40 Days of Vision - 2 Grace
INTRO: Grace is central to the Christian Faith – most Christians kinow that, but get us to try and explain it????
We say things like:
What grace she has! (Do a ballerina move)
There but the grace of God go I! (What does that really mean)
We say “Grace” – kiwis especially before the coming BLEDISLOE CUP – “For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful”!
As we move into our second message in our series of 40 Days of Vision over the campus’ – I want to bring to you an understanding of Grace as it relates to ELIM CHRISTIAN CENTRE.
ELIM NZ was well known in Pentecostal circles in NZ for it’s message on Grace. Where many Pentecostal churches and movements have heavily leaned on HOLINESS to the point of inventing new rules and regulations(that the Bible doesn’t even address) – ELIM focused strongly on the message of GRACE – (as you have seen in the drama today – receiving God’s blessing and favour on our lives – not through attaining a standard of worthiness – but through understanding the power of God’s unconditional love towards us).
What is Grace?
These are some common phrases:
If it sounds too good to be true... it is.
We make money the old fashion way, we ... earn it.
There's no such thing as a free ... lunch.
There is no gain without ... pain.
God helps those who ... help themselves.
Everything about our way of life teaches us that you get what you earn in life, that there is no free lunch.
We are very aware of the values of competition and winning and we know what it means to work hard and use elbow grease. We value effort and sweat.
We tell people, "You get what you deserve in life" and "If you want to make something of your life it's up to you."
This is called work ethic. The only problem with this work ethic is that in God’s dealings with us, He doesn't operate on our work ethic. And it makes it difficult many times for us to relate to God because we're in this driven work mentality.
Psalm 145 v 8. "God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." Circle "gracious".
|God loves to bless people who don't deserve it. That's His nature. Aren't you glad for that? I'm glad that God blesses people who don't deserve it.|
The Bible says God is a gracious God. That means He loves to be gracious to you, KIND to you.
You can't understand the Christian life at all unless you understand grace. It is the heart of our faith. It is the heart of our relationship to God. The more you understand grace the more you're going to be drawn to God, the more you're going to love God, the more you're going to be grateful to God.
Definition: "God giving me what I need, not what I deserve."
Another definition: “God’s favour and kindness freely given to me”
One of my favorite definitions is, "Grace is the face God wears when He looks at my failures."
To ‘show grace’ is to extend favour or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it.
WE need to understand the difference between grace and mercy.
Mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve -- punishment.
Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve -- blessing.
When Jesus came He brought a WHOLE NEW Dimension with Him
John Ch. 1
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
The Jewish religion (Pharisees & Saducees) became a harsh, judgmental religion, when Jesus came he brought a revolution.
I know many of us probably think we understand grace. We are saved by grace. We've known that for many years. But I've discovered that many Christians, although they know they're saved by grace sure don't act like it. In fact, they spend most of their life thinking and acting like we're saved by works.
· For many of you, even though you know you're saved by grace and you don't get into heaven by doing good, your entire life is built on pleasing God by trying to be perfect. And you think God is some unpleasable parent up there in the sky with a clipboard and pen watching your every move -- "That was good... that was bad" -- and you think you have to earn God's approval.
· You think if you do a certain number of good works God's going to say, "Good girl... good guy! You got it." And if you don't do those things, God says, "Forget it! You're worthless." You're saved by grace but you're actually living by works.
Today I want us to look at five aspects of Saving Grace. How is it you know for sure you're going to heaven when you die.
G - GOD'S GIFT TO ME.
Romans 3 v 24
"All of us need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift through Jesus Christ."
It's a free gift
If you were to ask a hundred people along the sidewalk "How do you get to heaven?" you'd get a lot of different answers. But basically they would all be summarized in, "You've got to earn your way to heaven.”
You'd hear things like, "The way you get to heaven is you try to be good and do your best" or "Work real hard at being good and just try to be a good, moral person" or "Do more good things in life than you do bad things in life and if your good pile is higher than you bad pile, God's going to say, `You're a good guy. Come on in.'" It's all based on works, not grace.
You need to understand that God says here that salvation is absolutely free. You don't work for a gift. It's a free gift. God says salvation is absolutely free. You can't earn it, you can't earn it, you can't buy it, you can't work for it.
This is the fundamental difference between Christianity and every other religion.
I don't care if it's Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.
You can summarize every religion in one word. “Do.” There are certain things you do in order to gain God's approval. Rules, regulations, rituals, etc.
· Of all the other religions, Christianity is the only religion that's built on grace. That says God just gives you salvation. You don't do anything to earn it gain God's approval.
If you were to summarize Christianity in one word, it's the word "done". It's already been done for you. It was done on the cross by Jesus Christ. He paid for your salvation. He paid for your sins. It's already been done.
Of all the other religions, Christianity is the only religion that's built on grace. That says God just gives you salvation. You don't do anything to earn it. To gain God's approval.
There is one and only one password for entering heaven, and that is “Grace.”
Jesus Christ already did it. He paid for your salvation on the cross and now it's a free gift to you. That's why Jesus Christ, when He was hanging on the cross stretched out His arms and one of the things He said was "It is finished."
· He didn't say, "I am finished" because He wasn't. He's still alive today. He resurrected Himself. He said, "It is finished."
· What's the "it"? Your salvation. The plan to provide grace for every person who needs it. It's finished. God says, "Here it is. It's a free gift."
There isn't anything you can do to save yourself. You just accept God's free gift of grace.
That's the greatest gift you're ever going to be offered. You're never going to get a better deal than that. If you really understand grace, you will accept it because it is a priceless gift in your life. It's God's gift to me.
R - RECEIVE BY FAITH
God's gift is received by faith.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says
"For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith [circle this] and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works so that no one can boast."
Faith is the key that unlocks the door to heaven.
It's a gift but you have to receive it by faith. If I have a gift for you and say, "Here's this gift for you. It's $100. Come and get it." It will just sit there unless you come and receive it by faith. You have to have faith that I'm going to give it to you.
He says because salvation is a gift, you can't brag about it. If you could work your way to heaven, do you realize how miserable it would be in heaven? Everybody would be bragging by how they got there. We'd all be trying to "one up" each other with great stories of what great people we were on earth. God says, "It's a grace gift, your salvation. I just give you forgiveness free. I give you heaven free." So what do you do with a gift. You can't brag about it. You can only accept it and be grateful for it.
"People receive God's promise by having faith. [This is the promise of salvation.] This happens so that the promise can be a free gift."
The Bible is full of stories illustrating the principle of grace. There are many of them. One is in the Old Testament. 2 Samuel 9 is a story of a young disabled boy named Mephibosheth. How would you like to have that name? Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, the grandson of King Saul in the Old Testament.
· Remember the story of David and Saul. David was going to be the king. Saul was the current king and Saul was jealous of David. So most of David's life, Saul was trying to kill him. He chased him all over the countryside.
· David spent most of his time hiding from Saul, avoiding being killed out of jealousy. But David never retaliated. In fact, he became best friends with King Saul's son, named Jonathan. They made a secret covenant that if either of them ever died they would take care of each other's family.
· Later on both Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle. And David became the king. All of Saul's relatives immediately were in fear thinking, "David, who King Saul has been trying to kill all of his life, is now in control and he's going to kill all of us." They all tried to escape and hide.
One of them was the son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth. As the nurse was carrying the young boy out in the escape, she dropped him. His legs were broken and he became a paraplegic. So here was this young disabled boy living in fear, frightened for his life that the man who was now king would retaliate against him.
· One day David says, "Is there anybody still alive in Saul's household that I can show kindness to?" They said, "Yes, there is. There's one little kid. He's a disabled little boy named Mephibosheth. He cannot walk." David said, "Bring him to me."
You can imagine the fear in Mephibosheth’s heart. Here's the king, inviting him to the court and he's thinking, "I'm going to be killed, executed. It's over. It's done."
· But to his surprise when he arrived, David said, "I'm going to take you in, Mephibosheth, and make you a part of my family. I want you to live here in the palace for the rest of my life. I'm going to pay all your bills. I'm going to meet all your needs. You are to sit at my table each night and dine with me and I'm going to treat you just like you're one of my own sons."
· That's grace.
The Bible says that God comes to us and we're broken, we're disabled in areas of our lives, crippled in some areas. Our emotions are crippled or other things are happening in our lives and God comes and says, "I'm going to bring you into My family. I want you to sit at My table. I'm going to treat you like royalty, one of My own, simply out of My grace."
A - AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE
God doesn't play favourites. Regardless of your background, regardless of your status, regardless of your sin. It doesn't matter whether you've been a religious person or a non religious person or you have any religious background at all.
"The promise is not only for those people that live under the law of Moses. It is for anyone who lives with faith like Abraham."
The Jewish people were given the law of Moses. Moses was their leader. They were given the ways of God to do the right thing before the rest of us were given them.
· Have you ever thought about why the Jews were called God's chosen people? Does God love them more than He loves the rest of us? No. They were chosen for a purpose. They were chosen to spread the message to everybody else, to tell the world that there is one true God. That's what they were chosen for. They were kind of like the missionaries to the rest of us.
Now God has taken that task and given it to the church which includes Jews, Gentiles and everybody else who put their faith in Christ. God says it's available to anybody who opens up their heart in faith.
Romans Ch. 10 v 13
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
You may have done some really nifty things in life, but if you think they're going to get you into heaven, forget it. Heaven is perfect and you're not. The only way you're going to get in is by receiving God's gift to you, receiving it by faith which is available to every person.
C - GRACE COMES THROUGH CHRIST.
"The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
Why through Jesus Christ? Why is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven? Why not Buddha? Why not somebody else? Why Jesus Christ?
· Because He paid the price of admission. He's already paid for your salvation. Nobody else has done that one. On the cross, He paid for your sins.
Grace is free, no doubt about that. But it is not cheap. It cost Jesus Christ His life. He paid for your ticket.
The law tells me when I do wrong. It says, "You blew it!" But Grace says, "Here's how to get back on track. You're forgiven. Let's get going in the right direction."
"Many people have received God's gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ."
In the Bible, the favorite description for someone who has grace, who's accepted God's grace, the favorite description for a believer, is the term "in Christ." That phrase, "in Christ", is used over 120 times in the New Testament. It refers to somebody who has found salvation through the grace of God, being in Christ.
Let me explain it to you like this. This card represents my life and let's let the Bible represent Jesus Christ. In my life there are a lot of things I've done wrong, that disqualify me to live in a perfect place like heaven. There are things in my life that have ripped up my life, the things that I have done wrong, the things that I'm ashamed of that I don't want you or anybody else to know about in my past and I wish I could do them over. There are things that have really hurt me deeply where I've hurt others and they've hurt me. Sins that I've committed, thoughts I've thought, actions that have been hurtful to other people. In many ways I've ripped up my life and allowed others to rip it up too. Then there are things in my life that I've done that I'm really ashamed of and I just made a total mess of my life.
I look at that messed up, broken, damaged, scarred life and I think, "There's no chance of this getting into heaven. It's certainly not perfect."
The Bible says that when I come to Jesus Christ and I say, "Jesus Christ, I open my life up to You and I want to accept Your free gift of salvation" then God puts me “in Christ.”
When I'm in Christ, can you see my imperfections? Can you see the things that I'm ashamed of? Can you see the things that have ripped up my life and other people? All you can see when I'm in Christ, is Christ. When God takes my life and all the pieces of it that are kind of messed up -- really messed up -- and He puts me in the life of Christ. I get into heaven on Christ's ticket. When He looks at me with eyes of grace He only see the perfection of Jesus Christ.
"Don't treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, [by doing good] then there was no need for Christ to die.”
If you could have gotten to heaven without any help from God, Jesus wouldn't have come and died on the cross for you. He wouldn't waste Himself like that. But there was no other way. You're either going to get into heaven in Christ, or you're not going.
E - IT IS EXTENDED THROUGHOUT ETERNITY
"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." Circle "eternal life".
The results of God's grace are going to go on and on forever. Eternal life is one of the benefits of grace. You could say that grace is the gift that keeps on giving. God saves the best for last and the best is yet to come.
Go and Sin no MORE
In the Bible there's the story of a woman who had numerous moral failures. Numerous. She'd slept around with anybody and everybody. She had what you'd call a reputation. A real reputation!
· In fact, one day some religious leaders actually caught her in the act, in bed with somebody, and brought her to Jesus and threw her on the ground in front of Christ expecting Him to condemn her. "What are you going to do about this woman who's violated all kinds of principles of God?"
· Jesus defended her dignity. He protected her. In front of the whole crowd He said, "All right. Anybody who's here without sin, you can cast the first stone." Of course since there was no one in the crowd who was perfect they all began to slowly walk away.
· Then in the privacy of that one on one encounter, Jesus looked at this woman who was filled with guilt and said, "Where are your condemners." She said, "They've all gone, Lord." Jesus said to her two very profound things, "Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more."
That's all He said. No long lecture. No big lesson. He just said, "Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more."
Jesus said, "I didn't come to condemn the world. I came to save it."
If you are expecting to come to Christ and be filled with a whole bunch of condemnation, you missed the boat. You haven't heard the story. You don't understand grace.
Does grace just mean that I can accept God's gift and keep on living any way that I want to? Thumbing my nose to God? Of course not.
There are two very profound statements. He said, "I don't condemn you." And then He says, "Now just stop doing it. Go and sin no more. Let Me help you change."
He's not saying, "Just keep on doing whatever's destroying your life, whatever's opposing the laws of God." He just said, "Go and sin no more."
GRACE Gives us access to the POWER of God to be OVERCOMERS
Tit 2: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,(NIV)
2 Co 12: 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.(NKJV)
GRACE IS THE FAVOUR OF GOD THAT GIVES YOU ACCESS TO THE POWER OF GOD FOR EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO LIVE FOR JESUS
Grace deals with favour for access, mercy deals with releasing us from judgment.
Grace is favour. That favour gives you access. Grace gives you the legal right to access the power of God for everything you need.
ACCESS – this year the ELIM National leadership team met in Adelaidee and attended BISHOP TD JAKES 3 nights of meetings in Adelaides INFLUENCERS conference. There were thousands present. On the 2nd day we were having lunch at a venue outside the conference when the Key organisers bought the conference guests to lunch. We met them and spoke with them and as a result we gained favour – This favour gave us VIP tickets that gave us access into the front rows of the huge auditorium. We were close up to BISHOP JAKES where all the action was – a new perspective – rather than being up the back rows where he was a speck on the platform! FAVOUR gave us ACCESS! Everybody else had to line up to try and get close to the front and we were wisked in the side door and escorted to front seats!
That is what GRACE does for us – God bestows his favour on us through His Son Jesus Christ – and this favour gives us access to the power of God for everything we need for LIFE(money, family, business, relationships) and GODLINESS(ability to stand against temptation, the devil, healing power, obedience).
If you are here today – and you’ve never received the GRACE of God for your life – you are living apart from this wonderful person called JESUS CHRIST – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Today is the day of SALVATION – now you can see why the GOSPEL is GOOD NEWS!
Today you may be struggling trying to make yourself a spiritually rich Christian, not realising that Jesus has already made you a world class wealthy Christian. You have been living like a spiritual pauper instead of a wealthy spiritual prince.
Maybe you’ve been coming from a position of trying to become someone in order to be accepted to others and you don’t realise today that you have been made accepted through what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Maybe today you’ve been carrying burdens of guilt and shame of past events in your life not understanding that Christ has already forgiven you, carried your sins away, forgotten about them.
Maybe today you feel isolated and lonely, not special at all – not understanding that you have been chosen by God, adopted into his family with full birth rights of a member of Heaven’s royal family.