Summary: This sermon deals with how we are to grow in God's grace through taking off the old and and putting on the new.
God’s Growing Grace
An oxymoron is not someone who is foolish with a bad complexion. It’s a figure of speech using words that seemly contradict each other yet has a special meaning to create a special effect like, “A wise fool,” “Cruel Kindness,” “Thunderous silence,” or “Make haste slowly.”
Oxymorons are found throughout society, like supermarkets advertising, “diet ice-cream,” or “fat free potato chips,” They’re also found in government with phrases like “temporary tax increases,” or “government intelligence.”
Within the church there also seems to be an oxymoron concerning God’s grace, that somehow it’s growing, or growing grace.
When we think of growth, we normally think of it in numeric terms of quantity. But that’s the furthest thing from God’s mind when it comes to growth in the church. Church growth isn’t about how many attend church, but rather it’s about our growing in our relationship with Jesus, or what we know as discipleship.
Just because a person is a part of a church that is growing in numbers doesn’t mean they are growing in their relationship with Jesus. Even if they attend weekly Bible studies doesn’t mean they are growing in the things of God. It’s only when they are applying what they learn.
Let me illustrate. If I decide I wanted to get healthier and physically fit, then the most logical thing for me to do is to join a health club and start eating healthier. But if for the next six months I went to the gym every day and sat in an easy chair reading magazines about healthy foods and life style, I may have learned more about getting healthy, but I didn’t grow one ounce healthier; maybe a few pounds heavier, but not healthier.
So what is growth?
Growth isn’t about quantity; rather it’s about quality. It’s the quality of my relationships. It’s how much closer I am to God today than I was yesterday. It’s how much more I love my family and my neighbor as myself, because of God’s grace. It’s how much my character is being changed by the power of God.
Jesus didn’t say, “I came to give you more stuff.” Instead He said, “I have come to give you abundant life,” John 10:10. Jesus didn’t give us His grace to help us get started on this journey of faith, but He also gave us His grace to help us along the way. We need to grow, therefore, in His grace.
We think that just because good things are happening that we’re growing. Take Las Vegas for an example. It’s been growing for some time, and at one time it was known as the fastest growing city in the U.S. But this growth has nothing to do with the quality of life of its citizens. Freeway and street congestion has also grown and produced increased fist shakers, cut-off artists, and road rage. These are definitely not quality growth characteristics, as there has also be a marked increase in violence.
We are living in a fast growing society, but one with very little inward growth. We’re a society that’s struggling with addictions and people who have been hurt and unable to get beyond their past.
But Gods’ desire is that we start to grow and mature in our relationship with Him so that God’s inward change can take place, and He has given His grace to accomplish this.
It’s God’s desire for all of us to grow in His grace.
Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee automatic growth or change. I’ve known Christians who have known the Lord for some time, but haven’t grown much in their faith. Yet, I’ve known others who have only known Jesus for a short time, and they have surpassed these others in their maturity and knowledge of God.
It isn’t through length of time that we grow; rather it’s by the grace of God. If anybody thinks it’s by working hard, they’ll end up only growing as far as their capabilities will allow. Those who have tried to work harder only find themselves mired deeper in guilt. The good news, however, is that our growth is by God’s grace.
The Apostle Peter said,
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a NKJV)
We’re going to be examining this whole process of putting on the new man or woman that God desires for us to be.
Our text is out of Ephesians chapter 4, and in these verses we see God’s new wardrobe.
When I think about a new wardrobe, it amazes me how caught up everyone is concerning what celebrities are wearing on and off the red carpet. The fashion world’s lure is a promise of a “new you.” You’ve seen the before and after shots. How with a miracle makeover, paint job, or with this or that pill we can be brand new person.