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Sermon9-3Dec06-3of3SavingGrace(RWGoodNewsAboutGracePart1)+InformalCommunion

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SAVING GRACE

Good News About Grace 

Part 3 of 3

                              Text: John 1:1-18                1955 words

 

We can’t count last Sunday because I was away in Belfast, but the two weeks

prior to that we were looking together at the acrostic G.R.A.C.E. If you recall 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 a period of three weeks. Well, this is the third week and I’m picking up where we left off two Sundays ago. The question that we’ve been asking all along is:

What is Grace?

And the question we will hopefully all ask ourselves at the end of this morning: How will I Respond to God’s Saving Grace?’

So Grace: What does it mean for you and for me?  What difference does it make in my life? Well, when you fully understand it, grace will change your life and the way you look at life.

 

The Bible tells us that ‘All of us need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift….through Jesus Christ (Rom 3:24)

‘G’ = God’s gift to me

Then we have ‘R’: In Eph 2:8,9 we read ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.’

 ‘R’ = Receive by faith

 

We are then told in scripture that: ‘The promise is for anyone who lives with faith,  like Abraham.

 ‘A’ = Available to everyone.

 

This morning we’re looking at the last two letters of the acrostic – C & E

 

C - GRACE COMES THROUGH CHRIST.

John 1:17 "The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."  Why through Jesus Christ?  Why is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven?  Why not Buddha?  Why not somebody else?  Why Jesus Christ?

Because He paid the price of admission.  He's already paid for your salvation.  Nobody else has done that one.  On the cross, He paid for your sins. 

Grace is free, no doubt about that.  But it is not cheap.  It cost Jesus Christ His life.  He paid for your ticket. 

The law tells me when I do wrong.  It says, "You blew it!"  But Grace says, "Here's how to get back on track.  You're forgiven. Let's get going in the right direction."

Romans 5:15 "Many people have received God's gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ."  In the Bible, the favourite description for someone who has grace, who's accepted God's grace, the favourite description for a believer, is the term "in Christ."  That phrase, "in Christ", is used over 120 times in the New Testament.  It refers to somebody who has found salvation through the grace of God, being in Christ.

Let me explain it to you like this.  This card represents my life and let's let the Bible represent Jesus Christ.  In my life there are a lot of things I've done wrong that disqualify me to live in a perfect place like heaven.  There are things in my life that have ripped up my life, the things that I have done wrong, the things that I'm ashamed of that I don't want you or anybody else to know about in my past and I wish I could do them over.  There are things that have really hurt me deeply where I've hurt others and they've hurt me.  Sins that I've committed, thoughts I've thought, actions that have been hurtful to other people.  In many ways I've ripped up my life and allowed others to rip it up too. Then there are things in my life that I've done that I'm really ashamed of and I just made a total mess of my life.  I look at that messed up, broken, damaged, scared life and I think, "There's no chance of this getting into heaven.  It's certainly not perfect."

But the Bible says that Jesus Christ takes my life with all the scars, with all the tatters, with all the mistakes, with all the guilty things in my life and the Bible says that when I come to Jesus Christ and I say, "Jesus Christ, I open my life up to You and I want to accept Your free gift of salvation" then God puts me in Christ. 

When I'm in Christ, can you see my imperfections?  Can you see the things that I'm ashamed of?  Can you see the things that have ripped up my life and other people?  All you can see when I'm in Christ, is Christ.  When God takes my life and all the pieces of it that are kind of messed up -- really messed up -- and He puts me in the life of Christ.  I get into heaven on Christ's ticket. When He looks at me with eyes of grace He only see the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:21 "Don't treat the grace of God as meaningless.  For if we could be saved by keeping the law, [by doing good] then there was no need for Christ to die."  If you could be saved and could get to heaven on your own merits, the cross was a waste. If you could have got to heaven without any help from God, Jesus wouldn't have come and died on the cross for you.  He wouldn't waste Himself like that.  But there was no other way. You're either going to get into heaven in Christ, or you're not going.

It's a free gift.  You just accept it in faith.  Grace is all that God does for me because of what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross.  Another acrostic of GRACE that I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions is:

God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  It comes through Christ and only through Christ. 

 

E - IT IS EXTENDED THROUGHOUT ETERNITY

Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."  Circle in your minds the words "eternal life".  The results of God's grace are going to go on and on forever.  Eternal life is one of the benefits of grace.  Eternal life.  You could say that grace is the gift that keeps on giving. God saves the best for last and the best is yet to come.  With Jesus Christ it just keeps getting better and better.  The Bible says the free gift of God is eternal life in heaven. 

Have you ever thought of what is heaven really going to be like? The Bible tells us that heaven is going to be like four things.

            1.  A place of reunion where we are reunited with other loved ones who have accepted the grace of God. 

            2.  It's going to be a place of reward.  We are rewarded for the character that we developed and the way we served other people here on earth.

            3.  It's going to be a place where we are reassigned to do new work that we like to do based on the way God has shaped us; the way He has  blended our abilities and experiences and personality and spiritual gifts that He has given us. 

            4.  It's going to be a place of release where we're free from all pain, all suffering, all sadness, all sorrow, all grief, all depression, all loneliness, etc. 

It's going to be a wonderful place.  And it is the gift of God. 

There's one catch:  You have to accept it.  If you get a gift and you don't unwrap it, it's a worthless gift.  You need to realize that Jesus Christ makes this grace gift available to everybody but it is also customized specifically for your life, because God knows exactly what you need.

There’s a true story about a successful businessman, highly respected in the management world. (Peter Drucker d.2005, age 95)  Everything he wrote was printed in the Wall Street Journal.  He's written dozens and dozens of books that are textbooks.  A brilliant man.  One day, he was asked by a close friend who was a pastor , "How did you become a Christian?"  He said, "When somebody first explained grace to me, I realized I was never going to get a better deal."

You're never going to get a better deal that we've talked about today.  Open your life to the grace of God through Jesus Christ. It's your only hope and it's free. 

I know you may be thinking, "If I come to God with all the ways I've messed up my life, God's going to give me some big lecture. I'm going to feel condemned.  I'm going to feel judged.  In fact, I'm not going to feel good at all.  If I come to Christ, I'll just get all this rebuke and reproof and feel bad because I know how many times I've blown it and God's going to say, `I told you so!'" 

If you think that, you're sadly mistaken.  That's what grace is all about.  Jesus says, "Come to Me!" 

In the Bible there's the story of a woman who had numerous moral failures.  Numerous.  She'd slept around with anybody and everybody.  She had what you'd call a reputation.  A real reputation!  In fact, one day some religious leaders actually caught her in the act, in bed with somebody, and brought her to Jesus and threw her on the ground in front of Christ expecting Him to condemn her.  "What are you going to do about this woman who's violated all kinds of principles of God?"  Jesus defended her dignity.  He protected her.  In front of the whole crowd He said, "All right.  Anybody who's here without sin, you can cast the first stone."  Of course since there was no one in the crowd who was perfect they all began to slowly walk away.  Then in the privacy of that one on one encounter, Jesus looked at this woman who was filled with guilt and said, "Where are your condemners." She said, "They've all gone, Lord."  Jesus said to her two very profound things, "Neither do I condemn you.  Now go and sin no more."  That's all He said.  No long lecture.  No big lesson.  He just said, "Neither do I condemn you.  Now go and sin no more." Jesus said, "I didn't come to condemn the world.  I came to save it."  If you are expecting to come to Christ and be filled with a whole bunch of condemnation, you missed the boat.  You haven't heard the story.  You don't understand grace.  Come to Christ.

In fact, the Bible says this.  Isaiah 30:18 "The Lord longs to be gracious to you."  God wants to be gracious to you.  It is His nature to bless undeserving people.  He's waiting for you to accept His grace.  He enjoys being gracious.  He's not mad at you.  His heart's broken for you but He wants you to come home.

Does grace just mean that I can accept God's gift and keep on living any way that I want to?  thumbing my nose to God?  Of course not. 

There are two very profound statements.  He said, "I don't condemn you."  And then He says, "Now just stop doing it.  Go and sin no more.  Let Me help you change."  He's not saying, "Just keep on doing whatever's destroying your life, whatever's opposing the laws of God."  He just said, "Go and sin no more."

God's amazing grace is available right here and right now. Today.  That's why He brought you here.  You're not here by accident.  He brought you here.  If you have never received that saving grace gift, what are you waiting on?

Let’s Pray:

            H/F there is so much to learn about your amazing grace. We’ve learned the aspects of Saving Grace; but Lord as well as Saving Grace there’s Your Restoring Grace, Your Sustaining Grace, Your Healing Grace, Your Liberating Grace, Your Assuring Grace, Your Offering Grace, Your Growing in Grace, but the foundation…Saving Grace has been laid.  Lord hear us now as we repeat these words in our own hearts:  "Dear God, I realize that I can never be perfect enough…… to earn a place in Your perfect heaven.  I realize that the only way I'll get in…. is by Your grace.  Forgive me for thinking that I could be good enough.  Forgive me for my pride….. that thinks I can earn my way into heaven.  Thank You that You give me what I need,… not what I deserve.  Thank You for Your forgiveness…. and I ask for it today.  Jesus Christ, thank You for paying….. for my salvation on the cross.  By faith, I accept Your grace today.  I want You to guide my life…. from this day forward.  In Your name I pray.”  And together we say: “Amen." 

Informal Communion

G = God’s gift to me

R = Receive by faith

A = Available to everyone

C – Grace comes through Christ

E – It’s extended throughout eternity

God’s love for us defines the meaning of Grace and there’s nothing you can do that will make Him love you any more and there’s nothing you can do that will make Him love you any less. He loves you and sharing Communion together is how you receive His outrageous grace.

In remembering what Jesus has done for you and for me, my prayer is that you experience grace in the sharing of this bread and wine together.

Jesus took the bread and said, This is My body.  It’s a symbol of how much I love you; of how important you are to Me. I’m doing it for you.  Whenever you do this, remember Me! 

Jesus took a cup and said, “This cup represents my blood poured out for you.  When you drink it remember that this is how much you matter to Me.”

Tell God how much you love Him today; ask Him to guide you in fulfilling His purpose for your life.  

Take eat and drink, the gifts of God for His people.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, your grace towards us is outrageous. It’s beyond any love we have ever known or ever will know. Thank you for your amazing grace. Help us now to be the people you intend us to be and may we love you from the depth of our being from this moment forward as we seek to love you and put you first in our lives. May we hunger for Your presence and your power in our lives as we serve You.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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