Today, we begin a new message series called “Extravagant Grace.” What is grace? One definition is “God’s unmerited favor.” Let’s look at it this way.
Today, my message is entitled “Why Grace?” We can’t really talk about grace from a biblical perspective without talking about the law. The law consists of God’s commands, summarized in the ten commandments. False teaching about law and grace tends to go to an extreme view of either the law or of grace. For example, false teaching about the law says that you are saved by doing good things. If you do enough good things or your good outweighs your bad, God will accept and save you and send you to heaven.
Romans 11:6 (ESV) But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
The Bible teaches us that salvation is not on the basis of works, but by grace alone. Not matter how good you may try to be, you will always be a sinner and unable to save yourself by being good enough. There are false teachings about grace as well. An extreme view that is becoming more popular is that God’s grace will ultimately forgive everyone. This view is called universalism. The Bible clearly teaches that the majority of people will not be saved.
Another extreme view of grace is that God’s grace forgives all your sins when you are saved, past, present and future. The problem here is the teaching that future sins are forgiven. If future sins are forgiven, there is no need for repentance, indeed no need to live lives free from sin. This leads to the false teaching that once you are saved, you can live however you wish and no sin can cause you to fall away. This view is often called hyper-grace.
1 John 3:6 (ESV) No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
The Bible teaches that when you repent of your sin and believe in Jesus as your Lord, you are saved by grace. The fruit of that salvation will be that you obey God’s Word through God’s grace doing good works. And when you sin, you must confess that sin and repent in order to be forgiven. So, let’s look at these truths about law and grace in more detail.
Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
This verse was written to the Galatian believers, who had been set free from trying to be saved by keeping the law. Now, they were in danger of requiring certain Old Testament practices of the law in order to be saved. If one seeks to be saved by keeping the law, it is bondage, for the law can never be perfectly kept. The law is insufficient for salvation and …
Galatians 5:4 (ESV) You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
These were believers who were saved by grace, but now thought that keeping the law would justify them in God’s eyes. If a person puts their faith in their own efforts at goodness, then this verse tells that their relationship with Christ is broken. They have fallen away from grace. Faith cannot be placed in the good works that we do in order to be saved.
Galatians 5:5-6 (ESV) For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
The aspect of the law that the Galatians thought a person had to keep in order to be saved was circumcision. In the Old Testament this was required of all Jews. But in the New Testament era, circumcision was of no value for salvation, it did not count for anything. Was is clear is that faith in Christ alone, through God’s Spirit is the only way to be saved.
Today, the issues with the law that we face are different. When one seeks to be saved through doing some good work, we call it legalism. Good works in general is a very common way that most people think they are saved. Good people go to heaven they think. If a person is trusting in their own good actions in order to be saved, then their faith is misplaced. Something that many people put their faith in baptism, particularly infant baptism and sometimes believer’s baptism. Water baptism of believers is commanded for believers, but it is not a requirement to be saved. Some people believe that you have to go to church in order to be saved. Going to church doesn’t save you. But if you are saved, you will obey God’s Word and worship together with other believers. We must simply remember and teach others that faith in Christ alone is what brings salvation and a relationship with God.
This is not just a matter of theological interest. If a person trusts in anything other than Jesus for their salvation, they are not saved and will spend eternity in hell. The majority of Americans (55%) believe that “good works result in going to heaven.” Only 35% believe that a person goes to heaven through faith in Jesus alone. Many of the people you know, don’t understand how to be saved. Although the law is insufficient for salvation …
John 1:14 (ESV) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Keeping the law never saved anyone down through the millennia, because no one could keep it perfectly. That’s why God sent His only Son to this earth to bring God’s grace and truth to us. Since, we couldn’t save ourselves through our good works, we needed someone to pay the penalty for our sins, so that God could justly forgive us. And that someone was …
John 1:16-17 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
In this next verse, John makes it clear the difference between the law of the Old Testament and the grace of the new covenant through Jesus. God’s grace was fully revealed in the coming of Jesus to this earth, His living a sinless life, dying on the cross for your sins and raising from the dead. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us, that we might be saved. We didn’t deserve this grace, but God in His mercy forgave us and opened up the opportunity for us to be the children of God.
Ephesians 1:3 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
God’s grace through Jesus brings us all kinds of spiritual blessings. These blessing are both in this life and in eternity. God’s grace was partly revealed to us in the Old Testament, but has now been full revealed through Jesus.
Ephesians 1:7-8 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
The greatest spiritual blessing is our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins. This verse says that God’s grace has been lavished upon us. It is an extravagant grace, far beyond what we can think or imagine.
Beyond salvation, one of the greatest spiritual blessing is the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit guides us, helps us pray, comforts us and fills us with His peace and joy. The extravagant grace of God gives us everything we need to defeat sin and live the life of purpose that God created us to live. Just as we are saved through faith by God’s grace, so we receive these spiritual blessings in the same way, through faith by God’s grace. The Bible is filled with promises that can bring great spiritual blessings into our lives through faith in God’s grace. So, let’s just emphasize again that this …
Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through faith we are justified. Justified means just as if I’d never sinned. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten. When we were sinners, we were the enemies of God. Now that we’ve been forgiven and justified, we have peace with God as His children. Let’s look at some more of the benefits and blessings of grace.
Romans 5:2 (ESV) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
People who are not saved, have no access to God, they have no relationship with God. But now, through the sacrifice of Christ, we can have this access to God by faith. That access gives us the opportunity to confidently come into God’s presence through prayer. Talking to Him and hearing Him speak to us. This access to God brings joy into our lives no matter what we’re going through, because we have a hope that we will always be with Jesus forever. Not only do we have access to God through prayer, but …
Ephesians 2:5-6 (ESV) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
The spiritual truth is that when we were lost, we were spiritually dead. When a person is saved, they are born again, they are made spiritually alive. Spiritually, this grace raises us up with Jesus and seats us with Him in the heavenlies. Spiritually, by faith, we are there now. One day, we will literally be there with Jesus. When we can comprehend this truth and believe it, it will transform the way we live our lives. We can live life above our circumstances when we understand our place in the heavenlies. Finally …
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Grace is a free gift offered to everyone through Jesus Christ. Although it is offered to everyone, only those who open God’s gift through faith receive it’s benefits, salvation. If we were saved by the good things we had done, we would have something to boast about. But we were not saved by anything we have done, only through faith in what Christ has already done. Grace is God’s gift, received through faith alone.
As we go on in this series, we’re going to be talking more about the benefits of God’s grace in our lives right here and now. Grace gives us the power to grow in our relationship with God through prayer. Grace makes available to us the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Grace gives us victory over sin and freedom to serve God in righteousness. Grace makes available to us the wisdom and guidance of God in every situation. Grace enables us to have the power to be effective witnesses for Jesus. Grace strengthens our faith to believe God for every promise in His Word. And we could go on and on. How do we continue to receive the spiritual blessings of grace? Just how we got saved in the first place, through faith, not through our efforts. Yes, we must continue to obey the Lord Jesus, but we don’t earn His blessing, we receive the blessings of grace through faith.
Why grace? Because there’s no other way for people to be saved, for our sins to be forgiven. Keeping the law can’t save us. Jesus came to reveal God’s grace to us fully. We receive God’s gift of grace through faith alone. The vast majority of Americans don’t understand grace and aren’t saved. You don’t get to heaven by doing good things. May God give us the grace to be a witness of His grace to all those who need it.