Godís Amazing Gift
TCF Sermon
May 27, 2001

Think about whether or not these things apply to you - you neednít raise your handÖ

- I find myself wanting to correct people on minor points, or actually doing it

- I would feel guilty if I stayed home from a meeting or activity just because I was tired

- I tend to focus more on what I did wrong than on what I did right

- I have difficulty saying no when someone asks me to do something for them, or feel guilty when I do say no

- when I look at how consistent I am in the spiritual disciplines, I feel that God must be disappointed in me

If you can relate to these things because theyíre true of you - you may be a performer, trying to earn Godís love.

To some degree, I think we can all understand these things, which is why weíre going to take a close look this morning at what Iím calling Godís Amazing Gift.

Thatís the title of this morningís message. Of course, Godís amazing gift to us is Grace.

As we begin, letís ask the question - why donít you give a fragile crystal glass to a two-year old.

- they canít and donít appreciate it - they donít know how to use it properly - theyíre likely to abuse such a wonderful, costly gift, and thereís a good chance theyíll break it.

Weíll look at the reasons grace seems to be a risky gift in a moment. Since my girls were old enough to understand what I was saying to them, I have consistently told them that they cannot earn my love. Thereís nothing they can do to make me love them more. Thereís nothing they can do to make me love them less. Trust may be earned or blown, but love is unconditional.

- it canít be earned

- it canít be eroded or spent

The same is true of Godís love, and His expression of that love through His grace. The very word grace, as used in the New Testament, has an understanding of being unearned. Itís free. Or the way we often use to describe Godís saving grace - itís unmerited favor. One Bible dictionary says this:

"the New Testament writers use this word for grace pre-eminently of that kindness by which God bestows favor even upon the ill-deserving"

Another says this: GRACE Undeserved acceptance and love received from another, especially the characteristic attitude of God in providing salvation for sinners. For Christians, the word "grace" is virtually synonymous with the gospel of Godís gift of unmerited salvation in Jesus Christ.

We owe our distinctly Christian understanding of grace to the apostle Paul.

His epistles employ the word charis - Greek for grace, and its related forms, twice as frequently as the rest of the New Testament writings combined. Paul had a very profound sense of human sin - too much so to believe that a person could ever earn Godís acceptance (Romans 3:23). Thatís at least in part because as a Pharisee, Paul had sought to earn Godís acceptance by fulfilling the divine law. After meeting the risen Christ on the Damascus road, he had come to see that