Summary: Working through the book of Philippians using consecutive expository preaching. Philippians 4:20-23
Sermon: “A Grace-Filled Goodbye”
Pastor John Bright
Philippians 4 “20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
What is grace? There is a standard definition in the Church: grace is the undeserved, unmerited and loving action of God to us through the Holy Spirit. So, let’s break that down:
• Undeserved – you don’t get what we deserve from God – THANK GOD! We actually deserve the punishment for our sin… every last one… that’s what we deserve, but we don’t get what we deserve. We get grace.
• Unmerited – we can’t earn it – nobody can! Grace does not depend on how many “good” things we do (or don’t do). We still get grace.
• Loving action of God – the most loving thing God ever did for each of us is Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 – God did that for you and me. Grace is all about what God does. We get grace from God.
• Through the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit is in the world and in every Believer. If you have the Holy Spirit more and more grace is available to you. We get more grace through the Holy Spirit.
There are differing views when it comes to the action of grace. We travel in the footsteps of John Wesley. The Wesleyan View of Grace is one of two great contributions of John Wesley to Christian Belief and Practice. Led by the Holy Spirit, Wesley taught us there is one amazing grace that comes to us in three different ways
Prevenient Grace – God is reaching out to every person He creates. In the old days, we spoke of God’s grace that “woos” the unbeliever. Today it might be better to think of Prevenient Grace as God never stopping to reach us. Last week I mentioned Jesus words to the Ephesian Church in Revelation 2. Today, let me share a few words to the Laodicean Church (“vomit you out of my mouth” – uh-oh) – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 We know that language and that old painting.
For a picture of Prevenient Grace – imagine a big bucket of water. The water is grace and there’s lots of it! How much? It’s unlimited! Then, imagine a glass that is dirty on the inside. That glass is the unbeliever who is stained by sin. Now – imagine a drop of that water into the glass. And another drop. Not enough to clean the glass – but enough grace to awaken the unbeliever to the possibilities.
The next movement is Justifying Grace – the unbeliever repents and asks to receive from God what is truly needed - forgiveness for all sin. This has been prompted through the drip, drip, drip of Prevenient Grace as directed by the Holy Spirit. Next week – going to talk a lot more about this! For now, go back to the bucket and the glass. Imagine that the glass is sitting there – open to receive from above. Now, picture in your mind the bucket being turned over and flooding the glass – cleaning the glass – filling the glass to overflow. Can you see the big, big mess? Grace is messy! In fact, it can be too messy for a church to help those who need grace the most.
Finally, we receive the working of Sanctifying Grace – like the old saying, “God ain’t done with me yet!” That’s why we need an ongoing outpouring of grace – more than the drip, drip, drip and less than the big, big mess. Each believer can continue to grow in grace, leading to ever increasing knowledge and love of God - we heard that in Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,” Remember that full, clean glass – how does the water in there stay nice and fresh? It needs to have a flow of fresh water. Imagine an ever-flowing fountain that run and runs and runs to give water to the glass. That ongoing flow from the fountain represents Sanctifying Grace.
That’s the Wesleyan View of Grace – the water and the glass – grace and you.