Scripture: Ephesians 2:1–9
Idea: The Christian faith is a response to not a bargain with. Bargaining ends once the relationship begins.
I. At some point in your faith journey, you will settle into a bargaining posture with God. You already have.
A. We all do it. We’ve all done it.
B. You know:
“God, if you will . . . I promise I’ll always . . .” “God, if you will . . . I promise I’ll never . . .”
C. Ancient armies sacrificed animals and made vows in return for victory. The Romans had a saying: The gods favor those who are best prepared.
Our version: God favors the team with the best quarterback.
1. For the most part, it doesn’t matter. We don’t keep our end of the bargain anyway.
D. Behind all of that is two big assumptions:
1. Assumption 1
God knows you exist. That’s a lot of faith. He knows your name. He knows your circumstances. You assume he gives a rip.
2. Assumption 2
You have something God wants.
E. Every religious system, except for a few where they are absolutely sure there are no absolutes, fosters the negotiate-‐with-‐God mentality.
>>>As you consider the Christian faith, here’s something to remember, even if it’s hard to believe. Even though you grew up Christian, this is easy to mess up because people automatically get this wrong. There is nothing you have that God wants or needs. It stands in contrast of want you were told about God.
II. God doesn’t negotiate because he doesn’t want something from you. He wants something for you.
A. The most famous verse in the New Testament says it best: “For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”
B. The Christian faith is not based on the contract or negotiation model; it’s based on the gift model.
C. The cross is overwhelming evidence that God is for us, so there’s no need to bargain.
D. Obedience isn’t a way to get something. It’s our response to having already received something.
1. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven (love, serve, give. . .).
2. Anything you offer pales in comparison to what’s already been given.
III. The term that sums this up best is grace—unmerited favor.
A. This is the term that makes Christianity so different than any other faith system. This is the motivational and the foundational element of Christianity.
B. Grace is favor or blessing that is neither earned nor deserved.
1. Mercy is not getting what you deserve: punishment, reprisal.
2. Grace is getting precisely what you don’t deserve: favor, blessing.
3. Grace is based completely on the person giving grace and has nothing at all to do with the one receiving grace.
4. It sets us apart of any religion in the world. Grace…
5. I am not leveraging your character; I am leveraging mine. I do this because of who I am, not who you are. I cannot be compelled… I do it because I want to.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us 5 made us alive together with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
IV. This brings us to a question you have to answer in your faith journey at some point.
What standard will you use to determine where you stand with God?
• Your behavior?
• God’s grace?
• Both? Can’t be both. As soon as you enter the equation, it’s no longer grace.
A. The problem with negotiating and earning and performing is you will never know where you stand with God because nowhere has God given humankind a clear set of guidelines to follow.
1. Don’t point to the Ten Commandments. That’s not what they’re for.
2. Don’t point to the Bible at all. Not there.
B. You’ve made up your own.
1. Be nice.
2. Don’t lie.
3. Don’t harm God’s creation.
4. Don’t kill.
5. It comes down to I’m better than him!
These ideas may be biblically informed, but they are not biblically accurate.
it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
C. Religion is summarized with DO.
1. The Christian faith is summarized with DONE.
2. All the “to dos” are responses to what God has “to done.”
3. The hallmark of the Christian faith is our willingness to do for others what has already been done for us.
4. The “earning” is over. Jesus did all the earning for you. Our lives are to be expressions of gratitude.
D. The reason the message of Jesus is good news to the entire world is that there is no more guessing, wondering, or negotiating.
. . . because of his great love with which he loved you . . .
. . . it is by grace you have been saved, through faith . . .
. . . it is the gift of God . . .
When you embrace the grace of God, you will find peace. Without it, there is no peace.
Question: Most people respond to the idea of unconditional grace with, “But what about . . .?” What’s your “But what about . . .?”