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The Difficulty of Grace

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30 Days of Grace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  33:17
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How are we to deal with the challenges we face when confronted with the reality of grace?

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For the past few Sundays we have been on a journey of Grace. While on this journey we have made a few stops with the first one being ‘the hope of grace’. Would it be fair this morning to say that it is easy for us to identify with a hope of grace. Meaning, we recognize no one is perfect and I am going to go out on a limb and assume we each recognize this truth. I am also going to surmise that we are similar in that we prefer not to have someone standing over us or around us to point out the areas in which we are not perfect. This is in essence ‘The hope of grace’ it is the hope that we will be treated by others better than we deserve. More specifically, it is the hope of the world that a loving God, and the church, would accept and treat all imperfect human beings better than they deserve.
Grace does not give us license to live ‘business as usual’.
Grace does not give us license to become ‘judge & jury’.
For the past few Sundays we have been on a journey of Grace. While on this journey we have made a few stops with the first one being ‘the hope of grace’. Would it be fair this morning to say that it is easy for us to identify with a hope of grace. Meaning, we recognize no one is perfect and I am going to go out on a limb and assume we each recognize this truth. I am also going to surmise that we are similar in that we prefer not to have someone standing over us or around us to point out the areas in which we are not perfect. This is in essence ‘The hope of grace’ it is the hope that we will be treated by others better than we deserve. More specifically, it is the hope of the world that a loving God, and the church, would accept and treat all imperfect human beings better than they deserve.
After looking at ‘the hope of grace’ we stopped to consider ‘the reality of grace’. Grace is a gift, nothing we earn and it is available for all. We looked at a few examples with one being the thief on the cross. It’s one thing to accept, at least on the surface, the story from the bible that says a thief was pardoned from spending eternity in hell as was his deserved punishment and instead found mercy and grace from Jesus as they both hung on crosses. It is a completely different ball game when it comes to the ‘real world’. I shared about a pastor/author who struggled with the grace available to a person who is the epitome of evil as this individual repented and received the gift of grace available to all.
was ‘the reality of grace’. Grace is a gift, nothing we earn and it is available for all. We looked at a few examples with one being the thief on the cross. It’s one thing to accept, at least on the surface, the story from the bible that says a thief was pardoned from spending eternity in hell as was his deserved punishment and instead found mercy and grace from Jesus as they both hung on crosses. It is a completely different ball game when it comes to the ‘real world’. I shared about a pastor/author who struggled with the grace available to a person who is the epitome of evil as this individual repented and received the gift of grace available to all.
Today we are going to look at ‘the difficulty of grace’.

How are we to deal with the challenges we face when confronted with the reality of grace?

Life is messy and imperfect people do imperfect people things. How do we handle this? All too often we can sit in church and say “Amen” to the truth found in the Bible and yet ignore the implication of the truth when we are knee deep in the ‘stuff’ of life. For this reason, I believe it is critically important that if we are going to proclaim to God, fellow believers in Christ, and the community that ‘we are a place of hope, love, grace, and peace’, we be willing to address the challenges we will face when confronted with the reality of grace.
Please open your Bible this morning to
Let’s Pray
Hebrews 10:19–31 NIV
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Let’s Pray
You can follow along as I read this text.
May God bless the reading of the Word this morning
Even though we are not going through a detailed explanation or interpretation of this specific text this morning, it is important to call out that this section of scripture begins with the word ‘Therefore’. Meaning that some of the understanding of these verses comes from what has just been said. So what was just said?
Hebrews 10:16–18 NIV
“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Hebrews 10:16
What does this mean for us as we consider ‘the difficulty of grace’?
Hebrews 10:23 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:
If we have received the gift of salvation through Christ, let us cling to the hope found in a faithful God. Regardless the type of challenge/tension we may be facing, let’s take hold of the hope only found in Jesus.
Hebrews 10:24 NRSV
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,
Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
If we have received the gift of salvation through Christ, let us live out the gospel and challenge/encourage one another to do the same.
Hebrews 10:
By clinging to the hope found in/through Jesus and living out the gospel, we are better able handle the difficulty of grace.
Moving to verse 26 we find “If we deliberately keep on sinning...”

Grace does not give us license to live ‘business as usual’

Why is it that we are so quick to use statements like, “God loves me just the way I am…so...” to justify our attitudes and actions?
Romans 6:1–2 NIV
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Romans 6:1-2
Romans 6:15 NIV
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
Romans 6:15
Themelios: Volume 30, No. 1, Autumn 2004 Discipleship and Evangelism

Cheap Grace is the deadly enemy of our church. It is grace without price: grace without cost!… Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine … an intellectual assent … Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner … Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Part I, Chapter 1)

Bonhoeffer’s idea of ‘cheap grace’ is flourishing in our churches, on our campuses, in our homes, and we don’t even see it for what it is. Salvation is sold as fire insurance, Jesus is reduced to correct propositional formulas and worship is all about us and the way we like it no matter how many times we sing, ‘it’s all about you, Jesus’. Cheap grace sells us a comfortable Jesus to whom we sing affectionate valentines. Cheap grace substitutes the fear of the Lord for a fear of the world. Cheap grace hides our light under wonderfully pious lampshades, and cheap grace renders the salt of the earth as just so much tasteless landfill.

Cheap Grace [is something Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about in his book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’] is the deadly enemy of our church. It is grace without price: grace without cost!… Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine … an intellectual assent … Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner … Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Part I, Chapter 1)
Bonhoeffer’s idea of ‘cheap grace’ is flourishing in our churches, on our campuses, in our homes, and we don’t even see it for what it is. Salvation is sold as fire insurance, Jesus is reduced to correct propositional formulas and worship is all about us and the way we like it no matter how many times we sing, ‘it’s all about you, Jesus’. Cheap grace sells us a comfortable Jesus to whom we sing affectionate valentines. Cheap grace substitutes the fear of the Lord for a fear of the world. Cheap grace hides our light under wonderfully pious lampshades, and cheap grace renders the salt of the earth as just so much tasteless landfill. (Robbie Castleman, “The Last Word: The Skim-Milk Gospel of Cheap Grace,” Themelios 30, no. 1 (2004): 52.)
Let us not trample on the blood of Jesus in our attempts to excuse our actions and attitudes.

Grace does not give us license to become ‘judge & jury’

Why is it that we want to be judged by our ‘intentions’ and yet we judge others on their ‘actions’?
We come to the end of this passage in Hebrews and find these words:
Hebrews 10:
Hebrews 10:30–31 NIV
For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
What does this mean or have to do with ‘the difficulty of grace’?
How many of us are tired of watching people ‘game’ the system?
How many of us are tired of watching others receive greater blessing and favor for doing nothing?
How many of us are okay with someone receiving ‘grace’ as long as we agree they deserve ‘grace’?
In Romans we find these words from Paul:
Romans 12:17–19 NIV
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:
We overcome ‘the difficulty of grace’ by remembering:
Grace does not give us license to live ‘business as usual’.
Grace does not give us license to become judge & jury.
At the same time, grace does not make us a passive victim.

What does it look like to overcome ‘the difficulty of grace’?

Reflection: Is there a situation/person that is creating difficulty when it comes to living out grace? Ask Jesus how to show you how to overcome ‘the difficulty of grace’.

Is there a situation/person that is creating difficulty when it comes to living out grace?
Ask Jesus how to show you how to overcome ‘the difficulty of grace’.
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