We've been talking about fostering a faith that is passionate for God's grace.
As a church, we think we live best and that we're more likely to share the good news with others, as we know and live under His grace.
Peter refers to our Lord as "the God of all grace"—a cool title but look at the whole verse,
1 Peter 5:10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Our suffering is short term, but our glory in Christ is eternal. For the God of all grace has a plan and a future, and your wholeness and eternal joy is part of it.
From the past two weeks, grace is any good gift given to those who do not merit it and cannot pay it back.
Specific to the Gospel, grace is the Son of God—all that Jesus merits, all that He achieved—given to you, unworthy as you are.
So there is no earning in grace, no merit, no being worthy—no pretending. Grace lets you face the fact that you don't have what it takes without fear.
There is also no debt in grace. You don't owe Jesus for the rest of your life, otherwise it's no longer grace or even love. Plus, you have nothing He needs.
Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…
See even if you paid something back to God, serving Him, obeying Him, giving something to someone else, its only because He gave it to you to in the first place. He doesn't want pay backs, He loves you and wants you to trust His love and to freely love Him. Freely you've received, freely you give.
He's the God of all grace, and the most generous Giver.
"For God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all." For us all! Not for the spiritually worthy. The Father delivered Jesus on a cross for us all. And once you accept this, the apostle Paul has taught us to take this personally,
Galatians 2:20… the Son of God loved me and gave Himself up for me.
And Jesus Christ gave Himself up for you! Not you on your best behavior. Not you the perfect mom or the childrens ministry volunteer. The Son of God gave Himself up for you the worrier, you the obsessive compulsive, you in your hurt, you in your anger.
By God's grace, He commits to fully embrace you without condition precisely because He knows you cannot meet any other condition.
But Jesus stood in your place and met every condition for you. Again, for He is the God of all grace.
Some argue against the NT teaching on grace. They complain that it lets people off the hook; it makes it seem like God doesn't care about our sin; or it gives the uncommitted too much freedom to sin.
But the clearest image of God's grace is God's Son dying on a cross for our sins. Grace never so much as implies that God ignores sin!
God's grace simply assures the sinner of something better, God forgives your sin. Christ has redeemed you with His blood. Grace doesn't tell us to never to feel ashamed but it tells us God's Son is given for you as the only answer to your shame.
God's grace also liberates us from sin's soul-crushing, joy-defeating dominance over us. How? By setting every believer in right relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity is hard to comprehend, but it is clearly revealed throughout the Bible. Look just at Jesus' baptism,
Mark 1:10 Immediately coming up out of the water, [Jesus] saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
God is one Being, yet three Persons who relate together in perfect unity, as one. Hard to comprehend, but clearly revealed. And by God's grace, you have been privileged to know and made righteous or worthy to relate to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and receive benefits from each. Each brings a different dynamic to our relationship with God.
Before you read the next passage, what benefit or virtue do you associate with Jesus?
2 Corinthians 13:14 The GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
When we turn our thoughts and hearts to Jesus, we should immediately realize God's grace, that's what defines Him.
God's grace is what He wants us to experience in Him. He stood in our place, bore our guilt, hung naked in our shame, braved death and gave His life, forgiving us, bringing us to Father.
So what do you associate with the Father?
When we relate with the Father, we should immediately realize His love for us,
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the LOVE of God,… be with you all.
This is what defines Him, what He wants us to experience in Him. Love. Do not think of Him as too lofty to love, as distant, or as Judge—He gave all judgment to His Son so that we know God the Father (Abba) for His love. It's His love that sent Jesus. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son.
O and when our thoughts and prayers turn to the Holy Spirit, we should think of our fellowship, communion, or partnership with God.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the FELLOWSHIP of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Father and Son dwell in us, partner with us, and intimately relate to you.
The Holy Spirit is the One who grants us to believe in Christ, to receive His grace, to trust the Father's love and to love and serve Him in response. The Holy Spirit seeks to exalt God the Father and the Son, not Himself, and to express Christ's life in you, and to bless others through you.
This is how it looks to know and relate to God through the Holy Spirit; the fruit of submitting to the Spirit is love.
The fruit of knowing God and submitting to the Holy Spirit is love.
So, in this time of uncertainty, exhaustion, dividing people by skin color and political parties, hear the good news of God's grace and draw near, by faith.
So what do we do? I quoted part of Galatians 2:20 earlier, "the Son of God loved me and gave Himself up for me." But the whole verse reads as follows,
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself up for me.
First of all, realize, your life is no longer about you, you on your own, you having to produce for God.
Grace frees you on the cross and empowers you by the Spirit. It's all about Jesus Christ, Christ crucified for you, and Christ in you.
Second, we trust this and we live in the truth of this. God loves you. Christ died for you, which changes everything. And Christ in you. This is an incredible thing! The God of all grace now lives in you, and we can trust and live knowing He is willing and able to express His life and His power through you.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
The power that works within us is Jesus Christ! In you! So you don't summon this power by your willpower but through humility, as a gift of His grace, relating and relying on the God who loves you and is in you.
In Christ there is strength to love. Strength to forgive and to heal. Strength to say the right thing and to do the hard thing.
Some of us really need to hear this. We generally think too much of our abilities, but I think we're exhausted and fatigued. Admit it. Among young people today there is a fairly novel lack of self-confidence, a sense of personal weakness in many, which can tend toward victimization.
We don't often say this because other generations have always thought they were much stronger than they are. But to the tired, the weak, the risk adverse, or failure adverse, "You can be strong!" "You can make a difference." Yes, you are weak, you're not super confident in your abilities, embrace it. But trust Jesus in your weakness for our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of all grace who defeated sin and death and holds all authority, is in you.
2 Corinthians 12:9 [Our Lord tells us] … "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." … 10 Therefore [Paul adds] I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, [when I rely on Christ in my weakness, distress, difficulties] then I am strong.
Then, you are strong to love. Strong to endure. Strong to make wise choices. Strong to follow Jesus.
When life overwhelms, when distress comes your way, when 2020 has two more months to go (and 2021 makes no promises), the God of all grace is personally in you and ready to express His life through you.
May God grant us a passion for His grace in all of its benefits, or as the apostle Paul put it,
2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.