Summary: Part 2 of a series looking at God's grace.
March 17, 2019
There is so much I want to talk about today. So much that’s been in the news that is so relevant to what we’re talking about. We’re talking about grace and how vital it is in our lives. It’s so important that I’m talking about it for 6 weeks, leading up to Easter. Because on our own, I don’t think we really understand GRACE that well.
In many respects - GRACE is a game changer.
Around 70 years ago a conference on comparative religions was held at Cambridge University. Theologians and scholars from around the world came together to explore various religious ideas. One topic was: Which belief (or doctrine) is unique to the Christian faith? Many of the things that Christians believe, other religions believe, too. So the question was: What is unique about the Christian faith?
C.S. Lewis was a professor at Cambridge and was part of that conference. He walked into the room and someone said to him, "What do you believe is Christianity's unique contribution among the world religions." Lewis quickly replied, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace."
After some discussion and debate, those at the conference agreed. Christianity is the only religion which believes God's love is offered to us for free, with no strings attached, and that His grace and mercy are available to everyone.
That’s so true! Grace is a game changer! When you’ve been in the church for a long time, we kind of take God’s grace as a given. It no longer grabs us and surprises us by the depth of God’s love and sacrifice.
Yet, there are so many who just aren’t real comfortable with grace. They say, "You can't make salvation too easy, or forgiveness too easy, otherwise people will run wild. If that’s the case, then we will just go on sinning, doing that which is against God’s will."
There are some in the church who give the impression that God's mercy is limited and His love is conditional, that forgiveness is something you receive only when you prove yourself worthy. They believe it has to be that way, or people will just sin all they want. And there will be no consequences to their actions.
So, we put down a bunch of rules, telling us what we can do and can’t do. If we follow the rules, then we’re in, if we don’t - - - well, then we’re out! Of course, as I said last week, we really don’t know how much good we really need to do, or how many bad things will disqualify us from eternity with God.
Well, I want to look at a story from the Bible that will show us a few things about grace. It is found in John 8. Listen to the story John tells us —
2 Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple.
All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them.
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst
4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.
5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
6 This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground.
7 And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them,
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground.
9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones,
and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him.
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” – John 8:2-11
So, what can we learn from this story?
First off, let’s face the obvious. There was a great injustice in this story. The woman caught in adultery was the only one brought before Jesus. I thought it takes 2 to commit adultery, and the Old Testament law they spoke of was pretty clear that both the man and the woman are to be stoned. But the man was nowhere to be found. It appears he was let go and the accusers only brought the woman.
This tells you something about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders — how they chose to condemn one and not the other. And, of course, the one they chose to condemn was considered the weaker and more vulnerable of the two.