Another Look at Grace
by Bob Young
Note: Suggested in part by a sermon by Ron Laughery. Some subpoints are adapted from that sermon.
Two important lessons have preceded this one--we can only summarize here.
- 1. What is grace? We need a definition of grace. Title of a book from mid-20th century, Grace is Not a Blue-Eyed Blond. Grace. What is it? Charis, the name of our little girl, but we never were able to use it. Yet gives hint based on Greek language. Gifts, giving, graciousness.
- A. Grace is unmerited favor.
- B. Grace is God giving us what we need, not what we deserve.
- C. Grace is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense."
- 2. What kind of grace? Grace involves more than salvation. Study your Bibles. At least three general areas can be identified based on person and works of God. There may be more, with various distinctions.
- A. Creative grace.
- B. Sustaining grace, daily grace, providing grace (providence).
- C. Saving grace, sanctifying grace, eternal grace.
The grace of God satisfies in every way.
It satisfies the broken relationship with forgiveness.
It satisfies our isolation with fellowship.
It satisfies our weakness with power.
It satisfies our defilement with holiness.
It satisfies our helplessness, hopelessness, homelessness with hope.
It satisfies our fear with confident assurance.
It satisfies our ignorance with knowledge.
Which of these is not the gift of God? Which of these is possible to us solely by our own abilities and powers?
I. Salvation comes by grace.
Grace frees me from sin. The gift, when accepted, frees me from sin. Now note. The extension of the gift is beyond my control--thus, grace. The extension of the gift at the mercy of forces outside me. This is grace. But, the extension of the gift is not salvation. If it were, universalism would reign.
The gift must be accepted. The reception of the gift is within my control. This does not negate grace. The reception of the gift is salvation. But salvation is a gift; it must be accepted. The acceptance of the gift thus may appear more important than the extension of the gift.
Illus: the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes is offered to everyone, literally! The "winner" doesn't always "win." Why? Because they did not return the information. They did not receive the gift. This is not hard. Returning the stuff is more significant than offering the prize. In one sense, the winning depends more on the acceptance than the extension.
Another illustration often used is that of sunshine in a room. The sun must shine, but the sun must have a way in. The sun is shining into my office. Is it because of the sun, or because of the window? The answer, of course, is yes. It is by the sun through the window. Is this hard? Salvation is the gift of God, by grace through faith.
But some would deny the need for salvation.
1. What is sin? Transgression of law, lawlessness, disbelief and disobedience (Heb. 3), rebellion (Gen. 2-3) accentuates the choice in the garden, the choice all persons have today.
2. Sin is separation from God, Isa. 59:1-2; sin separates us from God, sin is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Man cannot bridge the chasm. There is no way man in and of self can acceptably come before God. No way to come back to God by own power. No way to repair the breech, to retie the connection.
3. Jesus graciously took my place. This is the gospel, the good news, the heart of God, the crux of Christianity. Cannot understand grace unless understand the necessity of the cross. Cannot understand grace unless understand Calvary.
- A. Christ took my sin. Christ died for my sins, 1 Cor. 15:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:21-24; 2 Cor. 5:21. Christ became sin, took sin, Rom. 5--one died for all. 2 Cor. 5:14, one died for all, and this is the control mechanism of our lives. We are controlled by this great truth--the love of Christ.
- B. Christ took my place, Rom. 1:16; [ch. 1/Gentiles sin, ch. 2/Jews sin, ch. 3/all sin]; 3:22-23. Christ took what I deserved.
- C. Christ took my punishment. Rom. 3:25-26. He took my stripes.
II. Grace comes from God.
God gives to me, to you, to us. Rom. 3:23-26. Continue in 3:27-31. We cannot earn grace, so we cannot earn salvation. We cannot initiate the giving. We cannot merit the extension of the gift. We can accept the gift or we can reject the gift, but accepting the gift is not the same as earning the gift.
- 1. Salvation can never be achieved by human effort. Salvation is not a human achievement but a divine atonement.
- 2. Salvation is not based on innate power or person, but on position granted by God, Rom. 8.
- 3. The source of my salvation, then, is always God. The Psalmist was right.
- 4. My faith is not in my self, not in my works, not in my obedience (although giving self, activity, and obedience are essential). I do not have faith in my obedience, but loyalty to Christ as I follow his example. Obedience is not the source of salvation, but a condition of receiving the gift of salvation.
- 5. The Bible never talks about "faith in obedience," but rather the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), which is an obedience that issues from faith.
III. Salvation comes by grace, grace comes from God, therefore.... Once saved, barely saved.
Once saved, always saved.
Once saved, now saved.
Salvation comes from God. Salvation begins outside me, outside myself. This is the reason that grace gives security. This is not security without merit, without basis.
Three basic positions, but only one biblical.
My security is based on what God has dome for me through Christ. I am secure because of God, 1 Jn. 5:11.
This is possible not from within, but because in the Bible faith and obedience are cojoined. Faith and obedience were at work in the life of Christ, and they will be at work in my life when I am like him, a Christian, Rom. 3:21-26.
There is much more, but enough for this lesson. Where are you today with God? Are you depending on him?
Some are in sin. Facing spiritual death, not knowing another is willing to take our place.
Some are saved by grace, but continually struggling with the reality of that salvation because of the experiences of life. Escape isolation, hopelessness.
In Christ, we are once saved, now saved. No promise for tomorrow, except that as we walk in light as he is in light, his blood continually covers. And that frees from doubt.
Freedom is in Christ, Rom. 8:1-2.
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Last updated December 8, 2011