*SERMON:* Grace is Relentless
*PASSAGE: *Hosea 1:1-11 (NIV)
*Big Idea:* God is NEVER Going to Give You Up!
*Location:* Northside Community Church, CROWS NEST, SYDENY
*AUDIENCE:* Predominantly Young Adults (60%+)
*SETTING; *Sunday Night Church Service: 110 people
There was once a story told about a whole heap of biblical scholars that got together in a room…and they were all debating as to what made Christianity so distinctly different?
They spent hours and hours arguing and then after all this squabbling this guy walks into the room.
And he himself was a staunch atheist before he had discovered God…his name was C.S. Lewis.
We’ve all heard of him, and he wrote those wonderful books, which are now superstar movies, “The Chronicles of Narnia”
And after hours and hours and hours of their squabbling, he said what’s the ruckus that’s going on here?
They said… They were trying to work out what makes Christianity so distinctly different?
And in an instant he piped up and said "that's easy!
Which other religion in the world “dares” to call their God a loving, kind, merciful God?
And so tonight when we look at his theme of grace in the sermon series titled "Grace Anatomy" (and I do apologise for the play on words..it is my fault), we are going to look at different elements of this concept called Grace.
Because one of the funny things for me recently was, when I was going through this with my connection group, (we started to go through it a couple of weeks ago… sort of you know how university lecturers get their students to come up with cool ideas and then use them for their own, and then I could claim them for myself and preach them to you tonight.), we had this opportunity to go through Grace and one of the things we realised was, just how massive this topic is!
We had a page full of different ways grace is described in the Bible.
Some of the examples are that it is: (said at fast pace)
Given by Christ
It is described as:
It is the source of:
§ The Call of God
§ FORGIVENSS of sin
And the list goes on…
So the interesting task for you and I tonight is, to really draw some boundaries as to where I want to take this evening... and so this evening I want to put it to you that:
*GRACE IS RELENTLESS*
Grace is relentless… and throughout the series, just as a doctor would look at different parts of the human body, this anatomy we talk about... Grace, it's not my job tonight to give you the all-encompassing, super-answer as to what grace is.
I simply want to highlight a small portion of this massive topic that is Grace.
GRACE IS RELENTLESS... and so tonight we turn to passage that’s in the Old Testament, and if you have your bibles with you, you can turn to the book of Hosea and were going to have a look at Chapter 11, and it’s titled " God's love for Israel".
*Hosea 11:1-11 (NIV) – Bible Reading*
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?
6 Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim?
My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
What a wonderful and emotional piece of writing from the Bible, that describes God is very heart for you and I!
It's a difficult concept for us to wrap our heads around, and I don't know about you, but have you ever heard that stereotype from people that says that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and of judgement?
Have you ever heard that stuff around, that the God of the New Testament is the God of love and grace and mercy and all that sort of thing?
Why we want to look at the Old Testament tonight, is because we see from this passage that clearly God is a God of love, and simply he is saying in verse 8:
How can I give you up?
God NEVER wants to give us up...
So just as Hosea was a prophet, (and a prophet was someone who would speak out in their day, they believed they have a divine message from God), he would speak out to his society and say: "Hey guys, this is what the Lord is saying."
And so I have a video clip of a modern day prophet who was saying exactly the same sort of message: Let's take a look
*Music Video Clip: Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up (1m30sec)*
Chorus Line: Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around and desert you.
I couldn’t help myself, but I thought it was so perfect.
You see...how can you forget?
If there’s anything you get from tonight, it is simply that God says:
“I NEVER want to give you up!”
(Audience groans sarcastically..)
So moving right along – GRACE IS RELENTLESS (man o man o man, I’d love a haircut like that! good ole’ Rick Astley...) I tell you what, your gonna remember that one if you are dancing in the nightclubs down at the Bristol Arms Friday Night Retro! – You’ll remember the sermon this evening that’s for sure…
I was talking about the fact that Grace is relentless, God never wants to give us up.
When we talk about relentless we talk about:
§ it is continuous,
§ indeterminable...it's non stop.
GRACE IS RELENTLESS... and what it to you that Grace is relentless, through three different times, I'm going to touch on three different stories in the Bible:
*That GRACE IS RELENTLESS - Even in times of un-worthiness*
*That GRACE IS RELENTLESS - Even in times of un-faithfulness; and*
*That GRACE IS RELENTLESS - Even in times of un-belief *
It's funny to me because, one of the single biggest hindrance I think that people have when they try to enter into a relationship with God, and they're trying to accept God into their life, is that don’t think that they are worthy enough to do it.
§ I’ve got to be an A+ person
§ I’ve got to be perfect
§ I’ve got to have my life together before I can do sit at church and sing the songs and do all that.
As one of the guys said to me the other week: Oh I am not sure if I really accepted Jesus into my life… I figured I’m like a D+ at doing Christianity!
And I said to him:
“Mate the beauty of it is, that with Jesus Christ… an F is the pass mark!”
That’s what we talk about when we talk about Grace even in Times of Unworthiness.
It’s nothing new when we look at this concept of unworthiness.
We still sit in the Old Testament, and this chapter is in Exodus, where Moses (many of us may know it), God says to Moses: Hey Moses: you are going to take my people out of Egypt, away from this military tyrant that is Pharaoh!