Grace Defined


Uploaded by RealAnswersRealLife on 08.01.2013

Transcript:

Well, we're going to start the year talking
about grace. The Grace of God.
You know as we think about a new
year, most of us make resolutions, we look
forward; we have hope, we have a sense of
excitement because there's something new ahead.
We look forward to what is
going--what the new year is going to bring to us.
We look forward to new beginnings.
Well, if we're going to have any new beginnings,
it has to begin with the grace of God.
There's no such thing as new,
unless grace is at the very start of it.
So we're going to start this year talking about the grace of God.
We're talking about it on our radio broadcast as well.
Grace is the theme for the month,
that's why we've offered this little Bible Study
guide called, "Gateway to Grace" just to help people get
a solid foundation as far as the grace of God
is concerned. But today we're going to define
grace. What is the definition of grace?
We asked that on our broadcast
this week, "How would you define grace?"
Actually blogged about that as well.
Asked people to share some of their definitions
of grace and what it means to them.
Love this particular definition, 'Thank God
grace doesn't cost me anything up front, and neither does it
require monthly installments, nor can it be repossessed,
because I am broke. Thought that was
a good definition. Kinda
just lays it out there, doesn't it? Grace doesn't cost
us anything. It doesn't require monthly installments and it can never
be repossessed. Grace truly is
a gift. So, lets dive in and see what
the word of God has to say about the grace of God.
First of all, we want to ask this question: Is grace a thing?
Is it something we can just put
out there and it's this inanimate object
and we can look at it and say, "that's grace!"
Is that what it is?
Is it like this boulder out there on the beach?
We look at it and say, 'Wow! That's grace!"
No, it's not that, is it?
Grace isn't a thing, it's not something that
has matter to it. It's not something we can
point to, and say, "Look! There it is"
So is grace a thing, or is it a person?
In John 1, we read this:
"The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,
"And we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only
"who came from the Father, full of grace,
"and truth." So grace is bound up
in the person of Jesus Christ.
There is no such thing as grace apart from
him. So you cannot separate
Jesus from grace. He is full
of grace and truth. Somebody
else wrote in depth as far as answering that question how would you
would define grace....wrote this.."So to me the grace of God
"is what saves us, sustains us, and eventually bring
"us into the presence of God when we leave this earthly shell."
Grace is not a thing, but a person, Jesus Christ.
So again, we cannot separate
the grace of God from the person
of Jesus Christ. Does that make
sense to you? Lot of times we talk about
the grace message that...
the gospel is a grace message, and certainly
it is a grace message.
But we have to realize it's really a Jesus message.
When we talk about grace, we're talking about Jesus.
Major Ian Thomas used to get on
to us sometimes for just utilizing the phrase,
"grace message." He said, "Man, you just gotta say it,
"it's a Jesus message.
Jesus is the one who saves, Jesus is the one
"who sustains. Jesus is the one who gives
us hope. Jesus is the one who does everything.
So grace truly is a Jesus message.
Now, I looked up
in a dictionary,
"The Complete Works
Study Dictionary" This is a tool that I use
quite a bit in Bible study. We've talked about it
several times here, but if you're really interested in kinda
diving in a little deeper as far as definitions are concerned,
I certainly recommend the Complete Word Study Dictionary.
A gentleman by the name of Spiro Zodhiates
put it together. It's really
quite fascinating. It really kind of lifts the
hood up and lets you see underneath
the language in these translations
to see what the writer meant.
So, in his definition, he had this to say about grace:
"It is the absolutely free expression of the loving
"kindness of God to men, finding it's only
"motive in the bounty and benevolence of the giver."
That's a pretty good definition: The absolutely
free expression of the loving kindness of God
to men, finding it's only motive in the bounty
and benevolence of the giver.
So, God is full of grace; Jesus Christ
is full of grace. He has a graceful
disposition towards us.
In his mind, is a grace disposition
towards you and towards me.
He does not look at our character,
He doesn't look at our qualities,
He simply looks at us as people.
He loves us, and He extends grace to us.
It's the loving kindness of God to us, and it's
bound up in His eternal motivation.
His eternal motivation for you and for me.
It is unmerited favor.
Can any of us
earn grace? You can't earn grace
it's just bestowed upon us. It's just given to us.
His unmerited favor.
Grace and works are mutually
exclusive. So you can't have both
in the same
Can't work for something
that's free. I love what Paul wrote
in Romans 11: And if by grace, then it cannot
"be based on works. If it were,
"grace would no longer be grace." So the minute you add
works to salvation experience,
to the Christian life experience; to any aspect
of what God has for us in the person of Christ Jesus,
we make grace into something else.
Grace stands alone.
We cannot add to it. So
if it's by grace, then it cannot be based on works,
if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
So grace and works are mutually exclusive.
So God doesn't offer a free gift,
and then on this hand, say, "here are the 10 things you need
do, in order to earn that free gift."
If you have to earn the free gift, it's not free, is it?
Not free at all. How many of you,
when you get your paycheck,
do you look at that as a free gift from your
employer? Is your
paycheck a free gift from your employer? No.
You rightfully earned it, didn't you?
You worked hard. You did what was required
of you and the reward for that was a paycheck.
So, is that an act of grace?
Getting the paycheck? That's works, isn't it?
God doesn't require us to work for grace.
Why? Because there's nothing we can do to earn it.
There's nothing we can do to merit salvation.
salvation. So God bestows that upon us by grace.
So, that's the definition, it's the free expression of the loving
kindness of God. It is unmerited favor, and it is
not based on works.
We also know that it's bound up in the person of Christ Jesus.
It's a disposition that He has toward
us. So how do we see it? How do we know it
when we see it? Well, we have to see it
in action. If we're going to know what grace
is, we're going to have to see it in action.
It's the same with love. Love is an action
that God takes on our behalf.
Grace is an action that God takes on our behalf.
So we see grace in action.
So we're going to look up some passages
and I'm going to ask several of you to read
some of these passages for us, so we can all
kind of participate in what we're doing here.
We're going to look up Hebrews 2:9
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So, Hebrews 2:9, the writer of Hebrews
is talking about Jesus in comparison
to angels. He's basically making the point that
Jesus is superior to angels, and
because He is superior,
and that we are going to be identified with Him
that we, too, are superior to angels as far as
God is concerned. We don't see this,
we think angels are far higher than we
are. We don't see this, but the writer says
consider Jesus, but we do see Jesus,
Who tasted death for us.
The writer says that is an act of grace.
That God, becoming flesh in the person
of Christ Jesus, Jesus becoming
the unblemished lamb of God, and tasting
death, was an act of grace.
So where do we see the grace of God being
expressed to us first?
In the death of Christ Jesus. The writer
or Paul wrote in Romans, that
God demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died. So we see
a picture of grace, the act of grace,
in the death of Jesus Christ, and he tasted death
for everyone. Not just some people, but for
everyone. So, grace in action
is Jesus Christ, humbling himself,
becoming one of us, and taking death
upon him. Taking our death on him.
That's...that's grace. So he tasted death
for everyone. Romans 3:24,
and then Romans 4:25 through
5:2. [ Bob Davis begins reading ]
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So, in these particular passages, Paul talks about justification,
we have been freely justified
by the grace of God. He
died, and was raised for our justification
and now that we've been justified,
we have peace with God, and we have gained access
into this grace in which we now stand.
So, what does it mean to be justified?
If you've been justified freely by the grace of God,
What does that mean?
What is that saying about you?
You have right standing before God.
That is really one of the things we long for,
more than anything else in life. All have sinned,
and fall short of the glory of God. We know where
we're not right with God. We KNOW we're not right.
We know that our sin
is keeping us from God. We know
that before coming to know Christ. But Jesus
shed his blood, Jesus was raised, and through
that resurrection, he justifies
us. He makes us right.
So, if you're in Christ,
are you right with God?
Absolutely! Do you always feel right with God?
No. But does that change the truth?
Grace makes us right with God.
We see that in action. So, grace is God's
act through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus
Christ, to make us right in
his sight. Could you earn
that position? No. You have
sinned. You fell short of the glory of God.
There's no way, no matter how hard
you try. No matter how many promises
you make. No matter how many times you redouble your efforts
recommit to trying to be right in God's
sight, you fail every single
time. So if you're going to be made right
with God, grace has to enter into that equation.
Grace has to come in. Grace has to be the very
thing that makes us right with God.
That's what Jesus did, through his resurrection,
he was raised for our justification,
he makes us right with God. Now what's the result
of that in us? When Paul wrote
"now that we've been justified, by faith,
"we have peace with God."
Man, isn't that amazing? To know that you have peace
with God? You're no longer at odds with Him,
that you're not enemies? You're not His enemy.
You're not walking around, thinking that God
is going to punish you, or that He is out to get you.
I mean, how many Christians go through life and then
as if they're walking on egg shells. They're just so
afraid to do anything wrong, to make a mistake. Why?
Because they feel like God's hammer of punishment
is going to be unleashed on them at any moment.

But because we're made right with God, we have
peace with God. That's the
result of this act of grace in Christ Jesus.
So, have you been made right with God?
How did that happen?
By his death, burial and resurrection.
Grace in action. So you've been
made right with God. What else has grace done?
Let's look at Ephesians 2: 1-10
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So I think this is a powerful, powerful
passage. It describes us, it describes
God's act to do something for us, that we could not do something
for ourselves. That
act is making us alive, together
with Christ. Grace in action,
is God's act through Jesus Christ to make us
alive together with Him. That's grace.
I think it's important to know this, because
it really addresses man's true
problem. Our deepest problem.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We understand that.
We see that lived out in our day to day lives;
that we sin. Well, if that's our problem,
sins, then the solution is forgiveness.
That's all we need is forgiveness. Every time I
sin, I have a black mark against my name, so God
needs to do something to erase that black mark.
But our problem is deeper than that. It goes
to the very core of who we are, and Paul addresses
it here: "As for you, you were dead
"in your transgressions and sins."
That's our true spiritual condition: Death.
We are separated from the life of God.
We know that to be true. We don't necessarily
express it, or we didn't necessarily express it,
before we came to know Christ, but we did know
something was wrong.
We did know that there was something
missing inside of us. We did know that
there was a hole in our hearts. Otherwise
we wouldn't have done all those things that we did, to try to fill
that void in our lives. I mean that drive
us, that motivates us, that compels us to do
things, to seek things, to search things,
to find something that will make us
whole or complete. Well, there's
nothing in this world that can make us whole or complete.
Absolutely nothing. We can have all
the money that we could possibly have,
and if we haven't come to Christ, we would still say,
"Something is missing." We can
have all of the accolades that the world offers,
but in the end, we still step back and say
something is still wrong with me.
Tom Brady, the quarter back with the New England
Patriots, after his 3rd Superbowl
ring, said, "But there's still something
"missing." You would think that
you stand at the pinnacle of your
endeavor. I mean, he's on top of the sports world.
He was the king, and yet
he was a king with an empty heart.
Dead in sin.
You can have all the relationships,
you can have all the power, you can have all the prestige
but, if you're honest with yourself,
and you step back and say, "It's not enough."
It doesn't fill that void. Well what is that void?
That's the fact that you're dead in sin.
That's where you used to live. In the realm of
spiritual death. You followed the ways of the
world, and the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
and the spirit who is
now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us live
at one time to gratify the desire of the flesh.
That's what spiritually dead
people do. They live to gratify the desires
of their flesh. So, like the
rest, we were, by nature, deserving of wrath.
Or objects of wrath. That's who we were.
Pretty bleak, isn't it?
We try to make that sound as good as we possible can, but,
you know, dead is dead.
There's not a lot of hope there,
unless grace enters the picture.
That's what Paul said,
"But because of His great love for us,
"God, who is rich in mercy, made
"us alive." What is God's act of grace?
The act of making us alive
with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions.
And then he says, "It is by grace you have been saved,"
Saved from what?
Spiritual death. Man we were
bound up by the law of sin and death.
There was no way of escape. There was nothing
that we could do, and whatever
we tried, because we lived to gratify the desires
of the flesh, sin was the only thing we produced.
So, we were just in this vicious cycle
until grace entered the picture.
Until Jesus saved us, and gave us life.
It is by grace that we have been made alive.
Not only that, God raised us with Christ,
and seated us with him in the heavenly realms.
We're no longer living in the realm of sin and death.
That's where we were. But now we're living
in the heavenly realms.
Where grace reigns. There's going to
be a point in time when that
is going to be made known to the world. And then
one of the most famous passages in all the word of God,
"for it is by grace you have been saved.
"through faith. It is
"a gift. It's not from ourselves. It's not by works,
"so that no one can boast."
Can anyone boast that we've
been made alive together with Christ? Look how wonderful
I am! Look how good I am
that God smiled down on me,
in favor, because I was good, made me alive.
Doesn't work that way. We were dead
in sin. We had nothing good to offer God.
So it is a gift, it is not something we can boast about,
and then it goes on to say, "we are God's
"handiwork." Who we are
is the result of God's work through Jesus
We have nothing that we can boast about.
And so we've been created
in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God has prepared in advanced
for us to do. When those works are
expressed through us, that's grace in action as well.
That's God doing in us, what we could not do
for ourselves. So, grace in action
is first and foremost, Jesus tasting death in each and every
one of us. It's Jesus making us right with God,
It is Jesus making us alive together
with Him. Then it is Jesus, making us
who we are today. I love this particular
verse in I Corinthians 15,
[ Bob Davis reads I Corinthians 15:10 ]
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So, this particular passage
I Corinthians 15:10 follows
Paul's great definition of the gospel.
He gives the gospel message
in almost creedal form.
The gospel that saves is this,
That Christ died according to scripture, that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day, according
to scripture and that he appeared to the disciples
and appeared to 500. That's the gospel
that saves. That is the gospel that saves.
That grace is tied to the work of Jesus Christ.
This grace makes us what we are.
Apart from Grace in God's sight, we're
just sinners, dead, spiritually!
But in grace, we are children of
God. We are attached
to the vine of Jesus Christ, and we have the
opportunity to show forth the love and grace of God
in this world today. As Paul wrote,
he worked harder than any of the other disciples, but not
him, the grace of God in him.
I mean it was the grace of God, picking him up
out of one city and moving him to another
so the grace could spread to others.
Even, in light of persecution, and
the threat of danger, the grace of God,
moved him on.
When he was beaten and left outside of cities for dead,
He would be revived, he would pick himself right back up and
he would go back into those cities, just to encourage
and to build up the believers in the grace of God.
Why did he do that?
Because that was the grace of God at work
in him. The grace of God had
declared him to be a child of God.
The grace of God had declared him
to be a minister of this New Covenant,
a minister of reconciliation, and the grace of God
worked itself out in all of those areas,
Paul's life. That's grace in action. When we
engage in those ministry opportunities,
when we become a voice for this gospel message,
bringing life to those
who are dead spiritually, that's grace in action.
That's not us doing something,
and having God bless it. That's God
working in and through us.
You know, we pray for people,
we like to pray for people.
We like to pray for people's salvation.
Why do we do that?
Because we're interested in these people
and God may not be?
We pray for them because God is interested
in them, and God has placed them in our hearts and minds.
So, we pray, God's grace moving
us to pray. We give. Why do we give?
So that we can be blessed?
A lot of people that give according to that model,
that Old Covenant mindset. But those of us
who have been made right with God, who have been alive
with Christ Jesus, who have
experienced the grace of God, we give because the grace of God
moves us to give.
We want others to know the grace of God that we've experienced.
We don't give out of obligation.
We don't give out of a sense of duty.
We give because grace moves us to give.
That's why Paul
calls it the grace of giving, and he encourages us to excel
at it. How are we going to excel in it?
It's when we grow in the grace of God, and truly understand
it for what it is, and for Who He is
in our lives. So, the grace of God makes us
who we are, and again, there's no boasting.
I can't stand up and say, "Look at me!"
"Look what I've done!"
The only reason you did it, is because God worked in you.
You allowed Him to carry it out.
God's grace in action teaches us.
Grace is not something that just happens to us
at a point in time; grace becomes
the very realm of our existence.
In this realm, grace serves as a teacher.
Grace is constantly teaching us about
Jesus, Himself. Teaching us about us
and how we're to live on
planet Earth. I have a couple of passages here, Titus 2,
11-13 [ Bob Davis reads ]
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So the grace of God has appeared.
It's the means to salvation,
and the grace of God teaches us.
So what does the grace of God teach us?
To say, no to sin, and to live
righteous, upright lives in this present generation.
There's this ideal of what the Christian life
is to look like, what it's to be.
How it's to be expressed,
the question always comes down
what makes that happen? What's the source
of that in our lives? A lot of people will lean
into the Law. Like that Richard?
If you listen to a lot of Christian teachers,
some of the upcoming leaders, there's phrases
that all of them say. "Lean into..." is one of them.
So, we're going to use it today: Lean into the grace of God.
Another one is "unpack".
You know, we're going to look at this verse, and we're going to unpack
this for you. Then another one is 'missional'.
How many of you have heard the word, "missional"?
We need to be missional in our thinking; our church is missional. What does that mean?
Sounds good. Sounds theological.
But, those are some of the buzz words
that are out there today. But as far as
how we live our lives, you're either going to
live by the Law, which becomes self
effort and works oriented, or we're going to
allow the grace of God to do in us what we could not
do for ourselves. So it's the grace of God
that teaches us to say no to sin,
and yes to Jesus.
So, if you want to see the love of God, flowing through
you, if you want to see yourself
withstanding temptation, you have to rely
upon the Grace of God. There's no other way to claim
victory in life apart from the grace of God.
It just cannot be done.
We know this just in the thousands of times
we've tried to go on diets.
I will not eat chocolate ice cream.
I will not eat chocolate ice cream.
What do you do?
You eat lots and lots and lots of chocolate ice cream.
Why? Because you've tried to approach it
based on law rather than grace. So it's the grace of God
that teaches us how to live. Matthew 11
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So, grace is this invitation
to us to come to Christ. To come unto me.
In this particular passage,
it provides a promise of rest,
for the soul, but that rest comes
through learning from Jesus. Learn of me.
If you're going to learn of Jesus,
what are you going to learn of? The grace of God, because he
is the one full of grace and truth.
So, when you learn of him, and he teaches
us, doesn't he? He teaches us, the grace of God teaches
us, the Holy Spirit teaches us. There's
this teaching element in the person of Christ,
that when we learn of him, then we
experience rest for our souls.
The Law doesn't generate rest for our souls.
Human effort doesn't generate rest for our souls.
Only the grace of God
can do that. So, it teaches us
so that we can experience rest, so that we can say
no to sin, and so we can live out
the grace of God in our day to day life.
That's grace in action. So it's not
a thing. It's the person of Christ Jesus,
doing in and through us what we could not
do for ourselves.
One of the people who responded to the blog
post, "What is your definition of grace?" said this,
"Grace is the fierce, strong, shocking, surprising,
"heart melting, intentional pursuit of God and giving
"us what we really need, even if that differs from
"what we thought we needed."
I love how this guy expressed that:
Grace is the fierce, strong, shocking, heart melting, intentional
pursuit of God, and giving us
what we really need. That is grace
in action. Any questions on any of
these particular passages? So Jesus
demonstrated grace by tasting death for everyone.
He made us right with God. He made us alive, together with him,
He makes us who we are, and he teaches us
to say no, so that we can experience rest in our lives.

Gospel message first went to the Jew.
You read through the book of Acts, you see this pattern;
it was first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile.
Peter stood up and expressed the grace of God to
Jews, on the Day of Pentecost who had gathered
at Jerusalem. He talked about the death, the burial,
the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Well, soon,
that word started to spread outside
of the confines of the nation of Israel.
The first place it went was Antioch.
Some of the disciples
went to Antioch, and they started
talking to Gentiles about the gospel.
Word got back to the
leaders in Jerusalem, so they picked Barnabas,
to go to Antioch, to witness
what was happening, and here's what
Barnabas said, "When he arrived the evidence,
"of the grace of God, he was glad
"and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord
" with all their hearts."
So Paul... I mean Barnabas heard,
that the grace of God had gone to Antioch.
Had gone to Gentile believers.
That news had reached
the people in Jerusalem. Barnabas traveled
to Antioch, and with his own eyes,
he witnessed the evidence
of the grace of God. So wherever the
grace of God goes, there's evidence of it.
That evidence is in changed lives.
Gentiles had turned from their pagan ways,
to the Lord.
That is the evidence of God's grace.
We see all sorts of problems,
in this world. Whenever somebody comes to Christ,
they're made new. That transformation
is evidence of God's grace
Whenever somebody is freed
from legalism, freed from self-effort,
freed from that bondage, and are now
enjoying freedom in Christ,
that transformation is evidence of God's grace.
When a relationship
has gone amuck, and they're
a wedge; reconciliation
becomes evidence of the grace of God.
So, grace isn't something,
that just shows up and then disappears,
it leaves a path of results following it.
Barnabas saw it first hand.
So we ask the question:
What's the evidence of grace in your life?
I can't think of a better way
to start a new year
than to do so by asking this question:
When you look at what Christ has done,
how has the grace
of God manifested itself in
you? Where you can only look to that
and say, "That has nothing to do with me,
"That has nothing to do with what I bring to the table,
"That has everything to do with Jesus Christ
"acting on my behalf."
What is the evidence in your life?
Great question, isn't it?
Spend some time thinking about it.
Just kinda gloss over it. Spend some time
thinking about the evidence of God's grace
in you. I think it will
provide foundation that you need
for this new year. It will give you
the perspective you need in moving forward.
It will give you the hope that we all
long for, just to live in this world today.
What is the evidence grace
in your life? What has Jesus done
for you? Let's pray together.

Dear Heavenly Father, there may be some here today
who have never experienced the grace of God,

They may be still struggling, trying to figure out
how to fill that hole in their hearts,
how to make themselves right
with God. If that's the case,
we pray that today will be the day that
grace of God takes effect in them.
That they will receive the offer of
righteousness and life and forgiveness
in Christ Jesus. That today will be the day
that they're made right with God,
and made alive with Christ.
because of the amazing grace of Jesus.
If that's where
you are, simply say,
"Lord I need you, thank you
"for the grace that you've bestowed upon me,
"through the death, burial and resurrection
"today, I receive your life."
For those of us who know Christ,
Help grace be the very thing that's
front and center in our daily lives.
Help us rest fully
in the one who is full of grace and truth
and watch that grace be lived out
in all that we do in this life.
We thank you for that. Thank you
for Jesus. We thank you that
he did for us, what
we could never do for ourselves.
we pray these things in his name, amen.