Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

09/25/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Grace Greater Than All Our Sins

 

  If you had to choose one word to describe our salvation what would it be? Grace…

• Grace is God’s Unmerited Favor extended to us…

• Grace is God’s Initiative On Our Behalf…

• Grace is God’s Riches At Christ's Expense…

• Grace is Jesus dying where we should have died.

 

  Grace is something that we did not, cannot in any way, earn or merit. The key word is unmerited, undeserved…

• Do we deserve Life?...

• The kind of life we’ve enjoyed over the years?...

• Do we deserve forgiveness?...

• Do we deserve His moment-by-moment presence in our lives?...

• Do we deserve salvation and a home in Heaven?

 

  Indeed, Scripture tells us that all our blessings both material and spiritual come from God. Peter is found saying that He is the God of all grace. Here it is church, we cannot name a life blessing that did not come from God. Tozer wrote: "Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving." That’s us!

 

  Here’s something else, Grace is unique to Christianity. Grace is what makes Christianity distinctively different from all other religions. The good news of the Gospel is not that we can be saved, but that we can be saved by Grace: as a gift of God, at His expense! K.C. Moser, when asked to define grace, hesitated for a moment and said: "Nothing in my hand I bring simply to thy cross I cling."

 

  Familiar Grace Scriptures needed to be read frequently...

 

John 3.16 & 17: "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

 

Romans 5.6-9: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly... 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!"

 

Ephesians 2.4-10: "Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–It is by grace you have been saved. God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace... For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – Not by works, so that no-one can boast."

 

Titus 2.11-14: "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–The glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

 

  The Bible contains several grace narratives...

 

  Perhaps the best and most familiar is that of the Prodigal Son. Grace is what this story is about. We are the Prodigal, we’ve all wasted life in riotous, sinful, unrighteous behavior. Paul insisted that: "We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory… That there is none righteous, no not one. And that the wages of sin is death." The Prodigal never thought of grace, had no idea what grace was. I know that because he said: "I'll go home and work for my father, be as a hired hand in my father’s house. I’ll say, make me a servant." But when he got home Grace awaited him. There was a hug, a kiss, shoes for his feet, a ring for his finger, a robe, and a festive party in his honor. We're seeing grace at work as forgiveness and sonship restored to the Prodigal. That's us!

 

  There’s the narrative of the Good Samaritan. Traveling life’s road, he meets a man in need. Now this Samaritan is under no obligation to help this stranger. In fact, human reasoning says: "If this man was a Jew, the Samaritan might have been justified to pass him by. But he didn’t!...

• He poured his own wine into his cuts….

• Bound up his wounds…

• Put him on his own donkey…

• Took him to an inn…

• Told the innkeeper… "Take care of him and put it on my bill."

 

God is the Good Samaritan; we are the sin wounded.

 

  Another: The Scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to the Law, she deserved to be stoned for her sin. But stoning was not what she needed, forgiveness was her need! Jesus said: "Neither do I condemn you go your way and sin no more." "Stop your sinning." Grace is God’s love in action! Grace is God saying to us "Go your way, leave your life of sin."

 

  Let me share with you a modern day story of Grace. John Newton was brought up by a Christian mother...

• She taught him to memorize Bible verses and hymns…

• Just before his eleventh birthday his mother died.

• At the age of seventeen, Newton joined the British Navy…

• As a sailor, John was brassy, drunken, boisterous, filthy mouthed, rude, and mean. He was immoral to the core.

• He was often found cursing the God his mother worshiped.

• After a short time with the Navy, he deserted, was captured, beaten, stripped of his rank.

• In a few weeks after his flogging Newton stole away on a freighter bound for Africa.

• Once there, he was determined to lose himself, never to be found.

• Newton abandoned himself to a life of disillusionment.

 

  He eventually took up with a slave trader on an island near Sierra Leone. He was given the job of luring African men, women, children into the holes of the ship by getting them drunk, or with lying promises of a better life in a new country. Once on board, they were permanently imprisoned in their own filth; then taken to the white slave markets.

 

  It was on one such voyage, that the ship was caught in a violent storm. Newton was at the helm. For eleven hours he battled the winds and waves. Knowing his fate, fearing for his life, he picked up the Captain’s Bible and it fell open to Matthew 7.11: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Newton fell to his knees wondering if a merciful loving God could forgive him, such a vile sinner, he cried out to God for mercy and help. The ship was lost in the storm. But a few days later John Newton was rescued along the coast of Ireland.

 

  Two years after this shipwreck, Newton was married. He worked on the docks of Liverpool. With plenty of time on His hands, John began to study his Bible: He studied Greek, Hebrew, theology. In 1754 John Newton became the preacher for a small congregation that he served for over sixteen years. For a New Year’s sermon, on January first, 1773, Newton wrote the lyrics to our song Amazing Grace.

 

  Here it is church, each of us have similarities to the Prodigal Son, the wounded in the narrative of the Good Samaritan, the lady taken in adultery, and John Newton. We each need God's grace to cover all our sins. Amen?

 

  Let us be eternally grateful.

 

—Randall Caselman