Summary: Not only is the forgiveness of your sins by God’s grace, but the entire Christian life is by the grace of God.
I have one simple hope for you today: to convince you that you need the grace of God. My aim is to persuade you that you that God’s grace is a big deal. Many of you have consciously experienced the grace of God at your conversion… and I hope to deepen your God-given appreciation for it.
The back door of deepening your appreciate of grace will see a deeper grasp of humility. Others of you, who are under the sound of my voice, have never consciously experienced God’s grace. In just a few moments, I’m going to extend to you an invitation. An opportunity for you to experience free forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. Our pastors will be down front at the front of the room. We want you to experience the grace found only in Jesus Christ. If you are outside of Christ this morning, then… you know nothing of its sweet taste on your lips. You know nothing of its restful embrace in the middle of the night when remorse and regret used to wake you as your conscience experiences terrible pangs. You may know only the grace as simply something said over a meal. But you don’t know the real meaning of grace. And your ignorance is colossal. For grace is the Gospel. If you don’t know grace, you don’t know anything about the Gospel. And if we (the church) don’t know grace, then we are not a church. The people inside the church are prone to forget God’s grace. We are prone to live as if the grace of God is not true.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
Today’s Big Idea: You’re not basically good. And God doesn’t treat you how you deserve.
I cannot overemphasize the magnitude of today’s message for your life. To the extent you are unclear about who does the saving in salvation (you or God) is the degree in which the Gospel and the Bible is obscured. God’s grace is a big deal. The word “grace” is used only time in today’s Scripture. Yet, God’s grace is spoken of about 400 times in the OT. And God’s grace is spoken of about 200 times in the NT. This is a mega-theme in our Bible. Grace is so big, it’s even the very last words in our Bible: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21) That’s the very last verse in your Bible. So grace is a big deal.
Again, the word “grace” is used only once in today’s passage. Yet, everything flows down from this word grace. Everything Paul is giving thanks for in the verses after verse 4 is from the grace of God. So, my aim this morning is that you realize how gracious God is toward you.
1. Grace is a Gift from God.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Paul is writing to a church that thinks it is important. The people who comprise the church in Corinth think they have arrived. There is very little humility in this church. Corinth is a fairly new city, around a century old as Julius Caesar re-founded the city in 44 BC (the Romans had destroyed a century earlier). The upstart city was a commercial success as it was the major crossroads between north and south and east and west. A great deal of the first century’s goods traveled through this city. It was a place where sailors hung out from coming off the nearby seas. This small church of approximately 50 people in a town of 250,000, had taken on the characteristic of the city itself – it grew to believe its press reports. The people lacked genuine humility. So, Paul begins his letter by reminding them (and us) that grace is a gift.
God’s grace means God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment. God has two kinds of grace for people: common grace and saving grace. Saving grace is what this sermon is about and I’ll deal with saving grace for the majority of this message. Common grace is the grace of God where He gives all people numerous blessings beyond hell. Common grace is His kindness to all people. Common grace is His love for all people: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45b) And Luke 6 says: “…for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35b