Good News About Grace
Part 2 of 3
Text: Eph 2:8-9
Last week, if you recall, we looked at the acrostic G.R.A.C.E. and I said there were five aspects of ‘Saving Grace’ that we were going to look at, built around the five letters of the acrostic, and we were going to do that over three weeks.
Today is the second week. We looked at ‘G’ last week. Today we’re looking at ‘R’ and ‘A’ and not next week because, I’m going to be away in Ireland, but the following week, 3rd December, we’ll look at ‘C’ and ‘E’. Who can remember from last week what ‘G’ was?
G - GOD'S GIFT TO ME. Say it: ‘God’s gift to me’ That’s ‘G’
In other words grace is a free gift through Jesus Christ.
You can't earn it, you can't buy it, you can't work for it. It has been done for you on the cross by Jesus. He paid for your salvation; it’s already been done!
It's the greatest gift you're ever going to be offered. And if you really understand grace, you will accept it because it is a priceless gift in your life. ‘God's gift to me’.
R - RECEIVE BY FAITH
God's gift is received by faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 that we’ve just read together says "For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith [circle that in your mind] and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not by works so that no one can boast." Faith is the key that unlocks the door to heaven.
It's just a gift but you have to receive it by faith. If I have a gift for you and say, "Here's this gift for you. It's £100. Come and get it." It will just sit there unless you come and receive it by faith. You have to have faith that I'm going to give it to you.
He says because salvation is a gift, you can't brag about it. If you could work your way to heaven, do you realize how miserable it would be in heaven? Everybody would be bragging by how they got there. We'd all be trying to "one up" each other with great stories of what great people we were on earth. God says, "It's a grace gift, your salvation. I just give you forgiveness free. I give you heaven free." So what do you do with a gift. You can't brag about it. You can only accept it and be grateful for it.
Romans 4:16 "People receive God's promise [again circle the word "promise" in your mind] by having faith. [This is the promise of salvation.] This happens so that the promise can be a free gift." Salvation isn't based on my performance. It's based on God's promise. It's not based on my goodness. It's based on God's grace. I'm getting to heaven not based on my merit but God's mercy. That's why He gets all the credit, all the glory. There's nothing I can do. It's a free gift that's received by faith.
The Bible is full of stories illustrating the principle of grace. There are many of them. One of my favourites is in the HB. 2 Samuel 9 is a story of a young disabled boy named Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, the grandson of King Saul in the HB.
Remember the story of David and Saul. David was going to be the king. Saul was the current king and Saul was jealous of David. So most of David's life, Saul was trying to kill him. He chased him all over the countryside. David spent most of his time hiding from Saul, avoiding being killed out of jealousy. But David never retaliated. In fact, he became best friends with King Saul's son, Jonathan. They made a secret covenant that if either of them ever died they would take care of each other's family. Later on both Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle. And David became the king. All of Saul's relatives immediately were in fear thinking, "David, who King Saul has been trying to kill all of his life, is now in control and he's going to kill all of us." They all tried to escape and hide.
One of them was the son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth. As the nurse was carrying the young boy out in the escape, she dropped him. His legs were broken and he became a paraplegic. So here was this young disabled boy living in fear, frightened for his life that the man who was now king would retaliate against him.
One day David says, "Is there anybody still alive in Saul's household that I can show kindness to?" (Grace) They said, "Yes, there is. There's one little boy. He's a disabled little boy named Mephibosheth. He cannot walk." David said, "Bring him to me." You can imagine the fear in Mephibosheth's heart. Here's the king, inviting him to the court and he's thinking, "I'm going to be killed, executed. It's over. It's done." But to his surprise when he arrived, David said, "I'm going to take you in, Mephibosheth, and make you a part of my family. I want you to live here in the palace for the rest of my life. I'm going to pay all your bills.
I'm going to meet all your needs. You are to sit at my table each night and dine with me and I'm going to treat you just like you're one of my own sons." That's grace.
The Bible says that God comes to us and we're broken, we're disabled in areas of our lives, crippled in some areas. Our emotions are crippled or other things are happening in our lives and God comes and says, "I'm going to bring you into My family. I want you to sit at My table. I'm going to treat you like royalty, one of My own, simply out of My grace."
Remember the story that Jesus told of the prodigal son? There was a man who had two sons. One of them got a little anxious and was independent spirited. He came and said, "Dad, I want you to give me my half of the inheritance." And the dad said ok. He split the future inheritance and gave half to the one son right then and the son took off. He skipped town, went over to Sunset Strip in Jerusalem, started partying. He's having a great time ‑- wine, women and song, living it up, blowing all the money. One day he runs out of money and there's no ATM's in Jerusalem. He hits bottom morally, spiritually, financially -- every way possible. In fact, he ended up having to work feeding pigs in a pig sty and he was so hungry that he would eat the food that the pigs were eating.
You know that the Jewish people don't eat pork so that was about as low as you could go -- living with a pig and eating a pig's food. Culturally, he couldn't get more degraded. One day, while he's in this mess, the younger son says, "What am I doing!?! My father's servants are treated better than this. I think I'm going to go home. I'm going to go back to Dad and say, `Dad, I've blown it. I've made a mistake. I'm sorry. I don't deserve to be called your son any more. Just make me one of your hired servants and I will work for you as a servant, not as a son, the rest of my life because your servants are treated better than I was out in the world.'" The story goes that as the prodigal son was coming home the father saw him from a long way off. It says he ran out to greet the boy. He grabs him in a big bear hug and hugs him and embraces him. He didn't wait for him to get cleaned up, to get that smell of the pigs off him. He hugs him and says, "Bring out the royal robes. Bring out some jewellery. Let's give him the official family ring. Let's party! My son has come home." That's grace. The son deserved condemnation. The son deserved to be judged, rejected, a lecture from the dad saying, "I told you so!" But instead, he's received with love, unconditional love. That is the grace of God and it's received by faith.
A - AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE
God doesn't have favourites. Regardless of your background, regardless of your status, regardless of your sin. It doesn't matter whether you've been a religious person or a non- religious person or you have any religious background at all. Romans 14:16 "The promise is not only for those people that live under the law of Moses. It is for anyone who lives with faith like Abraham." Who are these people who live under the law of Moses? the Jews. The Jewish people were given the law of Moses. Moses was their leader. They were given the ways of God to do the right thing before the rest of us were given them.
Have you ever thought about why the Jews were called God's chosen people? Does God love them more than He loves the rest of us? No. They were chosen for a purpose. They were chosen to spread the message to everybody else, to tell the world that there is one true God. That's what they were chosen for. They were kind of like the missionaries to the rest of us.
Now God has taken that task and given it to the church which includes Jews, Gentiles and everybody else who put their faith in Christ. God says it's available to anybody who opens up their heart in faith. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Circle in your mind the word: “everyone”. There are no quotas in heaven. It doesn’t say only really good people will be saved if they call on the name of the Lord, really religious people, really smart people. No. It says anybody. Anybody who calls on the name of the Lord, who has faith in the grace of God will be saved.
The sad thing is that even though many people know that God offers His grace, His unconditional gift to us, they still try to work their way to heaven. They think that something in their lives is making them good enough that they don’t need to receive God’s gift of grace through Christ.
You may have done some really nifty things in life, but if you think they’re going to get you into heaven, forget it. Heaven is perfect and you’re not. The only way you’re going to get in is by receiving God’s gift to you, receiving it by faith which is available to every person.
‘G’ God’s gift to me; ‘R’ Receive by faith; ‘A’ Available to everyone.
The first three aspects in the acrostic G.R.A.C.E. We’ll leave it there just now until next time. Let’s pray:
H/F it seems too good to be true that the gift of life with you is free and available to everyone, especially when you tell us through your Word that all we have to do is to receive it by faith. Lord this morning hopefully some of us and perhaps even many of us are beginning to understand the meaning of grace which lies at the heart of Christian faith. We are laying a strong foundation upon which we can build and we pray that when we leave this place this morning, we will leave challenged and changed. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Master. Amen.