Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

10/14/2018 A.M.

 

Seeing Ourselves As Recipients of Grace

Ephesians 1.7 & 2.8-10   John 3.16-17  Romans 5.6-10   John 1.1-14

 

We’re all in need of Grace!!

 

Grace is something we... Did not... Cannot... In any way… Earn or merit.

 

The word is unmerited… Grace is completely undeserved…

 

Grace is… God’s initiative… God’s favor… On our behalf.

 

Ephesians 1.3 and James 1.17 tell us that… Every good thing… All blessings… Come from God… Both Physical and Spiritual.

Peter is found saying… He is the God of all grace… 1 Peter 5.10.

John speaks of grace upon grace in John 1.16.

 

These scriptures tell us that we cannot name a life blessing that did not come from Him.

• God causes the sun to shine…

• And He sends rain…

On the just and the unjust.

 

Here’s the question… Can we stop the sun or the rain? Can we do anything to merit or deserve another sunrise or sunset? Can we add or subtract from its warming power?

Can we stop/start or enhance the rain?

 

These are God’s grace gifts… Unmerited… underserved…We do nothing… Nor can we do anything… To merit or deserve them.

 

Consider our spiritual blessings… Do we deserve them?…

• The forgiveness of sins

• His moment-by-moment presence in our lives…

• His promise to walk with us… Work all things out to… Our good… Our betterment.

• Do we deserve eternal salvation in heaven?

 

Paul spoke of this unmerited favor… You see... At just the right time... When we were still powerless... Helpless... Hopelessly lost... Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love for us in this... While we were still… Aliens…Sinners... Ugly… And Ungodly. 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! For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 

Tozer wrote… Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving… That’s us!!… that’s us!

 

Think about this… grace is unique to Christianity.

 

The good news of the Gospel is not... That we can be saved.

But that we can be saved by grace.

 

We are saved by...

• His righteousness...

• Hisgoodness...

• His death...

• His sacrifice...

• His suffering

• His blood...

Not by our… Good deeds… Perfect living… Or our own puny attempts at righteousness.

 

In fact… Scripture tells us that our attempts at salvational righteousness are no more than filthy rags in God’s sight… They mean nothing when itcomes to… earning… meriting… Our forgiveness and salvation.

 

Does our righteousness please God’s?…  Of course… But it doesn’t earn or merit forgiveness or salvation.

 

Remember this… Grace is a five letter word… J-e-s-u-s...And him crucified.

 

Acrostically… Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

 

Many of Jesus’ most familiar narratives were about Grace...

Let’s see what we can learn from them…

 

First… From the Prodigal Son narrative.

Even though the word grace does not appear in this Jesus story.… GRACE is what it’s about.

 

We’re the Prodigal… And sometimes… We waste our inheritance… Our grace blessings in… A Riotous… Sinful…Unrighteous… Lifestyle.

 

We take God’s awesome blessings… His grace upon grace… And pursue hog pen living.

 

Then…Hopefully… We come to ourselves…Realizing there is something better than this in the Father’s house.

 

I want you to notice this the Prodigal never thought of Grace...

How do I know that?... Listen!... He reasoned like this… I’ll go home and WHAT?...

Work for my father.

• Become a hired hand in my father’s house.

I’ll go back to my father and say to him… Father… I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son… Make me like one of your… What?.… A Hired hand… Make me a servant!

 

The Prodigal said… I don’t deserve to be called a son... And he didn’t... And NEITHER do we!… Neither do we!!

 

Indeed…Our realization of sin’s consequences… Should cause us to say… God… Make me a servant.

 

No wonder Paul said… The love of God… The grace of God… Constrains me… Compels Me… Nudges us… So that we no longer live for ourselves… But live for Him who died for us.

 

But…The Prodigal’s father didn’t let him finish his speech.

Instead…Grace upon grace!... Befell the Prodigal…

• A ring…

• A robe…

• Shoes for his feet…

• The fatted calf for his hunger…

• Forgiveness…

• And fellowship with those in the father’s house.

 

You see…

• No matter what we have done…

• No matter the ugliness of our transgression…

• The seriousness of our sins…

• The darkness of our hearts…

His grace… overrules…Covers all Our sins… Regardless of how ugly they may be… His grace forgives us… And makes possible a place in the Father’s house… Heaven!!

 

Grace finds its ultimate explanation in an unfathomable urge in God toward His sinful and alienated creatures...  That’s US!

 

For reasons known only to Himself... God is pleased… To focus His love upon those who are unworthy.

• Jeremiah says... The Lord has loved men with an everlasting love.

• Paul declared... And when the time was right God commended His love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Like this prodigal father… God relentlessly pursues us.

 

Grace is demonstrated in the narrative of the Good Samaritan.

As he traveled the Jericho Road… He met a Jew in need.

 

Now…Because of the way Jews treated Samaritans… The Samaritan seemed under no obligation to help this man.

 

In fact... human reasoning… Worldly thinking… Would have said… He should have kicked him while he was down.

 

But the Samaritan…

• Bound up his wounds…

• Put him on his own donkey…

• Took him to an inn…

• Told the innkeeper... Place his care on my account.

Church…We are the wounded… God is the Good SamaritaN!

 

Paul says… Nothing can separate us from the love of God!

• God sees our every need…

• He binds up our wounds…

• Carries us in His arms…

• Provides for our daily care…

• Then forgives us… Saves us…

At his own expense… Amazing thing… This Grace!!!... In Him… We have redemption through His blood… Even the forgiveness of our sins… In according with the riches of His grace.

 

We see grace in the Woman Caught In ADULTERY.

The scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus... Saying she was caught in the very act.

 

Now…The woman deserved to be stoned for her sin… That’s what the Law demanded. But stoning was not her NEED... Forgiveness was her need.

 

Jesus said… Neither do I condemn you... Go your way and sin no more… Stop your sinning.

 

Church…We need such a Savior.

• We need reconciliation with God…

• Atonement for our sins…

• Forgiveness….

• Redemption…

• Salvation…

• We need to know that all is right between us and God…  AMEN?

 

And these needs cannot be…

• Earned…

• Merited…

• Bought…

• Or traded for.

 

The idea of...

self-justification…

• Earning our salvation…

• Pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps…

Is raw humanism… It is human arrogance at its worse.

 

If self-justification were possible…If humanity could Atone… For its sins… It would have been done under the Law of Moses… There would have been no need for Jesus’ coming.

 

Indeed…

• Like this woman, we have been caught in sin... regardless of how secret they may be.

• We are the one shamed by our... Behavior…Thoughts… Attitudes.

And this same Jesus… God in the flesh… Is the One who forgives our trespasses.

 

One more grace narrative... The widow’s son in the city of Nain.

Imagine for a moment we’re standing at the Gate to the City.

A casket with the corpse of a young man is being carried by.

A large crowd followsHeads are bowed… Faces manifest the deepest sorrow for the bereaved widow.

A mother weeps bitterly as she walks behind the casket.

    • This is her one and only son…

    • Not only that… Being a widow… He was her only means of support… And now he’s gone…

What’s she gonna do?

 

Then suddenly the mourners are interrupted by a man who runs to the side of the casket.

Here let me deal with the dead… I can bring him back to life.

 

Instantly the procession halts with mystified faces… As the speaker elbows his way through the crowd. All this man needs is education…And from his books of science and philosophy… He attempts to teach the young man in the coffin.

But it’s all in vain… As he watches for the flush of life… There’s no response. Education has failed.

 

Another approaches… Confidently proclaiming that he can bring the young man back to life… And so he begins by saying to the dead…

• Young man… Make up your mind that you are going to live...

• Think positively…

• Exert your will…

• Choose to live…

• The choice is yours.

You can get up if you only will to… But there is no response.

Free choice… Positive thinking… will-power… has failed.

 

Another man… A Rabbi approaches the casket saying… Folk… What this man needs is religion! Through knowledge of… The Law… The Torah… He will be revived.

 

Taking a scroll from under his arm he begins to read the precepts… Then he says… If you will keep these laws faithfully you will live again.

 

Sorrowfully…The Rabbi walks away… Law keeping Religion has failed.

 

Then from the crowd steps the figure of another… A sudden hush falls on the expectant throng as he stands for a moment beside the coffin.

Then He speaks… His voice calm but authoritative… Young man… Arise!

Eagerly the people draw close… Wondering.

• Who is this?...

• What power is there behind His simple words?...

• What difference can His few words possibly have on a dead man?...

But then their questions are suddenly answered.

The eyelids quiver… The flush returns to the cheek… The heart begins to throb… And the young man rises to his feet.

 

Indeed…What manner of man is this?

 

Jesus imparted life… The man was dead… And is now alive…

Church... Only God’s grace can give us such life!

 

• I am the way… The truth… And the life.

 

• Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.

 

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… That whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

• In Him we have passed from death to life.

 

Know this morning that…

• We are the man in the casket…

• We are dead in our sins…

But Jesus came to give us LIFE... new life… A different life… A fresh start… A new Beginning.

 

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that… Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father… Listen Now… That we too may live a new life. Therefore… There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

 

Let me challenge you to… never…Never… Never… Place your… Faith…Trust… Confidence…

• In education…

• Positive thinking…

• Human will and determination…

• Religious Law Keeping…

• Or self-righteousness…. 

But rather in a salvational relationship with Jesus… Amen?

 

Indeed…

 

• These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ…The Son of God… And that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

• He who has the Son has life… He who does not have the Son does not have life.

 

Church…Let me ask you this morning…

How often do we think about His Amazing grace?...

Once a day?… Once a week?… Once a month?... Never?

Are we at all COGNIZANt of God’s grace?

Are we aware that His grace maintains us

and everythng about us?

 

•This morning… How many of us awoke thinking of grace… Thanking God for another night’s rest… Life and another day dawning?...

 

•How many of us considered His grace in relationships with… Our children…grandchildren… Extended family… Even our relationship in this church family?...

 

•How many of us parked our cars here this morning… Walked across the parking lot thinking of God’s grace that provided our transportation… Grace that brought us here safely?...

 

•Are we aware that… Life… Strength… Health… Air… Food… Water… Salvation are grace gifts… Grace upon grace?

 

Indeed!!... grace is a person...

In the beginning was the Word… And the Word was with God and was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… Full of Grace and Truth.

 

Do we know him?...

What’s our relationship with Jesus?

 

This Morning…God’s Grace has given us one more opportunity to become His child by acknowledging our... Faith in Jesus… Repentance… And New Testament Baptism… Being born again… Raised to experience a new life.

 

Maybe…As his child…We have something we need to do to… reconfirm… Restore… In our relationship with Him…

 

His grace invitation is ours… As we stand and sing this song together.