INTRODUCTION: When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award.
But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award--yet receives such a gift anyway--that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
I think most of us have heard of La Guardia Airport in New York. La Guardia was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers 'the Little Flower' because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids. One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. La Guardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.
Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told La Guardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." La Guardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions--ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant." So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
Note the woman was guilty, she was sentenced. Yet, the judge, provided the means of redeeming her and her debt was paid in full. Further, the La Guardia's act of showing grace not only provided for the debt, but gave the woman a great blessing in providing more than just the fine.
1. Grace is the Greek work "charis" and Heb. "Chen".
2. Grace means: Unmerited favor. It is mercy shown someone who is undeserving of favor.
3. Ephesians 2:8-9, States we are saved by Grace saved, through faith, and that it is the gift of God. This is a gift given by God, because He willed to give it to us. We do not desire God's grace, but in showing love....which means unmerited favor...God chose to extend it to us if we would receive it. It is a gift, not earned, but freely offered. It is important though that we understand that a gift must be received.
Suppose the old woman had refused the mayor's help? Suppose she responded in pride and said she did not want anyone's charity? The redemption from the crime would be received, the penalty would stand and she would go to jail. Her daughter and grandchildren would be left to starve. But guilty as she was she accepted the gift and received the blessing that the mayor intended it to bring. ILLUS: I read an article that explained that in Pennsylvania some years ago there was a man convicted of murder who was sentenced to death. There were mitigating circumstances and many felt the man was justified in the killing. His lawyers worked frantically to get him a stay of execution and a pardon. Shortly before the date of his execution, the governor of the state granted the lawyer's request and issued a pardon. However, the man refused the pardon. The lawyers examined the law and found that a pardon must be accepted by the prisoner and because the man refused the pardon he was executed on schedule. This man was offered grace, but he refused it.
4. It is the same with God's grace. It must be accepted by the guilty person.
I. THE GRACE OF GOD WORKS IN THREE AREAS. Romans 3:23-28
A. Past: He brought salvation. Man on his own in the Garden of Eden, failed the test. When the first opportunity came Adam disobeyed God and did that which was detrimental to himself and to all mankind.
-Note that the tree was made with all the rest of Creation! The tree its self was not evil, but God commanded Adam not to eat this fruit as it would be detrimental to him.
-God warned Adam, but he in unbelief and did not trust God in this matter. He ate the fruit knowing of God's prohibition and command not to eat it.
-The sin was not committed until Adam took the fruit and ate it.
- Thus God, already knowing that Adam and Eve would sin, showed his mercy, and in grace promised the Redeemer to save them from their willing act of sin.
- 2000 years ago Jesus the Christ, God incarnate in man, came to earth and He lived, suffered and died for the sins of the world. That is the message of the Cross.....On the Cross Jesus paid the sin debt of the world. He took on Himself the penalty of our sins. He being God....submitted Himself to death.....that man by faith could have everlasting Life.
Colossians 2:13-14, "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."
Colossians 1:19-20, "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
Think....When Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...God said he would die. Every man born since has been under that penalty....the sentence of death...not only physical death, but spiritual death which means separation from God in the eternal punishment of the Lake of Fire.
Yet, in the past before we were even born, Jesus conquered both sin and death on the cross for us.
B. Presently: Grace is at work offering full salvation to all who would accept it. Further it is at work in a believer's life enabling him to live according to God's word to us, and also God's grace keeps the believer saved.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22, "Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
C. In the Future: Grace assures our position and place with God in Heaven. The Grace of God, who is the person of the Lord Jesus, guarantees our place in heaven, and makes us righteous in the eyes of God, thus qualifying through Christ's righteousness to go there.
1 Peter 5:10 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
II. God's Plan for Salvation through Grace.
A. First Grace brought salvation. V11
1. "Soterios" is the word salvation. It is in the instrumentive case noting it is the object of Grace. The construction of the sentence shows us that salvation is the object of God's Grace.
2. Thus the object and purpose of the Grace of God is that man be saved. What do we mean by "saved." It is a New Testament term used 57 times.
Note that Jesus was the first to use the term. John 3:16-17:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
John 5:34 "But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved."
John 10:9 "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
a. The definition and act of grace itself precludes that salvation is not an act of a man, or of man`s cooperating with God.
Rom. 11:5-6 Teaches that if salvation is of works there is no need of Grace.
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
b. Salvation is all of God. God's Grace is a gift given without merit or worthiness by the one who receives God's grace..
3. Rom. 5:15, 19-21 Teaches us that where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound. v19
B. Grace for the Saved man works now in the present. V12.
1. Hebrews 4:16, Those that believe and receive God's grace in faith can come boldly to the throne of Grace. Those that mistakenly try to earn or work for their salvation have no such promise. They can never know if they are worthy...or have done enough to please God, because salvation is not earned or worked for, but a freely given gift of God.
The truth is that apart from Grace no man can please God. God imparts grace and man receives it in faith....thereby showing salvation is of grace by faith.
a. Hebrews 4:15 states the reason we can come boldly..that reason is that we come through the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. Note that Hebrews 4:14, says it is normal for the Christian to be dependent on God. The Christian has good reason to "hold fast" to his profession! Why?
Hebrews 4:15 Christ Himself is seeing to our spiritual well being. He is personally making intercession for us, who are saved. We boldly come to Him...not a priest, church, prophet, pope, pastor, or anyone else...but to Him directly who is our intercessor.
c. It is a personal relationship! This is the mark of a false religion....they always put something or someone between you and Jesus Christ personally.
1. There was little or nothing personal in the Jewish Old Testament system of worship. One went to the priest who made the sacrifices for the worshiper.
What a tragedy that some churches today teach that works save and that man much go through a priest or prophet or some other religious leader to find grace. They put Christians in this age under the burden of the impersonal law. That is heresy and not taught anywhere in God's word..... We are not under law. Romans 4:4
Hebrews is addressing the problem of Christian Jews who were waning in their faith, and wanting to return to the O.T. System.
2. See Hebrews 2:17-18, Christ came as a man, took on flesh, to show His understanding and position of High Priest.
2. 2 Corinthians 9:8 Grace works in seeing that all our needs are met.
This is the personal hand of God in our daily lives. It shows our dependence on Him, and His willingness and will that we be totally depend-on Him.
3. The Grace of God calls pastors, and each of us to the service God would have for us.
a. Ephesians 3:7...Paul was called by the Grace of God. Gal. 1:15
b. Ephesians 4:7....Everyone of us (Christians) are given gifts or abilities for service Verse 11 says some made apostles, prophets, etc. Verse 12 Gives the reason. For the perfecting of the saints and edifying the body of Christ.
C. Grace to keep us saved and give us all the joys of heaven!! V13
1. Ephesians 2: 7... In the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his Grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
2. The false efforts for peace in the world today both, personal and world peace are such a dismal failure...it clouds our comprehension of true peace that God Offers!!!
3. Yet note the words expressing this Grace for the future...Kindness
Sometimes I just long to see a little kindness and yet we see so little of it. Oh, but heaven will be a place of kindness!....enduring truthful love, concern and kindness.
4. This future Grace is our sure Hope, based on the promises of God.
It is a blessed Hope! How empty it the false gospel of the cults!
Yet We know the outcome of all our trouble and travail...It will end and peace will come...true peace that only God can give.
1. ARE YOU A PARTAKER OF THE GRACE OF GOD RECEIVING HIS FREE OFFER OF SALVATION?
2. CHRISTIAN, ARE YOU LIVING BY THE GRACE OF GOD, COMING BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE DAILY.
3. ARE YOU TAKING HEART AND COMFORT, AND DRAWING STRENGTH FROM OUR LORDS SURE PROMISE OF HEAVEN AND HIS PRESENCE TO COME??
4. IF YOU ARE NOT....BY THE GRACE OF GOD YOU CAN AT THIS MOMENT RECEIVE THE GIFT OF SALVATION......AND LIVE IN THE BLESSING OF HIS GRACE.