Summary: This sermon looks at God's restorative grace. It looks at why people walk away including pride, indifference, inconvenience, and seeking man's approval.
God’s Restoring Grace
As I thought about this concept of God’s restoring grace what came to mind is the promise Jesus gave to His disciples of the Holy Spirit.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NKJV)
Jesus knew that our relationship would probably end like most human relationship if someone greater than ourselves didn’t intercede and in this relationship give us the power to grow and mature.
So He promised that another like Himself would come and pick up the slack after He left.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17a NKJV)
It’s the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit within us that will help our relationship with Jesus to grow and mature, because no relationship ever remains the same. We are either growing closer, or drifting further away. Relationships never remain stagnant.
We don’t just become a Christian and that’s it. We’re either growing closer to Jesus or we’ll find ourselves drifting further away. Either are hearts are growing warmer, or they’re growing colder.
This is seen in Jesus address to the church of Laodicea saying they had grown lukewarm, neither hot nor cold.
All of us probably know someone who was once on fire for the Lord, but today they’re nowhere to be found, especially within the church. After experiencing the struggles of life they’ve cashed in their chips and called it a day and/or a life.
The good news, however, is that while they may have drifted away, Jesus is ready to receive them back.
It’s called God’s Restoring Grace.
God’s in the business of restoring this relationship by His grace, and so when we blow it, when we walk away, when we stumble and fall, Jesus holds his arms wide open saying, “You can come back to Me.”
This is what the prophet Jeremiah prayed.
“Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old.” (Lamentations 5:21 NKJV)
How we get the joy back? God desires to restore us and renew our days, and He wants to give back to us all that has been taken, and so much more.
In our time together I’d like to look at some common causes why people step away from the faith, and to do so I’d like to look at an incident in the life of Peter. The story is found in Mark 14. They had just finished the Passover and are heading to the Mount of Olives, and this is where we pick up our story.
Read Mark 14:27-31
The first thing we see in our story as to why people step away from the faith …
1. Prideful Self-Confidence
Some would call this overconfidence.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NKJV)
Look now at what Peter said.
“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be … If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’” (Mark 14:29, 31 NKJV)
You can almost hear the swagger in Peter’s voice. “They may leave, but not me. Even if death stared me in the face, I will never deny you.”
And we’re no different. We all believe that if push came to shove we would never deny Jesus or step away from the faith, but we need to be careful not to try in our own power what only the Holy Spirit can do.
That’s how it begins. We think we can handle whatever comes. We say, “That can never happen to me.” And with these words and attitude we’re setting ourselves up for a fall.
Before his fight with Joe Frazier, Mohammed Ali said that they were going to decide once and for all who’s the real king in the ring. He said there wasn’t a man alive who could beat him. He said the only way he could be licked is to become a postage stamp. He’s too smart and too pretty. He said, “I’m the greatest.” By the way, Ali lost the fight.
When we think we couldn’t possibly fall, that’s when we do, and that’s because everyone is capable of sin. Jeremiah says that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above everything else, Jeremiah 17:9, that is, we lie not only to others, but also to ourselves.
Paul said, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)