Amazing Grace Series
Contributed by Robert Renberg Jr. on Jul 18, 2002 (message contributor)
Summary: 5 different aspect of God’s Amazing Grace in the Apostle Paul’s life and personal testimony shows us how amazing grace is in our own.
In a small cemetery of a parish churchyard in Olney, England, stands a granite tombstone w/ this inscription: “John Newton, clerk [pastor], once an infidel & Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord & Savior JC, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.” You may not remember his name, but all of us know the song he wrote as a testimony of his life: “Amazing Grace.”
It finds it’s lasting legacy in the simplicity of the words & the universal understanding of man’s need for grace. This beloved song bears witness to a multitude of testimonies from all corners of the world & all types of sinners who found forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation thru the grace of LJC. The list could go on & on. In my own ministry over the years I’ve seen alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves, homosexuals, adulterers, atheists, even motorcycle gang members give their lives to Christ.
The Bible records the conversions of the maniac at Gadara, the despised tax collector and traitor to his people Matthew, blind Bartimaeus, the adulterous Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, the Roman centurion at the crucifixion, Cornelius, the Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailer, and Lydia, among others. But of all the conversions ever recorded none was more remarkable than that of Saul of Tarsus. This bitter enemy of the cause of Christ, in his own words the foremost of all sinners, became the greatest evangelist & theologian the world has ever seen.
Acts 9, 22, 26, Galatians 1-2, Philippians 3, and 1 Timothy 1 all describe aspects of his conversion. Paul never lost the wonder that God could and did redeem someone like him. He viewed himself as the supreme example of God’s saving grace. His story is very much tho, also my story, and your story. Every one of was lost, each one of us was blind, but now we’re found & now we see.
The power of a personal testimony is always amazing to me. We’ve seen it & heard it here today. John Newton told often the story of his early life & conversion experience, & wherever he preached, large crowds gathered to hear the “Old Converted Sea Captain” as he was called. He is quoted before he died in a message saying: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember 2 things: That I am a great sinner & that Christ is a great Savior!”
As the apostle Paul writes to his dear friend, Pastor Tim, who led a church in the city of Ephesus, he thought it valuable to share his own personal testimony for all to know. He didn’t do this to show how bad he was, but rather how good God is! After showing power of the Law to expose both sin & sinners in vv.8-11, he turns to his story in vv.12-17 to show God’s Amazing Grace. RD & Pray
Paul’s testimony is nothing short of miraculous. I’d like to highlight at least 5 different aspects of God’s amazing grace in his life & show how amazing it is in our own lives as well.
I. The Pattern of Grace. The first thing we need to understand about grace is where it comes from. It finds it’s source in LJC as we find Paul thanking Him for what He has done in his life. *RD 12*
Grace is used in the original Greek language to convey the idea of a free gift.
It has at it’s root the concept of joy. As it’s a delight to receive something you don’t deserve, it’s even more fun to give something to someone in this way. The theological impression of grace speaks of God’s loving forgiveness, which he gives freely to those deserving only condemnation & judgment, and transfers them from darkness to light, from death to life w/o any worthiness on their part & based on nothing they have done or failed to do. Feel under your chair. ($$ plants)
The Bible repeatedly affirms that JC, along w/ God Father is alone the source of all grace. RD John 1:17; Rom.3:24; 1Cor.15:9-10; Eph.3:8
Paul gives thanks for 4 aspects of God’s grace in his life. 1) Electing grace. Always conscious of God’s choice of him, both for salvation & apostleship.
2) Enabling grace. One word is translated into “who has given me strength.” Literally “empowered me” & is the same word used in Phil.4:13 “I can do all…”
3) Entrusting grace. God considered him faithful/trustworthy & it was grace that made Paul so. In 1Cor.7:25 he described himself as “one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.” 4) Employing grace that put him into service.
Plutarch (Greek writer) tells us that when a Spartan won a victory in the Greek games, his reward was that he might stand beside his king in battle. That’s a great illustration of what service Paul was called to, & each of us as believers enjoy from God’s employing grace. What we do in service is to stand w/ Lord! Like the Spartan, Paul sought no honor for himself. His only desire was “to know Him & the power of His resurrection, & fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Paul’s pattern of grace was LJC & Jesus told him in 2Cor.12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you.”