I. What is grace?
A. The word 'grace' (CHEN in Hebrew, CHARIS in Greek), as it is used in the scriptures, literally means 'favour', to bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior.
When used in reference to God, it is the benevolent action of Him stooping down to us in His kindness to reach us in our need, and convey upon us a benefit that we could not achieve by ourselves.
"Grace can be defined as the inexhaustible goodness of God to people who do not deserve it, could not have earned it, and could never pay back for it, for it is the God of grace that authors His goodness to undeserving mankind." Dr. Tony Evens
B. Salvation cannot be earned, bought, paid for, or merited. To appreciate grace and to understand it, we must understand the backdrop of our need for it.
Throughout the Bible, the reality of our sin and inability to save ourselves from death is clearly highlighted.
In Ephesians 2:1-5, the apostle Paul introduces two simple, but incredibly hopeful words - "But God." These two words change the entire narrative and tell us that we have been saved only by God's grace.
Ephesians 2:1-5 - Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!
C. Wrath and justice are inherent parts of God's nature but so are love and mercy.
For these vastly different attributes of His character to get along, God had to come up with a plan.
That plan kindled another attribute of God called grace,When wrath and justice met love and mercy, they created a plan of redemption expressing itself in the unmerited favor of God. We call it Grace!
D. Here is crux to our discussion today
The Bible is clear that we are not only saved by grace, but that we are also sanctified and transformed by grace and we receive this grace through the person of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:6 - As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live in him.
Just as you received Jesus by grace to have growth you need grace. To experience more of grace, you must experience more of Him. The more Jesus you have, the more grace you get. The less Jesus you have, the less grace you experience.
II. The power of grace over the law.
A. When we say law we are referring to rules
We as a people like to measure ourselves. When we have an overriding sin or mess going on in our lives and we know it’s wrong, but we won’t give it up we are all about grace.
The problem is not with failure it is with success. When we receive more of Him and experience more grace we experience more growth and sooner or later we are going look in the mirror and say look at me!
B. When start looking at how far we have come, sometimes we start to measure ourselves.
Galatians 3:3 - How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
You begin a shift to your effort instead of the grace of God. We know the inevitable is going to happen sooner or later you are going to crash and burn.
When people, even people who have been a Christian for a long time, fall into this trap that I call emotional apostasy.
Apostasy: To abandon or renounce a religious or political belief.
Why do I call it emotional apostasy? Because in your head you know its all about grace but in your heart, you feel like it’s about the rules.
C. It is a trap that we all fall into we need faith to get out.
Rules cannot produce growth, only grace can.
The law is not dead, and its not bad--the old nature is. The law shows us our sin, but it can’t help us with it.
Romans 8:2 - Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death.
Rules can force us to behave but they cannot deepen our love our relationships. That’s the growth that God is working to bring to us.
II. Faith in His Grace.
1. By faith you can say, “I am free from the law.”
Romans 7:6 - In the past, the law held us like prisoners, but our old selves died, and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way with the Spirit, and not in the old way with written rules.
2. By faith you can say, “I have a new master!”
You are free. You know it in your head, but you need to know it in your heart. Growth comes from experiencing Jesus more and more and He gives more and more grace.
- Why do you think some get pulled into thinking we can measure our spiritual growth based solely on how we keep laws or rules?