Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

01/07/2018 A.M.

 

Transformed By Grace

2 Corinthians 5.14-15 & 1 Peter 4.10

 

I draw your attention to two scriptures as we begin this new year together... I want them to be… Our theme... The goal we reach for...

 

So... Look at them with me... Grasp their truth and significance... Be willing to apply them to our daily walk... As we enter 2018... READY?

 

Second Corinthians 5... 14 beginning... For Christ’s love compels us… Because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him Who died for them and was raised again.

 

First Peter 4.10... Speaking to those in the church... This church... Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others… Faithfully,administering God’s grace in its various forms.

 

Church...We can’t miss the message...

 

1) God’s love is compelling... Transforming… Or should be if it’s genuinely received… If His grace has touched our heart… We will be compelled to be like Him.

 

2) When we understand His grace at the cross... We’ll no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us.

 

3) Our love for God is expressed in the way we live in service to others… As often as you do it to the least of these… You do it to Me

 

Come...Let’s see what we can learn...

 

First... We examine the statement... Christ’s love compels us.

The Greek is synecho... (Sue-Na-K)… It’s a word of restriction...It speaks of one who has been… Controlled… Encircled... Hemmed in...It refers to one whose activity has been restricted or narrowed in some way.

 

No doubt this refers back to the 11th verse of this same chapter...Where Paul says... Knowing the fear of the Lord... We try to persuade men.

 

This is not a fear that Petrifies him... But an Awe... Reverence... that energizes.

 

God’s love... God’s grace… Compels… Transforms… Energizes.... Moves us...Nudges us... Motivates us... WHY?... Because we understand that because He died for us... He owns us… We oughtto live for Him.

 

Church...There’s no greater realization we can come to in this New Year... Than to understand that because Jesus died for us... We should be compelled to live for Him... Amen?

 

Secondly... We’ll only be compelled to live differently when we understand Grace.

In my tenure at this church... If I have accomplished anything... I hope it is a better understanding of God’s amazing grace.

 

I want us to be a GRACE-DRIVEN church... a GRACE-MOTIVATED people.

 

In the Greek GRACE literally means... to bend or stoop.

• Biblical grace is... God’s condescending favor toward us.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor extended to us.

• Grace is God’s initiative on our behalf.

• Grace is what God did for us through the life and death of Jesus.

God’s Riches At Christ'S Expense.

 

Grace is something that we... Did not... Cannot... Earn or merit… In any way.  In fact... We do not deserve it... Nor did we even ask for it.

 

An earthly example of this stooping aspect of grace is seen in the way English Royalty used to relate to commoners... They had nothing to do with... ordinary...COMMON... Folk.

 

• They were driven around in limos with dark... tinted glass…You couldn’t see them.

• Their palaces surrounded by high fences... Deep moats... And armed guards.

 

So... If you are a commoner... Your best chance at seeing the royal family was when they gathered on a balcony of Buckingham Palace and gave that royal wave.

 

But... In the late 1950’s John Grigg criticized Queen Elizabeth for being so removed from the common folk... He said if the monarchy was to survive and be respected… It had to condescend... And the queen did what he suggested.

 

She did away with the courtier system... Televised her Christmas speech... And started inviting common people to the palace for tea.

 

We could say her actions were a picture of grace. I mean... There was no law that said a commoner deserved being... Noticed… touched… or blessed...By the royal family. But because of grace in the heart of this earthly queen...She did exactly that.

 

Church this is a pale reminder of what God did when He came to earth.

 

Last week we saw God stoop from Philippians chapter two... Being in very nature God... Jesus STOOPED… CONDESCENDED. He came down to our level and made Himself nothing. Humbled Himself… BLESSED us… Graced us… By being obedient to death, even death on a cross… God so loved that He Stooped… Gave His Only Begotten Son.

 

Love that goes UPWARD isWORSHIP... Love that goes OUTWARD is AFFECTION... Love that STOOPS is GRACE… Grace that compels… grace that transforms.

 

Amazing grace... How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me... While we were yet... sinners... Aliens... ugly… And Ungodly... Christ died for us. At just the right time... When we were still… Powerless... Helpless...Hopelessly lost... Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man... Though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this... While we were still sinners... Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood...How much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

• Before we knew we were lost...

• Before we knew we needed a Savior.

Christ died for us and our sins before we were even born.

Grace is God's unmerited gift to us.

 

Someone says... But Brother Randall that’s too good to be true!

That is why it’s called the... gospel...Good news!... Grace is too good to be true.

 

Grace is Jesus dying where we should have died.  His taking on… our sin... Our guilt... The punishment… That is rightly ours.

 

Here is something else we need to know… grace is unique to Christianity.  Grace is what makes Christianity distinctively different from all other religions of the world. Every other world religion has a system of works whereby an individual can earn... Or merit... Their salvation... Or some COMPONENT of salvation.

 

The good news of the Gospel is not... That we can be saved... But that we can be saved by grace... Scripture tells us that... His righteousness...

• His goodness...

• His death...

• His sacrifice...

• His blood...

Became the means of our salvation.

 

Our salvation is not a result of rule keeping... But our response to God’s Amazing... Grace.... Good news!... Good news indeed!

 

So... To summarize... GRACE is... God’s condescending... His Absolutely unmerited favor toward us.  God’s stooping to give us what we could never hope to earn or deserve.

 

Here it is church... God CONTINUES to stoop... Continues to bestow His grace on us every single day... As He blesses us with things we could never deserve or earn... 

• His guidance in life-decisions...

• His strength when we try to do His will...

• His healing power when we are sick...

• His presence when we are lonely or afraid...

• His forgiveness when we fail...

GRACE means that bound up in our Heavenly Father is an inclination to bestow benefits on UNDESERVING people... People like you and me.

 

Thirdly...I want us to understand that all of us need His Grace.

This is an important GRACE principle for us to embrace…Because it’s easy for us to look at the heinous sinners of our world...

• The Adolph Hitlers...

• The Sutherland Springs Church shooter...

• Members of ISIS...

• The child molesters of the world...

• The growing list of famous men who have abused women...

And compare ourselves to them... Then we conclude that we’re not so bad after all.

 

We might even begin to think we’re pretty good... Good enough not to need God’s amazing grace.

 

What foolish thinking... We are all guilty... We are All sinners... We’re all in desperate need of forgiveness... All in need of grace.

 

Paul tells us in Romans... Gentiles were sinners because they don’t keep the law God wrote in their hearts... The Jews were sinners because they broke the Law of Moses... The conclusion was that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory... That there is none… NONE righteous… No not one…  This includes you and your preacher.

 

In our Discussion Class on Ephesians... We’ve spent several weeks discussing how that we must be... Changed people... Different people...Peculiar people... People who are set apart... Not living like 21st Century Americans around us.

 

Some in the class rejected the idea that we are ugly sinners... We are!!... We Are!!  We have all sinned… intentionally.. Purposely… And we need God’s forgiveness daily… Moment-by-moment.

 

Indeed!!... Weare condemned without His grace!!

 

David Jeremiah says... We can be the most upright citizen in town and before the revealing light of Heaven be seen as a miserable wretch at the mercy of a holy God. We can have a crime-free record... Perfect standing with the IRS... Have the works of Mother Teresa... The passion of Paul... The conviction of Gandhi... But still stand... Accused... Convicted... Condemned...Before the perfect standards of THE infinitely holy & righteous Judge.

 

Martin Luther was right when he said... The ultimate proof of the sinner is that he doesn’t know… Or denies… His own sin… All of us are sinners.

• All of us are depraved.

• All of us are in desperate need of God’s grace.  

Denying that only proves... The depth of our sin guilt... And our grace need... Amen?

 

Ivan Turgenev... The Russian novelist... Put it this way... I don’t know what the heart of a bad man is like... But I do know what the heart of a good man is like—and it is terrible.

 

Jerry Bridges says... Our WORST days are never so bad that we are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And our BEST days are never so good that we are beyond the NEED of it.

 

Listen to me church... Thinking we’re not a sinner... Thinking we’re good people… living above sin...Thinking our goodness makes us pleasing to God... Is anti-Christian...It’s soul damning.

 

We’re lost until and unless we acknowledge and confess our own sins.

• James encourages us to confess our faults one to another...

• John tells us that... If we confess our sins... ANY SINS... God is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all righteousness. 

 

Here it is... The Bible teaches without reservation...

 

One… That we are all sinners... Even those of us in God’s Kingdom...

 

Two… That untilUNTIL…We acknowledge that fact... God’s grace is blocked from... forgiving us...saving us.

 

Sin must be understood in its context that God hates it... That our salvation is based upon our admission of the fact that we are all guilty and in need of His Grace Forgiveness.

 

Then finally... We must live in God’s grace.

Grace is more than something we experience... It’s something we live.

 

It’s amazing to me that to a large extent that... In the church... This church... We think that... Our Christianity... Our Religion... Our Doctrine... Is all about what we do in this building... And little to do with... What we do... How we live... Outside this building.  Grace must… Change us… Transform us… Compel us… To be different people.

 

Here it is church…

• Once we fully grasp God’s grace...

• Once we understand that we have experienced His condescending favor...

It will change us...Not just doctrinally... But how we live... Our daily walk.

 

Paul and Peter indicate that... Grace should... Compel…Transform… Nudge... Motivate... Move... Constrain... Us to become a more gracious person… It will cause us to live for others… NoT self.

 

Understanding God’s grace compels us to become passionate about dispensing His grace to others in its various forms.

 

Grace compels Mark and Wilma to serve the Jesus in battered women...

Grace compels Joe Hott and his volunteers to deliver Meals-On-Wheels...

Grace constrains us to visit… Highlands... Concordia... And Village House...

Grace moves us to serve the Jesus in others as... Elders...Teachers... Deacons... Ministry Leaders.

Grace nudges us toward visiting newcomers to our services...

Grace drives us to... Visit the sick... Pray for the hurting...Share Jesus with the Lost...

 

Peter tells us that we do these things by finding our... Grace blessing... Our talent... Our gift... Our place... in God’s Kingdom Work... Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others... Faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

 

God’s grace may not drive us to the other side of the planet...Like it does Steven Ashcraft... But it’s my prayer that in the coming year it will DRIVE each of us... compel each of us... To become more actively involved in living in grace outside this building as we connect with our... Lost neighbors... Extended family... Working companions... Even our enemies.

 

Well... Like in every lesson... We come to a time of decision.

Regardless of what we might think... This is the most important part of our service because... It is in these moments that we respond to the Holy Spirit of God... And how He has spoken to us...Or... If we have allowed Him to speak to us at all.

 

• Perhaps God’s is drawing you closer to Him… To become HisChild... We give you the opportunity to respond to His Grace by... Faith...Repentance... and Baptism.

 

• Maybe God has moved you to confess sins… Sins that you thought were too big for Him to ever forgive.

 

• If you’re here today looking for a church home and God’s Spirit has given you a desire to be a part of this church family... We welcome you.

 

• If... In this moment of truth... God is... Nudging you... Compelling you... To become more committed to His Kingdom work this year… Accept His challenge...

 

Publically or Privately... As we stand and sing together.