describes what has happened to us--it is the word grace. It is used 155 times in the NT, and 100 of those occurrences are in Paul’s writings--24 times in Romans.

The Gk. word for grace is charis--we turn it into Charissa for a girl’s name.

I want you to have an intellectual understanding what grace means to you and I--but I want you to have an emotional reaction when you hear this word--Grace. The meaning of this word is so rich--but I want us to get our arms around it--

*What is grace?

            1.) Grace is a gift.

First, grace means “gift.” A Puritan writer (A.W. Pink?) defined grace this way: “Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favour of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favour of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace.”

Grace is a gift that flows out of goodness and generosity. The Corinthian church had taken up an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Paul called their offering--

Ø      1CO 16:3 “your gift”--charis

Ø      Spiritual gifts are called charismata, because they are freely given by God to every Christian as gifts with which to serve the body of Christ.

Ø      LUK 1:30 The angel told Mary:  "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor [grace--charis] with God.” i.e., “This is a gift, Mary--no woman deserves to be the mother of the Messiah!”

So apply this to our salvation: Eph.2:8: “For by grace you have been saved.” Salvation by grace means that God is giving us a gift that we didn’t earn, we don’t deserve, and we can never pay for--it is freely given by God just because He wanted to. It is strictly His prerogative. This is hard for us to even grasp, but God’s grace in salvation is unconditional--it had nothing to do with us meeting any conditions!

And to knock this into our hard heads, God tells us in EPH 1:4 that the decision to save us and make us His children happened before creation--before we were even here to meet any conditions! “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” So what was the basis of His choice if it wasn’t something in us? It was something in Him--His own mercy and grace--one of the kids was reading this out of the Living Bible the other night at youth group: “He did it because He wanted to!”

There is an illustration of this in Rom.9. Paul is explaining that God chose Jacob over Esau before they were even born, so obviously His choice had nothing to do with the boys:

Ø      ROM 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls,

Jacob was chosen by God on the basis that you and I were chosen--His own free grace.

I was surprised that the word for grace is used as a verb meaning to forgive in several passages--

Ø      LUK 7:42 [Jesus is telling a parable] "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave [charizomai] them both.”

The forgiver represented in this parable is God--When God forgives us, He is gracing us. He is giving us a gift, isn’t He? We can’t demand His forgiveness, we can’t earn it, or deserve it--but through Christ, He graciously forgives us!

Ø      When I used to go out on an evangelistic visitation team, I would use this illustration of grace as a gift: “Suppose I were to take off my watch and offer it to you as a gift. If you took out your check book to pay me for it--would it still be a gift?”

No. And especially in Paul’s writings we see that he contrasts God’s free grace in salvation with something that people try to pay for or work for. He says you just can’t mix the two--it’s one or the other:

Ø      ROM 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

? - Let me ask you: “Are you living in the freedom God’s free, undeserved, unearned grace--or are you living under the burden of your own works and efforts, constantly worried that you aren’t doing enough to please God?”

If God has made you His child by a gift of His grace, it had nothing to do with you measuring up or being good enough to get it, and it has nothing to do with you measuring up or being good enough to keep it! Now let that sink into your mind, and then let it percolate down to your heart:

Not because of who I am

But because of what You've done

Not because of what I've done

But because of who You are!

Do you sense the freedom in this word--grace--and the security? If God has graced you, then what Paul said at the end of Rom.8 is true: nothing--nothing--can separate you from the love of God in Christ! That’s the grace of God.

And there is a way to test yourself--to see if you really understand God’s grace in the gospel, and if you are really communicating that grace when you share the gospel: That great British preacher, Martin Lloyd-Jones said if you are proclaiming the true gospel of grace--if you are getting it right--count on it--people will accuse you of being an antinomian. And if you never get accused of this, you probably aren’t proclaiming the true gospel of grace.

And you say, “I would never want to be called an antinomian--what is an antinomian?”

Antinomian means “without law,” i.e., he was saying that if you present the radical message of God’s free grace in Christ, some people are going to accuse you of saying: “Oh, so you’re saying ‘Sin all you want, you can still go to heaven.’ How dare you say such a thing, we all know that only good people go to heaven!” And that’s just what Paul was accused of--

Ø      ROM 5:20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, [And then anticipates what his legalistic opponents are going to say--

Ø      ROM 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? [“I love to sin, God loves to forgive--everybody’s happy?”]

Ø      ROM 6:2 May it never be! [lit., “Don’t even go there!”] How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

We’ll see later how Paul answers this ridiculous criticism, the point is, even Paul was misunderstood and criticized when he preached the grace of God--and so will you and I if we get it right! And that’s because God’s grace is radical--it is unearthly--it’s not natural. It goes against the grain of our human nature. In our pride and our self-sufficiency, we don’t want heaven to be a free gift, that would mean that we wouldn’t be able to take any credit for anything we have done--and besides, it’s humiliating to see ourselves as helpless beggars who are forced to take charity.

But when God gives a person a new heart, and opens up their old, blind eyes, then we sing with old John Newton: “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed!”

            2.) Grace means joy.

I said that the word for grace is charis, and that is related to another Gk. word chara, which is the word for joy. What is the relationship between joy and grace?

Grace comes from joy, and it produces joy! God gives His grace joyfully--it pleases Him to grace people.

Ø      LUK 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly [it was well-pleasing for Him] to give you the kingdom.” He doesn’t do it begrudgingly, “Oh alright, (sigh) I’ll forgive your sins and give you eternal life.”

No! Jesus said that God rejoices when He shows grace to an undeserving sinner. Lk.15 gives us 3 pictures of God pouring out His grace:

Ø      LUK 15:5 [like a shepherd searching for one lost sheep] "And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. [but more than that]

Ø      LUK 15:6 "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

Ø      LUK 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Ø      LUK 15:8 "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

Ø      LUK 15:9 "And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!'

Ø      LUK 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

And then the parable of the prodigal son. What was the father’s attitude when the son who had squandered his father’s blessings, and had no respect for him--returned?

Ø      LUK 15:32 'But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.' "

It’s party time! Another sinner got what he didn’t deserve!

? - Do you believe that God had great joy in showing you His grace and forgiveness--or do you picture Him, always shaking His head, with His arms crossed--soooo disappointed in you--again. . .? And when--or if--He let’s you into heaven, how do you picture the reception: “You know that you just barely made it, don’t you? Please take your place at the end of the line. God is going to have some words with you before you get your mansion--oh, I’m sorry, it likes more of a guest house.”

If that’s the way you see God, you are wrong. He has gladly chosen to save you--and He will never regret His choice! Eph.1:6 says that He “freely bestowed His grace on in His beloved Son,” and v. 7 says that He has “lavished the riches of His grace on you”--and it brought Him great joy to do so. He doesn’t have any second thoughts! And when you get to heaven, you will get this reception: “Enter into the joy of your Master!” Party time.

God’s grace flows from His own joy, and His grace bring us joy. A famous theologian said: “Grace is the incomprehensible fact that God is well-pleased with a man, and that a man can rejoice in God.”

One more thought on grace. For the Christian:

            3.) Grace is where we live.

Ø      ROM 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ø      ROM 5:2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction [access] by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Grace isn’t some once-upon-a-time whim of God in our lives. We stand in His grace--it’s like the air that we breathe. Everything in our lives flows from the grace of God. If you are God’s child, grace is His attitude toward you. His grace toward you is non-stop, relentless. He is constantly lavishing more and more grace on you: JOH 1:16 “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” And Paul says that we stand in this grace and exult! Let me try to paint a picture:

Ø      You’ve all noticed that the body temperature of the average woman is about 20 degrees lower than the average man? In our church office, the men are red-faced, perspiring, the AC is pumping, fan’s are churning--and the women are wearing their sweaters and sipping hot tea! That’s the way it was this week when I walked outside and found one of our female staff members, standing with her face toward the sun, shamelessly sunning herself like a lizard--trying to absorb every degree of heat she could before going back into the icebox!

That’s what it is like to stand in God’s grace: We turn our faces toward His Son and just soak it up--the warmth, the love, the mercy and forgiveness, the security--the joy that God has in us!--and the knowledge that His grace will just keep coming like the rays of the sun. Turn your face toward this passage--

Ø      ROM 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give [lit. grace] us all things?

God’s grace didn’t stop at your salvation. That was just the beginning! And if He graced you with the greatest gift of all--His own Son for your salvation--then that guarantees that He will continue to grace you with every lesser thing. Stand in this grace.

And that was just the beginning of this sermon--but the rest will be brief. This too, is grace.

Here is the point: Paul saw everything in his life through his “grace-glasses,” that’s why we need to understand grace. Paul saw his calling as an apostle as another gift of God’s grace in his life--

            A. His call to apostleship.

Ø      ROM 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship . . .

Listen to--

Ø      1CO 15:9,10 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am.

Now we need to see what the text means before we see how it applies to us: In v.5, the “we” is an editorial plural. Paul is talking about himself. He isn’t saying that every Christian has received the grace of apostleship, but every Christian has received God’s grace to do what they do and to be who they are.

Do you see that as God’s grace in your life? Do you gripe and complain about your job and your circumstances, or do you say “By the grace of God I am what I am--I am where I am--I am who I am?”

This is how you and I apply this: I want each of us to fill in the blank: “Through the Lord Jesus Christ I have received grace and ______________ [What has God called you to be at this point in your life?] “Grace and--   --the role of teaching; or singing; or praying; or comforting; or being a godly mother or father, or widow or single person; or being a godly submissive child, or student; or suffering (Phil.1:29).

Whatever is in your blank, thank God for it, it is a gift! And pray for His grace to live out this calling, so that when people see you in your God-given role as a student, or wife, or contractor--or sufferer--they see God’s grace in you!

            B. His task.

 

Ø      to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake.

Why doesn’t Paul say, “. . .  to bring about the salvation of the Gentiles--to see Gentiles converted?” Instead, he says that God’s call on his life is to bring about lit., “faith’s obedience” in the Gentiles. Why does he say this?

Now get this: the burden of this letter is to show that salvation is a gift of God’s grace--not by good works--not by our obedience. But the effect of God’s grace in a person’s life--is obedience and good works. Grace changes people! It doesn’t just turn people who were headed for hell into people who are headed for heaven; it turns lazy, disobedient, self-centered sinners into servants of Jesus Christ who obey Him. Look at what he says in--

Ø      ROM 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

Obedience doesn’t save you, but salvation causes you to be obedient--and obedient from the heart!

You see, Paul wants to magnify the grace of God, he wants to show how glorious it is, and how powerful it is. So when he describes his ministry here at the very beginning of this letter, he is looking at the big picture of God’s grace in a person’s life--it leads to obedience. It radically changes a person’s life. And you need to understand that Romans is not just going to deal with justifying grace but also sanctifying grace because if God graces a person with justification, that person will also be graced with sanctification. Paul begins this letter with this powerful thought--and he ends his letter with the same thought:

Ø      ROM 16:24 [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]

Ø      ROM 16:25 ¶ Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,

Ø      ROM 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;

Ø      ROM 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

(I’ve given you some more on this on the back of your outline, and there is an article by Thomas Boston an old Puritan on the obedience of faith on the back table.) Ask yourself this question: “Is the grace that saved me, changing me?” Am I changing? Am I growing in my love and obedience to Christ? Am I putting off the old rotten habits and putting on new godly habits? Is my speech different? Are my thoughts different? Are my decisions different?”

Let me put it another way: “Can others see the grace of God at work in me?” They can’t tell by looking at you that you are justified! That really didn’t change your appearance! But can they see--from the outside--that God has made a new heart on the inside?

This is the purpose of faith’s obedience, it is ultimately “for His name’s sake:” so that others can see a living, breathing example of what God’s grace does in a person’s life, and give Him glory.

Let me tell you one of the most mind-blowing discoveries I ever made in my study of the Bible: I was amazed to discover how few commands there are to go out and evangelize the lost! Mt.28:19--the great commission, “Go and make disciples of all the nations--right?--and teaching them to observe all I commanded--the obedience of faith. Try to think of another command for you and I to go out and witness . . . . It’s described in the book of Acts, but why aren’t there more commands to go out and witness? Because the emphasis of the NT is on being a witness by your changed, obedient life! There are hundreds of commands for manifesting faith’s obedience so that when you articulate the gospel, your life gives your message credibility.

Let me ask you again: “Does it? Does your life give credibility to your message? Do others see the obedience of faith in you?

Ø      MAT 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Let me put v.5 as simply as I can--

By the grace of God,

Paul preached the gospel to the nations,
to change sinners into people who obey God,
so that Jesus Christ would have a good reputation.

This is the message we need to preach to others: we need to tell people that Jesus is not just a Savior to be believed, but He is Lord and is to be obeyed. But this is the message that we need to live out--for the sake of His name.

II. God’s grace to every Christian.

Let’s close with vv.6,7:

Ø      ROM 1:6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Ø      ROM 1:7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t skim over this, he is describing what God’s grace means to every Christian. He gives 3 descriptions, and 2 blessings. Look with me at the 3 descriptions of a Christian:

1. “the called of Jesus Christ”

2. “beloved of God”

3. “called as saints”

Every Christian is called, beloved of God, and a saint. Now let me ask you: who is the giver of these blessings, and who is the recipient? God is the giver, right?

Ø      Did you call yourself to Christ? You were dead in your sins, it was God who called you. The picture of this in the NT is Jesus calling old dead Lazarus from the grave. Yes, he came forth like Jesus told him to do, but only after Jesus brought him back to life first! Dead people don’t hear commands. This is God’s grace, brothers and sisters, and remember, He didn’t have to call you, and He doesn’t call everyone. God’s grace is humbling, isn’t it?

Ø      He calls you beloved of God. Why does God love you--because you love Him? No, we love Him because He first loved us. Again, God is the initiator, and we are just the recipients of His grace and love.

Ø      Then he calls you a saint by calling, a holy one by the calling of God! God has set you apart for Himself, to be His child, to be a part of His body and His bride. And He is in the process of setting you apart still more--“it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” You didn’t set yourself apart, did you? Except for God’s grace you would still be drowning in the cesspool of the world and your own sins.

If you are trusting in Jesus Christ this morning, this is the way God sees you: You are His called one, You are loved by Him, and you are holy in His sight. And your relationship to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, can be summed up in two words: “Grace and peace.” God is constantly lavishing His grace on you, and you are at peace with Him.

close with illus. of John Newton . . .sing amazing grace

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